Questions of Identity, International Adoptees

A thought provoking statement…


“Visiting one’s birth country is a series of directed questions at one’s own identity, whether an adoptee is aware of their own questions or not.”

Janelle Bentley, an international adoptee, is the author of those profound words. Janelle traveled on a Ties trip to her birth country when she was 17. Janelle is 27 now and continues to process her experience, her life, and her identity.

“I’ve met people who have been elated to return to their country of birth – feeling like a puzzle piece has snapped into place, a rush of national pride, a validation of their born identity… and people who have been extremely angry, upset, or confused.”

“My own first experience was a nebulous blend of uneasiness that ran the gamut from moments of full-on appreciation, to moments of confusion, to moments of extreme sadness, to simple ambivalence,” Janelle remembers.

Like many adoptees, Janelle’s integration of her experience has led her to a wonderful place in life. She has embraced the range of emotions, and let them “be” within her.

She is preparing now to take her place as part of the Ties travel staff, and becoming a mentor to adoptees following in her footsteps. She understands the need adoptees have to explore identity questions, and embraces the parents who support their kids on this profound and emotional journey.

Janelle shares this wisdom:

“I think it is key for adoptees and families to understand and accept that whatever happens on the trip is what needs to happen. Emotional reactions are what they are. There is no right or wrong way to respond to the journey.”

Janelle’s soft spoken voice speaks loudly to the reality of birth country travel.

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