Greetings from the West Coast! We start this week with an interview with our good friend Sonya Oh in Seattle, WA. Sonya, a board member of Asian Adult Adoptees of Washington (AAAW), will be one of the facilitators for their new In-Depth Dialogue Series. Sonya was gracious enough to tell us more about the Dialogue Series below.
We thank AAAW for kicking ass while supporting their adoptee community.
Land of Gazillion Adoptees: You’re no stranger to LGA, but please remind the good readers about your involvement with the adoptee community.
Sonya Oh: I first became involved in the adoptee community in 1999, in Minneapolis, MN, volunteering in post- adoption services at an adoption agency with adoptee teens. After volunteering there for a number of years, I became aware of adult organizations, specifically AK Connection. I served on the board of directors for AK Connection from 2002-2007. I represented AK Connection at the 2004 and 2007 IKAA Gatherings in Seoul, Korea respectfully. Additionally, I’ve been a camp counselor at adoptee culture camps in Minnesota, Iowa, and Washington. After completing graduate school at the University of MN in 2007, I relocated to Seattle, WA where I joined the board of directors of Asian Adult Adoptees of Washington (AAAW) and was involved in the planning for the 2010 IKAA Gathering in Korea. I currently hold AAAW’s Secretary position and serve as the AAAW representative on the IKAA committee.
Land of Gazillion Adoptees: AAAW is beginning an In-depth Dialogue Series. Can you tell us a little about the series and the facilitators?
Sonya Oh: The facilitators are AAAW board members; myself, Deborah Collins, and Adam Sung Waldron. Deborah and I are Masters level social workers. I work in forensic mental health in municipal courts and Deborah is employed with state services in foster case and adoption. Adam is currently a Masters candidate in psychology, working towards completing his license for counseling. Based on our combined educational background, field of study, interests, and skills, we decided to develop an in-depth dialogue series for AAAW members. The series will consist of five individual sessions spread out over 7 months, each session in the series will have a specific “theme” and activity around that theme. Members are not required to attend every session, but each session will build upon each other to delve deeper in the adoptee experience.
Land of Gazillion Adoptees: What are you hoping adoptees will gain by participating in the series?
Sonya Oh: The intention and hope is to provide a structured environment to promote discussion/dialogue for individual self-awareness, reflection, and, hopefully, self-growth. Historically, at past adoptee events (such as Mini Gathering, Gathering, conferences, etc.), break out sessions have been available for adoptees to discuss topics such as birth search, identity, and traveling to Korea. Those sessions are appreciated, but often, due to time and group size, sometime just scratch the surface of the adoptee experience. We hope with this series to allow the participants to dig deeper and have a more in-depth discussion. There isn’t an expected goal or outcome to the series, as we suspect what people will get out of it will be individualized to each participant.
Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Why do you think groups like the In-depth Dialogue are important to offer to adoptees?
Sonya Oh: Some of the events that AAAW organizes are social events; such as BBQs, informal dinners, and holiday parties. These events are great at building community and allows members to socialize, but isn’t always the right environment to have deeper conversations. By organizing a space specifically to talk about “the hard stuff” (and also the good stuff) allows the opportunity for members who may have questions they think are too personal to ask those questions, have those conversations in a safe place. The adoptee experience is so diverse, complex, rich, and unique. AAAW thinks its important to honor all of the needs the community. We hope the series will draw those who have those questions or thoughts to this ongoing event.