Extraordinary Journey: The Lifelong Path of the Transracial Adoptee

by Mark Hagland

About This Book

Extraordinary Journey: The Lifelong Journey of the Transracial Adoptee, is a book by adult transracial adoptee Mark Hagland. Mark Hagland has spent more than two decades participating in forums, in person and online, around the most complex and challenging topics in transracial adoption. He has presented or moderated more than fifty presentations and panel discussions at leading national conferences, and helps to moderate Facebook discussion groups organized around transracial adoption subjects, in three languages, and with members on all six populated continents.

In this book, Hagland walks the reader through sixteen full chapters filled with explications and reflections on such subjects as leaving behind the “rainbows and unicorns” perspective on transracial adoption; navigating the narrative burden around identity; surviving the scourge of unusualness; interacting with birth culture; for international adoptees, visiting one’s birth country; and the broader frame around the entire phenomenon of transracial adoption


In addition to the sixteen narrative chapters, Hagland has interviewed thirteen adult transracial adoptees of all backgrounds, including diverse races, countries of origin, and countries of lived experience. Each adult transracial adoptee has unique perspectives to share on her or his lived experience.

From Chapter 10, “Coming Out of the Transracial Adoptee Fog”:

One of the topics that we adult transracial adoptees talk about a lot with one another—a lot--is the subject of the "transracial adoptee fog," and our coming out of it.

And what is that “transracial adoptee fog”? It is the disconnected reality that so many transracially adopted children grow up in as they grow up in total whiteness, near-total whiteness, or majoritarian whiteness, detached from birth culture and from members of their race and ethnicity, and inside white culture, which casts a toxic blanket of silence over any authentic discussion of race, and which dismisses the lived reality of people of color. For most transracial adoptees, certainly for most adoptees who are now adults, both in the United States and in all receiving countries, the result is a profound level of intellectual and psychological confusion and an inability even to understand how detached and isolated one is, as well as a deep confusion about one’s identity, and an acceptance of a surface culturally and psychologically white identity, even as accepting a white identity for oneself a white identity is inherently deeply damaging to the child of color, and can delay the self-actualization that individuals of color need to achieve for themselves. It can take many transracial adoptees decades to begin to move out of the fog; some never do.

This is a book filled with insights and revelations. All of those in any way connected to the phenomenon of transracial adoption—adult transracial adoptees, transracially adoptive parents, birth parents, adoption professionals, and anyone with any personal or social connection to any of those individuals—will find the book’s insights to be important and even transformative.

“I love Mark’s book! This is a much-needed critical thinking book that shares our complexities of transracial adoption from a mature lens, from someone who has connected deeply into our community for decades, and has dealt with both adoptees and adoptive parents for a substantial period of time. Everyone across the adoption constellation and child welfare continuum should read it.” —Lynelle Long, Founding Director, Intercountry Adoptee Voices (ICAV)

“Mark Hagland’s book, Extraordinary Journey, is open, honest, authentic, and extremely impactful. I have been a parent of transracial adoptees for 34 years now, and 30 of those years I have worked with Heritage Camps. Just when I thought I had it somewhat figured out, Mark’s’ book has opened my eyes to things I need to pay closer attention to in my parenting and professional life. It is that vital for all adoptees and adoptive parents to read.” —Pam Sweetser, Executive Director, Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families

“’Adoption competence’ is a common buzzword among professionals in the adoption world. As someone who has worked in the field of adoption for over 25 years, this book illuminated for me a multitude of ways we are still lacking understanding of the experiences of adoptees. There is still much to learn, and Hagland and those he interviewed put forth a cogent case for why we need to hear the voice of adoptees, who have for too long been silenced.  This book should be required reading for every person touched by adoption, especially adoptive parents and adoption professionals. In this book, Hagland combines in his lived experience as an adoptee, his years spent with other adoptees hearing their experiences, and his journalistic expertise, to produce a volume so compelling I couldn’t put it down.” —Karen Doyle Buckwalter, LCSW, RPT-S, Director of Programming Strategy, Chaddock

“Mark Hagland has a long history of telling the real truth about transracial and transnational adoption. This is a call to white adoptive parents like myself to pay more attention to how essential it is to be color-acknowledging, anti-racist, and trauma-informed, in support of our children. Thanks, Mark, for putting adoptee experiences and voices first." —Beth Hall, Executive Director, Pact: An Adoption Alliance