Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dear Sugar: Meet Michelle Madrid-Branch, Adoptee, Mom-by-Adoption, and Author

Dear Sugar:

One of my favorite people in the adoption community is Michelle Madrid-Branch. She's an international adoptee, a mom-by-adoption, and an author, among other things.  I have learned so much from her, and I think you will to!  

Rachel: Michelle, you have a dual connection to adoption.  You're an adoptee and you're a mom-by-adoption.  How has each connection helped you define and understand adoption?  

As an adoptee, adoption has defined so much of who I am as a person. From my earliest beginnings, I have lived within the skin of being an international adoptee. I've journeyed to uncover the truths of my own adoption in order to become whole. As a mom-by-adoption, I've been able to understand the deep blessing of delivering a child in this way. Both experiences have aided me in understanding the profound gain and profound grief of adoption, and I've learned three key lessons: 

Adoption is not a one-sided experience. It impacts everyone involved. Open and honest communication is so very essential. Expect differing perspectives. Respect them all. 

Grief is real for the adoptee. I didn't grieve out-loud for much of my growing up years. I kept my emotions hidden inside because I was afraid. Love seemed conditional on my being a happy, perfect adopted girl. As beautiful as adoption can be, there is an ocean of grief involved. That grief must be safely explored, heard and validated. 

Identity is the adoptee's to claim. An adoptee deserves to claim their true identity, and not one that is imposed upon them. Plain and simple, support adoptees in their journey to know who they are, on their terms and in their time. 

Rachel:  Your social media and your blog seem to be deeply rooted in honesty and joy.  Can you tell me what your main goal or purpose is when you write a book or blog post? What do you want the world to know about adoption? 

Michelle:  I want the world to understand that the adoption community has much to share. We are resilient, inclusive, proud, and no longer willing to stand in the shadows. I want the world to understand that there is a love that knows no borders and that adoption is the living, breathing blueprint of this kind of love. I want the world to understand that honesty is healing. And, that joy is possible — no matter what life has thrown in your path. Your story is your power. Use it well. 

Rachel:  For those who are hoping to adopt, what is one piece of advice, encouragement, or wisdom you can provide based on your experiences?

Michelle:  When they ask about their adoption, stop everything and focus on them. Don't brush it off, don't let the moment slip away. Adoptees of all ages need to feel seen and heard. 

Rachel:  What are three things you are loving right now? 

Michelle:  1) I'm an equestrian. I ride english saddle and enjoy jumping in the arena. My horse, Sir Cadbury, teaches me so much about balance and being in the moment. It's a beautiful gift!

2) Along that note, I feel really blessed that my 7-year old daughter is an equestrian, too. Nothing fills me with more joy than when we are together in the arena. 

3) Laughter! We are a family that laughs...a lot. I love the sounds of our laughter. I'll never stop loving that!

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