I am a product of the Midwest, having been born and raised in Kansas. I spent the first 26 years of my life in the same small college town, finally venturing to the West Coast. I ultimately settled in San Diego, California in the mid-1980s.
Both my parents were transplants from the East Coast, so I spent every summer back in Pennsylvania, with extended family, and grew to appreciate the history of those early Americans, as both my father and mother could trace their genealogy back to the Revolutionary War, and even earlier. My paternal grandmother instilled an appreciation of history and culture and antiquity, as we visited her each summer in her big, two-story house that had been in her family dating back to 1840. My mother’s parents were farmers, and my brother and I had marvelous times playing in the big, old dairy barn, and wandering through grassy, flowering meadows.
Indigenous American Heritage and Transracial Adoption
My history, as noted above, is of significance, as I was born in Wichita, Kansas in the 1960s, and my birth mother gave me up for adoption at birth. For the first three months of my life, I was in foster care, and then, was adopted by the Campbells, rounding out their little family to a traditional one of a mother, father, daughter, and son, my adopted brother, who was approximately 2 1/2 years older than me.
Very little was known of my heritage, other than my father was listed as unknown, and my mother had listed “Indian, French, and English” ancestors.
I did find out later that she was from Oklahoma, hence the name of my psychotherapy business, Five Tribes Therapy. It is almost certain that I am “blood” with these people, the Five Civilized Tribes, i.e., Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole.
I am very proud of my heritage but was raised as a white child by white parents, in a largely white community, with very little exposure to people of color. As a little girl, and then as an adolescent, I identified as “White,” and felt very connected to my adoptive parents’ family history and culture. All I knew of being an Indigenous American,” was what I’d read about, seen on television or at the movies, even though Kansas had and has a rich, Indigenous American history. As an adult, after I moved to the West Coast, I started attending pow wows, and other Indigenous American cultural events, making efforts to become more familiar with my roots. I have spent quite a bit of my professional life working with indigenous cultures, trying to “give back,” while trying to find where I fit as a person of color on a personal level.
It’s a constant source of consternation that when I am on the “Rez” that I am accepted, and even assumed, to be Indigenous, as I have the physical features, but off the rez, I’m accepted and assumed to be part of the White dominant culture.
Even though my adoptive experience was essentially very positive, with a loving family who raised me as their own, I feel as if part of me is missing and disconnected. Adoption is a wonderful thing, but it needs to be addressed, with racial and other identity issues explored honestly and openly.
I received a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Communication/Public Relations from Fort Hays State University (FHSU), in Hays, Kansas, followed by a Master of Science (MS) in Communication/ Radio/Television/Film Production, also from FHSU, and worked for a CBS affiliate in the News Department as a producer/director/writer for several years in the Midwest, before moving to the West Coast.
In the mid-1990s, after having worked for a variety of organizations, including San Diego State University (SDSU), and KPBS, the local public television and radio station, in different capacities, I decided a complete change was in order and returned full time to the Master of Social Work (MSW) Program at SDSU, graduating in 1999.
Social Service Background
I have been working in the mental health/social services field since 1996 in varying capacities. I was a social worker with the County of San Diego in Child Protective Services, first as a case manager, where I worked in a specialized unit with long-term foster children who had mental health diagnoses. These children were placed in treatment level foster and group homes, having been removed from their biological or even adoptive families and placed in the care and custody of the County of San Diego. I became a kind of “specialist” in attachment and bonding, and grief and loss issues, as well as issues with identity, be it racial, gender, or other identifications. Then I became a child abuse investigator, and my final County assignment was as an individual and group therapist at a local foster children’s shelter. After taking early retirement from the County in 2011, I decided to focus on the mental health side of social services. I took a job as a therapist and a discharge coordinator at a mental health crisis house, and then as a care manager for patients at inpatient psychiatric facilities for various insurance companies.
In August 2013, in a part-time capacity, and as of March 2014, in a full-time capacity, I finally achieved a long-term dream and opened up my private practice, initially in both Escondido and San Diego. While I enjoyed offering various treatment location options, I opened up an office in Downtown San Diego in April 2015 and closed the other locations. Although I enjoyed the vibrancy and diversity of downtown life, I made the big step of closing my downtown office and transitioned full-time to my home office. I continue to be delighted with the creativity and innovation of the people I meet every day.