The Adoptee's Journey: From Loss and Trauma to Healing and Empowerment, By Cameron Lee Small
The Adoptee's Journey
  • Length: 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: June 04, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0704
  • ISBN: 9781514007044

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Every adoption is rooted in loss.

Adoption is often framed by happy narratives, but the reality is that many adoptees struggle with unaddressed trauma and issues of identity and belonging. Adoptees often spend the majority of their youth without the language to explore the grief related to adoption or the permission to legitimize their conflicting emotions.

Adoptee and counselor Cameron Lee Small names the realities of the adoptee's journey, narrating his own and other adoptees' stories in all their complexity. He unpacks the history of how adoption has worked and names how the church influenced adoption practices with unintended negative impacts on adoptees' faith. Small's own tumultuous search for and reunion with his mother in Korea inspired him to help other adoptees navigate what it means to carry multiple stories. His adoptee-centered advocacy helps adoptees regain their agency and identity on a journey of integration and healing, with meaningful relationships in all their family systems.

"The subtitle says all you need to know—'from loss and trauma to healing and empowerment.' What an incredible resource for adoptees and other members of the constellation to understand the complex emotions many adoptees endure over time. We're all on a journey together, and thanks to Cameron Lee Small for being such a powerful voice in this space."

Michelle Li, journalist and cofounder of the Very Asian Foundation

"This is a deeply reflective and honest book that plunges you into the realities and research around adoptee experiences. Factoring in complex social dynamics in a deeply personal manner, Cameron Lee Small invites you to journey through a tapestry of experiences beautifully woven together that illuminates adoptee experiences."

Raymond Chang, president of the Asian American Christian Collaborative and executive director of TENx10 Collaboration

"A heartfelt and refreshing examination of what adoptees truly experience because of adoption. Adopted people have complex origin stories, and Cameron Small diligently walks us through with compassionate lenses to see the intimate inner workings of the adoptee experience. The church has worked hard to sugarcoat the adoption experience, and normally we only get the adoptive parents' lens; this book is the nurturing table-overturning we need from an adoptee."

Haley Radke, creator and host of the Adoptees On podcast

"The Adoptee's Journey is an important resource for adoptees, their caregivers, family, faith leaders, and anyone else working to support adoptees in their growth and development. Cameron Small creates an honest and straightforward dialogue with transracial and transnational adoptees to consider their abandonment trauma from adoption and how those truths interrogate and challenge one's Christian beliefs. Using his expertise as an adopted person, a therapist working in the adoption space, a son, and a father, Small addresses complex feelings in a way that is both accessible and academic. This book will become a must-read for any adoptee trying to process their feelings."

Kaomi Lee, creator of the Adapted Podcast

"Rarely do you find adoption literature centered around Scripture that seeks to empower adoptees. Part practice guide, part rallying cry, part memoir, Cameron Small's book seamlessly weaves his faith and professional expertise through first-hand accounts, academic theory, and pragmatism to create a work that reflects the state of the adoptee voice: on the rise. A must-read for anyone connected to adoption, and a shot across the adoption industry's bow."

Steve Kalb, executive director of Mansfield Hall in Eugene Oregon

"Cameron Small has a way of teaching and leading with such grace and truth. His story is both beautiful and brutal, and the church is better because of his work. The Adoptee's Journey holds research, historical truths, adoptees' stories, and Cam's personal journey. Throughout this book, your emotions will be stirred, you'll rethink and reevaluate cultural norms, and you'll become an advocate for adoptees. Don't miss this important book."

Latasha Morrison, founder and CEO of Be the Bridge and author of Be the Bridge

"Evangelical Christianity and adoption are interconnected in various ways. Through reflective prompts and substantive research, this book gently, yet powerfully, holds Christians to account around saviorism and social responsibility."

Angela Tucker, CEO of The Adopted Life and executive director of the Adoptee Mentoring Society

"In The Adoptee's Journey, Cam Lee Small successfully integrates his clinical therapeutic expertise, the personal stories of adoptees (including his own), the context of international adoption, and Christian religious frameworks to offer a new paradigm for adoptee healing. This book will be very important for Christian adoptees looking for support and guidance in their journey toward wholeness."

Shannon Gibney, professor, cultural worker, and author of The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be

Read an Excerpt


1. Missing Family
2. Facing Our History
3. Loss and Grief
4. Trauma and Recovery
5. Processing Our Emotions
6. Telling Our Stories
7. Identity Development
8. Navigating Relationships
9. Birth Search and Reunion
10. Finding Our Callings


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Cameron Lee Small

Cameron Lee Small, MS, LPCC, is a licensed clinical counselor, transracial adoptee, and mental health advocate based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was born in Korea and relinquished into foster care at age three. He was then adopted in 1984 to a family in the United States. His private practice, Therapy Redeemed, specializes in the mental health needs of adoptees and their families wherever they may be in their own adoption journey. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, the National Council for Adoption, and the Center for Adoption Support and Education.