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Adoptee and anthropologist Torie DiMartile talks about the many worlds adoptees straddle.

Torie DiMartile on the Many Worlds Adoptees Straddle (pt 1)

When a Half Plus a Half ≠ a Whole

We know from 1st grade math that a half plus a half equals 1. But for adoptees, the math doesn’t always add up the way we think it will, the way we hope it will.

At one time I thought that if I could just incorporate my children’s first families into ours, then Tessa and Reed having access to both their halves – all their pieces – would make them feel whole. I even subtitled my first book along those lines: The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole.

But the more I listen to adoptees, the more I understand that there is not just one time the math doesn’t work There is not just one split, the one between the family of origin and the family of experience (to use the language of April Dinwoodie). There are so many splits in which an adoptee needs to span divides, lots of ways an adoptee feels like they are not something enough on either side – no matter what we adoptive parents say to them.

Adoptee and anthropologist Torie DiMartile talks about the many worlds adoptees straddle.
Adoption: The Long View
505: The Either/Ors of Adoption that Deeply Affect Adoptees: Pt 1 with Torie DiMartile

Living in Divisions

Adoptees are always navigating two tracks: how their two sets of families feel about them, and also how they, themselves, feel about their two sets of families – the most integral people in their lives and for their survival.

Besides all adoptees being trans-familied, some adoptees are also intercountry or transracial, like today’s guest. These adoptees also live with divisions between race, culture, and sometimes language, trying to figure out how and where they do — and don’t — fit in.

There are also times for adoptees in which a plus and a minus don’t zero each other out. Many adoptees have told us that the easy emotions, like love for one’s adoptive family, don’t simply take away the harder emotions, like the loss of one’s birth family.

This is what we’ll talk about today with Torie DiMartile, a biracial and interracial adoptee and doctoral student who has been in an open adoption since her very beginning more than 30 years ago. You’re going to want to hear about how Torie is bridging all these gaps, and the ways she coaches parents to support their adoptees in doing so, as well.

About Torie DiMartile

Victoria (Torie) DiMartile is a speaker, consultant, and cultural anthropologist. As a biracial Black transracial adoptee, she was raised in Kentucky in a white Italian American family. She is the founder of Wreckage and Wonder LLC, a small business that educates prospective white adoptive and foster parents and provides webinars and training to adoption and child welfare organizations.

Torie has been featured on podcasts such as the Honestly Adoption Podcast, The Adoptee Nextdoor, and participated on panels and given presentations at conferences such as Replanted Conference, INSIGHT Conference, and The Families Rising Conference.

Torie is a doctoral candidate in Anthropology at Indiana University working towards a dissertation titled “Transracial Adoption in the Age of #GeorgeFloyd: Race and Kinship in U.S. Adoption.”

Torie’s personal life and academic pursuits have made her passionate about addressing racism within the domestic and international adoption industries and advocating for family preservation and reproductive justice. She was recently named an Indiana University Griffin Graduate Pathways Fellow for Summer and Fall 2023 where she worked with adoption agencies and post-placement organizations to improve adoptive family education and create adoptee and birth parent centered programming.

She currently coordinates the Activism in Adoption speaker series for On Your Feet Foundation and volunteers locally in Bloomington, IN as an expert witness in family court cases and a consultant for small family-centered non-profits designing staff trainings around race, adoption, and foster care.

In her free time Torie loves to go on walks with her rescue dog, Rowdy, draw portraits, and play with her three nephews.

Torie DiMartile: "I had two mothers who were self-aware and able to communicate with each other. Plus, they were willing to subordinate their insecurities to my well-being. " "ep505 of Adoption: The Long View
Torie DiMartile: "My parents are the center of their story, just as I am the center of mine. They experienced my adoption in a completely different way than I did." ep505 of Adoption: The Long View

Ep 505 about the Either/Ors Adoptees Face

In ep505, Torie talks about the ups and downs she has experienced so far with all four of her parents in her very open adoption, and the ways in which she and her adoptive mom rode the rougher waves that came with Torie’s journey into adoptee and racial consciousness.

Torie shares the story behind the title of her company and her website, Wreckage & Wonder, and you can imagine how this resonates so much for me.

Our conversation is so rich and deep that we’ll go into part two of it next month, in which Torie speaks again to the ways adoptive parents can either help and adoptees as they straddle multiple worlds, or leave them feeling alone and misunderstood. Make sure to tune in to both episodes because Torie drops so many gems of wisdom on us.

Torie DiMartile: "I didn’t have the vocabulary to express discontent or isolation or racial imposter syndrome. That was outside my ability to bring to my parents." Ep505 of Adoption: The Long View
Torie DiMartile: "Everyone in adoption has to come to terms with a moment of wreckage in their life. And yet the wreckage can be a catalyst for wonder, joy, and beauty." Ep505 of Adoption: The Long View

Show Notes for ep 505 with Torie DiMartile

How to Tune In Regularly

Lori Holden of Adoption The Long ViewYou can find Adoption: The Long View on and on these other platforms.


A new episode comes out the first Friday of the month. Thank you for sharing, subscribing, and rating this episode wherever you listen!

Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Find Lori’s books on her Amazon Author page, and catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

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