Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An Adoptee in Post-Reunion: A Holiday Wish List

As I mentioned in the original post, "Time for a Break," even though I'm taking an overall break from the adoption community and blogosphere, there are still some commitments I will continue to maintain, one of which is writing a monthly post for the adoption website, "Grown in My Heart."

So, here's this months GIMH post, "An Adoptee in Post-Reunion: A Holiday Wish List."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why I need "breaks": First footage of my initial Reunion in 2009

To view the multi-media piece/video, "Reuniting" by Jeanne Modderman, at Vimeo, click here.

I thank Jeanne for giving her time, energy, and heart to telling this story...

* * *

When I take a "break" from the adoption community, it's not that I'm taking a break from dealing with being an adoptee--that's nearly impossible for me, at this point.

Rather, it allows me to be able to deal with my own adoptee issues and experiences. Don't get me wrong, staying busy with processing and answering other people's questions and thoughts about their experiences does in some ways help me to process and answer many of my own questions. But it can also be a distraction.

There comes a time when I get so emotionally over stimulated that I feel about ready to implode. It's then that I realize that I need to take a step back.

Hence, one of the things that has prompted me to feel the need to take a step back and "process," in addition to dealing with pregnancy and pending motherhood, is the above multi-media piece (or you can also click on the title of this post to view the video).

A friend of mine and a fellow Korean adoptee, Jeanne Modderman, finished it about a month ago. She gathered the different video clips and photos during my initial reunion with my Korean mother in June/July of 2009. (I also reunited with my Korean father, but for privacy issues, photos and video must be kept private.)

I've watched the above piece a dozen times. I have been trying to process it over the past month. Every time I watch it, a deep reservoir of thought and emotion stirs.

So much has changed since the reunion--my life, my thoughts, my feelings--who I am. The experience is constantly evolving. Some things I thought then, I don't think anymore. And some things I didn't feel then, I feel all the time now...

I share this with the hope that it will depict reunion, at least from one perspective, in an honest way. But also understand, that this depicts only the beginning. And the beginning of reunion is certainly not the whole picture. It is so much more complex than what any video or photo or word can express or communicate.

So, although you may be tempted to think that this video tells all that needs to be told, it only tells part of the story. Please restrain yourself from assigning a label to it, whether you wish to identify it as a "happy ending" or a "happy beginning" or a "sad beginning" or a "sad ending."

It's all of that and so much more...

* * *

Friday, December 3, 2010

Time for a BREAK...

Just letting folks know that I am "unofficially" taking a break from the adoption community and especially the adoption blogosphere for now. I say "unofficially," simply because I intend to fulfill my commitment to write once a month for GIMH (Grown in My Heart) as well as to continue to contribute to Transracialeyes. And I will still do my best to answer the emails coming into my inbox.

But the pace will certainly slow--and whatever I do contribute to GIMH and Transracialeyes will most likely be minimal, not only in frequency but in content.

And as far as actively seeking to engage with the adoption blogosphere/community or otherwise, I need an interlude, if you will--so that I don't all together just walk away and quit.

I want to be, I need to be a shadow right now.

I'm tired, burned out, and overall feeling disillusioned and fragile. And quite frankly, I'm just sick of dealing with the adoption community. Well, let me be more specific, I'm sick of dealing with the dynamics that have come to characterize the interactions and relationships within the adoption community.

I'm sure pregnancy hormones play a role. But even before I had that excuse, I was feeling ready for a reprieve.

I need some time to "detox."

I need some time to step back and enjoy this time in my life...with my husband, with my family--with the anticipated arrival of our first child (only approximately 8 more weeks).

So, I'm taking in a deep breath and letting out a long and needed sigh of relief...

Happy Holidays to all of you.

See you in the New Year...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"It is odd to be on the other side now" (~Riverkids' Director, Dale Edmonds)

Please, please, please take the time to read this post, "Starting adoptions from the other side of the table."

It is written by Dale Edmonds at her personal blog. Dale is the director for the nonprofit organization Riverkids, which works to stop child trafficking and exploitation in Cambodia.

Her most recent blog post addresses the incredible complexities of the situations children and families face in Cambodia. And more specifically, recently, "Riverkids – the NGO I work for – is in the middle of arranging two adoptions."

Hence, Dale shares her experience thus far with the process and expresses, "It is odd to be on the other side now, to be making the decision on placing a child and figuring out how to do it. I thought it might be helpful to write up what my experience so far has been."

To open the post, Dale provides a bit of personal background along with a caveat:

Riverkids started to a large degree when my husband and I adopted four children from Cambodia, an international trans-racial adoption. Two of our kids had been trafficked specifically for adoption, and in the decade since, I’ve become incredibly cynical about the adoption industry, and to a lesser degree about adoptive parents. It’s not a triangle – it’s a black hole of money and desire coming from wealthier and socially more powerful adoptive parents distorting what adoption could be, a blessing in tragedy.

Caveat up front: I believe ethical adoption is a good alternative for some children in crisis, and I believe that most adoptions now are unethical. Ours certainly were. This is not an official Riverkids post, although we’re putting up our foster care policy once these adoptions are done, with detailed notes on the process as part of them. This is me reflecting on our work.

She then goes on to address six major points:
  1. Yes, we have no babies
  2. Abandoned is forever
  3. Finding a family
  4. Musical chairs with children
  5. They'll have a better life overseas...
  6. Process

As she concludes the blog post, I particularly appreciate her candor and humility in the following admission:

But it would have been so so easy to do that. To walk into a slum and rescue this tiny baby. She had a rash where she wasn’t being bathed enough – but her foster mother had a tiny hat for her that she put on carefully and the baby giggled when her foster mother blew kisses at her, and out of this really poor family struggling as best they could, the baby was loved, so loved.

Still, I have some empathy for people who charge in to rescue children. It’s seductively easy. Children cling to you and you can get such an emotional fix off rescuing them. They are far easier to help than angry independent adults. They are ‘clean slates’, and you can project your own ideas onto them. You have all this wealth and power comparatively, and everyone is so nice to you because you’re the kind lady or man who rescues children from horrible people.

While this empathy is not going to stop me from punching certain people in the face on behalf of my kids if I ever met them again, I can see how it starts. It starts when you think about how you feel, not the baby you’re supposed to be helping.

* * *

ADULT ADOPTEES in particular, she has specifically requested feedback and insight regarding the information she has collected for the two children's files. It seems like a very inclusive list to me. I wish I had had such information available to me from the beginning.

But I imagine that some of you, whether adoptees, adoptive parents or otherwise, may have some helpful insight to offer. If you do want to offer insight, please make sure to FIRST read Dale's ENTIRE blog post and please be CONSIDERATE. It's clear that she spent a lot of time thinking through the details (as well as obviously living through the details), which of course, as is inherent to adoption, are complex in nature.