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For one adoptee, border separation policy strikes a familiar nerve

Lately, the news has been inundated with headlines containing the word "separation", as it pertains to immigrant families seeking asylum here in the United States. Children are being forcibly ripped away from parents because of the zero-tolerance policies that now have some 2,000 minor children warehoused in facilities away from their parents. 
 
How terrible it must have been for them, risking so much, to get to our country, daring to make a better opportunity for themselves and their loved ones only to have this happen to them. Here seems to be another policy that seeks to separate children from their families. 
 
Although the news happens to be about immigration, I find it very easy to replace it with the word "adoption". 
I was deeply affected by the events by the border because it reminds me of what it's like to be in adoptee. Why? For me, to be a part of another family meant I had to be separated from the one I was born into. I had no idea why my adoption, as an infant, happened the way that it did. Why did I wind up with the adopted family I had? I struggled with the complexity of living without my biological family, yet understanding that they thought I would be better off in the future based on the information they had at the time. These immigrant parents appear to be doing the same. 
 
The image of a little baby girl sobbing while standing next to her mother, who is being restrained, is like the physical representation of what some adoptees may feel, beginning from the time of separation from their biological families. It reminded me of much of what has been experienced by many of us in the adoption community. Children need to be able to trust both their environment and the adults around them to keep them safe. 
 
The children affected by this forced separation are similar to those who are in the foster care system or who are adopted. Feelings of loss, grief, confusion, abandonment, and fear bombarding young minds can be all-consuming and its traumatic effects can be lifelong. Yet, why were policies like this, which penalize children, ever put in place? 
 
Mahatma Gandhi once stated, "The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members." While some may argue that immigrants are not "members" of the United States, do we want to condone their callous treatment, and be okay with dividing families by methods reminiscent of internment camps? 
 
All this leads to the ways we can act to stop this tide of inhumanity. Let's start with ourselves: 
1. What can I do to make the space I occupy more humane?  
2. Am I kind, understanding, and compassionate?  
3. Can I see outside myself, my own community and empathize with those whose experiences are different from my own? 
4. Can I find something in common with those whom I do not understand?  
5. Am I willing to call out injustice and acknowledge truth?  
6. Am I doing what I can to change what I can?  
 
Barbara Robertson is an adoptee and contributing author (Black Anthology: Black Adoptees Claim Their Space) from New York. 

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