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Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) San Diego to host National Conference July 31-August 3

Posted by lecrowder in Back To Our Roots, Events, Home, News, Our Stories on 03 16th, 2014

Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) San Diego to host National Conference July 31-August 3

Take a look at the Conference trailer!

FANHS 2014 Conference Theme
Kapwa: Moving Forward in Unity

FANHS San Diego Chapter decided on the theme “Kapwa: Moving Forward in Unity” last fall. It was in early November 2012 just prior to the Presidential Election and after Filipino American History Month in October. We thought about the importance of an action oriented theme as our nationwide Filipino American community just celebrated the 425th Anniversary of Filipinos landing in California, and as our country was about to embark upon a decision–moving forward as a nation.


Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) understands the importance of Filipino Americans moving forward in unity. “Kapwa” refers to an indigenous and decolonized term which means shared identity. The core value of kapwa encompasses 1) interaction with others on an equal basis; 2) sensitivity to and regard for others 3) respect and concern; 4) helping each other; 5) understanding each other’s limitations; and 6) rapport with and acceptance of others.


FANHS has a vision to build leaders for the future taking into account a decolonized perspective which looks at our past, our present and our future. Decolonization promotes the cultural connection to one’s kapwa (shared identity), making it possible to identify with one’s people and history, despite personal, generational, educational, social or economic differences. FANHS returns to California in 2014 where Filipinos 1st landed in what is now the continental United States.

2014 also marks the 100th anniversary of the 1st sailing through the Panama Canal which accomplished a land divided and a world united. As the 1st U.S. port of call on the Pacific Coast, north of the Panama Canal, San Diego celebrated the opening of the canal with a grand exposition. This exposition contributed to San Diego’s expansion and attracted many visitors, putting San Diego on the map for the 20th century.

The history of Filipinos coming to the port of San Diego began centuries earlier when Filipinos sailed on the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade ships. Mindful of these significant sailings and the core value of kapwa, as FANHS comes to San Diego we will examine our history, our struggles, and our shared and different identities. With our FANHS 2014 National Conference, we will move our communities forward in unity.




The Ties Program: Birth Country Travel–A Journey Back, A Journey Forward

Posted by lecrowder in Back To Our Roots, Home, Our Stories on 03 29th, 2013

CT Workshop Info

Saturday, April 13
2:45 to 4:15 PM

Windsor Public Library
323 Broad Street
Windsor, CT 06095

RSVP for the workshop!
Please indicate your country(ies) of interest.

This workshop will encompass information from the following two workshops:

Birth Country Travel–A Journey Back, A Journey Forward
A heritage journey is one of the most significant factors in the identity building process of internationally adopted children. So, what’s the journey all about? What age is the best age? How can families prepare? What role does “adoptee loyalty” play in the journey? What are the pros and cons of group vs individual travel? What adoption exploration is possible in country? How do the kids react before, during and after the trip? This workshop will address the top questions asked by families considering birth country travel.

Teens and Tweens–
What I Would Tell You if I Could Find the Words
If you are raising a tween or teen, chances are they are holding back. It’s what my 12 year old daughter calls “restricted information.” “Why is it restricted?” I ask, holding on to her every word, listening for clues for what is on HER mind, despite the fact that via my professional work, I’ve got a pretty good clue.

“Because I don’t want to hurt you, or make you feel bad about stuff,” she replies. “But what stuff?” I ask. “You know Mom, just stuff.”

So what’s the stuff? What are tweens and teens pondering in the corners of their minds? The answer: questions and thoughts related to:

1. Fitting in
2. Their relationship with their adoptive family & adoptee loyalty
3. Feelings related to their birth family and birth country
4. And the double whammy-things that combine both birth and adoptive family
5. Understanding background, a.k.a. Life History
6. Poverty in birth country
7. Why? Why? Why? (to a million things)
8. Abandonment issues, insecurities, and control
9. Self-worth & guilt
10. Hope

This workshop will take a look at concrete questions & thoughts that MAY be going through your child’s mind, or may be soon.

In this very interactive workshop, you will hear and experience the thoughts of international adoptees….the “restricted information” shared openly and honestly by adoptees themselves. It will provide insight to help you create a strategy that will strengthen your relationship with your child.

RSVP for the workshop
Please indicate your country(ies) of interest.

Learn more about our sister organizations:

World Ties
Humanitarian aid in your (or your child’s) country of birth. Information is on each country page on The Ties Program website. In the right hand column, look for “Project Kindness”

Gift of Identity Fund
The Gift of Identity Fund, Ltd. provides funding to international adoptees visiting their birth country with the goal of helping them understand their identity, heritage, and culture.
If you prefer not to receive information, please opt out using the Safe Unsubscribe feature below.

Note: We share our newsletter platform–Constant Contact–with the above two organizations to help these non-profits keep overhead low. If a newsletter comes to you from either of these organizations, and you unsubscribe, you will be unsubscribed automatically from The Ties Program news as well.

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The Ties Program–Adoptive Family Homeland Journeys | 2835 N. Mayfair Rd., Ste 25 | Wauwatosa | WI | 53222

Parenting As Adoptees

Posted by lecrowder in Connections, Home, Our Stories on 08 17th, 2012

Dear friends, family, colleagues, and members of the adoption community:

We (Adam Chau and Kevin Ost-Vollmers) are excited to announce that the anthology Parenting As Adoptees is now available at Amazon as an e-book ( The following well respected adoptees are contributors:

Dr. Bert Ballard, Susan Branco Alvarado, Dr. Stephanie Kripa Cooper-Lewter and her daughter Courtney Cooper-Lewter, Lorial Crowder, Shannon Gibney, Astrid Dabbeni, Mark Hagland, Dr. Hei Kyong Kim, JaeRan Kim, Jennifer Lauck, Mary Mason, Robert O’Connor, John Raible, and Sandy White Hawk.

Through fourteen chapters, the authors of Parenting As Adoptees give readers a glimpse into a pivotal phase in life that touches the experiences of many domestic and international adoptees – that of parenting. The authors intertwine their personal narratives and professional experiences, and the results of their efforts are powerful, insightful, and potentially groundbreaking. As Melanie Chung-Sherman, LCSW, LCPAA, PLLC, notes:

“Rarely has the experience of parenting as an adopted person been laid to bear so candidly and vividly. The authors provide a provocative, touching and, at times visceral and unyielding, invitation into their lives as they unearth and piece together the magnitude of parenting when it is interwoven with their adoption narrative. It is a prolific piece that encapsulates the rawness that adoption can bring from unknown histories, abandonment, grief, and identity reconciliation which ultimately reveals the power of resiliency and self-determination as a universal hallmark in parenting.”

Moreover, despite its topical focus, the book will resonate with individuals within and outside of the adoption community who are not parents. “Parenting As Adoptees,” writes Dr. Indigo Willing, “contributes and sits strongly alongside books by non-adoptees that look at issues to do with ‘the family’, race, ethnicity and migration. As such, this book should appeal to a broad audience interested in these various fields of inquiry.”

Parenting As Adoptees can be downloaded onto your computer, Kindle, and Kindle app supporting tablet/phone (such as iPads, iPhones, Droids, etc.) by going to this link:

In a few weeks, the book will be available at Barnes & Nobles for the Nook. Additionally, this fall we will be publishing a limited edition hardcopy to coincide with a book signing event in Minnesota. Please visit the Parenting As Adoptees website ( for more information. Additional reviews and excerpts from the book can be found there. And to receive regular updates, please “like” the book’s Facebook page:

Thank you for your time. We hope that you check out Parenting As Adoptees, and we would greatly appreciate it if you would share it with other individuals/groups whom you believe would find it of interest.

With warm regards,

Kevin Ost-Vollmers, Land of Gazillion Adoptees

Adam Chau, CQT Media And Publishing


Kevin Ost-Vollmers
C: 612.382.8568

Blog: Transracialeyes – Because of course race and culture matter

Posted by FAN Admin in Connections, Home, Our Stories on 09 21st, 2011

The Transracialeyes Eyes blog is run by a diverse group of international/transracial adoptees. The discussions are honest and examine the less comfortable issues that are not often not given a platform. The topics are meant to be challenging and thought provoking so be ready to cringe, breathe a sigh of relief and even shocked.

One of the newest guest bloggers is our own James Beni Wilson who also has his own blog called Pathos of Asian Adoptees. Congratulations!



  • What we do

    This site is provided as a resource for those exploring the ideas of transracial and/or international adoption.


    Readers can submit a question for consideration and adoptees of color will provide insightful comments.


    We’ve decided to not make it a discussion board because we donate our time and have lives to lead, but will be happy to share our perspectives.


  • If you’re a transracial adoptee who would like to contribute

    you can contact us here.


    We ask that posts and comments be substantive and that you make a commitment to be involved and contribute regularly. We are interested in a diverse range of adoptee opinions.


  • If you’d like to submit a question

    you can contact us here.


    Please allow several days for contributors to find time to address your questions and check back often!


  • If you’d like to comment

    Please post at the General Comments page.

    Our Comment Policy:

    Given the power differential between dominant adopter culture and the adoptee, we attempt at Transracial Eyes to even this playing field. Mimicry of this discourse by adoptees can therefore be seen as compradorist, Uncle-Tomist, and/or kowtowing, and we wish to call this out. We aim to achieve a truly equal dialectic, and our response to such feedback will reflect this goal.


    Comments which attack one’s feelings or opinions, or which directly or indirectly judge or belittle contributors will not be tolerated.


  • If you’d like to send us a SHOUT OUT

    We all like to know our work is valued, so if you’d like to drop us a supportive line, please feel free to visit our Guest Registry page, where comments are open to the general public. We’d love to hear from you and to know our efforts are not wasted. Thanks!

St. Louis Beacon – Lost and found: Jim Zimmerly returned to Vietnam with adoptive family to meet his biological one

Posted by FAN Admin in Connections, Home, International/Adoption Philippines, News, Our Stories on 03 12th, 2010
Lost and found: Jim Zimmerly returned to Vietnam with adoptive family to meet his biological one Print E-mail
By Kristen Hare, Beacon staff

Video by Kristen Hare

Posted 10:24 a.m. Fri., 03.12.10 – They met outside Ho Chi Minh City airport.

He was exhausted, unprepared and unsure, but Jim Zimmerly stood there surrounded by a crowd of people, in the arms of his crying mother. His biological mother. The woman who adopted him at 1, who raised him and loved him and put him through school stood nearby.

She cried, too.

Thirty-two years before, their lives all intersected when Zimmerly’s biological mother in Vietnam gave him up for adoption and a family in St. Louis signed up to adopt a child from a country still in tatters from war.

Close to 3,000 children were adopted into families in the United States during the time, with thousands more in Europe, Canada and Australia. Zimmerly was one of those children.

But it was 2007 now, and Saigon was Ho Chi Minh City, and Zimmerly wasn’t a baby, but a 32-year-old back in Vietnam for the first time.

His birth mother was small, fragile, it seemed, her hair cut short. She cried throughout the day and touched him all she could, his face, his back, as they sat at her small home around the coffee table eating plates of rice and shrimp and fish, sweating and sipping bottled water, as he met his younger brother, two younger sisters and their families.

During that trip, he probably spent a total of 10 hours with his biological family.

“I wish there was more, but it seemed like more than enough,” he says now, seated at a Starbucks in St. Peters. “What do you talk about, you know? We just sat there. You go into it thinking you’re going to have all these questions, like, who my father was.”

But once he met her, Zimmerly couldn’t ask those questions. “I didn’t know what to do.”

He points to a photo of him and his biological brother, who have the same smile. His brother was born just 10 months later, and Zimmerly thinks, that could have been me, I could have stayed in Vietnam, he could have been adopted.

It’s something he’s thought about a lot — chance. Like how easily he might have been among half of the passengers who didn’t survive the C5 Galaxy crash 35 years ago during the first flight of Operation Babylift. Or how easily he could have ended up with a family who mistreated him.

“It’s fate and destiny and a lot of luck, obviously, to survive a plane crash,” he says.

But chance hasn’t shaped everything in his life.

Family has.

ST. LOUIS, 1970s

In Vietnam, Zimmerly couldn’t ask questions about his past. But in St. Louis, they always came easily. They started as a child and often included this one: Why did you and dad decide to adopt the child of a stranger from another country?

“I’ve always known that story,” he says. “And I always remember it.”


What: “Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam”

When: 7 p.m., Mon., March 15

Where: Anheuser-Busch Hall, law school at Washington University.

What else: Panel discussion afterward about intercountry adoption and cultural identity, including Sister Susan McDonald and adoptees Dan Bischoff and Jim Zimmerly.

RSVPs are required. Click here for more info.

In the 1970s, Wanda and Mel Zimmerly sat on the beach one Sunday, having a picnic during a two-week visit with her brother in California.

There, playing in the sand, was a little girl from Korea. She’d been adopted, they found out.

“Wouldn’t that be nice if we could do something like that?” Wanda Zimmerly said to her husband then. They talked about it again on the trip home to St. Louis.

About a year later, she saw an article in the newspaper about adoptions and how to help the children of Vietnam. She got more information and applied. The Zimmerlys, who worked through Friends for Children of Vietnam, had a home study and got on a waiting list. Then, they waited.

a new home


Photos provided by Jim Zimmerly

In February 1975, when the Zimmerlys’ daughter and son were 10 and 8, the family got a photo of a little boy. He was about a year old and weighed 13 pounds. They assumed his mother was dead. They had 10 days to decide if they wanted him. They did. They’d name him Jim.

One morning that April, Mel Zimmerly left for work like he always did. A little after 6:30 that morning, the home phone rang. Wanda Zimmerly answered.

“Wanda, there’s been a plane crash in Vietnam,” a friend said.

She knew they were trying to get the kids out of Vietnam, but she didn’t know if the little boy they adopted was on the plane that crashed. Later that afternoon she saw the news on TV.

The C5 Galaxy carrying Americans and orphans crashed several minutes after takeoff. Nearly half of those on board had died, including children.

Wanda Zimmerly was devastated.

A few days later, a social worker in Colorado called her and said, “I think we found Jimmy.”

Wanda Zimmerly arranged for a friend to bring the little boy from Colorado once the paper work was cleared. He arrived on a Saturday night, the day before his first birthday.

His new sister, Melissa, was 10 when Jim arrived. She remembers he was tiny and couldn’t walk, how he loved ice cream and never fussed.

Three years later, a letter arrived from Friends for All Children in Colorado.

“In April of 1975, a plane evacuating 228 of our children from Viet Nam crashed. Seventy eight of the children and six staff were killed. One hundred and fifty children survived. Your child was one of the surviving children.”


For several years, the Zimmerly family traveled to Washington, D.C., regularly, like other families in the lawsuits against Lockheed and the government for the crash of the C5 Galaxy.

a new family


Jim is held by his sister, Melissa, as his brother, Melvin, stands by.

During those trials, it came out that the rear doors of the cargo plane had blown off after takeoff, as they’d done 17 times before. There was no oxygen, and children passed out as the plane crashed. That loss of oxygen caused some of the children to suffer minimal brain damage.

Jim Zimmerly saw doctors, was strapped down for a cat scan and visited an empty courtroom. To him, it was a big vacation. He started bragging to friends about how many times he’d been to D.C.

The first trial ended in mistrial, and a second trial proceeded, where the Zimmerlys were included in a class action suit. That trial ended in a settlement and the Zimmerlys returned to St. Louis, but Operation Babylift remained an important part of their lives.

ST. LOUIS, 1980-2005

Nearly every summer through the end of high school, many of the Operation Babylift families vacationed together.

They went to Colorado, Cape Cod, Wild Dunes, S.C., Oregon, Disneyland and even St. Louis. They stayed in their own rented houses or hotels, but gathered together for meals and activities.

Friends with a common bond


Jim is the first person on the right in a vacation photo with other Operation Babylift families.

Though all the kids lived in different parts of the country, Jim Zimmerly grew to think of them as a family. Among them were an understanding and a connection that didn’t require explaining or a map. It was easy.

Zimmerly always knew he was adopted, he’d heard the story again and again. And though his father’s side of the family were traditional German immigrants who saw black, white and Asian with clear differences, Zimmerly’s father wouldn’t allow that kind of thinking in his own home.

As a child, if Zimmerly cracked a joke about not really being his son, his father got angry.

“He would almost hit me, saying ‘I am your father. Don’t say that.'”

The signals weren’t always so clear in other places though. Zimmerly, who went to Country Day School, was often asked where he was from.

Vietnam, he’d say.

Oh, the war, kids replied. Which side are you on?

He had no idea what they meant.

During his teen years, Zimmerly distanced himself from Operation Babylift. He had his adoptee friends, but didn’t want to know the details of the crash or the war or anything to do with Vietnam.

In 2005, a 30-year reunion changed that. The group, organized by Sister Mary Nelle Gage, one of the nuns at the Vietnamese orphanages, met in Estes Park, Colo. Twenty-six of the adoptees came, including the crowd Zimmerly had grown up with. By then, most of them were 30 and had already been back to Vietnam. (Story continues below the photo of the 30-year reunion)


At one point during the long weekend was a group session to talk about how people were doing.

“It was awful,” Zimmerly says. “I mean, it was awesome, but it was awful at the same time.”

He heard a lot of pain, a struggle for identity and issues with adoptive families.

And he thought, that could have been me.

Zimmerly decided to return to Vietnam, to see it for himself, and soon, his mother had located two brothers and a sister who were also adopted in the United States. Through them, she found out that his birth mother was still living.

In 2007, with the mother who raised him and his sister, the Zimmerlys went over to meet is birth mother.

ST. LOUIS, 2010

In 2009, Jim Zimmerly and Wanda Zimmerly returned to Vietnam for a second time. He saw his birth mother again, but a stroke she’d had 10 years before was causing her health to decline.

That same year, at 34, he was diagnosed with heart disease. Shortly after that, he had heart surgery.

“I dodged a bullet twice,” he says.

he ‘knows who he is’


Jim Zimmerly, easy going and quick to laugh, has always been that way. But after his heart surgery, it takes even more to get him rattled.

Still, it happens.

People say stupid things all the time, like how he looks like that guy from “Entourage” or “Mad TV.” They’re small things, like the comments growing up. But they continue.

“I think it’s ignorance,” he says, “but sometimes it does get to me.”

“The discrimination is what amazed me,” says his sister, Melissa Narez. “I forget that he’s Asian and he doesn’t look like me.”

Jim Zimmerly knows that he and the other Babylift adoptees didn’t have what kids have now when they’re adopted transracially and internationally. There weren’t any culture camps back then, or books or classes for parents.

“I don’t speak Vietnamese; I don’t know much abut the food,” he says.

He wishes he did.

And though he’s met his biological family, there’s no bond there, not with his biological mother or siblings.

He wishes there was.

While he doesn’t let it get to him, sometimes, Zimmerly feels like there’s no real place for him.

“Here, you’re Vietnamese,” he says. “There, you’re an American.”

In the 35 years since Operation Babylift, Sister Susan Carol McDonald has seen how differently adoptees handle their identity.

babylift150sistersusannow.jpg“Well, most of them would say that they grew up and realized they looked different from other people and some didn’t have a problem with this, some did,” says McDonald (right), who cared for orphans in Vietnam from 1973 to 1975. “Many of them were wishing they had lighter color skin, that their eyes were shaped differently, that their hair was curly or blond, wanting to fit in. Most of them had other children teasing them with karate moves or making Chinese eyes or talking in some gobbledygook language. So they knew that they were different.”

For some, it wasn’t a big deal. For others, it was.

The issues of racial identity might be specific to transracial adoption, but the issue of identity in general isn’t. McDonald thinks many adoptees hesitated in asking more about their past because they didn’t want to hurt their adoptive parents.

“Parents would say, oh, he’s an all-American boy, she’s an all-American girl. I think some felt they had to live up to that.”

In fact, she says, some rejected their heritage because they didn’t see it in their families. Wanda Zimmerly, who still speaks on a weekly basis with other Babylift families, doesn’t know much about transracial adoption today. But without meaning to, she and the other families helped their children have a place to process their identity every summer. While the reunions ended after high school, in the last few years, many of the adoptees have reconnected online.

“Jimmy knows who he is,” his mom says.

And he agrees with that. He’s 35, a tax consultant, laid-back, single, living the life. He’s adopted from a place remembered for war, the survivor of a crash that killed half of those on board, the youngest of three, a St. Louis native and a St. Charles transplant. All those things are part of him. His family had a lot to do with his acceptance of that, he says.

“They made me belong.”

Next year, Jim Zimmerly plans on returning to Vietnam with his mom. While there, they’ll visit his birth mom again.

NEXT: Sister Susan Carol McDonald plans a trip back to Vietnam with adoptees for the 35th anniversary of Operation Babylift.

Post Adoption Services: Beginning Your Search and Reunion

Posted by FAN Admin in Back To Our Roots, FAN Announcements, Home, International/Adoption Philippines, Our Stories on 03 11th, 2010

At some point as adoptees, we wonder about the woman that gave us life, the caregivers that looked after us, what our medical history is, what physical attributes were passed down to us and so on. It is not an easy decision to start a search considering the many implications, frustrations, or worries that may raise.  Just know that you are not alone.

FAN has assisted dozens of adoptees and families who have inquired about search and reunion. Through the Network we’ve connected with adult adoptees who have begun their search and a handful who have successfully reunited with their birth family. Our close partnership with the  Intercountry Adoption Board has also provided needed assistance.

Feel free mail info@filipino-adoptees-network if you have an inquiries.

* Please note that if you are under the age of 18 years old, you MUST have the consent of your legal guardian to initiate a search and reunion.

* There is no guarantee that a search will be successful but this should not deter you from doing so. A search can actually provide unknown information that you were unaware of and can sometimes fill the gaps in your adoption story.

Before you decide to contact ICAB, the following information will be very helpful. It can be found on your birth certificate or the case study conducted before your adoption.

– Date of Birth

– Location of Birth

– Name of orphanage in the Philippines if you resided in one before your adoption

– Whether your adoption was private or not

– Name of foreign adoption agency i.e. U.S agency

– Date of adoption

– Name of birth mother

The Intercountry Adoption Board oversees all international (and domestic) adoptions and also has a team that provides post adoption services to assist you in your search. You can request for your original birth certificate and adoption records although if you were privately adopted prior to the 1980’s there is no guarantee of such records.


Counseling about adoption issues.

Access to original birth certificate

Provision of adoption records

Assistance to interpret and clarify information in the records

Search assistance  to find birth family and relatives.

Other intermediary services for adoptive parents, birth parents  and relatives.

Motherland Tour


  • DSWD Archive
  • Inter-Country Adoption Board


A. Search process:

  • The intent to search may be allowed only upon the personal request made by either  the adult adoptee, adopter or the biological parent/s. Minors who are interested to search for his/her biological parent/s shall be represented by his/her adoptive parents.
  • The request must be made in writing  by whoever intends to trace his/her roots to the Executive Director  of the Inter-Country Adoption Board.
  • Assess and determine the motivations and preparedness of the individual  to pursue the search.
  • Identifying information e.g., names, address, personal  background etc. may be shared only between  and among the adult adoptee, adoptive parents and his/her birth parents and only of they give their written consent.
  • Non-identifying  information e.g., medical records circumstances which lead to the adoption of child but not  necessarily  divulging  the identity  of concerned individual etc. may be made available  to both adoptive parents/s and birth parents and the adoptee under 18 years old.
  • The use of tri-media.

B. Meeting/Reunion:

  • Approval/Consent from the birth parents, adoptive parents and the adoptee must be secured before  contact and/or  reunion with each other can be arranged.]
  • When reunion is decided, preparations of all concerned must be carefully planned to avoid any possible  negative experience. The social worker must also consider the decision and the readiness of  the adoptee  and the biological parent/s on whether to involve  the significant  person/s in their  present lives.
  • The timing of any approach  to family members  is very critical  and incredibly important at this point. The social worker  must be aware of the impact  on all parties desiring contact. He/She  must  be able  to offer  a mediating approach  to support  people at  this time, and to try  and negotiate and agreeable outcome for all concerned, while  at the same time  providing  support the process.
  • The birth parent/s and the adoptee  must be given time and space to arrive at a decision at how their lives will move on after the reunion.

Adoptee Reflection: Learning about being Filipino-American

Posted by FAN Admin in Back To Our Roots, FAN Announcements, Home, Our Stories on 02 7th, 2010

Eliot Cashell wrote this reflection when he was 21 years old in 2005. He continues to have a passion to learn about his Filipino roots and has returned to the Motherland since.

By Eliot Cashell

It took me a good 20 years to start figuring myself out. As a Filipino adopted by Caucasian parents from West Virginia, my life began a little differently.  As such, I was always embarrassed to visit my Filipino friend’s homes because their parents never failed to ask me: “What island are you from?” or  “What is your last name and what generation are your parents from?”
None of my answers seemed to make any sense. I tried to find answers to these questions by applying for a study program in the Philippines. However, I was denied admittance because I had expressed an interest in pursuing a career in the Navy. The director of the program explained the negative relationship between the U.S. military and the Philippines and thought that it would be too much of a cultural shock for me.

So, I turned to a group called the Philippine Cultural Society of the George Washington University (PCSGWU). There I felt welcomed and comfortable exploring my Filipino background.  I no longer found myself standing in the middle of friends’ living rooms, being hammered with cultural questions by their parents and without any satisfying answers. Instead, I learned through my peers about the Filipino culture without having to feel so different.

I ate adobo for the first time, read every piece of Filipino literature I could get my hands on and learned several cultural dances. I started to attend bigger venues like the Filipino Inter-collegiate Network Dialogue (FIND).
I began to notice how some Filipino-Americans took their culture for granted. I saw that no matter how hard I tried or how much I learned, other Filipino Americans would not accept me because of how my Caucasian parents raised me. However, these valuable experiences taught me how to become comfortable with myself.

After college I joined the Navy and received orders to attend the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL program in California.  When I learned that there were only three Navy SEALs who were of Filipino background, the rigorous training motivated me. I dreamed of becoming a SEAL and speaking to large Filipino groups, telling them that by making it through the tough training, I was able to overcome the stereotype accorded Filipino Americans and all Asian Americans of being weak, subservient and easily conquered. I did not finish the training, but I got further than any other Filipino under the harsh scrutiny of my instructors. The challenges I confronted forced me to look inward and learn who I really am. I know life will continue to present challenges to me that are dynamic and that they will define me, which, in turn, will help me understand and learn more about my identity.

One thing is certain: I enjoy learning about being Filipino American. It will always be part of my life, and knowing that there is always something more to learn is comforting. Being Filipino American gives me a passion to live.

Filipino Heritage Camp – Winter Park Mountain Lodge – July 15-18, 2010

Posted by FAN Admin in Back To Our Roots, Connections, Events, Home, Our Stories on 01 25th, 2010

Filipino Heritage Camp (FHC) is my summer vacation that has become very dear to me and now my family. I came across FHC while doing a search on “Filipino camp” back in 2000 and applied to be a counselor for the weekend. I knew it was out of my element and I would not know anyone but I suppose this was part of my adventure.

I learned that one of the coordinators and a camper (who is now the Counselor Coordinator for FHC) was part of the FHC and by happenstance were also the same people I met during my Motherland visit to the Philippines  in 1998. I was comforted by this reunion, which also made for a smoother transition with my first FHC.

Ten years later I have found myself in a leadership role with FHC, along with my fellow Filipino adoptee. We spent hours through the years talking about the strides the camp has made and what our vision would be if we were ever in the position to offer our opinion. Now, FHC is going into its new decade and with 10 years under our belt we are excited about our new site at Winter Park Mountain Lodge and our participation!

The success of FHC would not be possible without our community partner, the Filipino American Community of Colorado. Every year they have tirelessly volunteered their time to provide the often missing cultural piece of adoption by instructing dance classes, amazing Filipino meals and quite simply their presence.

We hope you can join us for a unique experience with Filipino Heritage Camp this summer in Winter Park this summer!!

Filipino Heritage Camp

July 15th to 17th, 2010 at Winter Park Mountain Lodge, CO
(optional Fun/Family Day date to be announced)

2010 Directors: Lorial Crowder and David Slattery

“I Love Camp” FHC 2nd Grader Camper
“ This is my Favorite Camp”
FHC 5th Grade Camper
“ I don’t want Camp to end”
FHC 7th Grade Camper
“ It’s worth so much to see our girls grow with confidence – giving them the tools to cope with adoption/race issues we don’t fully understand. They look forward to seeing their long lasting friends every year.”
FHC Parent
I did not realize how much camp would help me as a Parent too!”
FHC Parent

The Filipino Heritage Camp is one of a handful of camps designed especially for families with children adopted from the Philippines/with Filipino heritage. Committed to exploring both the cultural and the adoption aspects of growing as an adoptive family, it is one of ten camps facilitated by the highly respected Colorado Heritage Camps, Inc.

FHC 2010 is going to be a year of big changes! Not only do we have a new facility in Winter Park, it will be the first year in the history of FHC that two Filipino adult adoptees will be Co-Directing! We have big shoes to fill with our predecessors and former Directors Scott Grant and Sue Thiry but are confident that the dedicated parent and Filipino community volunteers will once again be instrumental in providing wonderful programming for the children and parents. FHC is also planning an optional “Family Fun Day” for folks who would like an extra no frills day. Date to be announced so please check site regularly for update.

The Filipino Adoptees Network (FAN) is thrilled to partner with FHC for the 4th year. FAN is a network that supports and provides resources to Filipino adoptees, adoptive families and those touched by adoption. Volunteering as a counselor for FHC is an amazing opportunity to meet fellow Filipino adult adoptees. Click here to apply as an FHC counselor:

This year FAN is proud assist with the development and implementation of the:
• elementary workshops,
• middle school and high school workshops,
• adult workshops,
• and family based programs.

Our new location, Winter Park Mountain Lodge is located
directly across from the Ski Resort, which is full of summer time events and activities, and a stones throw from downtown Winter Park. The Resort recently added 100 new rooms and renovated 52 rooms. Area activities and amenities are endless; we are ecstatic to provide you with a memorable and fun weekend!

Plans for 2010?

” NO history, NO self, KNOW history, KNOW self: Honoring Filipino Americans”

2010 is a U.S. Census year and the Filipino American community is anticipated to become the first largest Asian American group, surpassing the Chinese Americans. The U.S. Census reported in 2007 that 3.1 million Filipinos reside in America and 80% of Filipino Americans are U.S. citizens. Also in 2007, the U.S. Census reported the Filipino American community to be 4 million or 1.5% of the U.S. population.

Who are the Notable Filipino Americans? What have been their contributions?

This year’s Filipino Heritage Camp, you will learn about the rich history of Filipinos in America that date as far back as 1587 to present day. The workshops and activities will focus on prominent Filipino Americans in the various industries such as entertainment, science, education, sports, medicine and arts. There will also be educational and fun workshops that will look at music, art, dance, history and games that celebrate our Filipino American heritage.

The elementary workshops will include sessions on:
• Filipino/American history
• Craft projects
• discovering love of Filipino music, and dance,
• entertainment and games!

There is specialized programming for our middle and high school aged campers, including:
• Learning about our Filipino American history
• “Survivor Philippines”
• Filipinos in the music industry
• Babayin – the ancient Filipino sanskrit
• “More than Me” project, partner organization to be announced. For more on this trademark Colorado Heritage Camps project, click here:

Workshops for Parents will include;
• The popular cooking classes,
• Adoptee panel,
• An overview of the history of Filipinos in America
• Parent run workshops

The Filipino-American Community of Colorado (FACC) will be celebrating their 10th year volunteering with FHC. The members have had an invaluable role with the camp over the years providing a connection to our Filipino culture by teaching us about culture, cuisine, dance, music and history of the Philippines.

To read about last year’s camp click here

For more pictures of Filipino Camp 2008 click here

We look forward to seeing your family at camp!

The support from the local Filipino community from Denver is amazing BUT we are always looking for more volunteers and counselors; to assist with the kids, teach workshops, preparing meals, etc., We encourage Filipino adult adoptees to apply as counselors, which offers a unique opportunity to network with fellow adoptees. Please consider joining us this year as a volunteer or counselor!
As a non-profit 501 C(3) organization, Filipino Heritage Camp is always seeking financial assistance to help keep camp costs reasonable for families, and still provide an outstanding program. If you’d like to help, please go to the Donations section of this web site. Thank you very much in advance.
Frequent Flier Donations:
We are also in need of donations of frequent flier miles to help defray costs of out of state speakers. If you have miles you can donate please email us at
We hope to see you at camp this summer. For further information, please contact us.

Poems by an Adoptee

Posted by FAN Admin in Our Stories on 01 25th, 2010

My name is Andrew Ric Heyer. My adopted parents put Andrew in front of Ric, which is the name I responded to when I was young. Why they put Andrew I will never know. I think I was adopted when I was 2 and on the way to the U.S. my friend gave me a black eye with a Tonka truck. Although I don’t remember this, that is the story I was told.

My adopted parents have given me a wonderful life and I am forever grateful for that. Although it took me a very long time to say that. For the longest time I was very angry and hurt that I was given up. Why would someone do that? What was wrong with me. It took me a long time to come to grips that there must have been a good reason and should be thankful for everything my adopted parents have given me. Truth be told, I am still working on fully accepting my adopted parents, but its a work in progress.

For more poems by Andrew Heyer please visit his site  here.

~ Memories ~

with these outstretched arms I reach for you

songs of sadness scream the pain I feel

ripped away from the only comfort I have known

separated for reasons I will never know

in slow motion I watch you fade away

yearning for your touch

longing to be held and loved

a boy forced to be a man to soon

by those deeming you unfit to care for your son

all those precious moments

lost between a mother and son

memories never to made

I wish for them now

for I have found you to late

rest now, I hope you found the peace you searched for


~ Mother ~

I’ve been sitting in this room so dark and alone

trying to find a place where I belong

grasping at the nothingness which surrounds me

covered in this shroud of darkness, unable to break free

desperately searching for a peacefulness amongst all this confusion

so cold and lost

this constant inner turmoil of which I struggle against

silently destroys the remnants of my inner sanctuary

so many questions, so many pieces without a place

you left me here so small and afraid

maybe you found what you were looking for

but, perhaps you needed only look in front of you

why did you leave me….mother….

~ My Angel ~

soft summer breeze gently caressing my face

whispering soft words of love in the afternoon

passionate kisses lasting forever and a day

here in the twilight our bodies intertwined

two becoming one

beneath the setting sun our worlds collide

all of our inhibitions melting away

your tender touch soften my tough facade

all my fears dissolve into oblivion

relinquishing control of my soul to you

nothing in this world can harm me

I feel so safe and loved when I’m with you

in this world, through all the madness

I find shelter and comfort in your arms

my angel, my small piece of heaven, on this earth

The Neighborhood: An Extraordinary Exchange – Five Stories on Adoption

Posted by FAN Admin in Our Stories on 01 15th, 2010

January 15, 2010

An Extraordinary Exchange

Five Stories on Adoption
More and more children are growing up knowing two families: their adoptive family and their birth family. Adults whose birth records were sealed are reuniting with long lost birth parents, and gay, lesbian and transracial adoptions are on the rise — changing the face of our family photo albums and American identity.

This segment is from Neighborhood’s Emily Corwin.

Right Click and “Save As” to
Download the .mp3

The full hour-long broadcast includes five segments from independent producers across the country.