AN-YA PROJECT: CONTRIBUTORS UP-FRONT
Susan Branco Alvarado
Where were you born? Where do you live now?
Bogota, Colombia, SA. I live in Arlington, VA
How and why did you become involved with the AN-YA Project?
I deeply respect and admire Amanda who asked if I would be interested in participating. I also strongly believe that An-Ya is a realistic and accurate portrayal of many elements of the adoption experience. Ethically I am in favor of presenting fictional accounts rather than the exploitive nature that sometimes happens when parents describe their minor children’s personal experiences.
Tell us about a personal accomplishment that brought you deep satisfaction.
Returning to school to pursue my PhD, a lifelong goal, as fulltime student while continuing to maintain my counseling practice and of course, being a full time mom.
Imagine you are sitting on your childhood bed. Look around your bedroom. What do you see?
My room was yellow. I had lots of Madame Alexander dolls that my maternal grandparents collected for me. I had the 1980’s Holly Hobby sheets.
Favorite book(s) when you were a child?
I read all the Beverly Clearly books and the Nancy Drew series.
Do you have any pets or a special memory of a childhood pet?
I had a pet cat, Princess Clara Marble, named after my third grade teacher.
Do you have any hobbies outside of your career?
I work out in some capacity almost every day if possible. I especially like to run in the sunshine.
What things do you not like to do?
I am not a morning person so getting up early is not my favorite thing.
Was there a teacher, for better or worse, who influenced your life’s path?
My undergraduate academic advisor, Honey Nashman, was such a source of support and encouragement! She always believed in me even when I was not nearly so confident.
Tell us about your dream meal...all of the courses and who you would like at the table with you.
I would want my grandparents, now deceased, from both sides of my family, my first family, my children, my parents, and my closest friends with me as we ate a delicious meal of Ajiaco, a rich stew of corn, various potatoes, and chicken from Bogota, chicken and potato empanadas, brown rice, and strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert.
What are you currently reading?
Roll of Thunder,Hear Me Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (reading along with my 13 year old son for school) and World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks (helps me fall asleep).
Favorite Film with an ‘adoption narrative’?
This is difficult to answer. So many films do not do justice to adoptee themes. I would have to say that Star Wars, as cliché as this may be, is a favorite because I was allowed to see it at the movie theatre at age 5 with my dad. That was a big deal so for me the adoption theme tie in it is based more on an emotional memory.
What projects are you working on now?
I will start working on the An-YA :Strengths Based Mental Health Guide this summer. I am also completing one of my doctoral internships this summer where I will be co teaching several Masters level courses. I am working on a project with two professors, one of whom is also a transracial adoptee, for the American Counseling Association’s taskforce on developing professional competencies for working with multi-heritage persons. Our group is specifically developing competencies for working with transracial adoptees, families, and first parents. I am looking forward to speaking at KAAN this summer and gearing up for the Adoption Policy and Reform Collaborative’s first ever conference in November! Also, I am busy preparing for workshops at Bethany Christian Services Professional Conference this October on Attachment and Dissolutions and Trans Racial Adoptee Identity Development.
Anything else you would like to share with readers?
My son is starting a Natural Sciences technical high school and my daughter will be starting a Spanish Immersion kindergarten in the fall. I am absolutely astounded at how grown up they both are!
(This interview is part of our on-going interview series AN-YA PROJECT: CONTRIBUTORS UP-FRONT)