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The Real Family Project: In Tatiana's Words

STORYCENTER Blog

We are pleased to present posts by StoryCenter staff, storytellers, colleagues from partnering organizations, and thought leaders in Storywork and related fields.

The Real Family Project: In Tatiana's Words

Ary Smith

A couple of weeks back, I accidentally kicked my son’s twenty-five pound weight. It still hurt a couple of weeks later, so I went to a doctor. At the doctor’s office, I was given the medical form to fill out. I realized that this was the first time in forty-one years that I actually could fill out this form. I had all of the information. I briefly wondered if I should call Joe.

This is what it means to be adopted. When Joe contacted me for the first time last January, I didn’t hesitate for a moment to respond. It was an opportunity of a lifetime. I might actually be able to finally fill out a medical form. I did not expect to find a mirror of myself. I did not expect to be flooded by a series of emotions I hadn’t even realized existed. I didn’t realize that father, mother, birth father, birth mother, daughter, birth daughter would be such charged words and that I couldn’t even figure out how I personally wanted them defined. 

This is partly why I am excited about this project, and why we are seeking your support of our Indiegogo campaign.

I define myself first and foremost as a storyteller. Joe had spent his life immersed in stories. Our shared passion for stories began a series of correspondence unequaled with anyone else in my life.  As I shared my story and he shared his story, we realized that there was something powerful in these stories. I am a cultural eccentricity of sorts. Born in Texas, adopted to Mexico, raised in Mexico, and then some in the United States, I see myself as Latino on the inside and Texan on the outside. I grew up in a world rich in art, folklore, history and an ideology that it was my place to make a difference in this world. I found in Joe someone who embodied figuring out how to join story and activism. His own history and his parents’ history had landed him at a similar crossroads.

As I stared at him continuously, attempting to find the subtle similarities and differences in our faces, I saw a bigger story. I think he saw it as well. What is family? How does one define family? What does it mean to be adopted? What are silent losses in adoption? Where do all these different people fit within my own paradigm of family? I landed at one conclusion. For an adoptee (or at least for me), family meant everyone, the birth family and the adoptive family. To deny one was to deny a part of myself. When everyone asked after I had met Joe, whether I had found my real father, I had to step back with the question and realize that there isn’t really such a thing as ONE real father. My heart is not like an apartment building with a set number of spaces predetermined by some cultural norm. I hope that my heart only expands as I add more people to it. 

To me, this is The Real Family Project. It is about taking the concept of family and allowing the stories resulting from family to come forth. Yes, it is about a website, a documentary, stories, books and workshops. It is also about finding a voice. A voice of the adoptee narrative and its unique perspective.  A voice of a birth father narrative and its unique perspective. It was inspired by the reunion of two people who have dedicated their life to story. What better way to share this reunion experience than through our own and others stories. 

Thank you so much for your continued support with our campaign. Without your help we cannot make this project happen. In the last week, we have already achieved nearly 40% of our goal. 

Any amount of support helps. Please stop by our campaign. Share the campaign with others and help us make this project a reality.

Thank you again.

Much love,

Tatiana