Forest From a Tree
At the age of five, my mother told me I was adopted as we walked hand-in-hand in the warmth of a sunny summer day. A moment of confusion, comforted by the soft, loving voice of my mom, Paula. Since then, I wondered who my birth family was—not for wanting to replace the parents who adopted me but because of a curiosity that could only be satisfied by finding the people I share a biological connection with. For many years, information was pieced together from stories told at family get-togethers, as well as adoption documents found while snooping through my father’s office desk.
My search came up with few answers until 2010 when it was sparked by a change to Illinois’ adoption laws—which I was made aware of by a cousin who brought a newspaper clipping to a family gathering. In November of 2011 the new law went into effect, allowing adoptees to obtain their original birth certificate with identifying information. Along with this, access to online DNA services has helped me find biological family members that may have been impossible to find otherwise. To this day, I continue to find more information, revealing who I am and who my family is.
My family’s adoption story is told by bringing together original photographs, family archives, printmaking, video, and important documents. This is done through relating images to specific stories, as well as touching on themes of family, identity, memory, and loss. By connecting the pieces of my story, I implore viewers to think about their own definition of family, and how we connect to those around us.
(Click on each image for a story. Scroll on text to read more when applicable.)
The Dr. Bernard J. Brommel Award For Outstanding Student Research and Creative Activity. Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL.
Honorable Mention. Dorthea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize. Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Durham, NC.
1st Runner Up. LENS International Juried Photography Exhibition, Juried by J. Gibran Villalobos, Curator at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Perspective Gallery. Evanston, IL.
Society for Photographic Education (SPE) Student Award for Innovations in Imaging. Houston, TX.
We've Adopted Someone Special. Northeastern Illinois University Fine Arts Center. Gallery 217. Chicago, IL.
Second Born, Fourth Born, Only Child. Bradley University. Red Door Gallery. Peoria, IL.