Friday, August 5, 2011

Farewell to Yoon's Blur

So, I know I just said I was going to take a break. But I have decided that, yes, it is time to go.

No more "breaks." This is it.

In light of all the "breaks" I have been taking recently, I finally realized that I am just not motivated to blog here anymore. Yoon's Blur feels like a pair of shoes that no longer fits quite right. Walking in them feels arduous and cumbersome.

I'll still be blogging occasionally over at Lost Daughters. And you might be able to find me hanging out at Wordpress in a different pair of shoes. But I'm done here.

I will keep Yoon's Blur up, so if you happen to be stumbling upon this blog for the first time, please feel free to dive in and see what you can dig up. But no new content will be added.

I have appreciated all the readers, your commentary and insights, even when we have not agreed.

I am certainly not the same person I was when I first started blogging here. And although this is my final blog post here, for better or for worse, I will never be done in my journey as an adoptee.

Thank you everyone for reading. I wish you and your families all the best.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On strike indefinitely...

Just fyi, I'm on strike [again] indefinitely. Can't take it. Too much going on, and I just don't want to be an adoptee anymore. Don't want to care anymore. Don't want to be affected so profoundly by it anymore. Runaway into oblivion where I can just forget that adoption crapola ever bothered me. To use a cliche and hammy metaphor, I feel like Neo in The Matrix, but sometimes I want to be that other guy, what the heck was his name? The guy who betrayed everyone to get plugged back in...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Quotes from Adult Adoptees

Excerpted from the blog post, "What's the point?" by Mei-Ling at her blog, Exile of Xingnan:

Because yes, “the desire of a woman wanting to be a parent overrides the validity of a woman who can’t support her child.” Because everyone is selfish in adoption, and no one does anything solely for charity (much like the real world). I’m not saying their selfishness is wrong – I’m saying it’s seen as more valid than those who do not get what they want. If people want to adopt, unless they don’t pass the requirements their desire for adopting won’t be any less. They will still adopt, and it will be seen as more valid than those who are left behind, those families of origin who want their families.

That’s the point. There is no balance. There is no change. All the cycle does is continue.

That’s why I’m starting to think adoptive parent allies wouldn’t work.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Use your privilege, I won't be a kid forever"

For any last minute takers, Dr. John Raible, an adult adoptee and adoptive parent, is doing a webinar, "Adoptees as parents," hosted by the group, Adoptees Have Answers. Here's his own description of the webinar that will take place tomorrow:

I promise you, this presentation will be thought-provoking, if not controversial. I will share my latest thinking about the sometimes tense relations between adoptees and parents, and the advantages of being a parent AS an adoptee. I’ll also be discussing strategies for how parents can take on ally behaviors from a social justice perspective. And I’ll address how we adoptees need allies, and why they are so hard to find. Together we will explore: Can parents really be allies to their adopted children? What is an ally anyway?

Sounds like fun, huh? So if you haven’t already registered, now is the time! Click here.

I give up: "Disaster Highlights Plight of Japanese Orphans"

Disaster Highlights Plight of Japanese Orphans

Honestly, there are times I just want to choke and give up.

It's all so stinkin' complicated, and my brain and heart just feel like they're going to explode when I read articles like the one above.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Family or care? I want to explore this question.

Please chime in on this discussion with your perspective, particularly if you grew up in foster care/institutional setting, are an adoptee, and/or work/have worked in a social work or institutional setting. It's a worthy & complex discussion that demands insight from all parties involved. I, myself, am very interested to hear what you all have to say regarding Margie's question.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New adoption law puts family preservation first

"National Assembly passes law reform bill reflecting the voices of adoptees, birth parents and single moms"

To read what Jane Jeong Trenka, TRACK President; Tammy Ko Robinson, Professor, Hanyang University; Kim Stoker, ASK Representative wrote in response to the new adoption legislation in Korea, click here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Oh when the saints come marching in...

(I actually wrote this in 2010, about a year ago, but never published it...since I'm low on time these days, I decided what the heck, I'll go ahead with it...for those of you who might have noticed, I accidentally published it a couple days ago under the original date...)

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate Adoptive Parents who work as allies to adoptees.

I appreciate those who are willing to admit to and face the harder realities of adoption. I appreciate AP's who educate not only themselves but others about the pitfalls and flaws. I am glad for those who are not too timid to speak up on behalf of adoptees.

And yet, as I surf the adoption community blogosphere, something that stands out to me repeatedly is how much attention and focus are given to Adoptive Parents. Not only is there a high volume of traffic on these blogs, but they're the ones to whom other adoptive parents turn, always the ones presenting and speaking at adoption conferences and the like, always the ones whose two cents are valued like gold...

And to a certain degree, rightfully so.

But what bothers me is not that adoptive parent blogs thrive in massive numbers or that adoptive parents are presenting and speaking at conferences--but that adult adoptees are not equally represented.

It's not about jealousy, folks. Please. It's about that ever-present imbalance, neglect, ignorance--whatever you want to call it--that favors, turns to, addresses, focuses on the Adoptive Parent over the Adoptee.

I know a lot of great adoptive parents. Their level and depth of understanding and insight comfort and inspire me.

But they are not my voice. They are not the ones I want representing me as an adult adoptee. I want to represent me. I want other adult adoptees to represent me, to represent themselves.

Of course, AP's know what it's like to be an adoptive parent. But Adoptive Parents will never know what it's like to be an Adoptee (unless, of course, they happen to an adoptee who has also adopted...).

When it comes to how adoption affects the adopted person, when it comes to the adoptee psyche and experience, when it comes to what life is like as an adoptee on a daily basis--in school, at work, in the grocery store, out at a restaurant, etc.--Adoptive Parents are not the experts. They're simply not the ones with the expertise who should be educating each other on what adoptee life is like, about the realities of adoption, and its effects on the adopted person.

Not that they can't learn and therefore, become allies to adoptees and to a certain degree advocate and educate. But the fact that adoptive parents are the ones tapped on the shoulder when it comes to educating others or speaking to others or addressing the media's questions, etc., etc. just makes me more than a little frustrated.

And it's not like this subject hasn't been addressed before. I'm not the first to recognize it or blog about it.

But when the heck is it going to CHANGE?

When will adult adoptees finally be recognized as the voices to which to listen? When will adult adoptees finally be the primary educators when it comes to the adoption experience. When will adoptive parents take the back seat and stop driving the vehicle?

Why is it so maddeningly difficult to make our voices, as adult adoptees, not only heard, but established, and not as some cutesy, tear-jerker speaker, but as a valid, serious, primary expert on the adoptee experience?

It doesn't matter what we do--whether we get angry or get nice, whether we scream or we cry, whether we speak softly or harshly--we're still patronized, not taken seriously, treated like children, heard but not listened to, acknowledged but only in a superficial, condescending way--like patting a child on the head and saying, "There, there, now..."

I'm so stinkin' tired of always trying to get out of the shadows. I'm so tired of trying to prove that our voices are valid, are worthy, are necessary.

It makes me want to stab my eyes out. Okay, sorry, that's a bit extreme.

But, seriously.

Those AP's who happen to stumble upon or read an adult adoptee blog once or twice every month or so are lauded as progressive--patting themselves on the backs.

Puh-lease. Give me a break.

I don't mean to sound like an insensitive jerk. But I'm just feeling so fed up these days, and weary...

But I'll keep chuggin' and pluggin' because my dang relentless nature won't let me do otherwise....

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Why tracking living kin is ethically necessary

From the blog, Rileys in Uganda, Keren Riley shares in her post, "For Little Hearts to Heal," about two siblings who had been removed from their mother and placed in institutional care for 15 months even though their father and grandmother are alive and desperately requested to care for them, but simply lacked the resources to retrieve them. (Please read the original post for the full context):

...the children's father visited the "orphanage" to see his children for the first time in 15 months and then he visited again today bringing along the children's Grandmother...I spent quite a lot of time with these two children in the early days and witnessed countless Western visitors wanting to adopt the little boy who always had a smile on his face. I would always tell them that he had a sibling and that would usually quickly turn them off the idea. Thank goodness nobody adopted them...

One of the biggest lessons I have learnt over the last few months is that not all children in "orphanages" are orphans, that they weren't all abused and unwanted. There are many examples of miscarriages of justice going on in the "orphanage" business and unfortunately, business is what it often is. If only "orphanages" started tracing these children's families and finding birth parents/extended family members who were given the chance to look after them and love them, then the landscape of institutional care would look very different here.

How can you say that these children's families don't want them, if nobody is even looking for them or giving them the chance?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I take it personally

[Originally written on 4.19.2010]

This past weekend, I visited with an adoptive parent group and a group of mentors about my adoption experience. I was very refreshed by their openness and their willingness to listen. It is uplifting and consoling to know that their are people out there who want to get it, who are willing to open their minds and hearts to take the time to educate themselves. High five.

When I encounter parents and others who are so willing to make efforts to learn and to understand, it also makes me question why there still remain so many parents and people in general who refuse to do the same. It's comparable to, say, the well-known fact that driving while drunk is incredibly hazardous and potentially fatal not only for the drunk driver but for those on the road with him or her--but people, against their better judgement, still choose to drive drunk anyway. Despite the statistics, people make the choice every day to get in a car while intoxicated. They choose to ignore the very real and known facts and consequences of doing so.

We're all human, and we've all made poor decisions, even when presented with sound knowledge that such a decision might result in harmful or detrimental consequences to ourselves and those around us. Yet the idea is that we hopefully learn enough from such mistakes to begin to humble ourselves in order to listen, even when we'd rather not, because we know that someone else might have wisdom that we do not.

I know I can sound like a broken record, but I repeat myself hoping that those who might doubt the insight that adult adoptees offer will eventually begin to listen.

I think part of the reason I have such a hard time when I encounter adoptive parents who do not acknowledge the losses of being adopted and all the grief and pain that inherently accompany such losses is that I take it personally.

It’s not easy, you know, putting your heart out there. Discussing the difficulties I have encountered as an adoptee is not necessarily what I’d describe as a fun and heart-warming experience, especially when I encounter folks who seem to consider my experience an anomalous or unfair representation of the adoptee experience.

I take it personally, because it’s as though their refusal to acknowledge the reality of the trauma their child has experienced is a refusal to acknowledge the truth of the experience of all the adult adoptees that have been brave enough and vulnerable enough to shed light upon the otherwise neglected hardships of being adopted.

It’s almost as though these people are calling me, and my fellow adoptees, liars.

With the abundance of adult adoptee blogs not to mention the myriad of resources available that educate and address the losses and unique issues faced by adoptees, I find it almost insulting and certainly patronizing when adoptive parents choose to turn a blind eye and believe their own ideas over what is actually true.

And it’s not as though I didn’t once think like some of these adoptive parents or the general public. If you had spoken with my fifteen year old self, or even a few years later had a conversation with my twenty-five year old self, you would have walked away thinking that I had no desire whatsoever to know my biological parents, and even more so that being adopted had caused me no harm or issue.

Despite what you may think, I did not always think the way that I do now. And the way I think now is not because I’m an apple that went rotten.

So, what happened? Why has my mindset changed over the years?

Er, well, first of all, I grew up—literally. This means my brain metamorphosed and developed dramatically, and hence my capacity to understand and process complex human thought and emotion eventually developed with it.

As I have mentioned before, the capacity of a ten-year old versus a thirty-year old to process the implications of his or her adoption are literally developmentally and physiologically different.

Although the capacity increases with each year of development, the maturity to process it all takes years to develop.

I matured.

I allowed myself to think what had seemed unthinkable to me before. I allowed myself to feel what I had once believed was untouchable.

The other thing that happened is that I began reading research, studies, books, adult adoptee blogs that helped me realize that I was not crazy for feeling and thinking these things. Reading the books and blogs did not somehow change my mind, but rather helped me to understand what I was already feeling.

I didn’t conjure these thoughts and emotions up from some imaginary place. They were always within me, but buried and latent like a dormant volcano.

It’s true each adoptee responds to his or her adoption in his or her own way. Certainly, we are not cookies made from a cookie cutter. But there are basic truths that characterize the adoptee experience—and one of those crucial, fundamental truths is the truth of loss, and all the grief and pain that comes along with it.

Why is that so hard for parents and family, friends and strangers to acknowledge this?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Quotes from Adult Adoptees

"And as unique as this circumstance is, is it where we really want to dwell? Forever agitated? I want a normal life. I had a somewhat normal life, only I was unaware of what was causing me pain. Now that I’m aware, I want that life back, knowing it will be a richer, more informed life. While I will never deny that I’m adopted, It doesn’t mean I want/need/should-have-to live in Adoptoland."

-girl4708, "fatigue," at her blog, Hello Korea!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lost Daughters: Visit This New Blog

Stop by this new group blog, Lost Daughters, where female adult adoptees (including myself) share our thoughts and experiences regarding adoption.

Excerpted from "About this Blog":

We are female adult adoptees. We bring to you our thoughts and experiences as people who live adoption each and every single day, spanning ages from 20's to mid 60's. We come from a variety of walks of life, world views, religious views, political views, as well as types of adoption, countries of origin, and countries we currently reside. We cannot claim to be completely inclusive of every adoptee woman who lives adoption--how can we? Every adoptee is a unique individual with their own thoughts, experiences, and story to tell. But we try our best to bring you a variety of experiences with the near 20 adoptee authors we have blogging here.

While we are all different, we share at least one thing in common: we are all daughters, lost to adoption.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hamster in a Wheel

At times, it starts to feel like we as adoptees are hamsters in a wheel--thinking we're getting something done, but in reality getting nowhere, and in the meanwhile, folks are watching our every move sometimes for research, other times for what they call enrichment, and still other times for a form of educational entertainment, not unlike a reality TV show (and I don't make that comparison in a complimentary way).

But what can I say? In part, I open myself up to it--no one is forcing me to blog my heart out. I do it of my own accord. However, I will say that, of course, I did not choose to be an adoptee. And if I could un-choose it, I would.

It's this odd contradiction--I both despise and embrace being the hamster. Aka, I both despise and embrace being an adoptee. I despise it, because if I had a choice, I'd choose not to be an adoptee. But because I can't not be an adoptee, I choose to embrace it--that is, to a certain degree.

I embrace it as much as I'm willing to talk about it via blogs and the cyber world. But in "real life"--every day life outside of this cyber world adoption community--it's almost like my secret identity. I rarely talk about it to a soul, but I FEEL it every day, I DEAL with it every day.

Another part is that I simply don't want to be "the adoptee." I am an adoptee, but I am not ONLY an adoptee. And yet, there is this constant tension of wanting the hardship and pain of being an adoptee to be recognized and acknowledged and yet also wanting it to be forgotten.

I both want to belong and not belong. I feel dizzy even trying to explain the constant back and forth and tug-of-war that takes place in my mind.

As I wrote in an email to a fellow adoptee:

To add to that for me personally, I'm also still generally insecure, even at 36 years old--I still never assume or believe that anyone would even want to know me...So, a lot of the time I don't attempt to initiate, because I often feel that doing so would be adding a burden to that person's life...furthermore, I loathe being boxed in or identified with any one particular label, and yet I also long to "belong" in some small way...if I've figured anything out about my adoptee experience, it's that it's full of contradiction...

As I share thoughts and experiences like the ones above, I know I often direct them to adoptive parents. I think in part I do this, because I think they need to know--because, well, their kids are going to grow up to be adults who just might think critically about their adoptions one day.

I know AP's can feel a lot of pressure from adult adoptees, but adoptees feel just as much pressure, if not more, to perform and be a certain way. I figure the least an AP can do is give an ear to adult adoptees. Maybe that's presumptuous. But, hey, if it's not presumptuous to assume that a child would want to be removed from his or her birth country and people to live in a foreign country among foreign people with a set of strangers...

...Not that one presumption justifies another--exactly, I think you get my point...

But setting aside AP's and other adoption community members, really I wish your every day person would listen. I wish the every person I encountered could read adult adoptee blogs so that conversations like the following didn't feel so laborious and uncomfortable:

"Is your mom Korean?"

"Uh, well, no, yes, I mean [oh crap, here we go], uh, [awkward smile] I'm adopted [inward rolling of my eyes at myself for still fumbling and not knowing how to handle this question]."

"Oh, really."

"Yeah, but I reunited with my Korean family two years ago--"

"Oh. But your adoptive parents are your REAL parents, RIGHT?"

"Oh, right, yes, of course [churning, sinking feeling in my gut]. I mean, well, I see it as I have four parents, or well, six or seven if you count all my in-laws, but really it's very complicated, it's hard, it has been quite a journey--[cut myself off, I'm such an idiot, why do I even bother?]"


Chances are, though, even if your average person was to read this, he or she might still shrug shoulders and say, "Huh?"

But I guess it would be the effort and thought that would count for something--comprehension would be like the cherry on top...or really, maybe more accurately, it would be like finally getting to eat my spaghetti and sauce with a fork in my hands instead of with my mouth while my hands are bound behind my back. That's messy and hard to do--you get up from the table even hungrier and more frustrated than when you began...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Quotes from Adult Adoptees

"Adoption is like a gift that is unasked for."

-Mei-Ling, "Would They Want this" at her blog, Exiled Sister

Friday, June 10, 2011

This Sucks: G'OAL losing government funding

G'OAL is getting cut off at the legs if not completely dismembered. This is incredibly disillusioning and makes me more than irate. Go Korean government. How I love to hate you:

G.O.A.'L closes its doors: What can Korea's Ministry of Health and Welfare be thinking?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Evolution of an Adoptee: From Certainty to Ambivalence

As an adoptee my perspective of adoption, and international adoption in particular, has evolved drastically, albeit slowly, over the past several years.

I don't view adoption like I used to view it.

In my earlier years, I was basically a "poster child" for adoption. I would speak at adoption agency functions or at churches touting adoption--I would tell my story to pull on the heartstrings of the hearers--tears would trickle down cheeks--hoping that they would respond by wanting to adopt internationally.

Now I feel sick to my stomach when I think about the way I allowed myself to be used.

I'm not necessarily saying that agencies or churches purposely or manipulatively "used" me, but I will at least say that on certain occasions I was coached on what to say and how to say it. I was specifically told to edit out parts during which I spoke about my difficulties as an adoptee. Eventually, I learned simply to self-edit out the "darker side" of my adoption experience when I spoke at these functions.

And that makes me feel even more gross.

As I have forced myself to think critically about my adoption experience, my ideas about adoption have certainly evolved from positive to ambivalent. And as this evolution has taken place, I find my adoptee identity not as fully embraced by those who once embraced it, whether fellow adoptees or adoptive parents or friends and family. But I have learned that I can only accept this--it's inevitable, at least at this point.

The major point of divergence with many of these folks is my stance on international adoption. When it comes down to it, I am not an advocate for international adoption any more. But I once was. And hence, subsequently, this has led to discord at times.

My reasons for deciding to shift from "advocate" to "un-advocate" are complicated and many. And I have written soooo many posts trying to explain all the reasons, sometimes with success, other times to no avail.

But to share yet another practical yet poignant reason--words from my Omma and Imo:

"Thinking of my grandson, my eyes filled with a tear. As a mother, I should be there and help you recuperating but I can not. I'm really sorry...We can't speak each other's language so we can't talk on the phone..." -Omma

"I'm really sorry for you and your mother. I can't imagine how hard it is to have each other in mind and miss each other for that long time. It's really sad that we can't call each other because we can't speak each other's language even if we miss each other so much..." -Imo (maternal Aunt)

[I received the above words via translation, obviously, in letters written by my Korean mother and Aunt.]

If the above words are not reason enough to make us question International Adoption, then there's no point even bothering to share the host of other reasons...

Yes, I used to speak with certainty about how "lucky" I was to be adopted. I used to say with certainty that I had no desire to seek out my Korean origins and that being adopted had no ill effects on me or my life. And I said it all while smiling sincerely, because at the time I meant it all.

But, then, I had to go and peek inside that box, or open that door, or look over the wall...

And now, I linger in ambivalence. Now, I weep and hurt over the mess that adoption forces me to live.

Although I have an amazing life on one side of the fence, on the other side, I live a life filled with a seemingly relentless grief, sorrow, and aching.

Walking that fence is a balancing act to state the obvious--and I fall and crack open my head on almost a daily basis.

But, I also get back up, wipe away the blood, and hop back onto the fence, albeit dizzy and whirling, because a decision to choose one life over the other feels false and deceptive.

I will continue to evolve, no doubt. But I imagine it will be from one form of ambivalence to another. The only resolution I've come to expect these days is the resolution that I'll never be resolved...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Quotes from Adult Adoptees

I am mega short on time these days. And my blog shows it.

My brain and emotional energy are running low these days. So, I'm going to siphon off some from others.

Hence, from time to time, I want to share "Quotes from Adult Adoptees." These quotes will come from emails, conversations, blogs, etc. (I may also at times share quotes from other members of the "adoption constellation.")

Here's the quote:

"One of the biggest issues I had with my parents was that they were making a truly vanguard choice in going that route... & then they promptly forgot [how convenient for their WASP-y asses!] that they had effectively bought two little Asian kids & painted them - via naming conventions & pure, unadulterated hope - white, & assumed no one else would notice the incongruity." -Katie, Korean Adoptee

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

“Would You Have Expected Your Parents To Fork Over $10,000?”

Blogger Mei-Ling wrote this post, “Would You Have Expected Your Parents To Fork Over $10,000?” in response to a discussion that ensued regarding my recent post, "The Ugly Truths".

She answers this question with perfect insight and precisely puts to words what I have been trying to figure out for years but never could:

"Yes, I am selfish enough that I wish my adoptive parents would have wanted to hand over the money so that I could have stayed with my family. Call me insane, crazy, insensitive, incredulous. But while I intellectually understand one side of the issue (forking over $10,000 being unreasonable), I take the other side on this issue to heart, as it is so very personal."

Please read Mei-Ling's whole post for the entire context (and "The Ugly Truths," if you have not already).

Monday, May 23, 2011

We wanted to "grow" our family?

Okay, for years now, I keep hearing this from adopters or prospective adopters--the whole, "we wanted to grow our family."

What does that even mean? I'm being serious. [Adoptive parents feel free to chime in and explain what you mean when you say this, because it truly baffles me--but also understand I still might not like it...]

I honestly don't get it. And even more honestly, for some reason that I have yet to identify, every time I hear it, it makes me bristle and cringe. To again be quite frank, I hate the phrase. But I don't know why I hate it so much.

Why does it bother me so much? Fellow adoptee bloggers and readers does it bother you at all when you hear this phrase, or am I the only one? And if it does bother you, do you mind sharing your reasons as to why it bothers you, because maybe that'll help me figure out why in the world I can't stand it?

I often will have a gut reaction to something, but at times it takes a while before I can connect the emotional dots back to their originating thoughts. (The result of years of learning to suppress what I was actually thinking and feeling...)

All I know is that the explanation of "we adopted not to save a child but to grow our family" just rubs me the wrong way, and yet I don't know why...

* * *

Ok, and then, just another random thingy...

When I hear people express all the reasons as to why family preservation programs and efforts won't or can't work in said country, I also bristle and get incredibly annoyed.

Can't, can't, can't.

Anything is possible. The wall in Germany came down. Helen Keller wrote some of the most beautifully descriptive essays I have ever read. Apartheid fell in South Africa. Segregation finally ended here in America. Man walked on moon.

Now of course, Germany still deals with the scars. Helen Keller was still deaf and blind. South Africa still struggles. Racism is by no means eradicated from America. And there are still those who disbelieve the moon landing.

But there are also still those who continue to press on--those who work to learn from the past in Germany, those who continue to seek out solutions to overcome deafness and blindness, those who struggle together toward healing in South Africa, those who fight to rise above racism, and those who actually can personally attest to their participation in moon landings from the crews on the ground to the crews in space.

And besides, "can't" never got anyone or any nation anywhere.

I've heard it said, "don't let what you can't do stop you from what you can do." I say don't say "can't" and watch what formerly impossible feats and tasks finally become possible.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Ugly Truths

[I may be about to throw myself into some hot water with this post. I wrote it back in April but never posted it because, well, honestly, I was apprehensive to do so. I know some will disagree vehemently with what I have expressed below, but I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said before. And ultimately, life ain't about always agreeing but rather learning to somehow live peacefully among those with whom we differ...]

Here goes...

What if every adoption agency transformed itself into primarily family preservation agencies that provided networks, resources, and services to help families stay together. Oh wait, that's crazy talk--you can't make much money that way. They would
truly have to be nonprofit organizations that relied mainly on donations, fundraising, grants, etc. Oops. And families here wouldn't be able to have the sweet little "international" child they've always wanted and/or be the exemplary, trendy, progressive multi-cultural, multi-ethnic family they've always dreamed of. Oh wait, you mean they could adopt a child out of the foster care system here in the States? Oh, wait, you mean they want a baby or at least a toddler, and they want it to happen asap. I see. Oh, and they hear foster children in the U.S. have issues but kids adopted internationally are a lot more grateful and less problematic. Oh, I see.

[Side note: I am learning more and more that adoption and foster care in America are less than ideal, to say the least, riddled with their own injustices, disparities, and inequities. But that's a whole other topic better addressed by those who live it: The Declassified Adoptee, Real Daughter, or Life of Mom...After Loss to Adoption, I Was a Foster Kid or To Tell Truth-Please Stand Up]

Look, I know not all adoptive parents that adopt internationally think this way--and not all AP's seek after a baby or toddler-aged child. But, a lot do. I know not all adoptive parents view children in foster care in this condescending way, but enough do. And I know there are some adoptive parents that adopt older children or children with "special needs." I realize that, I do.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about, because the adoption world doesn't need more praise and justification. Adoptive parents don't need another adoptee singing their praises or telling them everything they're doing right. They don't need more pats on the back or handshakes or flattery.

They, and the general public, need a reality check--a willingness to face and acknowledge the disparities, discrepancies, the injustices, inequities, etc. that carry the thriving adoption industry.

No matter how you rationalize it in your mind to deny the truth, it will nonetheless remain the truth--that, yes, there is a relationship between adoption and child abandonment. Some AP's have convinced themselves that the two are not connected--and yes, you have to convince yourself of this, because the connection is otherwise obvious and undeniable ("If you build it, they will come").

And before you assume that I'm oversimplifying matters, understand that as an adoptee caught between two lives, two families, two worlds, I can't afford to indulge in simplistic thinking--which means, YES, I realize it's complicated. I realize that social, political, cultural, and economic factors ALL play a role in the root causes that lead to child abandonment. But I'm not okay with folks using these factors as an excuse to say things like, "Well, we don't live in a perfect world, so international adoption is necessary," aka, that's just the way it is, and you can't change it.


Look these mothers in the face and tell them that. Look my Omma in the face and tell her you'd rather have given thousands of dollars to adopt me than to help build the social, cultural, political, and economic networks, resources, reforms, and services she needed to keep me and care for me.

Change can happen, but not with apathy and indifference, not with excuse-making and rationalization, not with a mentality of entitlement that deems some more worthy than others based on perceived standards of wealth.

There are people and organizations (Child's i Foundation/Malaika House, KUMSN, River Kids, Rileys in Uganda to name a few) that refuse to submit to the status quo of excuses and rationalizations that produce nothing but stalemate and compromise--and as a result, they're making a real difference to help families stay together. But the world desperately needs more.

And I'm not the only one who gets this. There are actually adoptive parents who get this, too--who don't put up a wall or get defensive or self-justifying--because they have been willing to see and admit to their part, their role in perpetuating a system that favors the rich over the poor. They're not afraid to admit to their initial ignorance and do something about it. They don't need constant praise and adulation because they get that this isn't about them. They get that they're not heroes.

Look, I realize adoptees' experiences run the gamut, and so also do the experiences of original mothers and adoptive parents. But that doesn't mean we ignore the truths deemed ugly in favor of the ones deemed pretty. The pretty ones receive plenty of positive attention and support. They're not in danger of being neglected and ignored.

Family preservation gets an aphid's share of the resources and attention while international adoption receives the lion's share.

If we all want adoption to truly be ethical, we all have to be willing to not only face the realities but also to do something to change them, whether that something is small or large doesn't matter as much as having the willingness to do it honestly.

The counter I hear most often is that we need to do something about the children currently in institutional care [duh]. First, read the preceding paragraphs again--meaning, get the idea that preventing children from ending up in institutions is doing something about it, and even better is preventing the development of and reliance on institutional care all together by establishing strong family preservation programs instead.

Second, that "something" is always assumed to be international adoption. It's true, there are children in institutions this very moment. But how about giving kinship care precedence--how about tracking extended family and attempting to resettle children with kin in their own countries? When that isn't possible, then how about developing the support and resources to establish local adoptions within the community?

You see, there are alternatives to international adoption, and they're even better in the long-term for the children, families, communities and nations as a whole. Rather than taking away their talents and gifts from their home countries and taking their home countries and origins away from them, why not help these children and communities to thrive locally?--so that international adoption can one day be a rare if not wholly diminished practice understood for what it truly is--a well-meaning but misguided and misinformed practice that has led to thousands upon thousands of children being uprooted and transplanted from those who have not to those who have...

* * *

As a related side note, how many of you would watch this video or the one featured below, and say to yourselves, these children would have been so much better off if they had been adopted to America rather than remaining in Uganda--because in America they could live in a big house with nice floors and pretty windows and have nice things and receive a higher education and so forth and so forth?

Now I'm not saying the situations in the videos are perfection, but they're progress and a step in the right direction...and at least these children were not shipped off like a novel commodity to live among a foreign people in a foreign land...

If you're going to say "love is enough," then let it be so not only when referring to adoptive families but certainly when referring to the original families--rather than the double standard that so often prevails...that is, love is enough when adoptive parents adopt but not when an original mother facing poverty, shame, and ostracism wants to keep her child...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Korean father looking for his son: Zachary K92-180 DOB Feb. 14 1992

Name: Kim Joon Su 김준수
Adoptive Name: “Zachary”
Adopted to the U.S. through Holt
DOB Feb. 14, 1992

Pictured below at 8 and 9 months.


Your Korean father is looking for you. He did not know that you were sent for adoption and has been looking for you for years. Holt gave him these pictures and your first name, but not your last name. I have met your dad recently and he’s a really nice guy who works very hard. If this is you, please send an email to and I can translate a message for your dad and also give you more details.

* * *

For the entire post with photos click here or title above.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why I haven't been blogging much as of late:

The photos are explanation enough of why I have not been blogging much as of late. No doubt my hands, heart, and mind are full with getting to know one of the most amazing beings I have ever met. He makes me both weep and laugh like I never have before...

Monday, May 9, 2011

I Wonder: Song and Music Video by a Korean adoptee searching for his mother

I cut and paste the following from GOWE's explanation of his song and video:

Ever since I discovered that I was adopted (at the age of 18), I've always wanted to write a song that captured my experience and gratitude toward my biological mother.

After performing this song for the first time at Kollaboration Seattle I was able to partner with key individuals to turn the song into a music video.

My hope is that this will one day reach my biological mother so that I could meet her. In a way, I feel like this is symbolically my 'message in a bottle' that I am casting into the ocean. Any help in sharing the video with your friends & family would be amazing.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in the making of this video, God is good and I am truly blessed!

- Gowe

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stories of Adult Transnational Adoptees and their American Parents

Please consider participating in this research project, Stories of Adult Transnational Adoptees and their American Parents, led by a mother-daughter team of researchers.

There is a survey for adoptees and a survey for adoptive parents.

I completed the survey for adoptees in approximately 30 minutes, give or take. I'm looking forward to following this research, and I hope that as many as possible will choose to participate, because this type of research is desperately needed--and the more that participate, the more helpful and productive the research will be.

Feel free to pass the information along.

Friday, April 29, 2011

When you think you understand, but you really don't...

(Yes, it's another dang long post...just think of it as getting a bargain for your buck...oh wait, this is free...well, then, it's an even better deal...)

I don't know what's more maddening and challenging to deal with--folks who don't understand and don't care to understand or folks who are convinced they understand but in reality don't understand at all. I've dealt with the latter frequently, and every time, I walk away feeling sick to my stomach, patronized, and dismissed. Nothing new of course, but nonetheless, hurtful and annoying.

Here's the thing, I do believe that through our collective sufferings we can work toward a certain level of understanding of others' sufferings. We can do our best to draw from our own lives to find experiences that help us to relate to or understand better the hardships and suffering of others, with a caveat, though--to also recognize that to understand better does not therefore mean we know what it's like to live in someone else's shoes.

As this relates to being an adoptee, it makes me insane when folks, especially adoptive parents, put up this wall of "Oh, you don't have to tell me, I know, I already get it, because I went through this or I went through I know what it's like to be an adoptee..."

Or I can't tell you how many times, folks who are older than I am, have patronized me with variations of this statement, "Well, when you get older and wiser, like me, you'll understand better, and adoption won't have the same effect on you that it does today. I mean sure, it will still be a part of who you are, but ultimately, you'll get over it..." Due to their own life's hardships they presume that they know how my adoption experience will resolve (whether that's even possible remains to be seen).

Oh, really? Okay. Thanks for telling me how I'm going to deal with being adopted. I'm glad you know so well how to handle daily life as an adoptee. I'm glad you somehow know that being adopted is just like dealing with anything else in life.


Sure. Yes, sure. I'm sure that one day when I have to fill out papers at a medical office, I won't have to leave entire sections blank because I don't know my medical history (despite reuniting).

Right. And I'm sure when I look at family photos and see this short Asian person among a sea of tall, Nordic looking people, I won't be reminded that I'm adopted...every...single...time.

And I'm sure--despite the fact that every time someone asks me where I'm from or where my parents live, I'm reminded that I'm adopted--that one day, I'll just forget that I'm adopted.

Certainly. And the fact that I'm constantly surrounded by people who look nothing like me and who assume that English is my second language and harangue me for not knowing Korean will one day no longer remind me that I'm adopted.

I'll stop there, but the list goes on. I'm not playing the violin here, and I don't mean to sound acerbic (or maybe I do). And, as I've stated before, it's not a competition of who has claim to the most tragic sob story or who has suffered the most. I'm just trying to give some practicals to help folks see that being an adoptee affects every day life--and in ways that are unique to adoptees. I've written about it before several times--being an adoptee isn't just something that hangs out on the back burner, and it's not viewed by the general public accurately. It's constantly burning out in front of me, and I feel the heat all the time, even in the most mundane of activities that so many take for granted as uneventful and trivial.

Someone can make the most benign, seemingly unrelated statement or question that nonetheless reminds me and brings to the forefront the fact that I am adopted...and being in reunion actually emphasizes and complicates that fact even more so...

Are you visiting your family for the holidays? Where are you from? I'm just like my mom. I get it from my dad. What are you going to name your son? I love kimchi. Did your mom get really bad morning sickness when she was pregnant with you? Oh, you're Korean, I lived in Korea for three years back in the nineties. How much did you weigh when you were born? How long was your mom in labor with you? Oh, I speak Korean. Does this or that run in your family? Who do you look like? Wait, you're mom is white, huh? That's not your brother! How long have your parents been married? Do you have siblings? Do you have a big family? Etc., etc.

These questions are not wrong or insensitive. They're normal, generally harmless questions to ask. But that's exactly why they perfectly illustrate my point--for some adoptees, benign, everyday life can stir up deep emotions and responses that others might not anticipate or even bother to think about--not because others are careless per se, but because they're unaware, or simply indifferent or...they think they've got a grasp when they really don't.

It irks me when folks come along, especially adoptive parents, proclaiming that they understand fully what it is to be an adoptee. My insides bristle when someone claims, "I myself completely understand and know exactly how you feel because I [fill in with perhaps somewhat related but completely different personal experience of speaker]."

What would be a more truthful and accurate response is "I think I can relate somewhat emotionally due to my life experiences, but ultimately I realize I'll never know what it is to be an adoptee."

Look, yes, trying to gain understanding into the adoptee experience is a good thing. I'm not discouraging that. I'm not trying to create a Catch 22 for the non-adopted persons trying to connect with their adopted loved ones. I'm just making the point to please be honest and truthful about your understanding. We can tell when we're being patronized or when our feelings and experiences are being diminished. (And that obviously applies to a vast many other situations.)

And don't get me wrong, I appreciate when adoptive parents educate themselves and make efforts to understand. Doing so, I believe, is crucial and vital to the role of an adoptive parent. I want adoptive parents to inform themselves and do whatever they can to increase and deepen their understanding of the adoptee experience.

But it's a bit troubling when an adoptive parent thinks she or he knows exactly what it's like to be an adoptee, because this has real consequences for their attitudes and behaviors toward their adopted children. When you think you already understand, when you think you've arrived, you don't seek out further understanding. You get complacent. You stop educating yourself. You stop challenging yourself. And you refuse to listen to others because you already believe you've got it all figured out.

It's a sad thing to me when someone does not understand because they already think they understand. People in this state of mind are often the most difficult to reach--not only when dealing with adoption matters but with anything in life. And I suppose, in a way, it's a form of hypocrisy and ultimately arrogance or pride.

At least those who realize they don't understand and openly state that they have no desire to understand are not deceiving themselves. Yes, it still hurts when someone chooses indifference. But at least they know and you know, and there's always hope in the future that their hearts and minds may change, because they at least know where they stand.

But for those who are blissfully ignorant yet believe themselves to be blissfully enlightened, who already think they've got it all figured out, but actually don't? Well, honestly, I haven't figured out how to reach people like this other than to simply hope that with time something will bonk them on the head and turn on the light. And maybe I don't understand these types folks like I could...and that's just it--it boggles my mind that they choose to be so dismissive.

Until, then, I have to learn to be patient and manage my own emotions so that I don't become my own worst enemy or their worst enemy, because that wouldn't do a bit of good for anyone.

* * *

Ultimately, when it comes to responding to and comforting loss and the associated grief and pain, it's often a lot more simple than folks make it.

We don't need to be fixed...we don't need "wisdom" or a sincere but presumptuous attempt to provide "answers"...we don't need you to pretend to understand or to tell us these things happen for a reason...

What we often need is what an adoptive mother alluded to in a comment to one of my recent posts,
"...And maybe all my daughter will need on some of these occasions, all she'll want is to be held and listened to..."

That's it--simply and sincerely, heartfelt compassion and a listening ear. That's often all it takes.

Sometimes compassionate silence is the most understanding, validating response you can offer.

The most "right" thing you can do may simply be to listen.

I'm not looking for someone to fix me or give me all the answers they think I want or need to hear. I'm not a problem that needs a solution. I'm a human who needs sincere compassion and validation--not pity, and not charity.

What I need is to be treated with respect as an intelligent, competent, mature adult--not some angry, bitter exception to the norm. And as a child, I needed the same, simply applied in a way appropriate for my development.

Now, is that really too much to ask?

Apparently, for some, the answer is "yes."

Friday, April 15, 2011

I cannot help but think of my Omma...

As of late, I look at my son and cannot help but think of my Omma...

I am overcome with grief when I look at my son and think of the lost relationship between my Omma and me.

I imagine that day--the day she relinquished me--and now that I have my own child, a new darkness enlightens my understanding. I don't know how I would go on living were I to lose our son. I would live only as a ghost among shadows. But then, in some ways, that is how I have lived my life as an adoptee.

There are yet again no words to describe to you what I feel. All I can say is that I am overcome with grief. I have gained so much but at such a heavy price. My joy is inextricably interlaced with sorrow.

No mother should ever have to face such a grave and maddening choice. No human being should be counted among the worthless so much so that she and her child matter not to their own people to be cast out and forgotten.

People like my Omma and me cannot help but live as women who feel simultaneously blessed and cursed.

As I wrote to a friend who is a fellow Korean adoptee, I have stared down at CK so many times now, and have imagined how absolutely annihilating it would be to leave him as you and I were precious and innocent and beautiful he is, and so all the more how to leave him now would darken and maim his little soul...

How can I not think of my Omma during this time? How can I not be fettered with grief and sorrow amidst joy and hope as I rock my son to sleep? How can I not shed tears of the deepest sadness as my son coos and smiles back at me? How can I not think of all the time lost with my Omma every moment that I am allowed to enjoy my son?

I hold him in my arms and stare down at his sweet face to be flooded with the reminder that my Omma and I were interrupted, ripped apart--that such tender moments were never ours to share...

Even though she remained with me for the first week of my life, even her joy was inevitably obscured by the grief of the knowledge that I was not hers, that too soon we would say good-bye, and both be expected to move on with our lives and forget...

But both she and I know, you never forget.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I'm an adoptee for whom adoption "worked out," and I'm not...I have a good life and I don't...

(Er, I accidentally published prematurely again for those who might have noticed. My brain. No work. But here's the finished post.)

You know what? I have a good life--no, I have a great life.

Here's the thing, by most conventional measures, I am actually an adoptee for whom "adoption worked out." I'm exceedingly happy and more than content with my life. I have a rockin' husband, a beautiful son, and tons of family and friends with whom a mutual love is shared. My life is full of all the people and love that make life truly worth living and deeply meaningful.

It is this very fact, however, that is used against me as an adoptee. To criticize any aspect of my adoption experience is viewed as ungrateful dissent. And yet, if I were to express that I have had an awful life and am estranged from my family, this would also be used against me. Can't win for losing, or whatever.

If I say, "Yes, I love my parents and have had a great life," my criticisms of my adoption experience are viewed as ungrateful, bratty melodrama. But if I say, "No, I don't love my parents and have had a terrible experience," my voice is discounted as an exception resulting from "bad parenting."

Another Catch 22.

In my case, it's basically saying the end justifies the means. All the ongoing hardship, confusion, hurt, tension, conflict, etc. are negligible, because I am considered "successful" and "happy" in life. To discuss the complex realities of my situation that are not "happy" is written off as just another snooty, malcontent adoptee focusing on all the wrong things. I'm told that I am failing to "move on" with my life, that I am not showing appreciation for the good in my life.

You see, though, I do indeed recognize the good in my life--more than some, if I'll be so bold. You know why? In part, because I am also so keenly, intensely aware of the not-so-good in my life. I am so in touch with the pain, the sorrow, the grief that I am also profoundly in touch with the beauty, the joy, the hope that all characterize my experience as an adoptee. But it is not adoption that has given me the good in my life. It is the people.

You can say, Well, my dear, you would not have all these good people in your life were it not for adoption.

And I would say in return, No, I would not have all these people in my life were it not for being given away and ripped from my first family, my first home, my first country--my everything.

The good that has come to me came through tragedy. As has been said so many times before--an adoptee's life is first built upon the deepest of losses and griefs, and these losses and sorrows remain throughout life. Even some of the greatest joys in life--marriage, childbirth--arrive as instigators of that loss and pain.

As amazing and fulfilling as my life is, it is also just as much clouded, complicated, and darkened by the unavoidable losses and sadness that are inherent to an adoptee's lifetime journey.

Yes, I have a great life...but I also have a complicated life, fettered by the lifelong repercussions of one who lost her entire family and life according to the design and decisions of others--and is expected to be just fine with it all, void of a single question or criticism.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Christian thing to do...?

So, while I'm getting off the bandwagon and getting frank about my adoption experience and perspectives, I need to address another issue that I, and many other adoptees, face on a regular basis--

That good old premise, "The Christian thing to do..." And actually, surprisingly, I don't want to talk about it regarding adoptive parents, but rather as it applies to how adoptees who have a Christian background are expected to behave.

I have observed and experienced that adoptees who claim to be Christians or come from Christian backgrounds face an added burden of expectation atop the already existing expectation to unquestionably proclaim the Gratitude Gospel of Adoption.

It is as though an adoptee's faith, in the minds of other Christians, requires him or her to shut-up and sit down, to remain silent about the hardships of adoptee life--because that's "the Christian thing to do"--lest other Christians judge you as a faithless impostor should you question your adoption and the practice of modern adoption as a whole.

I feel it all the time. How many "Christians" have pulled away from me once they learn of my viewpoints regarding my adoption? Too many. I will say that, yes, I do encounter Christians here and there that truly open themselves to adult adoptees like myself--in fact I did just last night and felt refreshed by the PAP's humility and willingness to listen (Thanks, Ben). But people like him are unfortunately more the exception than the norm. It's easy to assume (there's that word again) that the handfuls of adoptive parents that comment or frequent adult adoptee blogs represent the majority, but that's simply not the case.

Ultimately, in my experience, the very ones who are supposed to be examples of love, patience, humility, compassion, and wisdom often shrink and slink away from me and other adoptees the minute we fail to uphold the beloved Gratitude Gospel of Adoption. We're lambasted if we even attempt to think critically about our own adoption experience and the current adoption establishment. I find it ironic that those who claim to follow a man who questioned the religious establishment of his time, condemn and avoid those who do the same.

They ask for our advice and insight but then when we speak candidly of our hurt, disdain, and criticisms, they react with condemning shock as though we've spoken blasphemy. (That is, IF they even ask for an adult adoptee's perspective.)

Adoptees of faith are expected to be at peace with dismissive answers like "It was God's plan" or "You're so lucky and blessed you were adopted," because there is an adoption subculture within modern churchianity that adoption is God's work and therefore cannot be questioned or criticized. As I like to say, what a load of Oscar Mayer. (See also Adoption & Choice: God's Plan or Man's Plan).

All adoptees have to deal with the Gratitude Gospel and the accompanying presumptuous, hurtful, ignorant comments (See also, "What not to say to an adoptee"). Adoptees of faith must further face yet another split of self, another push-pull conflict of identity as a result once again of the complex realities of being an adoptee. Not only must they deal with the inner turmoil of being caught between two worlds and two families within a society that dismisses their, our deep losses, sorrows, and griefs, but they must also somehow maintain a genuine faith in the midst of those who question not only their truth as adoptees, but their truth as adoptees of faith.

I'm not saying it's a tragedy or profound injustice, only pointing out that it's yet another way that adoptees must deal with burdensome and suppressive expectations, while our experiences and voices are yet again demeaned and rejected--and ironically enough, by those who claim to be the most loving of all.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Oh yeah, well ok then, shame on you for not being angry...("Uh-oh, I'm an angry adoptee" Part 2)

If we're gonna play that game, then, I say shame on you if you don't feel angry or outraged by the "goings-ons" behind and within adoption.

To continue my rant from the original post, "Uh-oh, I'm an angry adoptee," here are some specifics on what makes me angry--for those who need a bit more clarity or are just curious, and certainly for those who can relate (in no particular order...and try to remember that I'm not the only one who thinks or feels these things, so that you don't mistakenly pigeonhole me as the self-indulgent exception):

  • I'm angry that the majority of my friends and family don't understand the complexities and realities of my adoption experience--that I can't even begin to talk about it without being immediately judged, condemned, corrected, and/or patronized.
  • ...that I am not taken seriously because of the emotion I display. I'm angry that I must be a paragon of composure and pleasantry to at least be perfunctorily heard and by a slim chance taken seriously.
  • ...that I am constantly caught in between. And that I am expected to be just dandy with that because I was "saved."
  • ...when I express anger, everything else that I've ever said or felt is suddenly forgotten by everyone else, and I immediately become the one-dimensional "angry, unhealthy, toxic adoptee."
  • ...that my words, emotions, views get twisted and perverted by others who refuse to hear what I'm actually saying because they think they already know me and all there is to know about adoptees.
  • ...I can't just be angry without having to field everyone else's judgments and condemnations. I'm angry that I can't just be angry without others expecting a disclaimer or at least an explanation that will make them feel better. And it makes me angry that the anger I express obscures and discounts the grief and sorrow I feel.
  • ...that being angry is treated as the cardinal sin by adoptive parents and the like.
  • many adoptive parents still refuse to acknowledge the role that international adoption plays in perpetuating the corruption in the adoption system. Similarly, I'm angry that so many AP's refuse to see the role that international adoption plays in perpetuating child abandonment and its root causes.
  • ...that Korea and my Korean family rejected me when I was so helpless, powerless, and innocent. I'm equally angry that, despite that fact, I'm viewed as a traitor for still wanting to know and love them.
  • ...certain adoptive parents view themselves as near saints and hence get defensive and dismissive when we (adoptees and others) address the imbalance and corruption inherent to the adoption system.
  • ...about the deception and misrepresentation that adoption agencies continue to propagate to portray a grossly oversimplified and biased picture of adoption that is detrimental and hurtful to the families and children involved.
  • ...that as one with a Christian background I am expected even more so to feel nothing but unquestionable gratitude, awe, and wonder about my adoption and am viewed as a misguided and heretical dissident if I express antonymous sentiments.
  • ...I am viewed as an ungrateful brat or unstable miscreant for even thinking such thoughts or asking such questions.

But beneath the anger there is also hurt and pain that I, and so many others, are not understood, but rather that we are dismissed and further rejected as nuisances and blemishes or pitied as unfortunate apples gone bad.

And no, I do not refer to the pain and hurt so that you'll feel sorry for me and want to pat me on my head and say "there, there now." Just as I don't want to be dismissed when I express my anger, I don't want to be pitied or patronized when I acknowledge the pain. And no, anger is not a "cover" for the pain--it's a reaction to the injustices, wrongs, and willful ignorance that lead to the pain.

To sum it all up, as Amanda at Declassified Adoptee put it, "Loss, poverty, stigma, taboo, women, children, and family rights injustices....aren't those things people SHOULD be angry about?"

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Uh-oh, I'm an angry adoptee!

I'm so sick of the mantra that tells me, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, you have your losses, but c'mon, ultimately, adoption is wonderful! It saves children from orphanages, and it saved you and gave you a great life. So, c'mon, stop with the doom and gloom and admit the glories of adoption!"

Why am I supposed to rejoice over being adopted? Why does the fact that I have a great life discount and make negligible the pain and grief I experience? (And get a clue, people, the pain and grief never end, okay? Please, please, please, get that through your happy, cheery skulls. Please.)

Yes, I am blessed. I have a beautiful son, a wonderful husband, overall a great family (or families)--a really awesome life. That's one side of the inifinitely-sided adoptee experience. I also have a really sad, awfully complicated life with families that are divided and built upon loss, tragedy, and grief.

Why is it so inconceivable that I could love the life I have but hate how that life came to me? (ie, via adoption)

For those who focus solely on adoption "saving orphans from orphanages." You miss the point.

I get to keep my son because, why? Because I have the full support of not only my family, but of my society, culture, and if I needed it, even my government (well, I know some of that is being somewhat threatened, but that's not the focus of this blog).

My Omma--she didn't have any of that. She didn't have the support of her family and neither of her society nor culture, and, puh, certainly, not of her government. That's why orphanages exist--because she was not only too poor and alone, but she was also too taboo.

So, please, get out of my face with your reasoning that international adoption fixes things. It only adds to the problem. It has kept Korea from taking on responsibility for its people for decades. It maintains a status quo that is detrimental to not only families but to entire societies and nations.

I understand that adoption will happen. But it happens way too much, and internationally, it should never have to happen. It's the result of laziness on the part of a nation and its people and government. It's the result of ignorance and arrogance on the part of those who propagate it. Orphanages and international adoption are too easy. And for those of you who think they're the best and only options. Please.

Talk to me once you've actually done the research. And don't quote the orphan stats to me before you understand how those stats are obtained and what they actually include (or exclude, for that matter).

I'm not even as versed and educated on all the details as some of my peers, but that's just the thing--it doesn't take much to know enough to know that international adoption is broken and flawed.

I'm sure I'll hear it for all this. But just as what I've now ranted, it won't be anything I haven't heard before and won't hear again.

Just had to get that off my chest...again, but this time I'm mad. In fact, yes, I'm ANGRY. I'm an angry adoptee. Watch out, people. I'm dangerous. I'm a threat. My pain and grief, my anger and hurt are eve-veel and unhealthy and pathological and scary and toxic. I am poisonous to listen to and should be deleted at once. I'm such a blemish on the representation of adoption's beautiful face, and we must add a disclaimer that I am not the "norm" and that I am to be pitied and patted.

That's just crapilicious, people. Sure is. And I'll eat it right up.*

*And for those of you who are reading my blog for the first time or have only read it superficially, please refer to this post--before you assume to know me and leave a scathing comment about how I must hate my family or must be a miserable excuse for a human being--to spare yourselves from making an "a**" out of "u and me." Thank you.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I am getting off the bandwagon

So, some may have noticed I've had a bit of a different tone recently.


I'm tired. The will and energy to put up niceties are waning, and I'm realizing that pandering and readjusting to suit the delicate internal balance of certain adoptive parents is self-defeating and has honestly begun to feel disingenuous.

I'm all about being respectful and open to others, but softening my voice to try to protect and win adoptive parents over has gotten me nowhere but in a hole where I feel suppressed and suffocated.

I am not here to serve adoptive parents' needs to feel validated that they are good people and are doing the right thing. I don't mind answering questions or having a civil, sincere, caring discussion, but I do mind being patronized and treated as though I'm a pathological idiot or as someone to be conquered or silenced or as that poor little adopted girl, we'll pretend to listen to so she feels better. I'm an adult, people. I'm a woman, not a girl. I'm closer to 40 than 30, which makes me "middle-aged"--so maybe that's a part of my shifting tone, also. I'm done with all the song and dance.

As a fellow adoptee commented, "The 'goal' is harm reduction on the adoptee, not protection of adoptive parent's feelings. It's like some of these AP's need to feel *loved* more than we do. The more you minimize/ignore the real issues, the more you'll produce problematic adult-adoptee's like me. It doesn't take a statistician." (Thank you, Scotched.)

I want Adoptive Parents to understand. I want them to open their hearts and minds to adoptees like myself and others that may offer a more critical and analytical, even emotional account of our adoption experiences. But I shouldn't feel as though I have to change my pitch in order for them to hear me. And I shouldn't feel like I have to spare their feelings at the cost of honesty. And honestly, that's how things feel these days--not only at my blog but throughout the blogosphere. The adult adoptees to which AP's are willing to listen are often of a certain tone. I'm not discounting such adoptees, but rather questioning why this is so.

How will AP's ever "get it," if they will only listen to those adoptees they deem as "healthy?" And how will AP's ever "get it" if adoptees like myself are not true to the truth of our experiences and feelings--even if that means alienating some?

Although I want unity and cooperation within the adoption community, such is false if concessions are made that betray the truth of the realities and complexities of adoptees and their forgotten mothers and families--and yes, that truth includes rage and disdain and resentment and bitterness at times--unfortunately, still treated as taboo emotions.

I'm not on a rampage, but I am getting off the bandwagon.

It's time to truly speak my mind, for the sake of not losing it, and for the sake of the truth and those who live it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Adoption Ignorance Persists (but we're not surprised, of course)

So, I receive a newsletter from a certain adoption agency that I'll simply refer to as AA.

This newsletter is the epitome of the "Gratitude Gospel of Adoption." It makes my stomach churn and my face burn every time I read it. But I read it because it helps me to stay in touch with what's going on in the adoption agency world.

And for those who believe that adoption isn't what it used to be and soooo much progress has been made, I beg to differ. I know it's just one newsletter, but its a newsletter sent out by a very large agency that's in 6 states and facilitates adoptions all around the world from Korea and China to Russia and India, Ghana, Haiti, Ethiopia, Honduras, even Japan and Hong Kong. So, it may be one agency, but it's reach is vast.

In particular, what makes me gag is the way the newsletter perpetuates the "ideal [or model] adoptee" stereotype. Every issue always does a feature article entailing the successes of an adult adoptee that has been adopted through AA. And of course, this adoptee is presented as a paragon for all other adoptees to follow--he or she is presented as the perfect poster child for the Gratitude Gospel of Adoption. I'm not naive--this agency is pushing adoption using these "model adoptees" to exemplify and uphold the expectation of "See, adoptive parents, your child WILL grow up to be a respectful, overachieving citizen of America teeming with gratitude and success to make you proud and glad that you adopted! So, tell your friends and send 'em our way!" Furthermore, the newsletter also always features adoptees who have graduated from college or high school accompanied by, of course, photos of beaming, smiling faces and their credentials.

These features are as if to say, "See, look, international adoption is great! Look at all these model adoptees making us proud and showing us how awesome and wonderful adoption is!"


Poster Children for Adoption Unite. That's what it feels like.

Obviously, I have nothing against success and happiness, but this newsletter is clearly presenting only ONE very lop-sided side of the story. And it's the side that's all roses and picnics. It's like watching Fox News--for adoption. (I'm actually neither a liberal nor conservative, however, so don't assume too much from that statement. I simply mean that the bias is so thick and blatant it's equally laughable and deplorable.)

Additionally, this issue has an article giving "waiting parents" advice on what to do while they wait for the call. It is of course written by an adoptive parent. First of all, in the opening, the author refers to the "Waiting Phase" as "the hardest part of the entire adoption process." I couldn't help but balk at this statement. There are so many ways in which this statement demonstrates a LACK of understanding.

Secondly, in the author's list of seven "to-do's" during the waiting phase, she mentions things like spending time with your spouse, finishing education requirements (this one made me scoff), doing that one thing you've always wanted to do, and learning about your child's culture and country.

The author also advises waiting parents to talk with other adoptive parents so "You can learn valuable insights from parents who are already home with their children." Not a bad thing to do. I just wish that I could say that the author also advises waiting parents to talk with adult adoptees because they too offer valuable insights. But, obviously, no such mention.

It's that broken record again.

But hey, I'm just playing it like it is. I keep trying to get a new record in there, but most don't seem to care to listen much less do anything to change it.