Author-speaker Susan TeBos doesn’t avoid a challenge. After all, she traveled to Siberia several times to gather her three adopted children. And now she’s keenly aware of the complexity surrounding adoption.
In We’ve Been There, TeBos moves out of the way to let adoptees talk to other adoptees.
The messages vary. Matthew from Russia says he’s getting braver, but he still experiences strong social anxiety. He’ll be quiet when he meets you. He’s wise enough to know this: “I am getting braver every day. It’s something you don’t really master. You keep working at it until you die.”
Dibora from Ethiopia endured bullying as an African adopted by a white family. At prom, her old group of friends said they no longer claimed her. On the dance floor, she poured her righteous anger into words. “No one but my real friends, my family, and most importantly God, claims me!”
Now she urges other adoptees to realize that classmates might not understand the hardships and grace of being adopted. “Stand strong in who you are,” she says. “Don’t be embarrassed about your adoption.”
Or Ben who felt painfully aware of how different he looked from his adoptive parents. It collapsed his sense of worth. Now at 30, he finds he has lived into a new season: “It took me a long time to give that feeling of being different up to God. But I did.”
Over 30 adopted teens and young adults talk through the challenges. I imagine that adoptees would find connection and relief meeting others who experience what they experience.
TeBos’ prose snaps—which, of course, is a good idea for teen readers. Sometimes she is present in this book as an interviewer whose thoughts we hear. In 2011, she co-authored Zondervan’s Before You Were Mine: Discovering Your Adopted Child’s Lifestory. (Kregel Publications)