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.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Deflection: A choice weapon of defense among Adoptive Parents

[I accidentally published this post prematurely--for those of you who might have noticed--but anyway, here's the finished post]

It is a pretty classic response these days for some adoptive parents to say that it's not "healthy" to listen to certain types of adoptees.

They also like to deflect and turn it around on the adoptee--that's the weapon of choice to silence us and "put you in your place." They might say something like, Puh, yeah, ok, Mrs. Adoptee, would you read a blog by an adoptive parent that went off on how adoptees are ungrateful little witches that need to shut their pieholes and get over it?

Uh, first of all, I don't need to read a blog to expose myself to such sentiments and perspective--I hear it all the time, unsolicited and unfiltered. Second of all, as a result of blogging, I get emails and comments that basically communicate the same. Thirdly, that has been the predominate and accepted attitude and response toward adoptees like myself since the inception of modern international adoption--unlike the predominate and accepted attitude and response toward adoptive parents of utter worship and adulation. OK, maybe not worship, but you get my drift.

But most importantly, such deflection ignores the real issue: a lot of adoptive parents still don't get it, and they'll employ a host of defense mechanisms to make sure that they can maintain the illusion that they get it when in reality they don't.

Turning it back on adoptees or making rationalizations like the one above demonstrates an unwillingness to acknowledge the imbalance of power, the continued sense of privilege that adoptive parents ultimately are the heroes and should not have to deal with the "negativity" of adoptees, and the responsibility that adoptive parents have to seek out the whole truth of the adoptee experience regardless of how painful or difficult it may be.

Look, I know being an adoptive parent comes with a lot of pressure and expectation, but no more so than what an adopted person faces, while the adopted person must also overcome the expectation, almost a culture, of suppression that surrounds the adoptee.

I'm not out to attack adoptive parents. But I'm also not here to ignore what I see and experience, and I'm certainly not here to make excuses for adoptive parents or for myself.

So, deal with it. I have to deal with adoptive parents on a daily basis, and I have to deal with being an adoptee in the larger society.

I'm just about fed up with all the fuss and gentleness, all the prancing and dancing that adoptive parents expect from adult adoptees. Although you may have experienced your own losses and griefs does not therefore entitle you to be a sanctimonious arbiter of adult adoptees and our voices.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Preventing Child Abandonment: Child's i Foundation

Now this is what I'm talkin' about. This organization is doing it right. They're focus is preventing child abandonment in the first place and when necessary placing a child with extended family. When those options are not feasible they then focus on placing the child in a Ugandan family locally.

They truly believe that what matters most is a mother's love and commitment to care for her child more than any material possessions she may or may not have. This organization isn't just talk--they're doing it.

Please take a moment to check out Child's i Foundation/Malaika House in Kampala, Uganda. A donation of $16 (which all of us easily spend on coffee or eating out) can make a difference toward preventing child abandonment.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I'll grow up to be just like Mommy, right?

Once I officially became a Chatham, I never looked back.

I never thought of Korea or of who my Korean mother or father might have been. I never fantasized about their appearance or whereabouts or imagined their distant pining for me. It never dawned on me to even entertain a thought about either one of them. As far as I knew, I had never seen them or touched them. I had no memory of either one. They were more like two people who had never existed. So, I forgot, or rather, it was more as though there was nothing to remember and therefore, nothing to forget.

I moved on.

I became the "typical little American girl” who attended school in ruffled dresses and shiny white shoes, who played with Barbie Dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids, who played dress up and tried to walk in her Mommy’s high-heeled shoes. I loved Minnie Mouse and Miss Piggy. My favorite fairy tales became Cinderella and Snow White.

During these younger years, I watched my Mom every morning with awe and anticipation as she sat at her vanity, curling her golden hair and lining her big blue eyes. I hoped to grow up to be just like Mommy one day—except for the fact that I had hair like obsidian, eyes like almonds, and a nose that didn’t slope, that I was not genteel or graceful and that I did not know how to maintain emotional serenity.

Although I had all but erased any awareness of my Korean origins, as I grew up as the only Asian among not only a family but a community dominated by White culture and standards, it did not take long before I began to encounter interminable reminders that growing up to be just like Mommy or like anyone else around me would require more than what I had to offer.