Mentorship has its Rewards

When MeeJin Annan-Brady began working with Spence-Chapin's mentoring program for teen adoptees three years ago, the experience exceeded her expectations. Here, she shares her story. Spence-Chapin played a vital role in my reunion with my birth family nearly 10 years ago. They were amazingly supportive and professional, and made a very emotional life event go as smoothly as possible.

Being in a transracial adoption, I’ve always known I was adopted. However, through much of my life, adoption was not something I thought about very often. For better or worse, my adoption was a “non-issue,” and not something I hid nor celebrated.

But when I learned of the mentor program, I thought it would be a great opportunity to “give back” to Spence and be part of a fun program.

I recently finished my third year in the mentorship program – and each year brings new experiences – both within the program and outside of it. I could go on and on about the fun activities, and how I was doing things in New York for the first time—despite having lived in the area nearly all my life. We’ve visited museums and Chelsea Piers; had team building events in Central Park; participated in a private cooking lesson; competed in scavenger hunts in Grand Central Station, and more. I always look forward to the monthly Saturday events, but for more than these experiences.

During the last three years, mentoring has not only introduced me to wonderful people who share their perspectives and stories, but it has also given me a forum to discuss and think about my own adoption. I’m constantly amazed by the questions and observations the mentees share. Many of the kids are much more curious and thoughtful about adoption than I was at their age – or even five years ago.

Not only am I thinking about adoption on my own time, but I even find myself bringing up the topic with my friends and family. I’ve discovered that friends I’ve known for nearly my entire life have always been curious about my adoption, but because I never brought it up, they figured I was uncomfortable discussing it. Now, I feel comfortable sharing my thoughts about adoption whether it comes up not.

When I reflect on the past three years in this mentorship program and look at the people I’ve met, the friendships I’ve made, the places I’ve gone, and the inner growth I’ve experienced – I’m amazed and humbled. Three years ago, I thought I was becoming a mentor to give back, when in reality, I’ve gained so much.