From the Inside Out: Navigating Transnational and Transracial Adoption is a website I created for my Master’s Thesis in Media Studies at The New School in 2016. This site is rooted in a personal story that looks at international adoption through multiple perspectives. I was born in an Ecuadorian orphanage and adopted when I was a day old by North American missionaries.
I was raised not knowing my culture or the Spanish language, nor did I know any other Latino people. In my experience, conversations surrounding adoption can be difficult for all parties which may include the adoptees, adopted family, and birth family. For adoptees, the question of one’s heritage can be a looming question. As a transnational and transracial adoptee, I have struggled greatly with my identity and feelings of profound loss. This site is intended as a way to begin to normalize the process of deconstructing one’s identity, and as a starting point for dialogues to take place.
In 2005, I traveled back to my birth country of Ecuador. While there I met Martha the North American nurse who started the orphanage El Buen Pastor (the Good Shepherd), where I was born. Martha showed me an album she had created with photos, news clippings, and handwritten notes sent to her by parents that had adopted children from her. I found my page in her book. Her album became the starting point for this project. In the thesis, I highlight Martha, as well as my adopted mother Maryanne, and my birth mother Amable, whom I met for the first time on January 21, 2006. All three women are essential caregivers to my story.
I have struggled at times with the different roles that I’ve needed to undertake as a researcher, media producer, academic, and also participant. But ultimately this work has helped me to start to piece together my past and given me a voice.
Although this is a story about my journey, there are in fact 50 of us that were sent to the U.S. We are intertwined; this is our story.
-Angela Lucía Sharp