Stories About Home by Leonie Simmons

Leonie Simmons was born in Vietnam and adopted to an Australian family. This thoughtful and beautiful video describes her journey to return to Vietnam and her efforts to deconstruct taken-for-granted ideas about culture, identity, family and home. It will be of relevance to anyone interested in ways of making home and making family as well as to those connected to the issue of inter-country adoption.

Published on October 31, 2014

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. lynelle long

    Leonie years ago when you first published your paper on Identity, Home & Family you gave permission to share it on our website (known then as ICASN) … nice to see you have a video now and thanks for sharing. Would love to reconnect and we are now known as InterCountry Adoptee Voices. Thank you!

  2. Lynn Corbett

    Dear Leonie,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences of home and identity. You and I corresponded a couple of years ago by email in the context of my reading some of your written work, including “Stories of Home”. I am a mother in a transracial and transnational adoptive family. Your reflections and the generosity with which you have shared them in the DVD as well as in your writings touch me on a deeply and profoundly personal level. Listening to your experiences in these areas, in all of their complexities, supports me in my efforts to navigate my own experiences and in my efforts to sit along side my young daughter as she navigates her experiences of home and identity. It beautifully reminds me to embrace an openness to whatever each of our experiences are over time, and to be more conscious of how prescriptive, normative ideas of home and identity, motherhood, family, culture, belonging, and how we ‘truly’ come to know ourselves, can limit me, and her, from fully experiencing and acknowledging. My hope is that my daughter, too, will open herself to all of her experiences in these areas in all of their complexities, and to be able to hold them all, as I have witnessed you doing in these reflections. Your reflections have also touched me professionally as I sit with people as they navigate their questions, longings, and reflections of home,identity, family and belonging – regardless of what territories of living they are situated in. Getting out of the way of another’s experience is always a good idea! Thank you so much for sharing yourself in these ways. Lynn Corbett

  3. Jeannette Samper

    Dear Leonie, Your video mas breathtaking and inspiring. Every word had such thought and meaning behind it. I work in Bogotá Colombia and have written articles about the therapeutic system as an Ethnic system because it is sooo important to bring forth in our conversations all these elements of ethnicity, culture, social class, gender, etc. I am presently working with a 14 year old girl and her adoptive mother. AS few weeks ago I felt sooo stuck with her anger and acting out behaviours plus comments about hating her mother and intentionally looking for ways to express her anger and hate that I decided to risk asking if she ever thought of her birth mother in these moments and wondered what her birth mother would say! What ensued was a long and very heartfelt conversation about how she idealized her birth mother and hated her adoptive mother and the internal war between the two of them. We have had great discussions about her internal wars and she has made peace and has suddenly made a great turnaround. I want so much to share your video with her…. her English is not very good but I’m sure that with my translation and your inspiration you will reach her in a very profound way. I promise to let you know how it works out. Tomorrow I am taking you to class with me to work with graduate students where I am teaching Narrative Therapy. I look forward to your impact on them and our conversations. Thank you sooo much. I promise to write soon. Jeannette

  4. Marcela Polanco

    Dear Leonie,

    i was moved in so many ways and transported to many places (your places and my places) by the autoethnographic feel of your cultural, family and identity journeys, as well as by what i took as your careful and thoughtful treatment to your words, to bring these accounts to life and to be spread widely.

    The stories i carry from where i come have undergone many transitions as an immigrant living in a foreign, ‘complicated’ land in which i have tried to find some sense of belonging with celebration and lament. i also carry stories of the many immigrant children and their families i have worked with. It is from this location from where i listened to your words.

    i found fascinating the ideas on identity formation from perceived sameness but also being outside the mainstream. It reconnected me to conversations with immigrant women on mutual experiences taking up opportunities to reinvent ourselves at the borders between one territory (Latin American) and the other (U.S.), experiencing the fluidity of our identities, in lower case…for fleeting moments i have experienced how it is like not to be a passenger of our imposed identities…

    i have shared your stories with colleagues interested in autoethnographic explorations of their identities, and with those working with unaccompanied minors who face many complexities in the midst of finding a new sense of home at the center of political, social, economical and cultural debate.

    Thank you….

    1. Leonie Simmons

      Dear Marcela,

      I really liked reading your reply to having watched the dvd. I sat for a while on your description of being or not being a passenger of our imposed identities. I found it to be evocative of many instances that grab your awareness but offer little room to breathe or speak. So one merely sits there.

      For me, sometimes listening to the stories of another in regards to pivotal elements of experience, such as immigration and identity can be evocatively captivating or and, can feel ‘hot seated’ and uncomfortable. Especially when you feel all these different times and places and people popping into memory competing for attention!
      So I am pleased to know if your story was happy to run alongside whilst you listened to mine.

      Your reference to women finding their way in Latin America and The U.S made me think of some of the possible factors and contexts that may arise,and pointedly all the ones i could not possibly imagine which these women walk through. I can though imagine how profoundly beneficial and guiding those conversations you shared together would be. And I know for me, such musings and shared chats have been life changing.

      I appreciate you mentioning that you have shared some of my words with others whom may be tip-toeing through similar caverns and it is heartening to feel joined with such a collective project.

      Thank you for your kind words and I wish you well in your work and you continued travels.
      Kind Regards,

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