Born and raised in Kansas, I am definitely a product of the Midwest. But when I was 26, I moved to San Diego, CA and I never left.
My parents were East Coast transplants, so every summer we would vacation back in Pennsylvania. That state has such a strong sense of history. A European history…and an Indigenous history, although I barely knew it. I loved it!
Dad grew up in a house built in 1840, and through his mother, I grew to love all things antique and history-filled. My mom’s father was a dairy farmer, and my brother and I played for hours in the big, old barn. I especially loved running through grassy, flowering meadows with Lady, the collie who lived at the farm.
Indigenous American Heritage and Transracial Adoption
The name of my business, Five Tribes Therapy, comes from my biological history. 1960s Wichita, Kansas, where I was born, is quite possibly where my birth mother lived.
I was adopted at age three months by a White family. My little family was traditional, with a stay-at-home mom, a college professor dad, and an older adopted brother.
Mom and Dad, and, indeed me, knew little of my heritage. Even my birth certificate showed little, with an unknown biological father. And my biological mother was “Indian, French, and English.”
I found out later that she was from Oklahoma, hence the name of my psychotherapy business. Almost certainly, I am “blood” with these people, the Five Civilized Tribes; Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole.
Being a Person of Color / Indigenous
Indian culture was very unfamiliar to me. I always knew that I was “Indian” and was so proud of that. But I was raised “White” by my very White parents. And Hays, KS was a largely White community, with very few People of Color.
As a little girl, and then as an adolescent, I identified as White. I was so connected to being a Campbell, and being Scotch Irish, just like my parents. All I knew of being “Indian” was what I’d read about, seen on television, or at the movies.
Kansas has a rich, Indigenous American history, but I didn’t know much about it. As an adult, however, after I moved to California, I started attending pow wows, and other Indigenous American cultural events. I was on my way (!), finally identifying as “Native American”, making efforts to become more familiar with my roots.
Starting with grad school, and now in my professional life, I spend time working with indigenous cultures, trying to “give back,” while trying, personally, to find where I fit as a Person of Color.
Even today, though, 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.
Overall, my adoptive experience was very positive. I had a loving family who raised me as their own, but yet, part of me is missing and disconnected.
Adoption is a wonderful thing, but a transracial adoption is a different thing. Culture needs to be addressed, with racial and other identity issues explored honestly and openly.
In the early 1980s, I earned both a BA and an MS in Communication at Fort Hays State University in Hays, KS.
In the mid-1990s, after having worked for a variety of organizations, I returned to my first academic love, social services and psychology, enrolling in the Master of Social Work Program at San Diego State University.
Social Service Background
Even before I started grad school, I started my work in the mental health/social services field. And in 1999, I started as a social worker with the County of San Diego in Child Protective Services.
I worked in a specialized unit with long-term foster children who had severe mental health diagnoses. These children were placed in treatment level foster and group homes. I specialized in attachment and bonding, grief and loss issues, growing to understand issues with identity, racially, ethnically, and also the LGBTQI+ population.
In 2011, I retired from San Diego County. But, I didn’t want to BE retired, so I joined the staff at a mental health crisis house. First, I was a therapist. Then I discharged clients to a lower level of care, as the discharge coordinator.
Next step in the journey, I was a care manager for patients at inpatient psychiatric facilities.
In August 2013, I opened up Five Tribes Therapy. I am always delighted with the creativity and innovation of the people I meet every day.