Here is an article that I wrote for an upcoming graduate school newsletter addressing my own journey into starting my own private practice.  Please feel free to read, share with others and enjoy!

Post adoption and attachment therapy has long been a focus for adoptees and their families but has somehow remained a mystery to the general public. I am really pleased to see that our society is opening up to the former social taboos of adoption and taking an interest in the highs and lows of the post adoption process. Recent headlines whether it be a celebrity such as Brad Pitt or Sandra Bullock adopting or the latest scandal of the 7-year-old Russian boy who was sent back on an airplane by his adoptive mother has opened up a progressive opportunity to bring both mystery and myth to the forefront and to explore the so called “sleeper” effects of multi-cultural, multi-national and blended families of all kinds. My hope is that through my own work at life INSIGHTS and the work of many others, there can continue to be an abundance of resources and support for the adopted community.

I, myself was adopted from Seoul, Korea at three months old. Growing up in Deephaven, Minnesota I remember all of the high and lows that I experienced in both family and peer settings. Never looking like those around me and yet feeling so completely a part of the family that I lived with day in and day out. To me, my parents were my parents, although as my peers began to ask more direct and sometimes bordering on rude questions I have to say that it would shake me from time to time.  I looked like one culture and yet felt at home in another. I tried the Korean culture camps in my area but felt as though I didn’t want to wear both cultures. Looking back it was almost as if trying to balance the two at such a young age meant nothing more to me at the time than belonging to neither.   Childhood was a confusing time for my identity and yet I enjoyed making new friends, exploring an abundance of activities and trips with my family and excelling at school and sports.  Adoption wasn’t a debilitating experience in the least but there were very few resources and even fewer human contacts for myself or my family to lean on, ask questions to or learn from.

I traveled back to Seoul in the summer of 2005. My family and I entered into a life altering experience for two weeks and I know now that I will never be the same again. The orphanages and the birth mother homes were beyond anything I could have ever wrapped my head around. Not only was it inspiring and heartbreaking but for the first time I was able to see what my own journey must have looked like. I watched foster mothers say good-bye to their foster children who were being blessed and sent to America to meet their new families.  I could go on and on but it was just one awe inspiring event after another.

When I returned home I knew that somehow I had been given the opportunity to see and experience all that I had for a reason.  It would take me two more years to finally couple both my passion for psychology and children with what was under my nose the whole time.  I wanted to open a private practice specializing in post adoption and attachment therapy. Some might say I put the cart before the horse but looking back it was a real blessing for me to have such a passionate purpose throughout my two years at Adler Graduate School.  I knew the Adler Graduate School was the place for me when I sat down with Ev Haas for the first time and she immediately recognized my last name. It turns out not only did she have a pretty awesome and powerful past with my mother but my parents and I actually spent my first Christmas with her and a bunch of other “Minnesota Transplants” as she called the group. All of these crazy people who were braving the cold blizzards of Minnesota and all with a common goal of celebrating the holidays and trying to stay as warm as possible!

This story was so fitting for what I was looking for in a school mentality. I like to describe my experience at Adler Graduate School as everyone coming together from their own personal version of “somewhere” with a goal of going out into the world to spread the message of encouragement and hope. That is exactly what I wanted to do for adoptees and their families. I knew that there was a population that had the same questions, concerns and conflicts as I had experienced in my own life.

After I graduated from Adler in July of 2009 I knew that it was finally time to put up my sign and see if there were going to be any families out there who thought my services would be of value.  It was one thing to hypothetically pump myself up and say that opening a practice was a great idea and that post adoption and attachment therapy was a valuable niche but it was another thing to hang up an actual sign and wait for potential clients. I had some amazing mentors and very supportive and enthusiastic friends and family that helped me spread the word and set up marketing materials. I began speaking on adoption panels and networking with local educators, physicians and other therapists in the community.  It was a whirlwind of activity and as I became a more visual face in the community the word did literally start to spread like wildfire! Parents wanted support groups and groups for their kids, school social workers wanted school groups during certain hours of the day. Parents brought their children and their spouses and the word caught on that there was this post adoption and attachment specialist in the area  who was actually….gasp….adopted herself!

It has been such a gift to be able to build a career in such a meaningful and close to my heart specialty. When I think back to the beginning of graduate school, I feel so blessed to have had a purpose from the moment I stepped foot into the Adler School parking lot. People ask me if it was scary opening a practice and if I knew right away that I would be successful or not. The answer is of course it was scary and as I like to call it, a calculated risk. I had no way of knowing how successful the endeavor would be.  However, the experiences in my own life really led me down this path and set many of the amazing pieces of this journey in motion all by themselves. I live as an adoptee ever day of my own life and helping others walk through the similar and yet different path that I began 28 years ago is such a gift for me.  What I am learning is that the experiences and steps that we take in our lives are as every much choosing you as you are choosing them. life INSIGHTS in all its glory really is a choice that found me.

For more information on life INSIGHTS and Kara E. Priesmeyer, MA please visit her website at http://www.lifeinsightsmn.com

The life INSIGHTS new website is up and running!

Please check out the new website! www.lifeinsightsmn.com

Feel free to email me with further questions or inquiries at kpriesmeyer@lifeinsightsmn.com

Thanks for checking it out! Enjoy!

Hello Readers!

Just wanted to let everyone know that I am currently switching web hosts and creating a new website to reflect all of the new awesome changes that are happening at Life INSIGHTS Inc. Please bear with me. I look forward to sharing all of the new information as soon as possible. Until the site is up…. please feel free to contact me with any further questions at kpriesmeyer@lifeinsightsmn.com.

May 23rd is my birthday. And I am thrilled and SO excited to spend it with my love, my mom, my dad and my brother. My mom and I are going to catch a great flick called “Babies” and my dad and my love Ryan are going to cook some amazing beef tenderloin and twice baked potatoes for a  family dinner. I am beyond touched that they are going to all this trouble and I couldn’t think of four people I would rather spend ANY May 23rd with. That being said…. something really struck me tonight that I thought I would share.

Ryan asked me tonight what time I was born and I thought “what an innocent question” but I wonder how many adoptees can answer that? I was lucky enough to be able to…or at least BELIEVE that I was able to tell him the time.  There was this two year period around my 14th birthday that I REALLY became interested in any information that I could find that was “biological” in relation to myself. I would peruse my file (about 3 pages is all I had!!!) and would soak up bits and pieces of anything I could get my hands on. Let’s see…. I learned that I wasn’t crazy about milk, I had a healthy digestive system (nice baby poops…haha) and I enjoyed being on my stomach when I sleep (still do!). It also said that I was born at 3:30 but there was no am or pm. I think I remember asking my mom and after some research we realized it was 3:30 pm USA time because in Korea there is no repeat of the numbers???

Either way…tonight I was really catapulted back in time to my 14th year and the desperation that I had to learn more about the things that only an adult who knew me when I was tiny would know.  I named this blog the ambiguous loss  because I have experienced this moment many times in my adoption journey and MANY MANY MANY times I hear the same old thing… “but you are so lucky to have such wonderful parents”, “everything happens for a reason and you need to see the blessing in it all”, etc etc etc. Society sees adoption as always the glass half full… and in theory it IS! But as you all know… life in theory and life in reality are two VERY different things.  I always try and encourage the kids I work with AND their parents that the reason adoption is a lifelong journey is BECAUSE of the ambiguous loss that may be invisible to the naked eye (or to someone who hasn’t experienced the loss of his/her history).

As I thought about my birthday tomorrow…I will be honest… I had a “grief moment”.  Through lots of soul searching and learning to understand my adoption journey as both a million gains and a million losses I have finally reached a wonderful place where I give myself permission to grieve. To hold it in is to not acknowledge or validate the true nature of your feelings… not allowing you to feel it and PURGE it (so important).

Here was my thought process…bear with me…. there were LOTS of feelings going through my head and I will share as much as I can in the pattern that I thought it…. to illustrate how so many thoughts can penetrate and create both good and bad feelings.

“Hmmmmmm. Isn’t a birthday when you celebrate the coming into this world? And don’t most people celebrate their birthdays with the people that they love and hopefully their parents if they live close and are still alive? Babies don’t really remember the birth itself. But the parents definitely do and can reminisce about the birth and can share  little tidbits here and there and I know that I was born at 3:30 but when did it all start? Was I a fighter? Did I want to come out or did I give my birth mother a run for her money with a long labor? During my birth family search the agency said they thought I was a twin. How does my possible twin brother celebrate his birthday? Do we know that May 23rd REALLY is my birthday? Or is it kind of like pets… you choose the day you “think” they were born? I know that my birthday is DEFINITELY on my adoptive family’s radar… but does the woman who actually birthed me think about me on May 23rd? Why do I care? I didn’t always care. In fact I think I went through about 27 birthdays without caring…so why now? Will having my own child answer some of these questions? Does this really matter to me? I’m here aren’t I…and I was born…. so let’s celebrate! Hmmmmmm…. I really wish I knew more about this day that is going to celebrate my birth. We are going to celebrate tomorrow….but we are all going to be celebrating something that none of us were there for….well except for me…. and I can’t remember a thing…..  :o)”

So yes…. I’m sure all you readers have been there….. the little talks we give ourselves from time to time…funny how they are all a million little jumbled thoughts.  I wanted to share this NOT because I feel bad for myself. And NOT because this is a recurring theme at all. But because all people who grieve and go through a loss experience this. Even if you are not adopted I know EVERYONE can understand. There are days when a loss makes sense, other days when it makes NO sense, days when it is a little bit easier, and days when it REALLY sucks!

Although my thought process went on a LONG run-on sentence in my head… I was able to understand that my emotions are fluid and are always changing. Tomorrow I get to spend my day with the people that I KNOW I LOVE….. that is the best feeling in the world. I have ZERO resentment of where I am in my life at this exact moment and that is how I intend to live the rest of my life. Loss is loss and gain is gain. We have all lived through both …. it is important to control our fear of emotions and to acknowledge that feeling loss doesn’t diminish the gain and vice versa.

Come and meet me and learn more about life INSIGHTS on Saturday February 20th, 2010 from 9:00am to 12:00pm at Minnetonka High School. I would love to meet all the wonderful families that are interested in adoption, have adopted children or anyone who has a question or comment about any or all of the above 🙂

There are MANY resources in the Minnetonka/Western Suburbs area…. please come and be a part of the Minnetonka Parent Fair. You will have a chance to meet lots of great people and learn how you can improve your life and the life of your family! You can email me at kpriesmeyer@lifeinsightsmn.com for more information. Can’t wait to see everyone there!

There has been much debate about the lost children of Haiti. As of recently I have heard “Who do we think we are to take the children away from their culture and heritage” to “These children need families and there are families here to love them…put politics aside and see that there can be goodness in people’s hearts”.  This got me thinking….because I help families deal with these issues on a regular basis.

A wonderful adoptive mother that I know asked me recently whether or not I had an opinion on “what is too much or too little when it came to introducing her adopted child to his/her culture”.  She expressed opinions that her family and friends had given her and was struggling with finding a balance for her family.  I like to keep my opinions to myself as much as possible because I like to believe that my job is to “guide” my clients towards the answer within themselves (sounds corny I know…but so true!) but I can share stories (anonymously and details are changed to protect identities) to help others touch on possible scenarios that they can relate to and maybe learn from.

In terms of my opinion here is what I can say. I do know that each and every person always has his or her opinion. And most likely no ONE person is going to be able to please everyone. Right and wrong can be such abstract qualities. How do you KNOW someone is right? How do you KNOW someone is wrong? Is there a tangible way to know for SURE? When an act is committed is there a light that goes off above that says “THIS IS WRONG”. When it comes to loving your biological child, adoptive child or a child in another country that needs a home…. can you really call is WRONG? There are times when opinions will point to an alternative approach that may be more suitable or more ideal. But let’s be honest, in our daily lives I would say each of us makes at least one decision a day that isn’t the absolute, most right, most ideal decision…ie; like that cinnabun I had for breakfast this morning instead of that healthy egg white I swore I was going to have 😉

Now of course, raising a child and breakfast decisions are like comparing apples to pasta….. and I don’t intend to imply that the course of a child’s identity be compared to a breakfast decision. My only point being…. let’s embrace the kind hearts of all of the millions of people that get up every day and try to make it a better place for you, for me and for their child…however that child came into their lives. Let’s have faith in the knowledge that families come together in the most miraculous of circumstances. A lot of time…miracles happen because a whole lot of RIGHTS and a whole lot of WRONGS come together into a beautiful, chaotic, unparalleled mess.

To the little babies and children of Haiti who have been forever separated from their families, my only dream for you is that you find your miracle, big or small, and touch the hearts of many.

Hello everyone!

Due to last minute cancellations (work, family and last minute school activities..hey it happens) I have decided to reschedule the first meeting for Thursday March 4, 2010. The meeting will take place at my office in Minnetonka. The address is 11900 Wayzata Blvd #116G Minnetonka, MN 55305.  Everyone is excited and we have 6 families signed up as of now.  If you are new to the blog or life INSIGHTS in general, I have re-posted the details of the group below. If you are interested please contact me so I can put you on the group list. Thanks everyone!

POST ADOPTION PARENT NETWORK GROUP

Come together and join fellow parents at the Post-Adoption Parent Network group starting Thursday March 4, 2010. Groups will be facilitated by Kara Priesmeyer, MA. Kara currently runs a private practice in Minnetonka, MN specializing in Post Adoption and Family Attachment Therapy.  She has over three years of experience working directly with children, adolescents and their families in their post adoption journey. Encouraging identity exploration for your kids, discussing school and peer issues, and addressing birth family curiosities are just a few of the topics that will be covered for the group. Group participants will have many opportunities to share their own stories and increase their awareness of others in the community that are experiencing the same concerns and questions.  Kara is an adoptee herself, born in Seoul, Korea and traveled back to Korea in 2005 to meet her birth family.

The Post-Adoption Parent Network will meet at 11900 Wayzata Blvd Suite 116G Minnetonka, MN 55305:

Thursday March 4, 2010 from 6:30-8:00pm

Thursday April 1, 2010 from 6:30-8:00pm

The month of May will be determined with the group closer towards the date.

Cost: $15.00 per night per person or $20.00 per couple.

Please contact Kara Priesmeyer at 612-710-0125 or email her at kpriesmeyer@lifeinsightsmn.com to sign up!