We had the good fortune of connecting with Joi Fisher and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joi, what’s the most important thing you’ve done for your children?
Whew, this is a loaded question. My three girls have learned lessons I intentionally taught them and unintentionally taught them. But I’d have to say the most important thing I’ve done that impacted them by far was leaving an unhealthy relationship, working on my relationship with God, working on me, and eventually modeling and demonstrating by my actions my faith, my healing process, and a healthy relationship. I thought I could teach them by just saying “Don’t do as I do. Do as I say.” But the reality of it was that they were watching everything. So, their poor choices in relationships and accepting certain behaviors from people pursuing them, I know has been a direct result of my poor example and I own that. When I would size up some of the young men that pursued them, I would cringe but on the flip side, that guy presented himself slightly better than my relationship so how could I expect them to make a different choice. It became painfully obvious if I don’t change and solidify in their eyes what a healthy relationship is how will they learn? I wanted them to know that I believed I deserved better and that I was worthy of more. An unhealthy relationship with great highs and lows was unfortunately the core of our family structure. Ending that unhealthy relationship was by far the most important example I have shown them. I have been able to work on myself, change my thinking through counseling, take my time entering the dating world, model a healthy relationship, and take my time finding love. I now have a healthy loving relationship that my daughters witnessed from beginning to present. They all acknowledge that they now see what love, teamwork, and a fun-loving relationship look like.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am an educator, adoption advocate, and speaker. I stand before audiences and now on screens and share my adoption journey in hopes of removing some of the stigmas that go along with adoption. I stand before audiences and share my fears of abandonment, feelings of not being enough, and shame in hopes of enlightening others that the silence around adoption is not helpful for the adoptee, the adopted parents, the birth parents, or those waiting to be adopted. If we aren’t comfortable talking about adoption how can others be comfortable asking about adoption? I never discussed being adopted with my parents, my children, my spouse, my sorority sisters, my friends, or colleagues. In 2017, when the adoption legislation opened previously closed adoption records I had the privilege to learn about the work of the NJCARE advocates. I was in a room where 5% of the guests were people of color. I knew the existence of this legislation that impacted folks born from 1940-2015 would never make it to my community groups unless I stepped up to help share what I learned that day. The advocates inspired me to learn more about my adoption issues, trauma, and the research. They challenged me to take a leap of faith and share my story in my smaller circles. This opened the door for public speaking. My ah-ha moment came when I realized I felt different all these years because I was different. I was not crazy, I was not weird, I was not odd, and by my saying that didn’t mean I was saying I was better than anyone else in the family it just stated a fact. I was different. I had adoption issues. That one winter afternoon in January 2017 changed the trajectory of my life and my career. I want the world to know that it’s time to stop whispering about adoption, let’s talk about it. If you are looking for a motivational speaker that speaks about overcoming life’s challenges, and persevering who can also plant seeds on all things adoption in a manner that captures their attention then you need me to speak at your next event.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The beauty of being from NJ is we are right between New York and Philadelphia. If my best friend was coming for a week we would hit all three states and maybe even Delaware. I’m a foodie so we would definitely hit some of my favorite local spots which mean we would also have to get in a few good workouts to allow for everything we would eat. During the course of a week we’d have breakfast at Bill’s in Plainfield, George Street Ale House in New Brunswick, Edison Family Diner in Edison, Greenbrook Breakfast House in Greenbrook, and end the week with my husband’s famous pancakes, grits, bacon, and eggs. For lunch we’d try places like Westend Deli in Greenbrook, 30 Burgers in Bound Brook, Amazing Taste in South Bound Brook, Honey Grow in New Brunswick, and Pizza and Pasta in Piscataway. We couldn’t leave New Brunswick without stopping for a refreshing fruit snack at Playa Bowls. For dinner, I’d make sure we hit Delta’s in New Brunswick for some good soul food, and The Sushi Room in New Brunswick. For a little food and fun, we’d hit Top Golf in Edison. For an elegant dinner at The Chart House in Weehawken. For some finger-licking food BBQs and sweet treats at the Sugar Factory in New York. While in NY walking through the 911 Memorial site would be a must. We’d intentionally go to New York’s famous Red Steps in the middle of the city with hopes of running into the Video City camera crew for our 15 minutes of fame and participate in one of their random street interviews. For some added fun we’d go to the Escape the Room, Menlo Park Mall, Jersey Gardens Mall, and hit my favorites; our local Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. As a lover of Dollar Tree, we’d make a visit there. We have so many great fruit and vegetable stores in our area. I’d have to take her to the Englishtown Flea Market for a true NJ Flea Market experience. We’d go to Colonia Park to play some mini-golf and walk the scenic paths. We’d grab my daughter’s kayak and float around in the banks of the Raritan River. Some other outings would include Yestercades (an old school arcade) in Somerville, the gun range in South Jersey, Snyder’s Farm for some yellow watermelon, NJPAC in Newark, or the State Theater for a show, and we must have some laughs at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick. In Philadelphia, we’d grab a cheesesteak for lunch, hit the casino, place some random sports bets, walk along Delaware Avenue, and have dinner at Warmdaddy’s. To make up for all the eating we’d do we would participate in Turtle Fitness & Performance virtual fitness classes; two dumbbells on Monday and their Tuesday Kiss My Abs class. I’d give her a little break the rest of the week and on Friday I’d hope she’d be down for a dance class to learn to hustle at the Starlight Dance Center in Nutley. That class rolls right into a party to dance into the night to test your new hustling dance moves. On Saturday we’d try Inspira Performing Arts & Cultural Center in New Brunswick for a Saturday soul stepping class. Sunday would be our day of rest and we attend or virtually tune in to Pastor Mark Miller from Livingston Avenue Community Church of Christ in New Brunswick. When you are right in the heart of Central Jersey the opportunities between NY and PA are endless there are so many more places in NJ, NY, and PA to explore these are just a few. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We hear shoutouts to parents all the time and I think as we age and gain a new appreciation on life we gain a greater appreciation for our parents. So, I must start there. James and Jerlene deserve the praise for molding and nurturing me into the person I am today. I think each of them has rubbed off on me, giving me the ability to blend feisty and politically correct creating in me a good balance. My mom reminded me often that there was nothing I couldn’t do and that most of the time I was getting in my own way overthinking. My dad taught me to speak from facts and research and leave the emotional thoughts out of the conversation. After years of mentoring and guiding my career, one of my mentors Sheila Thorpe told me “mentors put people in positions in preparation for a future they can’t yet see”. Early in my career I was placed in situations that required leadership, organizational skills, writing and public speaking skills. She modeled what to do and helped lay the foundation that impacted my career as an educator, advocate, voiceover artist, and speaker. A HUGE shoutout to my girls who challenge me to look at my life through a different lens. A lens that says sharing your struggles and journeys can have a profound impact on others. They challenge me to see beyond my fears and doubt and JUST DO IT. They also challenge me to practice what I preach. To my husband Steven, I say thank you. Thank you for showing me what kindness, caring, and a loving relationship truly feels like. Thank you for being supportive and for being a man of your word. My story would not have come full circle without the NJCARE Legislative Advocates, my book coach Kim Rouse, cousin Pat, and my birth parents Flora, and John. My life has been blessed and impacted by the work of so many friends, my sorority sisters, mentors, and guides. My career, my book, my ability to parent is all a result of people pouring into me. Thank you all for sharing your gifts and talents with me and providing me with great examples. There are too many to name them all but many more can be found in my book.
Other: VoiceOver Artist www.joirenee.com
JMartin Photography Enjolica Y. Richardson Pam Hasegawa