Jan 2021: Adoptees and Birthdays


Adoption Mosaic hosted WTE on Jan. 9, 2021.

Our adoptee experts were Ming Foxweldon, Jennifer Poole, Kassaye Bernahu, and Diego Vitelli.

For us adoptees, our birthdays can carry many mixed emotions. The one thing we know for sure is our birthday was a day we spent time with our birth/first mothers and as a result for some our birthdays are a reminder of a tremendous loss.

Join us for our We the Experts: Adoptee Speaker Series as we share and discuss:

  • What our birthdays mean to us as adoptees
  • Why our birthdays might feel hard
  • How we celebrate or just hold space for grief
  • How we handle not knowing our birthdays

Kassaye Berhanu-MacDonald has been writing and speaking about adoption on and off for 7 years. She has written blogs and articles, book chapters for adoptee-centric media such as Lost Daughters, Gazillion Voices and La Couleur de l’Adoption, the first ever french-language adoptee anthology. Most recently, she started her own blog where she writes about motherhood as an adopted person and her connection to Ethiopia. Kassaye never enjoyed her fake birthday – it felt too fake to be real, so one day, she decided to give herself a new date, which completely changed her relationship to her birthday. 

Jennifer Poole was born on Valentine’s Day and adopted at birth, in a domestic closed adoption. Jennifer first discovered the concept of “adoptee birthday trauma”, when she was working on her Master’s thesis on Openness in Adoption as an Opportunity for Spiritual growth. She was surprised to learn that her experiences and behaviors around her birthday could be explained by her adoption. She currently lives in Portland Oregon, with her husband, two children and 2 stepchildren. She is in reunion with both of her birthparents and their families, who live in Texas. 

Diego Vitelli, an adoptee from Colombia, knows little about his early days prior to being adopted at approx 5 years of age to a family outside of Boston. He is currently in his 3rd year of a master’s program to become an adoptee-focused therapist. Diego has volunteered for years as a mentor to adoptees at Amara in Seattle, his local school district, and independently. He is the facilitator for the local Adoptees Connect – Seattle and administrators a FB group of 2k+ Colombian adoptees. Diego has thought deeply about his birthday and how it relates to his adoption and identity.

Ming Fox Weldon was adopted from Kunming, Yunnan China to Milwaukee WI, and then moved to a small town in NH where she spent the majority of her youth. After attending college in Burlington, VT she moved to Seattle where she currently lives. Birthdays have always been an interest of Ming’s for a variety of reasons. Due to her Adoptive Parents’ decision to change her birthday to reflect the order in which she arrived to the family. This decision has contributed to her drive to talk about the subject of the complexities of her relationship to her birthday. 


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