Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Adopted Student Advisory Panel brings adopted students together

The group aims to educate about adoption and mentor young adoptees
(Courtesy of Alex White)

On Sunday, the Adopted Student Advisory Panel of the University of Massachusetts held an event titled the “We Celebrate Adoption Party” to bring together adopted college students and adopted younger students from around the Pioneer Valley.

The event was held in collaboration with the Department of Psychology and Brain Science, who frequently conduct adopted related research through the Rudd Adoption Research Program, as well as the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Hampshire County, who help pair college adoptees with younger adoptees around the area for guidance and mentorship.

“The main goal of that [mentor] program is just to give that young adoptee exposure to someone older who’s adopted and understands more of what they’re experiencing. So, we put on this event to also have them see more than just their mentor – so they can see other college students who are adopted,” said Ana Dolan, senior psychology major and president of ASAP.

“It’s really cool having a full room where everyone you turn next to, they’re all also adopted,” said Olivia Lyon, a senior majoring in education and math and vice president of ASAP.

ASAP, which officially formed as an RSO in 2016, functions to educate the community, their peers, parents and adoption professionals about their experiences as adoptees as well as adoption as a whole. The group holds bi-weekly meetings where they discuss their experiences and frequently put on collaborative events with the intention of bringing adoptees together and educating the public.

“I think there’s a lot of stigma that comes with adoption and people having this bio-normative view of a family…So I think it’s also kind of just recognizing that adoption is just as real of a family as any other type of family,” said Ana Dolan.

“There’s no standard way that a family can look like and be made up of,” added Lyon.

After realizing that it was difficult to draw in college participants for the mentorship program, Jen Dolan, program manager with the Rudd Adoption Research Program, saw putting on this celebratory event as a way to still bring students together without the added element of time commitment.

The event began with a visual display of how many people in the room were adopted – each adoptee took a step forward to form a circle that represented their shared connection. Afterward, the group engaged in a number of ice breakers, such as a relay race and musical chairs.

Around the room were different stations set up for the younger students to float around, have fun and chat with the older mentors who were manning each station. Some of these tables included a cookie decorating station, coloring books, colorful sand mason jar crafting and a pretzel marshmallow construction site.

Toward the end of the event, the attendees gathered into a circle again as a discussion group. Going down the line, each adoptee shared a little bit of their story of being adopted, including information about the age at which they were adopted and from where. The discussion helped to highlight the similarities between each attendee’s experience, but also show the uniqueness of each person.

Jen Dolan stated that ASAP has worked to make their campus known on campus and around the area through short talks with classes, flyers, the psychology program’s SONA participatory studies program and a two-credit course on Spire (PSYCH 396A.)

She furthered that they are attempting to broaden ASAP participation across all of the Five College Consortium campuses, and that they currently have students from Mounty Holyoke College engaged.

Kristina Honour, a freshman at Mount Holyoke, is one of the students involved. “Right now we’re only trying to get people to the meetings here [at UMass], but we’re also trying to formulate a plan for a Mount Holyoke meeting on our campus. And, actually, we’ve invited the UMass kids to Mount Holyoke.”

“I think they are often alone in their adoption identity…so for them to be able to come together and have that community seems to have been very powerful for them,” said Jen Dolan.

Irina Costache can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @irinaacostache.

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  • A

    Alex WhiteApr 3, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    Remove these unsolicited comments at once.

  • A

    AnaApr 3, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Thank you for your comments. As the president of this group, and as an adoptee myself, I understand what you are saying but want to point out that THIS particular event was aimed at acknowledging that adoption is a wonderful thing and that it is something to be celebrated. Everyone in our group, even myself, knows very well that adoption is not something we always celebrate and that sometimes it makes us sad, angry, and emotional. ASAP and AMP hold a wide variety of events and some of them are centered around talking about the challenges we face and why it can be hard for us as adoptees to accept our identity and talk about our stories. We hold a variety of panels, for students, adoptees, and adoptive parents regarding such issues. I urge you to educate yourself about our group (attend a meeting, follow us on social media, visit the Rudd Adoption page to read an article we wrote) before jumping to conclusions about what we do and don’t do.

  • M

    MichelleApr 2, 2019 at 8:02 am

    Although getting adoptees together for support and role modeling sounds good I strongly recommend also getting them qualified adoption support from adoptee aware/ qualified counsellors. Not everyone is celebrating and happy.

  • L

    LynelleApr 1, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    I hope ur next event will be more mindful of adoptees who struggle and find it hard to “celebrate” being adopted …

  • M

    Mirah RibenApr 1, 2019 at 6:52 pm

    Make the next one a panel and audience participation discussion of : “The Joys and Struggles of Being Adopted.”

  • M

    Mirah RibenApr 1, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    This i s very nice…BUT . . .

    A “party” with big theme banner “I celebrate adoption because….” might very well make adoptees who struggle or have well documented issues with being adopted feel more badly and isolated instead of included and HEARD.

    If this event is going to be ongoing, I urge the planners of this event to consider less of a party and celebratory atmosphere and make it more welcoming for ALL adoptees: those that are happy a well as those who are struggling and need answers, help, and support.