Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Adoption Oral History Project

Oral histories form vital links to the past, both for individuals, cultures and communities. As our children grow up and begin reflecting on their life journeys, it will be of great worth to themselves and others to have their thoughts, as well as those of their family, preserved.

Jena Heath, an adoptive parent of a child from Guangdong Province and a professor of journalism, is working to assemble a "Storycorps of Chinese Adoption."  Our family was interviewed by her last weekend, and it was a fantastic experience.  Hearing my daughters's thoughts on their adoptions, what they hope for in their searches, and what they plan for their own lives, is an immensely important brick in their personal life stories. Quite simply, the recordings, in their own voices, are priceless to us.  

We strongly encourage you to contact Professor Heath to participate.  Her sensitivity, a result of her own family's experiences with adoption, will calm you. Her demeanor will put you and your family at total ease. And the interviews will help other adoptees and adoptive parents, as well as become a lasting legacy to your own family history.  

I am creating a digital audio archive of the stories of adoptees from China and their families. For the next year, at least, I will be traveling to talk with anyone who would like to share a personal adoption story – adoptees and their families. The goal is to create a place for adoptees to hear the direct, unmediated stories of others who share their experiences and to be able to document these stories for posterity. I am particularly interested in talking with adoptees who have searched for birth parents and with adoptive parents who have embarked on birth parent searches. I will launch the archive with the interviews/oral histories I collect over the next few months. Even better, however: The archive will also allow adoptees and their families to record and upload their stories themselves. For those of you who are NPR listeners, think of it as a kind of StoryCorps for the Chinese adoption community.

A bit about me: I am an associate professor of Journalism at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, who spent 20 years in newsrooms as a reporter and editor. My daughter, Caroline Chun, 9, came home from Yangchun, Guangdong Province, in 2008 a week after her second birthday. I helped launch Austin’s only public school Mandarin immersion language program and coordinated a Sister School relationship with my Xishuangbanna Yunjinghong Elementary School, in Yunnan Province.

If you would like to learn more about my project, please contact me at: jenaheath@gmail.com. If your FCC chapter or related organization is holding a Culture Camp, I’d love to attend to share more information.

Thank you,
Jena Heath

1 comment:

Jena Heath said...

Thank you, Brian. So kind of you to post your thoughts about my visit. I am very open to answering any and all questions about my project and am mindful of the parameters parents, particularly, will want to set. Please don't hesitate to contact me!