Hello everyone, welcome back to another episode of Adoptes Crossing Lines. Today we have a lovely guest, Asriel, and just to tell you a little bit more about them, they are a trans-cultural adoptee from a loving first family who has been systemically preyed upon by the adoption industry. They've been in reunion for over a decade and recently came home to rejoin their family. They're an Abad-
Adoption abolitionist who believes that US adoptions are a human rights violation. Azrael, thank you so much for joining us today on the show. If you don't mind, can you just tell us a little bit about your story as it relates to adoption and how all that came to be and just as much as you're comfortable sharing.
Azriel June (00:50.501)
Thank you so much for having me. And yes, thank you for the opportunity to share my story as well. I do want to give a little trigger warning that my story does include a sexual assault. So, it's really hard to tell my story without talking about the matriarch of my family. And when I say my family, I mean my first family.
Uh, my, my great grandmother, her name was June. Um, she got pregnant at 13 and the only way that she was going to be allowed to keep her baby, who was my grandmother, was if she married a man who was about twice her age, so she agreed and she married him and got pregnant again, almost immediately.
and the baby, she got sick. So the husband took her to the hospital and sold her to a nurse. So she's the woman who's basically raised like all the kids in our family, which includes kids that aren't related to her by blood. So.
She was actually there the day that I was born. So my mom got pregnant in 1987 after experiencing a sexual assault, which kind of mirrors what happened to my grandmother when she was young, or my great grandmother when she was young. And my mom, she went to the abortion clinic four times, and my great grandma, I think,
talked her out of it. So my so I was born in a Catholic hospital. And the man who delivered me is related to my adoptive family. My adoptive family. He's actually their cousin. And he knew that they were looking for a baby.
Azriel June (03:17.309)
and he convinced my mom to keep me a secret from my grandma and the rest of my family so that his cousins could adopt me essentially. And I should say that my family is mixed. They're not rich. And the people who likely would have raised me, which is my grandmother and my abuelito,
was their doctor. He was their family doctor and he knew that they wanted to raise me and he knew that it stressed my abuelito out that he couldn't raise me. Like my grandfather actually kept going to him for years and had to stop because every time he was going in there he had heart palpitations. So I knew that I was adopted since
forever. Like I was like three and my adoptive mom was pregnant at the time with her daughter. And I asked if I came from her belly and we were at the Bronx Zoo in the bathroom. And there's like a ton of people in there. And I can't imagine like what it must have been like to listen to this lady explain like, no, you didn't come from my belly. But I was just like, all right.
And then it took me like, I don't know, 30 years to realize that it actually really fundamentally messed me up, messed my mom up and really messed my great grandma up. And my grandma too, who also grew up with a ghost for a sibling, right? Because her sibling had been put up for adoption and they went to the same school. They went to the same school and
my grandmother wasn't allowed to tell her that they were related. So it was just a lot of adoption stories in my family. And part of that has to do with the fact that my great grandma, she was native, and the Mormons decided at the time that like, you know, they were gonna have kids with
Azriel June (05:38.777)
Native women through force and that those kids would be light-skinned and You know, they're super racist and awful and it's genocide
Azriel June (05:54.105)
Anyway, so my adoptive family is Jewish. They...
dumped me in an institution when I was 14, and I really started to have issues with my adoption and my identity. Oh yeah, so at the Catholic hospital, one of the things that they would do for mixed babies who were white presenting is that they would erase their heritage because we were worth more money to the agencies.
if we could be sold as white. So they took my heritage and I grew up thinking that I was quote unquote just white, which is what my adopters told me. But they did force me to like have a bat mitzvah and go to Sunday school and be completely involved in their culture. But they weren't, they did literally nothing to keep, like nothing.
they dressed me up like Pocahontas and Tiger Lily and did and still maintained that I was quote unquote just white and they see these like Halloween's as oh but look like we tried to give you some of your culture but like that's not culture. So that was my experience in my adoptive family. I was
like heavily pathologized. They said I had a personality disorder. I lied a lot when I was young and looking back now I'm like, well that's probably because you cooked up this whole lie that I was, you know, a member of your family and, you know, I didn't, I never really felt that was true having grown up with their daughter who was treated
Azriel June (08:01.341)
very differently, like very, very differently. And I had a severely mentally ill adoptive mom. She, yeah, she was just really unwell and I don't think that she was really able to see me as a human being. I think she saw me as a product that she purchased that maybe didn't work out.
the way she thought it would. So that was really hard. But I met my birth family when I was, birth family quote unquote, they don't really deserve to have that, have to have that qualifier in my opinion. But I met, or my birth family came to find me when I was 21, I think, around 21. I remember
I had no desire to meet them at all because I really bought into the Kool-Aid that I was unwanted, no, but I was garbage from the garbage. My mom was mentally ill, which kind of ironic, right? They made up all these stories so that I wouldn't go looking or so that I wouldn't wonder, so that I wouldn't miss these people who didn't miss me.
And then one Christmas, you know, they sat me down and they're like, your birth mom contacted us and you have sisters who wanna meet you. And that was the beginning of a really intense journey, I guess. And the very first thing I asked my mom was, am I Mexican? Like, I knew in my heart that I was being lied to.
about who I was. And I would have dreams that, you know, about this abstract family that actually turned out to be real. So like when I met my family, one of my favorite family members, my abuelito who recently passed, may he rest, but he held me in his arms and he sobbed.
Azriel June (10:29.605)
He sobbed and he told me, sorry. He told me, Mika, every day I prayed for you to come back into our family. Every day I prayed that you would come home. And he told me that I was the answer to his prayers. And it was really a crazy mind fuck, sorry. It was a mind fuck to go from being
someone's garbage to being the answer to this person's prayers. Like, they had blackmailed the doctor for a picture of me and put it up on their wall. And I didn't even know that they existed. And...
I was in an institution for four years thinking that I was a burden on society, thinking that I didn't deserve a home, thinking that I was too mentally ill, too broken to live in a home, like in someone's home. And my family, there was like countless relatives who wanted to raise me. But because my adopters had more money, they...
they were able to very easily adopt me. And I'm not even quite sure that the adoption was legal, to be honest with you. I feel like they rented me for my cutesy fun years as a little kid. And then when I got older and they realized that this wasn't gonna be all sunshine and rainbows, they're like, nah, forget it.
just dump her in the institution. And like, I wanna say that institution, there were so many adopted children there. Adoptees make up 2% of children, but in that school, they made up about anywhere between 10% and 30% of the kids there. That's not an accident. It's not an accident. Those...
Azriel June (12:44.869)
those boarding schools where rich people dump their kids, those are for people like my adopters. They are making bank, not only putting kids up for adoption, but throwing those adopted kids away in the institutions. So that's basically what happened to me. But recently I started listening to this other podcast called Finding Cleo and
I realized that while listening that I owed my relatives the opportunity to get to know me. So me and my partner packed up all our stuff and we moved 3,000 miles across the country to be with my family. And although it's been, I'll say rocky, I am so loved.
Like I am so, so loved and I got to spend, my great grandma June actually passed away just a few weeks ago, just a couple weeks ago and my grandpa passed away just a couple weeks before her and it has been the biggest blessing to be able, to have been able to spend that time with them. Like so much time was stolen from us, but I got to live.
within walking distance from my abuelito and I saw him all the time and he hugged me at least three times a week. He told me that, he told me that I was the answer to his prayers every time I saw him. So to be able to have that was really healing, but as most of us know, no reunion is perfect. And I think that, and the pain of,
My great-grandmother's adoption never left her like she actually died thinking that I was the daughter that was stolen from her She would ask for me by the daughter's name and That it was heartbreaking but She she's she was a really loving person but
Azriel June (15:06.329)
She was a person in pain, and it was so hard for her to see adoption as something harmful because it had harmed her, and she wanted it to have been a better experience for her daughter and for me, and I think that she was never able to like,
process her feelings around it and it affected, like it made her an eternal caretaker. Like she never ever turned a kid away. Like she raised the neighbor kids. And my mom, it's the same. Like when I first got back, she was really happy and like everything seemed really good. But I think at the end of the day, like I remind her of her worst traumas and...
like adoption doesn't end like it doesn't just stop stealing from you like the time that was taken the time was taken from both of us and I don't think that she's really Maybe she hasn't sat with it. She hasn't processed it and I think that she's in a similar place for my grandma But you know, we're all just doing the best we can
Dr. Noelle (16:27.741)
Thank you so much for that amazing story. So much of it is reflective of my lived experience and it's just reassuring to see that you've been able to work through that and that you're having this experience with your family now. One of the things that stands out to me actually is this kind of intergenerational thread that you keep pulling that.
you are so aware of the...
Dr. Noelle (17:03.557)
ways in which things keep repeating in that intergenerational space, the traumas in that intergenerational space that is fascinating to me. Can you talk to me a little bit more about how the intergenerationality is playing a role in your reunion?
Azriel June (17:28.707)
That's a really interesting question. I think, I think it's been, so I think there's a lot of assumptions made when we're adopted that, oh, they got a better life.
because of money. And while my adoptive parents did have money, it didn't necessarily protect me from trauma, especially at the hands of my adoptress, I'll say. But I think...
There's this for me personally, there was almost like this idea that I escaped something that I got out that I got to rise above something like not having to grow up in my family. Because my family is traumatized. They they live like a lot of
them lived on a property that was like five acres and it was like a communal type living situation. And there was maybe four generations living there, four or five at one time. And since the generations are so close, my great grandma was only 13 years older than my grandma and my grandma is only like 17 or 18 years older than my mom.
So the generations are really closer together. But I think the way that my great grandma, my great grandma's hurt affected everybody in the family. And when I came back to the family, it took me a while to, it took me a while to realize that
Azriel June (19:44.781)
adoption wasn't a gift because that narrative was actually being pushed from both sides. Because I really do think that it's from trauma that the reason why my grandmother couldn't see my side of things, the reason, you know, I have a sister and we're fighting right now. I know she's gonna listen to this one day, but we're fighting right now.
And one of the reasons is because she thinks that she had it worse. And I don't really think that it's worthwhile to compare like that. I don't think anybody wins when we do that, but there's just this real belief in, for some members of the family, that this was a generous act. And I think the pain
of adoption from the mother's side is so great, at least for the women in my family, that pain was so great that they were not able to accept that I was in pain too, because then it would amplify that pain. Like they did, like in my mom's mind, she did this selfless thing for me. She did something that hurt her.
deeply and she knew it was gonna hurt her deeply because Her grandmother had experienced it and it hurt her deeply so they really thought that they were doing this great wonderful thing giving a baby a better life giving a baby to somebody who quote unquote could afford it and the reality that we were coerced away from them or sold like
That reality is a gut wrenching reality to just sit with and live. It's just, yeah. For anyone who's wondering about The Mother's Side, a really good book is The Girls Who Went Away. It really helped me understand this.
Azriel June (22:11.601)
the pain that they go through. And I don't think that pain ever left my family.
So you mentioned in your story about just like a lot of the secrecy from like the doctors and like even having to blackmail to even get like a picture and just a lot of stuff that seems really shady and really unethical. I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit more about how that secrecy sort of impacted you up until the point, because I know your Abuelito told you that.
you were the answer to his prayers and how comforting that was. But I'm wondering what it was like prior to that point, just like carrying the weight of all that.
Azriel June (23:02.097)
The worst part about the secrecy was that I knew I was being lied to. And not by, you know, my friends or, you know, some girl in middle school or something, but like by the people who were supposed to be my parents. Like you're supposed to be my parents. And my adoptive parents were very into telling the truth
And like that to me was always ridiculous. Like you wanna tell the truth, how about you tell me the truth about who I am? Like, how about you tell me the truth about my family? But it really messes you up because you feel like, why am I not good enough to know the truth? And it was just confusing. It was destabilizing. Like of course I was acting out and
getting angry and asking questions. Like, I think all adoptees want to know the answers to where they came from. We all want to know that, and we have a basic human right to know that. The secrecy thing, it ruined my relationship with my adopters. Like, I don't want, I want...
to be able to love them in a healthy way. I want them to be able to love me in a healthy way. But they literally lied to me for my entire life about the basis of who I am. That is not something that you can forgive. That is not something I should forgive, like quite frankly. I mean, it's like, why would you, how can I trust a person who's been
literally lying to me about my own ethnicity for my whole life. The fact that the people they were keeping me from were loving and not these crazy weirdos. Yeah, okay, so my family is pretty weird and a little crazy, but they're not these strung out, terrible...
Azriel June (25:27.977)
criminals like they really made it seem that these people, you know never spent a day out of rehab or like they really did that on purpose because they did not want me to feel They didn't want me to want to find them and like the secrecy thing with my adopters go so deep like they're lawyers and
I don't even know what state I was adopted in because I contacted the California Department of Adoptions to get my information and they're like, oh, we have no record of you at all. So who knows? To be quite honest, I think that my adoption was illegal. I don't think it should be legal to be able to buy your patient's children, which is like,
essentially what my adopter's cousin did. He was the family doctor and my mom trusted him that he was going to advise her about what was best for her and for me. Talk about a conflict of interest, right? My adopters were infertile, so they had been trying for years to have a baby. They'd been trying for years to adopt.
And then I came along and he told me, the doctor told my mom that she was gonna be able to see me again and that I would grow up nearby and that she would get to visit with me and be part of my life and it was a total lie. Like everything about my story that I had heard from my adopters other than my mom's name, basically every single thing.
was a lie. Like they made up that she was a singer because they wanted me to sing in temple and they made up that she loved video games or whatever. And that her and my dad were high school sweethearts. Like he was her meth dealer, okay? So it's just, it's really patronizing. And nowadays I don't really feel like they,
Azriel June (27:49.629)
have any respect for me as a person. Like they disliked my identity so much that they completely erased it and superimposed their own idea of the child that they wanted over that, over me. And I can't forgive it. I can't love people who do that to me. So it's definitely really affected. Like the secrecy, it damaged my identity. It damaged my relationship.
with my adopters, it damaged my relationship with my whole adoptive family because there are people who I love in my adoptive family, but I'm not really sure that they even know who I am well enough to love me. Like most of them don't even know that I'm, that my dad was Mexican. Like they like don't even know the most basic things about who I am.
Dr. Noelle (28:47.033)
So when you talk about all of this and the heartache of it, which is palpable, can you talk a little bit about what you think could have been done to make this better experience, especially for you? But I'm thinking about you and your mother and your maternal family. What kinds of things do you think
could have shifted or been different that would have made this a less painful, less traumatic experience.
Azriel June (29:27.506)
Azriel June (29:33.029)
My family deserved money and the opportunity to keep their children. There is literally nothing done, nothing to make sure that we stay within our families. Like, they go out of their way to sell us to the highest bidder. They do not want our families keeping us. If a phone call had been made, a phone call, I would have stayed in my family.
a single phone call.
Azriel June (30:07.282)
And it's, yeah.
Azriel June (30:13.361)
Azriel June (30:17.537)
intervention before children are just given up, quote unquote, given up for adoption. Like it shouldn't be, it should be really hard to take a person's, a family's child from them. It should be almost impossible, in my opinion.
I resonate with a lot of that. If a single phone call had been made, I remember when I was reading through some of my paperwork, there was an aunt who wanted to take me, but unfortunately, she just was too poor. And so, like you said, money would have, money and a phone call probably could save so many kids' lives. So, I know that you are an abolitionist, so.
I'm wondering if you can talk to us a little bit more about that, how you landed on that and what that means for you specifically.
Azriel June (31:17.318)
I am an abolitionist. I don't believe in adoption. I think it's archaic. I actually, I did a total 180 on this because before I came out of the fog, I was like, adoption is a good thing. Like, we need to help these kids. But, okay.
that podcast, Finding Cleo, that radicalized me. Like when I started just to sit and think about my story and think about what I had actually lost and think about, like when I realized that there were people who actually wanted to keep me, I started to wonder how many other adoptees there were who were in my situation.
And one is too many. One person getting trafficked away from their family, that's too many people to have that happen to. And that should change the laws right there. But if you look at how child, the family policing, if you look at how family policing works, none of this is for the child, none of it. And the entire system, it's, I mean, it's
Like there's the foster system and then there's adoption. And both are forms of human trafficking and both come from genocide, both of those things. Like I don't believe that there's any reform to a system that, you can't reform a system.
that was trying to commit genocide. The system is completely based on white supremacy and classism, and if you really look back at the history of this country and the way wealth is distributed, you can see who has the most money, and it's white people who profited off genocide and enslavement for hundreds and hundreds, thousands of years, probably.
Azriel June (33:40.641)
I think both systems, adoption and the child welfare slash family policing system, those are both like systems created to uphold these things. Like child welfare, it wasn't like ICWA just was upheld. And for those who don't know ICWA is the Indian Child Welfare Act. Prior to...
it being enacted, a third of Native children were being removed systemically from their homes and placed with white families. And this really wasn't that long ago. It was just enacted in the 70s, in the 70s, 1970s. So like that genocide is still going on. There's still a genocide against Native people and
white people are still stealing native children at exponential rates. If anyone's curious, please, please listen to the podcast, This Land, season two. It breaks this down really well. And also both of these systems are also pipelines to the prison system, which is legalized slavery. I don't think there's any reform.
I think the system is working exactly as it was meant to. And it's not changed. And adoption, adoption was, the way that we do it in the United States today was put in place by a child trafficking pedophile named Georgia Tan. And the reason that our birth certificates are sealed is because she didn't wanna get caught trafficking children. She literally stole people's children.
out from preschool. She stole, she told people that their, their babies were dead in the hospital and took them. And this is, she's the reason that like, I legally don't have access to my original birth certificate. My grandma gave that to me. She's like, you need this. She was right. But like these, these systems, they're, they work exactly, exactly how they were designed to. And
Azriel June (36:02.885)
Honestly, more white people need to realize that because out of, my family is very, very mixed. And the people who seem to have the hardest time digesting these facts are my family who's white.
Dr. Noelle (36:24.577)
So I wanna pivot a little bit because I'm really curious. You keep mentioning podcasts and social media, and no, I think it's fabulous. Because I think one of the things that many of us as adoptees rely on once we're coming out of the fog are these communities and the communal support. And I also hear a thread around community.
in your reunion story too, that community plays a huge role. So I'm just wondering what you feel the role of community has been, should be, could be in adoptees' lives.
Azriel June (37:10.877)
Community is life-saving. Like we all need it. And I think it's one thing that white supremacy really tries to strip from us because we're stronger together. I didn't realize like the adoptee community and like the native community who fight against
or fight for ICWA, fight for keeping children in communities. Like those, those people really opened my eyes and
Azriel June (37:50.905)
that probably, to be honest, it saved my life. Like I would not be sitting here talking to you if I hadn't gotten out of the fog because it was so heavy on my soul. And when I finally started listening to these podcasts, and I also have a cousin for my paternal side, she went on TikTok.
and she was angry at my adoptive parents and I was offended at first. I didn't tell her that, but I saw that people were supporting her and it was confusing to me because the last time I had talked about adoption, said anything even remotely negative, I was shut down very, very fast. But.
when my cousin was making some really good points and she had support online and she was like, you should go on Twitter. She was like, you should go on Twitter and look up hashtag adoptee voices and look up hashtag adoptee Twitter. And I was like, oh, okay. So I set up my little account and I was shocked. I was shocked.
to see a change. Like I was on Facebook for a while and people really, they don't wanna hear about the negative side of adoption. They want their happy stories, they want those videos of reunion and videos of people in the court, legally taking children and...
That is not what Twitter was. Twitter was as angry as me. That's how I found your podcast. And when I found your podcast, I was yelling. I was like, when I heard the intros, that's not what we're about over here. I'm like, finally, finally. And it opened my eyes. It opened my heart. I think my reunion was like, I was.
Azriel June (40:11.577)
I mean, I've been in Reunion for a really long time, but this is the first time I moved back here. And I don't think that I would have been able to...
like accept the truth of how I feel about my reunion if it hadn't been for the adoptee community and like my cousins, you know, cause my cousins are a little bit further away from it, like from the whole situation. And I think it's easier for them to understand why I'm sad about it. And getting to be part of a community.
that's my family even when I'm mad at my mom or I'm mad at my sister, like that is so healing. But then to also be able to go on my phone and click a hashtag and see people saying the same things that I'm saying, seeing the same things that I was thinking and too afraid to say, that gave me strength. And when I started reading those texts, I was like, I can do this too. I was like, I can be angry in public.
So I think honestly, the adoptee community is, it's life saving and the more people we bring in to our community, the stronger we're gonna get. And this is how community is, community is like everything to me. I know that's really broad, but being in community,
It's an opportunity, like for somebody who grew up very isolated, I spent a lot of time in my room alone or having to consider everyone else's feelings while I ignore mine. But that's not really being in community. That's kind of like being a servant. And now that I am in community, that was what taught me how to be a better person. Like,
Azriel June (42:16.441)
Nobody taught me anything. Nobody taught me how to wash my clothes. Nobody taught me how to wash myself. Nobody taught me how to dress, or no one taught me about periods. Like nobody taught me anything. And I have learned so much from the adoptee community. Like there's so many loving people. Like adoptees are a family. Like I really believe that we are.
like maybe it's online, but we are sort of like an online family, like a community. And I feel seen, I feel heard, and I can go there and ask for advice. And people will give it to me and understand why I need it because like a lot of people are in the same boat as me and didn't get the opportunity to learn things until they were older. Like I'm just, I'm grateful for the adoptee community. I'm grateful for the native community too.
Azriel June (43:18.033)
and my family, like I'm really grateful that there were people who didn't understand but were willing to try and understand just to make sure that I'm safe and like feel loved. And community is medicine, I wish more people understood that. Community is medicine because we heal each other. We heal each other together.
I love that. Thank you so much for sharing that and just being so open and transparent throughout this episode. So I wanna ask, what is it that you want to leave our listeners with? Like everything that you've shared, what is it that you want people to take away from your story from this episode?
Azriel June (44:19.889)
Be kind to one another, but listen to each other's stories. Listen to the stories that make you uncomfortable because those are the ones that you're gonna learn the most from. And treat other people with gentleness because you really never know what they're going through. Yeah, you never know, you never know.
if someone is suffering because it can be such a quiet thing and try, and if you, and when you have the opportunity, try to change people's minds. Like imagine if we all just like had, if we all made an effort to talk to that one family member who maybe could, like the adoptive family member who maybe could understand. Like if you, if.
If any listeners have the spoons to do that, like changing people's minds one by one is how we change the larger narrative and being in community with people actually really helps that.
Dr. Noelle (45:34.129)
I second everything you just said. Amazing. How can our listeners find you? Is there a Twitter handle or a web page or some advocacy work that you're doing that people can tag on to?
Azriel June (45:51.441)
Right now I'm actually working on a podcast. I believe it's gonna be called The Case Against Adoption. It will be a true crime podcast about how adoption is a crime against humanity. And you guys can find me on Twitter. I'm domestic underscore supply. I was taking a break from social media, but I will be back. I'm on Twitter still, but I will be back.
in a couple months when my first episode comes out.
Thank you so much for joining us today. We look forward to your podcast and hearing that. I'm sure it's gonna be amazing. But thank you so much for being here today and sharing your story with us.
Azriel June (46:39.677)
Thank you so much for having me. It's been a real honor. Thank you both so much.
Dr. Noelle (46:39.697)
Thank you very much.