I was really into unicorns when I was little, and I think it wasn't just because a lot of little girls are into unicorns. It was because I felt like I was the only one of my kind: mixed-race, adopted, only child.
One of the most powerful aspects of Pact Camp this past week, was that a lot of people, including myself, got to feel like we were just a little less unicornish. I spent the week in a cabin with other adult adoptees of color, which was incredibly moving, powerful, hilarious and beautiful. Little kids got to see lots of other kids, and counselors, who looked like them. Parents got to hang with other parents who had adopted kids of color. That was one of the best things about this past week: a lot of people getting to have the feeling that they're not the Only Ones. One five year old girl said she wanted to live at camp "forever" and that she'd already forgotten what her house looked like, because camp was her real home.
One couple spoke at the end of camp and said that two years ago, they lived in a small, all-white community in New England. (their daughter is African American) Coming to camp was a huge revelation for them, when they saw how huge it was for her daughter to be with similar peers. They took a huge leap and a huge financial risk and moved to the Bay Area, to a much more diverse community. This year, they said, camp was great, but the remarkable thing was that it was no longer so different from their everyday lives.
I think about what it would have been like for me to come to a camp of adopted people when I was younger. I think it would have been enormous. I only knew one other adopted person when I was going through school, and we never really spoke about it. But my mother would point him out and tell me that he came from the same agency as I did. It made me feel like we had a little invisible bond, if maybe we "remembered" each other from that mysterious Agency place. One of my closest friends was a girl whose father had left the family when she was an infant, and I think I felt bonded to her because we both had something missing, something invisible in our families, in our histories. I think coming to adoption camp would have been huge for me. Which is why I'm doing this job now. It's STILL huge.