Tales of Wonderlost

I'm a Korean-American adoptee living in Seoul, just finished my MA in Anthropology (yes, i took all of my classes in Korean TT). In my spare time, I volunteer at two great organizations: Korean Unwed Mothers' Families Association (KUMFA) and the Women's Global Solidarity Action Network (WGSAN) - a group that works on various issues, including with the survivors of military sexual slavery during WWII ("Comfort Women"). I also love cooking and baking and going to the noraebang ^^ To make a monthly donation to the Korean Unwed Mothers' Families Association, please click below!!
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Posts tagged "adoption"

"Anyone involved in international adoption is aware of the role of money. Adoptions cost around $30,000-$40,000. Children who are adopted internationally have birth families that are poor, some more abjectly than others. Children who are adopted internationally have adoptive families who are way better off economically than their birth families. Yes, there are exceptions, but that’s a reality in most cases, whether you were born in Korea, China, Haiti, Russia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, or India. It’s a definite imbalance of power.

Adoptive parents often hold fundraisers to get the thousands of dollars they need to adopt internationally. Friends, family, and strangers contribute. Many of the parents then claim the adoption tax credit after the child is with them, and that way get reimbursed by the US government for the airfare, hotels, meals, and other adoption expenses.

I’m holding a fundraiser, but it’s not for adoption. It’s for family preservation in my home country of Ethiopia. I was placed for adoption not because I was an orphan, or because my parents had died, but because they were poor.

I have told myself I was done fighting with time, I cannot reclaim the past, and I am ready to move forward. Moving forward has meant not obsessing over every specific detail of what happened and what was lost. It’s a struggle.

I’m not giving up on the struggle, and I am happy that I now know my Ethiopian family. They are happy that I grew up safe and healthy, with a good education. Still, I’ve seen the heartache that adoption has caused each of us, in different ways. These days, I ask myself often what I can focus on. What can I do to fix a broken system, which had failed my first family and many other Ethiopian families like mine? A system that means mothers must lose their children perhaps forever, that sends children to an orphanage, simply because their parents are too poor to keep them. I decided to open my eyes to my pain and that of first mothers and fathers. I’m not weeping anymore; I’m working.”

"돈도 없고, 어린 미혼모가 키우면 아이가 불행해진다. 대신 아이를 입양 보내면 거기서 잘 먹고, 잘 입고, 공부도 다 시켜주고, 공주처럼 행복하게 할 수 있다"는 것이었다. 김씨는 "처음엔 아이를 보낼 생각이 없었지만 자꾸 그런 말을 들으니 그 말이 진짜라고 생각하게 됐다"고 말했다.

김씨는 1979년 친권을 포기한다는 각서를 쓰면서 아이가 원할 경우 언제든지 친엄마를 찾을 수 있도록 본인의 이름과 본적 등 자세한 인적 사항을 적었다. 하지만 수정씨의 입양 서류에는 친엄마에 대한 정보가 전혀 남아 있지 않았다고 했다. 수정씨는 ‘노량진경찰서 앞에서 버려졌음’이라고 기록된 단 한 줄의 정보와 함께 1980년 미국으로 입양됐다.

김씨는 아이를 입양 보낸 뒤 자신의 결정이 잘못됐다는 것을 깨닫고, 밀려오는 죄책감에 시달렸다. 지금의 남편과 결혼을 해 아들 딸 낳고 남부럽지 않게 살았지만 시시때때로 떠오르는 큰 딸 수정씨에 대한 기억 때문에 고통의 응어리가 남았다.

밤마다 아이를 찾는 꿈을 꾸다 울면서 깨는 바람에 김씨는 “그만 잊으라”는 남편과도 많이 싸웠다. 김씨는 “딸과 연락이 닿은 뒤 내 사진을 보내달라 길래 사진을 찾아봤는데 평생 웃고 찍은 사진이 없더라”며 “시간을 되돌릴 수 있다면 아이를 데리고 길에서 굶어 죽더라도 내가 직접 키웠을 것”이라고 말했다.

translation:

"They told me, ‘You don’t have any money, if you raise her as a young unwed mom, your child will become unhappy. Instead, send her for adoption and she will eat well and wear nice clothes and be able to study and live happily like a princess.’ At first I had no intention to send her for adoption but after hearing that over and over I started to believe it” Kim said. 

Kim signed the relinquishment papers in 1979 and she filled out all of her personal information in detail, in order that her daughter would be able to find her if she ever wanted to. But, there was no information about her left on her daughter Sujeong’s adoption records. Sujeong was sent for international adoption in 1980 with only one line of information in her records, “Abandoned in front of the Noryangjin police station.” 

Kim says that she realized that she had made the wrong decision after she sent her daughter for adoption and she struggled with the guilt that flooded her afterwards. After getting married, she had a son and daughter, and has lived a comfortable life but a bitter pain always remained whenever she remembered her daughter Sujeong. 

Every night, she would wake up crying after dreaming of her daughter coming back to find her, which would cause her to fight often with her husband when he told her to “Forget about it.” After contact was reestablished with her daughter, Kim says, “My daughter asked me for a picture. So I looked all over for a picture to send her. I realized there are no pictures of me smiling after I sent my daughter for adoption. If I could turn back time, I would go back and get my daughter and raise her, even if it meant we would’ve starved on the street together.” 

so, a few months ago, a couple northwestern students flew all the way to korea and followed me around and filmed me. luckily, they didn’t film only me but also lots of people that are way cooler than me, so the film shouldn’t be a total boring wash of me playing with my dogs and baking cookies. anyways, they kindly sent me the first minute of the documentary that they are currently editing (i’m sure they had to edit me A LOT - you might’ve noticed, i talk too much). was pretty pleased with the way they edited me to make me sound more articulate than i do in real life (i’m sure they had to cut a lot of “like” and “ummm”)


posting for those of you who are interested (also, that is NOT the title of the documentary, they know about the other documentary called, “adopted - the documentary”)


I had emailed the lady who had performed our private investigation and asked about some of the content of the report. She responded back with news that sent chills down my spine. 

The dishonesty began a very long time ago unknown to us and knowing more about the case now, it screams child trafficking and corruption. The kind you watch and read about in the media and cringe…the kind where you just wonder how in the world did this get so tangled? There is so much more to the story that there is no way to explain it all in a blog post and honestly thats now not my story to tell. The family felt hopeless, but when asked privately, they said they WANT their daughter and granddaughter, if only they could support her financially. At first thought, I said to myself, “well, they can’t financially care for her, so she can’t stay there.” But the more John and I thought about it, the worse and worse we felt.

Poverty alone is never a reason to adopt. It’s not right, it’s not ethical, and it’s certainly not biblical. We said from the beginning, we wanted to commit ourselves to an ethical adoption, one in which the mother and father are deceased or if alive, want nothing to do with their child.  A Ugandan child that has a mother that wants her should be with her mother. Period. And if we truly are caring for orphans and widows as we were originally called to do, then it certainly isn’t taking someone’s baby due to poverty.  

I can’t even begin to explain the life lessons I learned in regard to poverty, the AIDS epidemic and the stigma associated with it, African culture, adoption corruption, and what it means to truly submit to control. I have learned how selfish I really am, how the feeling of helping someone who can do nothing for me is more fulfilling than any fleeting feeling of buying more for myself, that my problems really aren’t problems, that I complain too much, that I had no clue before what true need is, that I should never judge a book by its cover and the person in need that we tend to overlook may also be the very one who saves us.

huge respect for this adoptive family who decided to do the right thing and reunite the child with their family after they discovered corruption and trafficking in the child’s history and also learned that the child’s mother DID want to raise her daughter. 

many of the earliest adoptees (after the wave of war orphans) were the product of gijichon women and US soliders. 

via Jane Jeong Trenka:

The full report on the audit of Holt is now translated into English. Holt was found to be in violation of the Special Adoption Law or its enforcement decrees in the following areas:

1) They did not search for domestic adoptive families before placing children internationally.

2) They took children from birthfamilies before the seven-day deliberation period was over.

3) They performed up to 28 “Child Development Evaluations” per child. Only 2-3 have to be done per year. They charged adoptive parents for this and do not have guidelines for expenditures or the international adoption fee.

4) They did inadequate assessment of prospective adoptive parents’ ability to financially support a child.

5) They did improper home studies/investigations of prospective adoptive parents.

6) They made improper contracts with overseas agencies.

7) Their post-adoption services/follow-up on adoptive children was inadequate.

8) They continued to collect government money to support children even though the children had already been sent overseas.

realkidsgoodbooks:

The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale (2007) by Grace Lin.
There is certainly a need for more adoption stories. According to the 2000 Census data, there are 2.1 million adopted children in the U.S. and according to the U.S. Department of State there have been 224,615 international adoptions from 1999-2010. (Informative graphic, here.) Specifically from China, there have been 64,043 adoptions. I could not find any recent data about children who are adopted transracially versus same-race families, but just looking around, the fact of transracial adoption bears out. 
Grace Lin created The Red Thead after “experiencing many warm and wonderful interactions with families with children from China” (taken from back flap). The fairy tale begins to weave it’s narrative with that archetypal gravitas from the opening scenes of the book.

One morning the queen woke up with a pain in her heart. It was a steady ache that filled her with sadness.
"I have a pain in my heart," she said to the king. "It is a hurt that will not leave."
"I feel it, too," the king said. "It feels as if my heart is tearing in two."

They seek out healers, doctors, scientists; no one has a cure. Then one day a peddler comes to town and gives them some magic eyeglasses. They suddenly see a red thread pulling at their hearts and are told that they will not stop feeling the tugging pain from the red thread until they find it’s source.
Their quest begins. Nothing will stop them. Their clothes become tattered. They are tired and weary but they go on, searching and searching. 

The king and queen finally reached the shore of a faraway land. The red thread guided them to a small village. 
…The king and queen… took little notice of anyone. The end of the red thread was within their sight. They ran to a small bundle in front of an old house. 
…Inside the bundle was a baby! She was laughing and playing and tugging at the red threads tied around each of her ankles. 

The tale ends with the king and queen taking the little baby back to their kingdom. “They never felt the pain in their hearts again. Instead, they were filled with joy and happiness.”
As I read this book, I was definitely drawn in. The red thread creates a sense of destiny for this family. But I was also left with some big questions. How much of this story is meant to create resolution for adoptive parents at the psychological expense of their adopted children? Is the book somehow saying that now that the baby has become a princess in a faraway land without her own customs and culture, she should just get on with her life and never look back? Her new parents walk through the baby’s original village with “little notice of anyone.” How will they raise their daughter to understand the culture of her birth? 
It is much more complicated for an adopted child reading this story. And I also wonder what non-adopted children will learn about adoption from this fairy tale.
The pain may have been relieved for the king and queen when they found their daughter in that faraway land, but what of the pain their daughter carries? Where is the acknowledgment and resolution of her pain in this book? 
 

this is why adoptees need to tell our own stories! i wonder if there are any adoptee children’s book authors, i hope there are. if anyone has recommendations, i’d be happy to get them! good review of the book though.

realkidsgoodbooks:

The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale (2007) by Grace Lin.

There is certainly a need for more adoption stories. According to the 2000 Census data, there are 2.1 million adopted children in the U.S. and according to the U.S. Department of State there have been 224,615 international adoptions from 1999-2010. (Informative graphic, here.) Specifically from China, there have been 64,043 adoptions. I could not find any recent data about children who are adopted transracially versus same-race families, but just looking around, the fact of transracial adoption bears out. 

Grace Lin created The Red Thead after “experiencing many warm and wonderful interactions with families with children from China” (taken from back flap). The fairy tale begins to weave it’s narrative with that archetypal gravitas from the opening scenes of the book.

One morning the queen woke up with a pain in her heart. It was a steady ache that filled her with sadness.

"I have a pain in my heart," she said to the king. "It is a hurt that will not leave."

"I feel it, too," the king said. "It feels as if my heart is tearing in two."

They seek out healers, doctors, scientists; no one has a cure. Then one day a peddler comes to town and gives them some magic eyeglasses. They suddenly see a red thread pulling at their hearts and are told that they will not stop feeling the tugging pain from the red thread until they find it’s source.

Their quest begins. Nothing will stop them. Their clothes become tattered. They are tired and weary but they go on, searching and searching. 

The king and queen finally reached the shore of a faraway land. The red thread guided them to a small village. 

…The king and queen… took little notice of anyone. The end of the red thread was within their sight. They ran to a small bundle in front of an old house. 

…Inside the bundle was a baby! She was laughing and playing and tugging at the red threads tied around each of her ankles. 

The tale ends with the king and queen taking the little baby back to their kingdom. “They never felt the pain in their hearts again. Instead, they were filled with joy and happiness.”

As I read this book, I was definitely drawn in. The red thread creates a sense of destiny for this family. But I was also left with some big questions. How much of this story is meant to create resolution for adoptive parents at the psychological expense of their adopted children? Is the book somehow saying that now that the baby has become a princess in a faraway land without her own customs and culture, she should just get on with her life and never look back? Her new parents walk through the baby’s original village with “little notice of anyone.” How will they raise their daughter to understand the culture of her birth? 

It is much more complicated for an adopted child reading this story. And I also wonder what non-adopted children will learn about adoption from this fairy tale.

The pain may have been relieved for the king and queen when they found their daughter in that faraway land, but what of the pain their daughter carries? Where is the acknowledgment and resolution of her pain in this book? 

 

this is why adoptees need to tell our own stories! i wonder if there are any adoptee children’s book authors, i hope there are. if anyone has recommendations, i’d be happy to get them! good review of the book though.

so this is the Korea Adoption Services FB page. as you can see, it is totally in korean. 중앙입양원 페북페이지입니다. 보시다시피 온통 한글.

i left a comment 그래서 제가 글을 남겼습니다: 
"저는 해외입양인으로써 이페이지를 보고 많이 실망했어요. 중앙입양원이란 기관은 과연 입양인 중심으로 운영하는건지 입양홍보하기 위해 운영하는건지 의심하게 만드는 페이지네요 앞으로 입양인에게 더 좋은 서비스를 제공하기 위해 더 많이 발전하길 바랍니다!" "as an international adoptee, i was very disappointed when i saw this page. it makes me question if KAS is an organization that operates to serve adoptees or to promote adoption. i hope that KAS will undergo a lot of development in the future in order to provide better services for adoptees"

fellow adoptees and allies, you might want to leave a comment on their page to let them know that this page is not up to par if international adoptees can’t even access it! 다른 입양인들이나 입양인의 친구분들도 페이지에 방문해서 중앙입양원 페이지가 해외입양인들이 전혀 접근성이 없어서 발전 요청 글을 남겨도 좋을 것 같습니다~

Asker msvampirah Asks:
I saw your post about how casual adoption jokes need to stop being a thing (I'm also adopted) and I was just wondering why you feel this way. I'm not trying to pick a fight or anything I'm just kinda curious. ~
peaceshannon peaceshannon Said:

heritagelost:

I am a transracial Chinese adoptee. My parents and siblings are white. I remember when I was younger, whenever I was out in public with my family, people would often approach us and ask uncomfortable questions such as “Is she your daughter?” and “Do you know/want to find your real parents?” The pain of being singled out for not looking like the rest of my family was very real to me growing up.

So I feel like it trivializes my lived experience when people joke about a sibling being “adopted” because they are weird or don’t show typical physical characteristics of their family. It wasn’t funny to me when random strangers would approach me and my family to essentially ask “Why don’t you look related? Are you a family? If so, why aren’t you biologically-related?”

Even for those who are not transracial adoptees or even adopted, the lack of knowledge about biological parents and family history is a sensitive subject. Furthermore, the implication that by not being biologically-related, one’s ties to and relationships with one’s family are somehow “less” than those of biologically-related families is hurtful and insulting.

agree with all the above.

also people saying lightly that they wish they had been adopted when they’re complaining about their parents just to be dramatic.

also when people joke that they want to adopt someone as a compliment.

please just stop already.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Do you wish your parents hadn't adopted you? I can't get read from your posts. I get your views on the adoption system and your disgust towards it. But I can't tell if you wish they hadn't adopted you, if you don't really view them as your parents. Just curious. Feel free to ignore.
peaceshannon peaceshannon Said:

peaceshannon:

well. i debated whether i should answer this. but i decided to just go for it. 

i almost didn’t answer this question because i think it’s an irrelevant question. it’s also a ridiculously simple question for an abundantly complicated relationship. it’s irrelevant because it’s a waste of time and energy to wish that my parents hadn’t adopted me. if i wished that, does it mean that i could go back in time and change anything? if i didn’t wish that, does it mean that everything regarding my relationship with my parents is rainbows and unicorns?

i wrote about why it’s irrelevent in this postsaying that i think korea should stop international adoption doesn’t mean that i denounce my own adoption. i neither denounce it or celebrate it, i simply accept it.  nor do i mourn the person i might’ve been or glorify the person that i have become.

it also dismisses the human element from my relationship with my parents. yes, i am disgusted with the adoption industry (let’s call it what it is) although i’ve stated that i’m not 100% against adoption, in theory. anyways, my parents were/are far from perfect as (adoptive) parents. but many people seem to be super concerned with my parents feelings regarding my feelings about adoption ㅡㅡ why?? are their feelings about my feelings more important than my feelings? does that make any sense??

do i view my parents as my parents? yes. regardless of our complicated relationship, i view them as my american parents. but i also think i have more than one set of parents. i do love my adoptive parents, i do appreciate the things they did right. but that doesn’t mean i’m not allowed to be critical about the many and sometimes very serious things that they did wrong.

again, does that mean i wish they hadn’t adopted me? what does that question even mean? you asked the question actually twice in your ask so i’m answering it again to point out the urgency with which you seem to need to know the answer to this question (although you did say feel free to ignore?). again, it seems like a totally irrelevant question to me but it’s one that many seem to want to know the answer to. and i think that that’s almost more telling. why do people want to know this? is it because they want to check whether or not i am appropriately grateful (by whatever standards they are measuring by) to my adoptive parents? to me, in that question, there’s an underlying implication that i should be grateful to have been adopted and therefore did not waste away in an orphanage and/or forced to become prostitute or any of the other horrid outcomes that would have surely been my fate if i had not been adopted. yes, adoptees are fed these stories of how we would’ve ended up if we hadn’t been ‘saved’ by our parents and i think this is to keep adoptees in line and eternally grateful. i think that’s psychologically abusive, but it’s an attitude that is pervasive throughout (western) society and the romance/myth surrounding the adoption story. 

so. 

do i wish my parents hadn’t adopted me? no. because that’s a pointless exercise. it’s a waste of time and energy. do i wish that poor, women of color had just as much of a right to raise their children as the middle/upper class, white women who eventually get to raise them through adoption? yes.

that is the relevant question. one that can actually be used for change and progress. and that is why i work with kumfa.

because i’ve gotten a couple more asks along this vein, i am reblogging this ask.