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Presenting The Real Family Project

STORYCENTER Blog

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

Presenting The Real Family Project

Ary Smith

For the last 20 years, we at StoryCenter have been capturing stories about issues across the spectrum of human experience.  In the last year, founder and director Joe Lambert has found himself engaged in a deeply personal story that he feels should be heard, and more importantly, can link our organization to a community of concerns that affects millions of people.  

In January, Joe re-united with his birth daughter Tatiana, 41 years after her birth. Any adoptee-birth parent reunion over such a great period would be an amazing story, but it turns out that like Joe, Tatiana is a storyteller, and a media professional.  They connected over words, images and video, and found the connections uncanny and astounding.  

Their story provokes many conversations about what makes family connection complicated and endlessly complex.  So they dug into the literature and conversations about the adoption "triad" and formed a project idea that they now hope to make into a documentary film and interactive community website.  StoryCenter will sponsor this first stage of the project in order to link our larger work in this area; in reproductive rights, in foster care, in adoption itself, to Joe and Tatiana's effort.   

Find below the letter from Joe and Tatiana to support their Indiegogo campaign.  They have also launched the initial organizing website at real-family.org. Thank you for your support, and we hope you find a way to contribute.

Click here to Donate!

Dear Friends,

We are writing to invite you to become part of a journey with us . . .

A journey to explore the story of two people finding each other across 40 years of time.  

A journey to look at the issues of adoptees and their families.  

A journey to make sense of what it means to construct family in the twenty-first century. 

Our names are Tatiana Beller and Joe Lambert.  We are both writers and media professionals.  We are both steeped in the issues of story, of life, of culture.  We were both born in Texas.  We both have boys, 19 years old, one Sebastian, one Massimo Sebastian, born 2 weeks apart.   

Joe is Tatiana's birth father. Tatiana is Joe's biological child. Father? Daughter? The names give us trouble.  We are strangers who know each other in a very peculiar, a very profound, way. 

In 1972, Tatiana was adopted by a family in Mexico.  She grew up surrounded by stories, most particularly the stories of her grandmother, a nationally recognized playwright and theater professional in her country, who would have been 102 years old on November 13. Joe grew up around theatrical and quixotic Texas political organizers, and became a theater and storywork professional in his own right in the San Francisco Bay Area.  

When we met for the first time early this year, we found that unpacking the stories of each other's lives also was an unpacking of the very nature of story and storytelling. 

By July, we committed to a project.  We decided to call it the RealFamily Project. With your help, we hope to create a broad discussion with the adoptee community about the stories that remain to be told about growing up with the questions about your "realfamily."

What will this look like?  A documentary film and participatory website, at minimum.  But we also hope to explore additional forms including digital stories, podcasts, photographic essays, film clips, many, many articles by us and guest writers culminating in a book. 

Your support will help to bring Tatiana into a residency here in Berkeley for 6 months in the new year.  We will work closely together to develop the resources to make our story address not just the issues the adoption triad, but also of alternative family life and stigma, immigration and bi-national identity, memory and healing, and many, many other issues that our shared story provokes.

A universe of stories from the big bang of our re-union.

And this is where you come in.  We can not do this without your help.  

A non-profit professional and a working artist in film can borrow only so much time.  We need resources.   We are committed to finding those resources.  

But it starts with this first Indiegogo campaign. Please stop, click a button or two, fill out a form, pull out your credit card, and click send. A donation of any amount helps.  And we have some great gifts to share with you.  

We thank you for just listening.  We recognize these appeals are easy to look past, and if you read this far, we consider you already part of our circle.

We look forward to traveling with you on this journey, 

With much love,

Tatiana Beller and Joe Lambert