‘So where is your real mom?’ – transracial adoptee opens up about the grief she feels


Lydia Berkey’s future had already been decided before she was born.

Her birth mother was pregnant but knew she couldn’t raise the child she was carrying and so decided to put her up for adoption.

As soon as Lydia was discharged from hospital she went straight to a foster home and spent four months there before she was adopted.

But from the time Lydia could speak she would talk about the differences between her skin and that of her adoptive family’s.

“I am a transracial adoptee. Transracial adoption is when a child is adopted by a family of a different race. Most commonly a Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color (BIPOC) is adopted into a white family, which was my case,” she said, as per Love What Matters.

Lydia Berkey/Love What Matters

While her loving family did all they could to make Lydia feel cherished and part of their family in Michigan she always felt different.

“My parents embraced and celebrated me as their African American child. My mom learned how to do braids and cornrows and always had me looking fresh with barrettes or beads in my hair, which I loved!”

Lydia went to a predominantly white school, church, and all the kids on her street were also white.

‘Missing a part of my identity’

“The older I got, the more this bothered me. I felt detached from my race. Due to growing up isolated from most people from my race, I didn’t have a sense of blackness, and I felt like I was missing that part of my identity,” she said.

Her parents enrolled her in a dance program where she was with other African American children and she felt “comfortable in that space.”

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Flashback Friday!! I bringing it back to my ballerina days! 🩰 • I am so grateful for how intentional my parents were with choosing a dance studio for me. They could have done the convenient thing, and enrolled me in a dance studio right down the street. Instead, I danced at a studio about 30 minutes away. This allowed me to be surrounded by other kids that looked like me! • For reference, the town I grew up in is predominantly white. About 95% of my high school was white, my two younger siblings and I were the only people of color at church, you get the point. My parents found it imperative that I was around other children and family’s of color. • • transracial adoptees need more than a doll that looks like them or a couple books to read about people of color. Those things are great, representation is important, but it can’t stop there! My black friends and their parents could relate to me in a way that everyone else in my life couldn’t. It was a crucial part in helping me develop my identity in my child rearing years. • • • #adoption #adoptionstory #adoptionjourney #transracialadoptee #transracialadoption #transracialfamily #adoptee #adopteevoices #adopteestories #a2aw

A post shared by Adoptee To Adoption Worker (@adoptee2adoptionworker) on Jan 24, 2020 at 8:49am PST

But as she got older her feelings of detachment and sadness at the mom who had given her up grew.

“The truth is, adoption begins with loss, and adoptees are many times not given the space to grieve for our birth family. These were feelings I carried with me throughout my life.

“From a young age until I was about 15, every holiday and birthday, I cried myself to sleep. I thought about my birth mother and wondered if she thought about me on my birthday. I wondered if she missed me during the holidays.”

‘Is there something wrong with you?’

Lydia also had to deal with hurtful questions at school from kids who asked: “So, where is your real Mom?” and “So, she didn’t want you?…Is there something wrong with you?”

Entering high school is tough for all kids but for Lydia it was even tougher, the racist abuse she encountered was not something new but hit harder when all you want is to be accepted by your peers.

“There were a few boys I passed on my way and one called me the ‘N’ word. It wasn’t the first time in my life I was called the ‘N’ word, but for some reason that time stuck out and really stung.”

Racial encounters

She didn’t talk about her experiences with her family or friends as she knew they wouldn’t understand.

“I wasn’t getting beat up or slammed in lockers, but we forget racism, microaggressions, and intimidation are also forms of bullying. I didn’t know how to navigate these racial encounters and feared conflict, so I would try my best to brush off those experiences.”

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As the oldest black sibling in my household. I placed the responsibility on myself to teach and and talk with my younger brother about the realities of being black in America. _______ He’s my baby. He’s quiet, stern, yet so tender and goofy. The fact that the color of his skin, his mere existence as a young black man poses a threat makes me lose sleep. This could have been him… _______ White adoptive parents, being color blind is not an option, seeing your child as an exception to racism is unacceptable. Being raised in a white home does not make your black child less susceptible to being the next Ahmaud Arbey and Sean Reed. This is the ugly reality of being black in this country. Use your privilege to speak up, seek justice, and take action. • • • #blacklivesmatter #blackboyjoy #transracialadoption #transracialadoptee #transracialfamily #adoption #adoptionjourney #adoptionstory #adultadoptee #adopteevoices #transracialadoptees #blackadoptee #blackadopteesmatter #blackadopteevoices #irunwithmaud #ahmaudarbery #a2aw

A post shared by Adoptee To Adoption Worker (@adoptee2adoptionworker) on May 7, 2020 at 1:22pm PDT

When it was time to leave her hometown and go to college Lydia still had negative racial encounters but found a mentor and considered counseling.

“I have accepted it is okay to grieve and continue to be sad about the loss of my birth family, but I can’t let it determine my happiness.

‘Representation matters’

“My feelings regarding my adoption are real and valid, my love for my adoptive family is real and valid, and my pride in myself as a black woman is real and valid.”

Lydia also has some good advice for adoptive parents: “If you are raising a transracial adoptee it is crucial for their racial well-being that they have exposure and experiences to their culture. Representation matters!”

Now Lydia works as a social worker, something she decided she was going to be in 8th grade, and is helping to bridge gaps between adoptive parents and adoptees.

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I see a few new faces and figured I would introduce myself!! ☺☺ ——- Hi!!! My name is Lydia I am the creator of Adoptee 2 Adoption Worker. I am an adult transracial adoptee That was raised in a small conservative town in Michigan. —— I decided in eighth grade I wanted to be a social worker and here I am! I graduated with my BA in social work and I now work full time as an adoption worker and part time at a group home for teen moms. —— In college I mentored several TRAs and saw similarities in all of our experiences. Feelings of loneliness, sadness, resentment. With added layers of complexities being raised in a race outside of our own. Since then I’ve been passionate about helping adoptees navigate racial identity and bridging gaps between adoptive parents and adoptees.💜 📸 by: @mariasgphotography _____ Whew enough about me!! Tell me about yourself!! 👇🏾👇🏾 • • • #transracialadoptee #adultadoptee #transracialadoption #transracialfamily #blackgirlsocialwork #blacksocialworkers #blackgirlsinsocialwork #blackgirlmagic #brownskingirls #blackadoptee #blackadoptionmatters #adoptionworker #childwelfareworker #a2aw #michigangirl

A post shared by Adoptee To Adoption Worker (@adoptee2adoptionworker) on Jun 8, 2020 at 9:38am PDT

Please share Lydia’s painful experiences and wise words of advice with everyone you know to help raise awareness.

The post ‘So where is your real mom?’ – transracial adoptee opens up about the grief she feels appeared first on Happy Santa.


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