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 jjtrenka@gmail.com 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.