AdoptEd Educational Outreach Chairperson Lily Gergle said the large size of the group provided a range of responses that opened her eyes to similarities and differences in adoptees’ lives.
“Being a part of AdoptEd for a while, I thought I had a pretty firm grasp on the adoptee experience, but I learned so much more,” Gergle said. “People were really generous and incredibly frank about their opinions and their experiences. I think that’s something you don’t often see. It was really enlightening for me, personally.”
Kostak said she also saw the value in the national scale of submissions and felt that the project provided a strong platform for adoptees that they may not find on their own.
“There are adopted people all over the campus and the country and the world,” Kostak said. “A lot of times adoptees don’t have much of a voice for whatever reason — maybe they choose not to because adoption is a really personal story — but of course that doesn’t mean that their voice should be diminished.”
Both AdoptEd and ASU were independently founded at their respective universities. For the past couple of years, the two groups have worked across the Triangle area to support each others' initiatives, but the video marks their first true collaboration.
AdoptEd Secretary Natalie Loos said the first time she watched the completed minidocumentary, she was struck by the commonalities she shared with those interviewed, even those with her peers that she had previously known through the AdoptEd club.
“It can be really overwhelming because it is a lot of raw, unfiltered emotion and stories that are coming out of people,” Loos said. “Sometimes it can be really real because it’s feelings that maybe I have had myself but I haven’t realized I had those feelings — it’s crazy to think that there’s another person out there who has the same feelings as me or the same troubles as me.”
Loos also said she learned that her ease with her adoption was not the case for everyone. She said that no two adoptee stories are the same, despite their similarities, but they all deserve validation.
“I grew up being very comfortable being adopted, like having many of my closest childhood friends growing up adopted,” Loos said. “For a while it almost seemed like an identity that we just naturally assumed. It’s taken me many years to realize that not everyone is comfortable with that identity.”
Video participants were all given a list of the same six questions. They could choose certain questions or answer them all.
Kostak said that for the most part, responses were pleasantly positive or at least that adoptees and parents learned from their experiences.
“It was really beautiful to see that across lines really important questions, like 'What is family to you?' Everybody basically said that it’s more than just blood — it’s the people who really care about you and support you,” Kostak said.
AdoptEd has hosted other media events in the past, such as a photograph gallery in the fall of 2017. Gergle said the organization is excited to share its newest project and that the premiere is open to all.
“The goal of AdoptEd is to really create a positive community for adoptees and to also educate the wider community about adoption and about our experiences,” Gergle said. “It’s sort of unlike many identities people have — you can’t look at someone and know that they're adopted."
Kostak said that despite the community uniquely shared within the adoptee community, none of them are so different from anyone else when it comes down to it.
“After seeing all the submissions and the final product, it really showed that people are resilient,” Kostak said. “We’re all human — we’re all very similar. Our needs and our wants and how we connect to others doesn’t change because of who our parents are or whether or not we know who they are.”