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Every person has an origin story and it matters, ESPECIALLY when it comes to adoption. 


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January 1980:


Hey world! Samantha Coleman was born at the “Ultra-Chicago,” Cook County Hospital.

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March 1980:


Created for a time such as this! Sandria Washington* was born in Chicago, IL at Cabrini Hospital. (*not original birth name)

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December 2001:


Samantha graduates from University of Illinois at Chicago with a B.A. in Psychology, beginning her career as a mental health professional on the West Side of Chicago

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May 2002:


Sandria graduates from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a B.S. in Advertising, beginning a career a publishing, media and communications

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Circa 2005:


Samantha and Sandria become friends during the Myspace era. 

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May 2005:


Samantha receives her Masters Degree in Community Counseling from Concordia River Forest and sits for her licensure exam, completely unaware of how her educational path has been aligned to her adoption story.

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October 2006:


Samantha’s mother discloses that Samantha is adopted.

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May 2010:


On May 21, 2010, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law providing adopted adults greater access to their birth certificates—without having to get a court order. 

⁣How did I go from writing my first short story in crayon to living inside the biggest plot twist of my life (and trust me, God has written me into some BIG ones these first 40 years of life)? ⁣

I knew from an early age that books, words and stories would always be my saving grace. I remember when my parents separated and the lights got turned off in our house after my father moved out. ⁣

Me and my mother would walk to the library and she’d let me check out a stack of books. There wasn’t any time for me to be sad; I was too busy reading and making up my own stories.⁣

Like many little book lovers of the early 80’s, I was a school spelling bee winning-Chicago Young Authors writing-Scholastic Book Fair anticipating-Book It! Pizza Hut personal pan pizza eating scholar. ⁣

By the time I arrived on the campus of U of I, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I minored in English and received my B.S. in Advertising. My post-college professional career has been....interesting. ⁣

I’ve been an editor, advertising account executive, freelance writer, blogger, corporate communications AVP, and an entrepreneur.⁣

In between all of this I’ve been a theater and film actress, award-winning natural hair model, radio personality, event curator, and certified yoga teacher - just to name a few! As my friends often like to remind me, “Sandria is a whole mood!” I can’t argue. ⁣

As a creative I like to take the scenic route in life and I love a good backstory. I believe everything I’ve lived through and the tools I’ve picked up along the way - particularly the sudden death of my mother in 2011, a 20 year practice of journaling and being a student of yoga - helped prepare me for April 2, 2018 and the call that would change my life.⁣

On the Monday following Easter Sunday and April Fool’s Day, standing in my kitchen, I finally made the call to my aunt that I’d been putting off for months. “Is it true that I’m adopted?” Her confirmation set in motion a search not only for my backstory, but the untold stories of other Black adoptees.⁣

𝘏𝘰𝘸 𝘥𝘪𝘥 𝘐 𝘨𝘦𝘵 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦?

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"My story doesn’t start with adoption. Black to the Beginning, for me, means going back to my true origin story - God’s purpose for creating me."



My story has many chapters...

It is why I wrestle with the question, “Tell me about yourself” or “What do you do?”  Most times, I pause, as the response is complex.  Over the past four decades, I have operated in many multifaceted, distinguishable universes - all of which have connected for a greater purpose.  Simply, but uniquely put, I am a Professional Storycatcher. This title describes who I have innately been since birth.


The name “Samantha,” means “God Heard '' or “Listener.” Ironically, I have been an empathetic engager of people and their stories from the sandbox, to the playground, as the Class VP (all 4 years) of High school, or riding the “L.”  As my education and career expanded, I reimagined and refined my talent for listening.  It manifested into many areas such as becoming a licensed therapist, social entrepreneur, University professor and administrator, Executive Coach, Consultant and Leadership Development Expert.  Having this gift to “catch” the stories of others has allowed me to navigate each of these roles in mastery form.  I believe that I can’t truly be of service, until I first listen to and absorb one’s story.  However, not even this born talent would keep me from the inevitable “gut punch” I experienced when I had to “listen” to my own life’s plot twist.


At age 26, my mother divulged to me that I was adopted, which completely shifted my life’s narrative.  As the person once described as someone with the ability to create clarity within a kaleidoscope, I had to be that resource for myself.  Yes, I’m a strong willed Capricorn that embraced the challenge, but If I’m being honest, nothing prepared me for the unending journey of being Black and adopted.  This is why the creation of Black to the Beginning has been so integral to my own personal healing.


Black to the Beginning is only one of many of the Story Catching platforms I create and contribute to.  Currently, I am the Associate Director of Leadership Development at the Harry L. Davis Center for Leadership (University of Chicago Booth School of Business).  I am also a course designer and Instructor for the University of Chicago Graham School.  I round out my work as the owner and  Principal of a leadership coaching and consulting firm that focuses on living and leading authentically in all domains of life.  My motto is “Do you…but better!”

Dr. Sam resides in Chicago and is a mother of two souls that are powerful reminders of unconditional love. She enjoys a good, “Taco Tuesday,” a bottle of wine (even the cheap kind), kiki’ing with sister-friends, and trotting the globe.  Each day she is inspired to live life to the fullest and trust the process.  In 2007, she was recognized as an “Unsung Hero” by Ebony Magazine and Pine-Sol, has received numerous awards for her commitment to female youth empowerment, and has been institutionally acknowledged for her outstanding service to students and the learning community.

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"Truth and transparency about adoption within the Black family are a ‘shame antidote’ and a ‘call to healing’ for Black adoptees."



I really love this podcast. This is so profound. Y’all have no idea how connected I am to these stories and how they heal me.

K. Merritt

Dr. Sam and Sandria...they have been working really hard at cultivating a community where Black Adoptee voices are uplifted and celebrated and validated

Torie DiMartile

Creator of Wreckage and Wonder

I just found your podcast and it has truly been a blessing to me. I too am an adult adoptee. Thank you both for shedding light on this journey as I’ve often felt alone/misunderstood.


You ladies are definitely making a difference in the lives of so many. As a birth mother you’ve given me a different perspective, the view, feelings of the child placed into adoption. Your podcast speaks to so many from so many different angles. I applaud the work you are bringing not only to our community but to all.

C. Timms

The one post you guys had ‘Adoptive children are not consolation prizes’ was a whole message. I’ve been ruminating on it for weeks. This is such vital work.

W. Olugbala

I was listening to the episode with the birth mother last night. Like where else in the world would we hear that public conversation?! Rhetorical. Powerful!

@soulyoginisp (S. Allen)

I just wanted to thank you for this podcast. I’m starting to go through the episodes, and I am either saying “yaaaaas”, “ummm, that’s deep”, or on the verge of tears every episode I’ve listened to so far.


This podcast is refreshing and so timely to discuss the adoption triad from a Black perspective.

C. Smith

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