Julia: within, Between, & Beyond
Updated: Jul 17, 2021
Within, Between, and Beyond is a multi-layered art installation and participatory experience sharing an evolving archive of stories from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) who identify as Mixed Race or Transracial or Transnational Adoptee. Interviews for the video portion of the installation were conducted by Lola Osunkoya, who here introduces our subjects and shares a few highlights from their stories.
Julia identifies as a Chinese-American woman, adopted by a white woman at 1.5 years old.
At the 2nd Biennial MidWest Mixed Conference, Julia performed an excerpt of her one-woman-show, Motherlanded. I thought it was incredible, and was so excited to be able to go and see the full show later that summer. It was such a deeply moving experience to witness her storytelling in the intimate theater space, I wept from a deep place and was honestly speechless. So when it came time to think of subjects for the second iteration of Within, Between, and Beyond, Julia immediately came to mind. And lucky for us, she said yes!
The unique part of Julia’s contribution is her critique of white adoptive parents while holding the complexity, love, and care in her own family. Though I’m not an adoptee, I grew up with the white side of my family, and I speak to a number of people personally and professionally who navigate this complex line with white family members. I think Julia gives an important voice to this experience.
Honestly I think it takes a while, especially for adoptive parents to see my show, and to really process everything I’m saying. Because in the show I’m really critiquing and looking closely at how hard it is an adoptee to navigate whiteness and to navigate this void of culture and connection to your birth family and ancestors.
I was surprised when... there were a few people - adoptees and adoptive parents - who declined my invitation to see Motherlanded, because they said they weren’t ready to see the show yet. And I think that really goes to show that this can pull up a lot for us. Both on the adoptive parents’ side and if you’re an adoptee.
There are a lot of truths that we’re not facing. We’re fed one narrative, specifically from the broader media and system of transracial adoption, which is really… you as an adoptee weren’t wanted, you were abandoned. And we, the white family, saved you. You are a gift to us, you should be grateful.
I do not think there’s an ethical way for white people to adopt children of color. There are alternatives, people in birth family, community. To believe the only option is a white family to come care for the child… Funnel money to the system vs funnel money to families to care for children. Instead of addressing the problem, we could address the system that creates it.
Hear more of Julia’s powerful story at Mia. Within, Between, and Beyond runs 7/16/21-10/31/21