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TSM16/29 Interracial Adoption Racism and Lost Identity with Catana Tully

Their Story Matters with Sara Troy and her guest Catana Tully, aired July 19th-25th


Dr. Catana Tully’s incredible story shows how an exotic child adopted into a White family learned to overcome painful racial confusion, misplaced identity, poor self-image, and fear of abandonment to lead a meaningful and significant life.

Through the years I was often encouraged to tell the story of my ‘fairy tale’ life. However, not until reaching my late forties, when I became increasingly at odds with myself, did I discover that what seemed magical to others was not necessarily so. Eventually, I discovered issues more important than details of my life I needed to share with a larger audience.

Catana Tully at 8 months of age

The central theme of my book addresses ethnic misplacement due to having been raised within a culture and among a people different to my own. I have structured the story chronologically to reveal layers of great privilege and simultaneous disinheritance.

Unlike any adoption memoir, in this story the issues of the adopted child surface much later in life. The first obvious market for this book is older exotic children who were adopted into mainstream White culture in the US and Europe where interracial adoptions have become a popular phenomenon. However, the concerns should be of great interest to all parents, or prospective parents of adoptees, older exotic adoptees, and all people of mixed races.

Today the retired college professor is the bestselling author of Split at the Root: A Memoir of Love and Lost Identity. After retiring from her position of tenured college professor, she has dedicated herself to addressing the pressing issues adult exotic adoptees, and parents who have or are planning to adopt interracially, face on a daily basis. She offers words of wisdom and tools to strengthen their impaired images of themselves, their race, their religion, and their culture.

Dr. Catana Tully grew up trilingual (German, Spanish, English) in Guatemala where she attended elementary and middle school. In tenth grade she entered a boarding school in Jamaica, WI and received her Advanced Level Higher Schools Certificate from Cambridge University, England. Expecting to become an international interpreter, she continued her studies at the Sprachen und Dolmetscher Institut in Munich, Germany. However, she was called to work in a play and discovered her affinity for the dramatic arts. She became the actress and fashion model Catana Cayetano and appeared in Film and TV work in Germany, Austria, and Italy. In Munich she met and married the American actor Frederick V. Tully and ultimately moved to the United States. They have a son,

Patrick. In Upstate New York, she completed the BA in Cultural Studies, an MA in Latin American and Caribbean Literature, and a DA (doctor of Arts) in Humanistic Studies. She held the position of tenured Associate Professor at SUNY Empire State College, from which she retired in 2003. She returned in 2005 for part time work in ESC’s Center for International Programs, where she served as Mentor and instructor in the Lebanon program, and as Interim Program Director for the Dominican Republic. In 2011 she retired completely to dedicate herself to publishing Split at the Root. She is currently preparing an academic version discussing the psychological issues embedded in the memoir.



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More on your host Sara Troy’s shows, their-story-matters


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