i’m going to answer this publicly if you don’t mind. especially because i’ve been posting a lot of adoption-related posts lately that are quite political. if you don’t mind, i’m going to link myself a couple of times because there are things that i’ve already said on this blog that i don’t want to type out again for those who have already read it.
i won’t say that my adoption and my experience with my family was a totally objectifying experience but i will definitely say there were (many) objectifying moments.
was it an intentional objectification by my parents, siblings, extended family members, neighbors, and general people who came across us (myself and my twin sister - imagine how most white people view adopted asian girls, like little china dolls, and then multiply that by two girls in identical dresses, oh my god my head might just explode from the cuteness) in my almost entirely-white upbringing? no. at least i’m going to give people the benefit of the doubt and say it wasn’t intentional.
did that make it any less of an objectifying experience for me (a young, impressionable, confused outsider)? no.
and i think that’s a lot of what people miss about international adoption. people want to assume that good intentions can make up for the lack of education regarding cultural awareness and racial identity. it can’t. it might make the experience slightly less traumatizing, but it doesn’t eliminate the racism that i felt, that i internalized and that i felt for myself.
but even though we feel it, we have to hide it - we should protect our parents from knowing that we are exposed to this racism, because we are so grateful to them. they did save us, after all? this is also likely the reason that transnational, transracial adoptees have a higher rate of suicide, depression, and alcohol, drug or sex addiction than average. as for asian female adoptees, i know that we feel objectification, internalize it and often go through periods - or our whole lives - where we objectify ourselves for the (white) male gaze. that is seriously fucked up. we exotify and objectify ourselves for white male consumption. if you want to use the abductee analogy, this may be the perfect place to use it. stockholm syndrome anyone?
do i call myself an abductee? no. i call myself a korean-american adoptee. but do i understand where that term comes from? definitely.
and as a system, i do believe that international adoption perpetuates the abduction of children, the coercion of women who are usually poor, under-educated, and almost always woc, and privileges the wants of white, heterosexual, two-parent families from wealthy, “first-world” countries over the best interests of the child.
that is certainly problematic and is it the reason why, as a feminist, although i once used to say i wanted to adopt (some might say that was part of my stockholm syndrome phase??), i could never adopt and why i volunteer at the korean unwed mothers’ families association (kumfa).
in the adoption market (yes, let’s call it what it is, a market) adoption agencies in korea make on average $15million dollars per year selling the babies of unwed mothers - which constitutes 90% of the 1,000+ babies they send each year - to white families, mostly in the US. and these companies, yes companies, pay salaries of over $100,000 per year to their execs. how can they afford such salaries? they sell babies, that is the plain and short of it. and they do it in totally unethical ways - lying on adoption records in order to process babies faster, etc.
that’s why i could never adopt now - if i participated in the adoption market, i would be participating in a system that perpetuates global class and gender hierarchies. also, let’s add race to that.