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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Echo

Taylor Adoption Club dives deep into identity and belonging

Students bond over shared experiences.

What began with a few students has grown into a space for individuals to embrace their shared identity.

The Taylor Adoption Club (TAC) has been a recent phenomenon on campus that some students have been raising awareness for.

Taylor students Faith Conover, Zoe Frisby, Dawit Cronin and Emma Barile were the original founders of the club. They felt that a group of adoptees and their experiences were underrepresented at Taylor, Faith Conover, senior and co-president of TAC, said.

It began as a student-led club in the spring semester of 2023 until they applied and officially became a part of OIP towards the end of that semester, Conover said. As a group, they have been meeting biweekly to share dinner and have thoughtful discussions.

Conover would like people to see TAC as a place of belonging and connectedness for adopted individuals. In this space, they are able to come together and be understood and known in a way that is not always as easy in other places.

TAC has had a few guest speakers visit and talk about experiences related to this, Zoe Frisby, junior and co-president of TAC, said.

Craig Cochran, director of the counseling center, shared a message with the club about reactive attachment disorder and the trauma that happens to adopted individuals. It was interesting to connect that knowledge and be able to understand how trust and relationships can be built in the present time, she said.

“Just like even in myself, my adoption story is a beautiful story, but it's also one of hurt and pain because I was abandoned, and that is something that I used to take lightly,” Frisby said. “That's something I have to process, and that's a trauma that I've experienced in my life that I have to work through and ask God to reveal his love through that and through that story.”

Not every story is the same, Emma Benno, junior and TAC member, said.

At two weeks old, she was transracially adopted from Guatemala to the city of Chicago. While Benno does not remember much, she knows it was a closed adoption, and information about her family was very limited.

“Yes, I have questions, but remembering that my birth mother really sacrificed her child for a better life for that child is huge,” she said. “I hold on to that because it's something that kind of drove me to what I want to do in the future.”

As a social work major, Benno has been passionate about a future career as a possible family case manager with Child Protective Services, where it would be her main job to make sure that children and young teens are placed in a good home, whether that is by blood or not.

She added that at Taylor specifically, there have been a lot of misconceptions about adoption.

“You hear of the savior complex of like, ‘Oh, your parents just did that to you because it was good,’” she said.

Adoptees have all felt, at one point in their lives, a sense of being in the middle and not having a place, Benno said. TAC’s environment has provided a safe space for adoptees who may be uncomfortable sharing their story with the general public.

There are currently 26 members, with a few of those students being on the cabinet, including co-presidents Faith Conover and Zoe Frisby.

Junior Dawit Cronin, a co-founder and member of TAC, described the club in three words: community, education and love.

“A lot of times, in our society, we see [adoption] as something that's uncomfortable,” he said. “But rather, it's actually just a different painting with different strokes and different colors.”

Cronin was adopted from Ethiopia in 2011 with his older brother into a family with six kids. Six out of the eight of them have been adopted from different countries, with two children from China and two from Haiti.

The Bible has called all believers adopted sons and daughters of God, Cronin said. Wherever your story comes from, his love is so strong. Sometimes it’s the one thing a person can lean on when people give up on them.

“The one main constant theme of my life has been the love of God,” he added.

TAC is open to all adoptees. Conover said that this spring they have met biweekly on Thursdays. Dinner will start at 6:30 p.m. in Jacobsen 1, with a meeting following from 7-8 p.m.