The Adoptee Thoughts Podcast

Exploring the Complexities of Birth Mothers and Adoption in the United States with Gretchen Sisson, PhD and Author of “Relinquished” Adoptee Thoughts

Welcome to our latest episode of the Adoptee Thoughts Podcast! In this thought-provoking discussion, I delve into the complexities surrounding the decisions made by birth mothers and pregnant individuals to place children for adoption in the United States with Gretchen Sisson, PhD.    She is a sociologist with Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco, and the author of Relinquished: The Politics of Adoption and the Privilege of American Motherhood, a critical, ten-year examination of domestic adoption. Centering the stories of relinquishing mothers, the book chronicles our country's refusal to care for families at the most basic level, and instead allow cultural and political ideas of adoption to advance an individual, private solution to large-scale social problems. A "comprehensive and harrowing debut" (Publishers Weekly, starred review) that "contributes to our national conversation of what reproductive justice really means" (Gloria Steinem), Relinquished is a necessary examination for our post-Dobbs era.   Adoption is a deeply personal and often emotionally charged journey, shaped by a myriad of factors including societal pressures, personal circumstances, and individual beliefs. Through insightful interviews and expert analysis, we unravel the layers of this complex topic, shedding light on the diverse experiences and perspectives of birth mothers and pregnant people.   Join us as we explore the nuanced reasons behind adoption decisions, from considerations of financial stability and educational opportunities to the emotional toll of unexpected pregnancies and societal stigma. We'll also discuss the importance of providing comprehensive support and resources to birth mothers throughout the adoption process, ensuring their voices are heard and their needs are met with empathy and understanding.   Whether you're an adoptive parent, adoption professional, or simply interested in understanding the dynamics of adoption in the United States, this episode offers valuable insights and perspectives that will deepen your understanding of this important topic.   Don't miss out on this enlightening conversation! Subscribe to our channel and hit the notification bell to stay updated on our latest episodes. Together, let's foster a greater understanding and appreciation for the complexities of adoption and the individuals impacted by this profound journey.   GIVEAWAY INFORMATION: As a thank you for being such an amazing community I am giving away one (1) copy of Gretchen’s book, “Relinquished.” T To enter you must:   Subscribe to my Youtube Channel @adoptee_thoughts Comment your favorite part of the episode For additional entries tag a friend in the comments that you think would benefit from listening to this podcast episode Enter within 10 days from the release of this episode on March 25th, 2024 Winner Will be announced on April 5th, 2024   Connect with Gretchen here: You can purchase her book here: _______________________________________________  For more adoption content, please like and follow: @adoptee_thoughts    ___________________________________________________  When I wrote an essay about finding out I was adopted much later in life for @huffpost I never expected it to go viral and then find my passion in adoption education and advocacy for ethical, trauma-informed, and child-centered adoption practices. Reviews of "What White Parents Should Know About Transracial Adoption"    “A powerful, worthwhile addition to the growing body of work on race and parenting.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review    “Melissa Guida-Richards lays bare a painful truth: That loss is central to adoption. For those who are adopted transracially and transnationally, the disappearance of culture, familiarity, and language carry added complexity. With grace and sensitivity, Guida-Richards offers clear, insightful guidance for adoptive parents to help their sons and daughters navigate the isolation, racism, and longing they inevitably feel.” —Gabrielle Glaser, author of American Baby    You can purchase my books here:    You can read the essay here:  @TamronHallShow Hall Interview: Good Day LA Interview with Michaela : Good Day La: ___________________
  1. Exploring the Complexities of Birth Mothers and Adoption in the United States with Gretchen Sisson, PhD and Author of “Relinquished”
  2. An Interview with an Adoptee, Who Exposed his Illegal Adoption in a Viral TikTok Challenge.
  3. An Interview with 3 Reunited Biological Siblings Once Separated by Adoption
  4. An Interview with Transracial Adoptee, Molly McLaurin, founder of Monarch Connections
  5. An Interview with Lynn Woo Mykytyn, Adoptee & Therapist

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Season 2

On Season 2, Episode 1 of the Adoptee Thoughts Podcast, Nicole Chung, and host, Melissa Guida-Richards discuss their experience with losing a loved one as an adoptee, as well as their writing process. Nicole shares some of her story as an adoptee, and advice for adoptees looking to get into writing.

Nicole Chung is the author of the nationally bestselling memoir All You Can Ever Know (Catapult, US; Pushkin Press, UK). Named a Best Book of the Year by two dozen publications, All You Can Ever Know was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, a semifinalist for the PEN Open Book Award, an Indies Choice Honor Book, and an official Junior Library Guild Selection. 

Chung’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, GQ, TIMELongreads, and Vulture, among others, and she also writes a weekly Care and Feeding advice column for Slate. She is the editor-in-chief of the National Magazine Award-winning Catapult magazine and the former managing editor of The Toast. Her next book is forthcoming from Ecco Books/HarperCollins. 

Find Nicole on Twitter: @nicolesjchung & Instagram: @nicolesjchung

On Season 2, Episode 2 of the Adoptee Thoughts Podcast, Christine Heimann, and host, Melissa Guida-Richards discuss their experience as international adoptees and the complexities of searching for birth family. Christine discusses why she created Adoptee Bridge and a little about her work with adoptees and adoptive families. 

Christine Heimann 정주빈 is a Korean American, transracial adoptee who has volunteered or worked with adoptees and adoptive families for over 15 years. In 2017, Christine founded AdopteeBridge, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, providing post-adoption support services to transracial and transnational adoptees and their families. Christine is passionate about providing post adoption services and resources to the adoptee community and this can be seen through the vision and programming of AdopteeBridge.  Connect with Christine here: Email: [email protected]

On Season 2, Episode 3 of the Adoptee Thoughts Podcast, Jenny Heijun Wills, and host, Melissa Guida-Richards discuss Jenny’s Memoir Older Sister, Not Necessarily Related (now available in paperback) and the intricacies of reunion with birth family. 

Jenny Heijun Wills is the author of Older Sister, Not Necessarily Related (McClelland & Stewart, Penguin Random House Canada, 2019), which won the 2019 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize and the 2020 Eileen McTavish Sykes Best First Book Award. She is also the co-editor of Adoption & Multiculturalism: Europe, The Americas, and the Pacific (University of Michigan Press, 2020).

Purchase her memoir here and follow Jenny on Instagram.

On Season 2, Episode 4 of the Adoptee Thoughts Podcast, Annie Goodchild, and host, Melissa Guida-Richards discuss Annie’s new video project, “I Used to Be Sam.” This project will use interviews of fellow adoptees to an EP and audio visual project series discussing transracial adoptee experiences in addition to the one that is unique to her own. 

Anyone interested in participating can submit to: [email protected]

Deadline: May 15, 2021 6:59 am (EST)

About Annie Goodchild:

On the day Annie Goodchild was adopted, her name changed. I Used to Be Sam is an American music artist whose career has left remarkable traces around the world. From selling out arenas as the lead singer to Scott Bradlee’s Post Modern Jukebox, to opening for Alicia Keys, I Used to Be Sam’s journey now leads her to expose all in her most emotional and personal project yet. I Used to Be Sam’s self-titled EP strips away years of emotional armor to bare all and share her personal experience of self-discovery and self-love, as a transracial adoptee who grew up in the care of a white family.


Instagram: @goodchild.annie

Season 1

On Episode 11 of the Adoptee Thoughts Podcast, Louise, and host, Melissa Guida-Richards discuss the unique experience as an international adoptee who grew up in an open adoption, coming out of the fog, and more.

Louise’s Bio:Louise Shepherd was born as “Fenny” on the island of Java, in Indonesia in 1982. At 6 months old she was adopted by a white Australian family. It was then her name was changed to Louise. 

The family consisted of mum, dad, two biological sons, and then Louise. Two and half years later the family adopted her sister from Seoul, South Korea.Louise grew up in Adelaide, South Australia. Louise lives on Kaurna Land. In 2009 Louise completed her Bachelors of Social Work and Social Planning. She is currently working in the Homelessness sector and has previous experience working in Child Protection. Louise feels passionate about many human rights topics, in particular the plight of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. 

Louise is mum to one healthy and boisterous, thriving 6-year-old little boy. She enjoys going to the beach, trying different food cuisines, and spending time with friends and family. Louise also says a good afternoon nap never goes astray either. 

Follow Louise on Instagram!

On Episode 10 of the Adoptee Thoughts Podcast, Shelley, and host, Melissa Guida-Richards discuss the intricacies of being an international adoptee, the benefits of having an adopted sibling, and the experience of being raised by a single mom.

Shelley’s Bio:My name is Shelley Rottenberg and I’m a Chinese adoptee. I was adopted from Zhejiang province when I was 8 months old and I now live in Southern Ontario. I have a Masters in Human Geography and am really interested in exploring the connections between people and places. I conducted research on the Lived Experiences of Chinese Adoptees in Canada for my undergraduate thesis. My desire to connect with other adoptees and to learn more about their experiences continues to grow over time.

Follow Shelley on Instagram

On Episode 9 of the Adoptee Thoughts Podcast, Maria, and host, Melissa Guida-Richards discuss how they handled finding birth family during a pandemic, the nuances of sharing the journey with adoptive parents, and how being adopted has impacted their parenting.

My name is Maria Fernanda. I am a Transracial Adoptee. I was born in Quito, Ecuador, South America. I was adopted at age 2 and brought to the United States where I have lived ever since. I have always known I was adopted, but it was not really until I was pregnant with my first child that I began to feel that I wanted to search for answers. It has been thirteen years since I began my journey to deep healing and self-discovery.

Right before the world shifted due to the pandemic, I began doing more intense birth family searching. Suddenly, I found my birth mother, my birth father, and my birth siblings. The journey to healing does not end for adoptees, in fact, once the reunion occurs it is as if we go back to the beginning with everything. My hope is to share my story, connect with other adoptees, and give support.

Instagram: A Butterfly Series

On Episode 8 of the Adoptee Thoughts Podcast, Aliyah, and host, Melissa Guida-Richards discuss her experience growing up in a predominantly white community, racism, and her experience working in foster care after seeing the flaws in the system.  

Aliyah Santos is a TRA, writer, podcaster, and single mother of 4. After finally leaving the fog at the age of 30, Aliyah set out to heal the trauma of growing up adopted in an abusive home through world travel with her kids. Now she’s made a temporary home for herself and her family in Morocco and podcasts about traveling and breaking cycles of trauma.

Her podcast is 4 Kids & Me Overseas. Instagram: broken2brave Facebook:broken2brave

In Episode 7 of the Adoptee Thoughts Podcast, Lauren and host, Melissa Guida-Richards have a chat about her debut book that reflects some of her experiences as an adoptee, how being an adoptee impacts other relationships in our lives, and her thoughts on the industry of adoption. 

Lauren J. Sharkey is a writer, teacher, and transracial adoptee. After her birth in South Korea, she was adopted by Irish Catholic parents and raised on Long Island. Sharkey’s creative nonfiction has appeared in the Asian American Feminist Collective’s digital storytelling project, First Times, as well as several anthologies including, I Am Strength! and Women under Scrutiny. Inconvenient Daughter is her debut novel and loosely based on her experience as a Korean adoptee.

You can follow her at Buy her book, INCONVENIENT DAUGHTER

Social Media:



Twitter @theljsharks #InconvenientDaughter

Episode 6: An Interview with Anissa Druesedow Anissa E. Druesedow, mother, adoptee, activist, and deportee. In episode 6, she shares her story of family separation and deportation as an adoptee without citizenship. Adoptees for JusticeWays to Help

On Episode 5 of the Adoptee Thoughts Podcast, Guida-Richards talks with Jessica and discusses her experience finding and reuniting with her birth family, her work in mentoring fellow Adoptees, and helpful advice for adoptive parents.

Mentorship at Spence-Chapin: NYC based Mentorship

All Together Now: Brooklyn based Mentorship

Based in New York, Jessica M. Luciere (she/hers), is a mother, photographer, transracial adoptee, and adoptee advocate who has spent 15+ years working with adoptive families from all around the world. Jessica is the President of All Together Now, a mentoring program based in Brooklyn NY, and the Director of the Spence-Chapin Mentorship program in New York City, both serving adoptees and their families. Her involvement in mentorship has given her the opportunity to witness the adoptee experience from many different lenses and learn from all of those within the adoption constellation. This has been the most important work Jessica has done and she continues to develop and grow programming for this community that is so close to her heart.

Email Jessica at gmail DOT com

Follow her on Instagram

On Episode 4 of the Adoptee Thoughts Podcast, I have the honor of interviewing fellow transracial adoptee, Kylie Peterson. She talks about growing up as a Black TRA with white adoptive parents and how she has been discussing race and BLM with her family during this time. Kylie also shares some great tips for fellow transracial adoptees and we delve into some great insights that are essential for adoptive parents.

Find Kylie on Instagram here!