Doreen Merkel

2020

Making a difference for adoptees

Doreen Merkel

Dear TOY Family,

I want to share with you my adoption journey and how that gave me inspiration for my TOY Project.

Right after I was born my Korean biological mother had to give me up for adoption. I was adopted by my German parents at the age of three months. I am now 35 years old I can proudly say that I have an abundance of mothers. My adoptive mother, my biological mother, my mother in law and of course, MamaTOY.

I did not always feel that way. Growing up as an interracial adoptee in rural Germany I never felt I belonged. My identity got always challenged because people were not aware of interracial adoption. So I decided it works better for me if I pretended I did not care about my Korean mother or anything that is related to my adoption. That worked well for me until my 30s and then it did not anymore. I was tired of avoiding the elephant in the room.

That is when I met my friend who I founded our Adult Adoptees Group in HK with. He is also an adoptee and we felt an immediate deep connection because he was the first person I could share myself with in a way that I simply could not do with non-adoptees. Together with a social worker that is specialised in adoption and the founder of Mother's Choice we founded this group for adoptees where we get together on a monthly basis and share about our adoption journeys.

Our feelings and curiosity for what happened before we came into our adoptive families was often invalidated or not spoken about in day to day life. That is where our Adult Adoptees Group provides a platform to share about our unique experiences, the impact it had on us, our development and how to process from there.

We started with a group of 6 and have grown to 33 members within two years. Every single person in our group never had a community where they could share themselves openly. As a result, not one single person has stopped attending our meetings. Even folks who have moved away continue to dial in via zoom. This group has changed the way each of us has related to our past and we have supported many members in the journey of reconnecting with their biological families, including myself.

I have been personally amazed at the resilience and closeness that this group has provided for each of us. Providing a safe space for adoptees to share their journey is something clearly missing. Many of our members lived in the US, Europe and other parts of Asia and did not have a support structure focused on their adoption. The modest success we have had with the Adult Adoptees Group in Hong Kong gives me confidence that we can continue to expand and make a difference to adoptees in other parts of the world.