Tuesday, March 23, 2010

a Metaphor


Okay, so I figured out a metaphor that more clearly depicts why I feel so irked by the currently scarce, underdeveloped, and generally shoddy availability of post-reunion services by adoption agencies for Korean adoptees.

In a previous post, "the Price of Translation: the lack of post-reunion assistance," I discussed my frustration with the inadequate and often pricey services that the adoption agency provides for post-reunion, in particular the heavy charges for translation aid between adoptees and their biological families.

(Just for clarity's sake, I am fortunate enough to have a friend who is beautifully and adeptly fluent in both Korean and English who volunteers to translate letters for me. However, without her, I would basically be trying to dig a well without a shovel. Scraping at the ground with my fingernails--needless to say, but I'm saying it anyway-- would not get me very far, and I'd die of thirst.)

I am not discrediting the efforts made by organizations like G.O.A.L. and even some of the adoption agencies. Thank goodness at least some are doing something.

But they're certainly insufficient to meet the increasing demands and the growing complexities of post-reunion. They also somewhat neglect to consider the potentially sensitive and fragile nature of post-reunion.

Having random strangers translating deeply intimate and personal information can feel invasive and raw. But hey, as the great old American adage goes--beggars can't be choosers, right? But what if I didn't choose to be a beggar, and what if I want to be a chooser but my circumstances only give me a choice between A and A.

I'm using too much metaphor. Moving on...

So, here's the metaphor that I intended to share. It exemplifies what the experience of adoption, search, reunion, and post-reunion have felt like to me:


Say a doctor shows up at my door.

He tells me, "Hi, I'm a doctor. I will take care of you."

He then proceeds to beat me silly, black, and blue, ties me up, and throws me in the trunk of his Lexus.

After a long, dark, painful ride, the car stops. The doc unlocks the trunk and stares down at me.

He then says, "Gosh, I'm sorry. I feel awful about beating you. But hey, like I said when we first met, I'm a doctor. I'm here to help. I brought you to the hospital at which I work."

He carries me to a hospital bed, treats my wounds, and attends to my injuries--albeit, the ones that he inflicted.

When he is done, he pats me on the head and says, "There, there now. All better."

Then suddenly he hands me a bill for ten thousand smackers for the treatment I just received, and goes on to say, "Oh by the way, you're also going to need ongoing treatment and physical therapy for some of the more severe injuries you sustained as a result of me beating you. The cost is going to be considerable, you have health insurance right? If you don't, well, you'll figure something out, now, won't you?"

He concludes by saying, "Well, I hope you get to feeling better. I sure am glad I'm a doctor and that I was able to help you with the wounds after I beat you so badly. Sorry about the long, dark, bumpy ride. It took me a while to figure out what I was thinking. Good luck with your ongoing treatment. I can't really help you from this point on, but there are support groups for folks like you who have been beaten by doctors like me. Take care, now."

And then he walks off.

Every once in a while I contact him because I need his help to manage the details of the injuries sustained in order to get the appropriate ongoing treatment, but otherwise, he remains pretty uninvolved and removed.

He steps in here and there when he thinks it is needed, but overall the burden of navigating and figuring out the complexities of the process of healing and treatment due to his beating of me remain my responsibility.

* * *

Many would say, Well, girl, that's just the way the world works. And I would say, Yep, you're right.

But I don't have to agree with the way the world works. And I don't have to shrink back and act like nothing can be done to improve it.

* * *

Another little clarification: I always feel like I'm having to clarify to others that I'm not an angry, bitter adoptee. I always feel as though that's how people are going to label me when I express these types of thoughts.

If you were to ever meet me in person, you'd know right away that I'm not a bitter, angry person. Just keep in mind, though, that the purpose of this blog is not to toss out warm fuzzies for everyone to snuggle and cuddle with.

It's to illuminate the honest, unfiltered experience of an adult adoptee. Yes, here and there I will wrestle with a beast of emotion, but it doesn't mean you then proceed to discount what I'm feeling as just "that angry adoptee stuff."

If you're going to enter the adoptee world, you have to be willing to see it from the myriad perspectives of those who occupy it. And if you're not willing, then maybe you should re-think not only why you're reading this in the first place, but why you wanted to enter the adoption world to begin with...


8 comments:

sherinala said...

excellent post :) you're so cute - i love how you can put (what i perceive) the most difficult of emotions into words with such ease. seriously!!!

Terra said...

A gem of a page you have. I also love the way you can put difficult emotions into words with such ease, and grace, and that you don't shrink back and act like nothing can be done to improve it.

Melissa said...

Sheri and Terra, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments.

I'm so grateful to know that there are other people out there who can relate and understand.

It's people like you who help me to remember that we're not alone in all of this...

Mia_h_n said...

"Someone who doesn't shrink back and act like she can't do anything to improve tomorrow" <- This is such an exact way of describing you to me.

Why I wanted to enter the adoption world to begin with? I really didn't, but my choices were A or..well, A. But that's a whole nother story.

Oh, and I don't have to meet you to know you're not just an angry, bitter adoptee. Not that I don't wanna meet you ;)

Melissa said...

Mia, my friend, I hope you know that the rhetorical prodding of "...maybe you should re-think not only why you're reading this in the first place, but why you wanted to enter the adoption world to begin with..." was definitely NOT intended for you or other adoptees.

It was intended for adoptive parents, social workers, and others who are not adoptees...

As you reiterate, for adoptees our choices were "A" and "A." And you're right...that is a whole other story...

Mia_h_n said...

I know. When reading the why-part, the A-part just came to mind and made me smile to myself. Obviously I forgot the smiley to emphasize that part of my little side comment! ;)
It wasn't that I didn't get who your comment was directed towards - or rather wasn't.

Von said...

What an excellent post and I especially like the bits about not being an angry, bitter adoptee.We make the best of what we have to work with and sometimes our losses and trauma need airing, especially in the face of the attitudes around to adoption and the money making adoption industry.If we can't air these things on our own blogs then our disempowerement is even worse than I thought!
By the way I get angry about the way some try to keep us disempowered by telling us we're cute for expressing our deepest,most painful feelings..but that's just me!
It's a great blog with some really useful, helpful posts and I admire you for speaking out..keep going!

Melissa said...

Von, thank you again for your thoughtful comments and for taking the time to stop by my blog.