Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An example of an ethical intl adoption and other things

Korean adoptee, Jane Jeong Trenka, with whom some of you are already familiar, was interviewed by PBS regarding international adoption.

Check out her blog entry, "An example of an ethical international adoption and other things," in which she gives informed yet concise answers to the following questions:

  • What are the most important things that parents who are adopting transracially and/or transnationally need to know and learn from adult adoptees?
  • In brief, what facets about the current system of international adoption would you most like to see reformed?
  • Do you believe that there is such a thing as an ethical international adoption?
  • What advice would you have for people who want to believe that international adoption is mutually exclusive from global politics and the economic market?

Also, please take a moment to read through the comments section of Jane's post.


Harmony said...

Melissa, I have a few questions for you.

It seems to me like one of the issues you and other adoptees bring up a lot is culture. Obviously language and culture are major issues with international adoption, but I've also heard the same thing said about black children who were adopted out to white families, that they missed out on black culture.

So what do you do with families that have a complicated culture? What, for example, is the culture of our family? White? Asian? Korean? American? If we were to adopt, how do we reconcile our family with the desire I hear from adult adoptees to be in families as close as possible to their birth families?

Then we get into another one of those horrible issues with Korean culture. If the average Korean isn't going to support a single mother, or adopt her child, you can certainly bet that it'll be worse for a mixed child.

Hines Ward started a charity to help deal with this horrible discrimination of mixed children - and I'm not just talking about orphans.

It seems to me like the cultural hurdles are so high, it's going to take more than a generation for it to change.

So what do we do in the meantime? I imagine the stigma against adoption and against single mothers would change a lot faster if international adoption were eliminated (or at least significantly reduced). And yet, that leaves a generation of children in foster homes or orphanages.

So what would be the best, in your opinion? Should we try to adopt a half white child from a Korean orphanage? Should we give up the idea of adoption and work for cultural change?

I'm really very interested in hearing what you have to say.

Mei Ling said...

Harmony, the ultimate issue about trying to pass on culture is that culture isn't something you "learn" from a classroom, or a once-a-week camp.

It's something you live; something that is passed down from generation to generation.

Harmony said...

Mei Ling, I understand that very well. I am married to a Korean man who was born in the United States. Is his culture Korean or American? Well, that depends on the subject. His parents raised him mostly in the Korean style, but he grew up in northern-style American culture. I was raised in the South. So our family culture is very eclectic.

Since I hear a lot of adult adoptees - both international adoptees and domestic adoptees who were adopted out of their ethnic group - talk about the loss of culture they experienced, I wanted to get an adoptees perspective.

I believe adpotees when they say that they feel the loss of culture. I mean, even look at our president. He wasn't even adopted, but he felt the loss of black culture. So would we be doing more harm than good by adopting?

About two and a half years ago we were very close to adopting. Now we have 1-year-old and have some time to reflect about the decision before we go down that road again. Not saying "we will" this time, but "should we?" And I honestly want to know what Melissa thinks (and you, too, if you want). I know the answer isn't simple, but that's why I'm asking for advice from people who know better than I do.

Mila said...

Harmony, you ask a fair and insightful question. Ironically enough, Mike & I have actually contemplated similar questions (being that we are also an interracial couple & that we thought we might be facing infertility, that is, until we found out otherwise this May).

I will gladly answer your inquiry, but if you don't mind, I might actually write it up as a separate blog post, because as usual, I have more to share than will fit here in the comments section.

Julia said...

Thanks so much for this link, Melissa. I didn't realize that Jane had a blog and I'm glad to discover it.