By Steve Wolff

I am a 50-year-old adoptee. I was adopted at four days old through Amara (formerly known as Medina). I grew up with only one frame of reference about adoption: my own.

No two stories are alike. I had loving parents and a younger sister who was also adopted near birth and wasn’t blood-related. I have many fond memories and feel blessed in many regards. I have had, and continue to have, my set of challenges that I now realize is par for the course with many adoptees. Over the last several years, through counseling and much reading, I’ve sifted through those parts of my life that I had covered up for so long.

I clearly needed an adoptee community and my therapist told me about the STAR Adoptee Mentorship Program through Amara. I joined apprehensively as I haven’t had much experience with teenagers, nor am I the most outgoing person in the world. I feared that my chronic back and leg pain would make it difficult for me to keep up with the teens. However, I decided to dive in and fully commit. I knew I had something to provide to other adoptees. Now was my opportunity!

A man with grey hair stands in a circle holding a beach ball with adolescent children outside.

Steve and a group of Amara STAR mentees!

Our first gathering involved making masks to represent who we are–our identity–and generally breaking the ice with each other. Our next outing was a Mariners game. I was concerned with all the walking and standing that I would have to endure. Our seats were in the nosebleeds which meant that I’d need to walk up a never-ending number of stairs. While sitting and enjoying the game, I knew that I’d need to recount this route to get back home. It was a challenge physically but I enjoyed it a lot and continued to mingle with the kids and other mentors, getting to know one another more.

Curtis enjoying (?) his time with parrots at our 2017 Family Celebration.

Over these first two gatherings, I connected with one boy, Curtis. I sensed that Curtis was trying to find his place in this new program and at the events, just like I was. We ended up talking more about a lot of things: our interests, family, and the thoughts and feelings that only an adoptee would really understand. I was introduced to his parents, and eventually, his younger sister and brother who are also adoptees. Our conversations flowed easily and we eventually planned things outside of group gatherings.

Little did I know his parents would soon be calling me their “adopted adult.” They have taken me under their wing and invited me to their home to hang out with Curtis and his siblings, to watch football games, movies, and enjoy family dinners. My adoptive parents have passed on and other family members are not close so it`s nice that I have found yet another family who has welcomed me into their own.

I nervously joined Amara’s STAR program as a mentor for adoptees, in the hopes of connecting with others who have had similar experiences. Yet I have received so much more from both the mentees and fellow mentors than I ever imagined. I’m grateful to be a part of something so special.

Are you an adoptee? Join our STAR Program! We’re currently recruiting for adoptee mentees. Find out more here.