When she’s not shuffling around her young daughter, Reshma McClintock, of Denver, Colorado, spends her days perched at her laptop pouring over feature submissions, refreshing adoption-related news articles and connecting adoptees across the globe through a mentorship program.
She’s the woman behind the new adoptee-empowered movement: DearAdoption.com.
It’s a movement that comes from humble beginnings for McClintock.
In 1980, McClintock was born and abandoned in Calcutta, India. She was brought to an orphanage in the slums. Another newborn was set to be adopted internationally by an American family, but suddenly died, and McClintock took her place.
As McClintock grew into adulthood, she grappled with complex emotions about her home country and birth family. In 2015, she kickstarted a documentary about her journey back to India—Calcutta is My Mother—and it was during this process of searching for connections that DearAdoption.com was born.
“I heard from many adoptees who related to what I said in the trailer and my reasons for wanting to return to Calcutta, but I also heard stories of repeated abuse, isolation, deportation and rehoming,” McClintock said.
Heavily grieved by the experiences other adoptees across the globe had shared with her, McClintock started losing sleep.
Her documentary had been funded and she was busy working on it behind-the-scenes, but she had a burning desire to change the way the world viewed adoptees. That’s when Dear Adoption—letters from adoptees—was born.
“I loved the idea of adoptees writing letters to adoption, and I didn’t stumble upon any similar formats,” she said. “I was excited and nervous. I sat on it, though. I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Insecurity crept in and camped out for a long time, but the burden for my community and my desire to be a part of the change never wavered.”
It was nearly a year-and-a-half later, in November of 2016, when McClintock officially launched DearAdoption.com.
Within two days, McClintock found herself flipping through powerful letters submitted by adoptees.
“To be honest, I never imagined Dear Adoption would be as well received or successful as it has been in its first few months. I hoped for it, I prayed for it and have been awestruck by it every single day,” she said.
McClintock describes DearAdoption.com as a community of adoptees giving voice to their experiences, the good, the bad and everything in between.
“I hope the broken, devastating, joyful, painful, fulfilled, unfulfilled and honest words jump off the screen and bring a sense of belonging and warmth to adoptees reading them,” McClintock said. “I hope that adoptees who have felt unheard, reach out and are heard at Dear Adoption. I hope they are reminded of their worth and the importance of their personal story in the adoption world.”
While DearAdoption.com is a movement designed to elevate and empower the voices of adoptees, McClintock hopes it becomes a valuable resource for all members of the adoption triad.
“There isn’t a resource greater than that of an adoptee’s voice. I hope adoptive families learn that our grief, our need to search, our lacking wholeness isn’t necessarily about them,” she said. “The first and greatest gift an adoptive family can give an adoptee is that of listening without judging.”