Samuel Boudreau, Editor in Chief
Growing up in the predominantly white farming community of Meadville, Pa., Maud Bulman ’23, an adoptee born in China, was identified by many as a person with one identity. “Growing up, I lived in a very white, rural community,” said Bulman, “so I was always labeled as a ‘Chinese-girl’ for 18 years.” After leaving Meadville for The College of Wooster, Bulman noticed a profound shift in her identity as an adoptee. “And then I came to [the] College and we have a large international student body here, and I was straight up-to-my face called an American, [which] kind of sent me through a spiral of ‘who am I?’” Bulman’s life experiences, particularly at the College, inspired her and Zoe Seymore ’23 to start up a new student group on campus.
On Nov. 8, the Wooster Adoptee Student Union held their first meeting. The union identifies itself as “an inclusive student organization that aims at creating a safe space for adoptees on campus,” the Union wrote on their Instagram page. Maud Bulman ’23 and Zoe Seymore ’23 collaboratively founded the Union. “We both kind of had the idea separately because we wanted to create a community and we both started to do it informally with people we knew,” said Bulman. Both Bulman and Seymore were born in China and adopted at a young age. Seymour grew up in Texas and Bulman grew up in Pennsylvania. Sarah Epstein ’24, Lily Bulman ’25, Abby Kusher Benson ’23, Katie Spence ’23, Evelyn Trumpey ’24 and Lilly Hinkley ’25 are all members of the Union’s inaugural board.
Bulman and Seymore met when Seymore interviewed Bulman for her sophomore research assistant position with Ziying You, an associate professor of East Asian studies and women’s gender and sexuality studies. The research project focused on the discrimination faced by Chinese women and adoptees in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seymore said, “I interviewed [Bulman] and she went to Wooster here, and I was like ‘Oh my god, it’s another adoptee and she’s in my grade’ and so we went to get lunch one day and it started from there.”
Bulman and Seymore joke that they are doing the same I.S. Seymore’s explores how anti-Asian racism during COVID-19 pandemic impacted the psychological wellbeing of Chinese adoptees in America while Bulman’s examines transcultural East-Asian adoptees and their adoption experiences in general, as well as how they formed identity, what kind of cultures they identify with and how they celebrate those and how those were affected during the anti-Asian hate sentiment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic and anti-Asian racism, as horrifically enacted during the Atlanta spa shootings that killed six women of Asian descent, made a significant impact on Seymore and Bulman’s academic, personal and professional lives. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, with the anti-Asian hate sentiment that came out, there was all of this news about Asian solidarity and supporting our elders,” said Bulman, “but a lot of specifically Asian-adoptees can’t relate to that because a lot of us didn’t grow up with Asian elders, so there is kind of that dual aspect.”
Since the club’s inception, Bulman and Seymore have noticed adoptees reaching out to them about the club and sharing their own experiences. “Seymore said that one of the main reasons she picked Wooster over her top schools was because of this adoptee organization, because the other schools didn’t have it, and she thought it was just something very important to her.”
The club is open to all adoptees. “There are more than just Chinese adoptees,” said Bulman.
Seymour followed up with Bulman. “That’s a very wide demographic in our age, but we are open to all adoptees.”
The club also hopes to make connections with faculty, staff and the broader Wooster community.