This week on Beauty Is Rising, Kelli speaks with Michelle Madrid-Branch.
Michelle is an author, speaker, international adoptee, and global advocate for women and children; specializing in the areas of adoption, foster care, abandonment recovery, and identity reconciliation. Her mission is to ensure that the adoption community is heard, seen, valued, respected, and understood. She is also the Host of The Greater Than Podcast.
She has been referred to as a “world-wide voice on adoption” by Adoption Australia. Michelle never steps down when it’s time to speak up on behalf of others, and does so with a natural poise, genuine curiosity, and deep respect for whomever is in front of her. Her international upbringing allows her to feel at home anywhere in the world. With a shared passion for adventure and service, Michelle and her family live and travel worldwide.
According to her, adoption has touched every part of her life. She relays,”As an adoptee, I think it’s important to understand that adoption is a life-long journey. Adoptive parents really need to understand this. There will be many twists and turns along the journey, for their child, many entries and exits and it’s vital that children of adoption feel supported and safe to share their feelings and ask their questions”.
[Michelle 4:38] I remember being a little girl who didn’t look anything like her family and a little girl who felt very self-conscious about that. My family were, you know, lighter skin and blue eyes and lighter hair tone. And I got a lot of questions about, well, where did you come from or how did you get here?Then, there was a sense as a young adoptee of not really belonging.
Michelle recounting the details to when she moved to the States with her adoptive family.
[Michelle 9:24] I am safe in the world, I am loved and most importantly, I love myself. There’s nothing and no one can take that away. So, it is a journey and I guess that’s the thing that any parent who’s listening (that) being an adoptee is sort of living between two worlds and sort of you really do you. Running those worlds as you grow is really key and I think that as parents, it’s really important for us to facilitate conversations and give our children that safe space to begin to explore how they feel they can best reconcile.
Michelle on growing up being an adoptee
[Michelle 27:50] They placed her in my arms and they were telling me about her name. It was the name that she’d been given when she’d been found in southern Ethiopia. I asked what it meant and they said it means “let her be greater”. That moment was another turning point because I realized as I was holding her, “She’s a divine little messenger. So yes, let her be greater. Let her be greater than the circumstance of her earliest story and also let myself be greater than the struggle, greater than the complications, greater than all of the things that had me bound.”
Michelle recounting how her first meeting with her daughter became another turning point of her life
[Michelle 42:48] “Inclusion is powerful for adoptees. I think as adoptive parents, we need to understand that. Don’t be afraid to include birth parents, even if they’re not in your life physically. They’re part of your child. So they’re in your life. Don’t be afraid to talk about it, too. To include, your child is very capable as an adoptee to love both birth family and adoptive family. We have that amazing expansive heart.”
[Michelle 1:05:24] “When we find ourselves spiraling into that self-diminishing talk, that is what I like to say, the limiting language inside of our heads, I give myself a tap on the head and I remind myself to drop into my heart because that is where truth lives. That is something very practical, very easy, very simple that any mom listening today can do.”