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 "transracial adoption"

made rebloggable by request:

i can’t answer this with exact statistics, but yes… the overwhelming majority of korean international adoptions are done by white families. this, in my opinion, is a combination of the fact that adoption is a white privilege and the fact that korean children have been sent to only western countries. to be honest, i’m not sure if singaporean, jordanian couples are eligible to apply for adoption from korea… i’ve personally never heard of such a thing. as for african american couples adopting, i think that was practiced a bit after the korean war with mixed-korean children but as far as i know was rare then and even rarer now. in my own experience, i’ve heard of a handful of adoptees that were adopted by either asian american or korean american families (some where both parents are korean american, some where the mom is korean, the father is american). unfortunately, i don’t have hard stats on this but can safely say that the large, large majority of adoptive parents are white. 

adopted the movie does a great job of exploring why this is problematic and they have a lot of great clips on their youtube, here are just a few:

adopted children and racism

the adoptee’s sense of beauty

race versus culture

in the actual documentary, they also show a few poc couples who have adopted white babies talking about their experience. at the end, they go on to say that all the interviews themselves are fake but were made to show the viewer how rare these situations are and ask the viewer how they felt when they saw poc talking about raising white children. 

fuck npr and their adoption coverage that only focuses on adoptive families and adoption agencies (HT to hilary for the article). 

When Barb and Mike Cannata adopted their first daughter from China almost a decade ago, the process was smooth and relatively quick — just 17 months from start to finish.

oh good, the buying process was smooth and satisfactorily fast. 

When the Cannatas decided to adopt again in 2007, Barb Cannata says, everything had changed. They ruled out China early on.

"People were saying that they were waiting three or four years, and I know it’s even longer now," she says. "We were like, ‘No, I don’t really want to wait that long.’ "

product turnaround period too long for this consumer!

The couple considered Guatemala, but because of a baby-selling scandal, adoptions there had been suspended. They settled on Vietnam and spent months compiling the long list of documents for their dossier.

Slowly, the Cannatas moved up the waiting list, and by June 2008, the couple had reached No. 5, Barb Cannata says.

But soon after, the U.S. suspended adoptions from Vietnam because of concerns about fraud. 

"It was a very emotional roller coaster," she says. "I know I was a basket case."

Mike Cannata says he tried to stay strong and positive, but “it got to the point where we couldn’t even talk about it.”

oh i see, because of baby-selling and trafficking scandals, your adoption process was delayed. that must have been SO HARD for you. forget the mothers whose babies are being coerced/stolen from them and the children who are being used as products in an international adoption market. 

"The era of the boom time for international adoption, I think, has passed us by," says Adam Pertman, head of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. “International adoption used to more or less occur under the radar, and it was pretty much the Wild West.

admission that the adoption industry basically ran rogue during its “boom”. 

In the wake of these shifts, international adoptions to the U.S. have plunged by more than half in the past eight years, from a peak of nearly 23,000 in 2004 to fewer than 10,000 last year.

That drop has been a big adjustment for many adoption agencies. “We took quite a financial loss the very first year that this decline happened quite suddenly,” says Jodi Harpstead, head of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, which handles adoptions. “We’ve had to readjust and downsize.”

In July, Harpstead also stepped in to help run one of the biggest players in international adoptions, Children’s Home Society and Family Services. It was hit so hard by the adoption decline that it faced severe financial problems. Hundreds of other agencies, primarily smaller ones, have closed altogether.

oh no! the financial difficulties of adoption agencies. hmmm if their main concern was the best interest of the child, shouldn’t their end goal be to get to the point where they’re not necessary anymore? oh wait, profits are their goal after all, they are looking at their bottom line just like any other business. 

Cannata says she understands the need for transparency, but doesn’t understand why the process takes so long. Still, she and Mike say their wait was worth it. They have the daughter, they say, who was meant to be part of their family.

and finally, adoptive mom says she understands the need for transparency (i.e. ethical adoption which would enable adoptees to have access to their records/personal information later) but she doesn’t understand why the process has to take soooo long. but at least their daughter was worth every penny. 

Asker Anonymous Asks:
So I remember hearing long ago (I think it was from the Mash show?) that Korea-to-America adoption started because GIs would impregnate Korean women, leave, and then there were mixed Korean-white children who would NEVER!!! fit into Korean society, which is totally why they had to be adopted into America (because 1950s America was so great for mixed race kids). That now sounds like complete bullshit on every level, but is the "life was shit for mixed race kids" part true, or yet another lie?
peaceshannon peaceshannon Said:

korean international adoption first started at the end of the korean war in order to solve the problem of both war orphans and mixed-korean children. the part about life was shit for mixed race kids is true. but frankly life was shit for everyone in korea at the time, korea was destitute. adoption started in korea because americans first started to send $10 monthly donations to help war orphans. however, those organizations started to send sponsors photos and information on the children they were sponsoring and americans started to want to adopt those children, rather than just sponsor them. adoption agencies like holt were there to meet the supply/demand (and rake in a pretty penny at the same time). 

however, the work that i do now is not about whether or not adoption was necessary then or not. in fact, korea’s greatest era of adoption was in the mid 80’s (when i was adopted), weeeeell after the problem of war orphans and GI babies was already resolved (the war ended in ‘53…), with the climax being in ‘87 with about 8,000 children being sent overseas that year.
korean adoption helped propel the economic development of the country that korea is so damn proud of and it only started to decline before the ‘88 olympics in seoul when international reporters started to say that korea was a ‘baby exporter’ and korea was internationally shamed. 
It is estimated that overseas adoption contributed between $20 and 40 million in hard currency every year in the 1970s and 80s. At that time, if any Korean company exported even $1 million in goods, they were acknowledged by the government.
whether or not adoption was necessary when it started in 1953 (that’s 60 years of adoption!) it’s definitely NOT necessary now.  not only that, the US needs to take care of its own children (did you know the US is also now sending children for international adoption - only white countries of course) before it goes buying children from other countries. 
Asker Anonymous Asks:
You might not know, but how does Korea help/treat people - especially children - with disabilities? I ask because I know a lot of people "get" their adopted children by saying they're willing to parent disabled children. I know there are some disability services here in the US (far from perfect) - does Korea have anything close to those, or is lack of support for parents of disabled children yet another factor in the adoption industry in Korea?
peaceshannon peaceshannon Said:

korea’s services for people with disabilities is lacking, as are most of their social welfare programs. during the economic development of korea, the government (military dictatorship) essentially decided that the best way to industrialize korea was to invest heavily into a few companies (chaebol) and have them lead the way. social welfare (or protection of society’s most vulnerable) was thrown to the wayside and has still failed to catch up. the korean “miracle on the han” economic development was built on the backs of the marginalized sectors of korean society. social welfare for the disabled is also dismal and the US and other countries have used that fact in order to argue that adoption needs to continue from korea. i disagree wholeheartedly. continuing to send for adoption only allows the korean government to keep ignoring the need to create and provide social welfare services - a never ending cycle. the sick thing is that american diplomats see children with disabilities as a negotiation chip in talks about adoption. i wrote before about my personal experience meeting a high-ranking diplomat and hearing that bullshit come directly from her mouth

interestingly, holt runs facilities for children with disabilities. i’m sure their intentions are just as pure as their running of unwed mothers homes, right?

웃기고 있네…  언론 수준이 이정도 밖에 안되냐???

spot on commentary by jane jeong trenka

This February, the adoption agencies and their gang will introduce a bill to “fix” the Adoption Special Law in February - the same law that the adoptees and our gang amended, and that was enforced in Aug. 2012. 

The adoption agencies would like to enable and approve of the anonymous abandonment of children by “fixing” the part of the law that requires mothers to register their children before they may be legally adopted. The agencies are complaining that their business has dropped by half, so all these babies must be circulating on the black market and they need to save them from illegal adoption! Therefore, we should make a bad law that was made good into a bad one again, and restore the status quo. 

Our side believes that what is happening at the Salvation Army Duri Home (all mothers now raise their children) must be happening in a lot of places. They painting our side as unsympathetic to unwed mothers — who have to of course get rid of their babies otherwise how could the possibly finish school, get married, and have a real family with kids she really wants in the future? A woman needs to be married to a man, duh!! (Although apparently she doesn’t need impartial counseling, financial support from the govt, or child support payments from dad.)

Birth registration is the right to legally exist. It is a universal human right as described by UN human rights conventions like the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Korea has ALREADY RATIFIED. We will not let them flout their treaty obligations yet again, and take away this human right from yet another generation of adoptees!

The Ministry of Health and Welfare is on our side. In fact everyone is on our side EXCEPT the adoption people, but as you know, they have money and they are powerful and they brainwash people with their simple, flawed, conservative logic. They have launched a media war against us, painting us as being unsympathetic to the reality of unwed mothers. Can you believe that!? I mean, the unwed mothers organizations are on OUR side!

In the next couple of weeks we will hold a press conference at the National Assembly along with many allied child rights and women’s organizations. I’m giving you the heads up so you know about the issue, and hopefully some adoptees can come out to support then. 

The Koreans need to hear the voices of people who have been adopted with no paperwork that can be used to trace their birthfamilies, or who have been turned away from their agencies for birthfamily search, and why that is not OK. Anyone who wants to write articles, we can get them translated and published. 

Your Korean vocab word of the day is 당사자. It means the people directly affected by an issue, and you hear it all the time when you do activism. The 당사자 in this case are the adoptees, the single moms, and the families of adoptees. 당사자 have to be at the middle of the process and have to come out and speak with journalists and lawmakers. No one will do our work for us but us.

The person who has been at the heart of this media war is a young journalist who is working for a big newspaper that has ties to the adoption agencies, and who has written propaganda, not journalistic news, by deliberately excluding our viewpoint and refusing to take calls from our side. Here is the article she wrote is telling about the proposal to remove children’s right to identity out of the adoption law. They frame it in terms of mothers rights — but as you know, there is no such thing as “the human right to anonymously abandon your child.”

ugh, i skipped tumblr today but then just out of curiosity went back and checked on the north korean adoption post. big mistake. 




North Korean adoptions approved in US
The Telegraph (U.K.)

The US Congress has approved a bill which aims to make it possible for Americans to adopt orphaned North Korean children.

Yikes. :/

Oh god I wonder how many of those orphans are not actually orphans…..

some people have asked my opinion on this. i wrote about it before here.

main point: most of the children this law targets are NOT orphans. read: they have parents. this is the legal abduction of children made possible by the fact that their mothers are country-less defectors on the run - helpless to protest in china since they are there illegally. 

"Backers of the Russian bill said American adoptive parents have been abusive, citing 19 deaths of adopted Russian children since the 1990s.

In 2010, an American woman sparked outrage after she sent her adopted son back to Russia alone on a one-way flight, saying the boy, then 7, had violent episodes that made her family fear for its safety.”

(HT to arari for sending me the link to the korean article first)

this reminds me of a time when i met a high-level US diplomat who was talking about how she was hoping to negotiate with the korean government in order to not include children with disabilities in the quota that the korean government sets for international adoptions (apparently, this women didn’t see children with disabilities as worth being counted as real children. and generally saw children as something to be bartered and negotiated over like the fucking FTA or something). she also started the conversation with a laughable amount of pride about how the US was dedicated to ethical adoptions. when we pointed out that 80-90% of adoptions currently are children of unwed mothers who are forced to give up their children because of a lack of institutional support and were not actually orphans and asked if she considered that ethical adoption, she said at least legally it is. and then she proceeded to lambast the korean government and public for not accepting unwed mothers in society. fine, we said, that’s valid but the US should also not be complicit if she feels like social prejudice alone is what causes these children to be given up, she shouldn’t consider it ethical to be complicit in taking advantage of the plight of these women. she said she was fine as long as it was legally an ethical adoption. basically, as long as children aren’t being snatched from people - as long as the coercion is institutional and not physical, the US can sleep with a free conscious.

Hello!!! Are there any organizations I can work with to help prevent such corrupt adoptions from occurring and educating the general population about it? I live in the United States, so I am not sure what I can do other than spreading awareness online or telling me my friends about it, but I cannot just watch while single mothers or other families have their children taken away and "sold" overseas. Please help me!!! Thank you for your hard work.
peaceshannon peaceshannon Said:

hey, thanks for your message. this is awesome. i feel like we’re getting some momentum going here~^^ to be honest, i’ve been living in korea for the past SIX (god, i can’t believe it’s already been that long… i am oooooold) years, i’m a bit out of touch with the stuff going on in the states, but i do know a few adoptee activists that are really involved in the states that i can put you in touch with who can give you more concrete answers about what you can do there, if you’re serious about getting involved. if you’re interested, send me another personal message with contact info and i’ll pass it along to them~^^ (also, spreading awareness is always helpful… the majority of people are just unaware of the reality of the situation! support - no matter how small it may seem - of organizations like kumfa is also always welcome!)

great article… but a mention of kumfa would’ve been nice so people can see moms supporting and advocating for themselves… esp since main mom in the story and mom in the photo are kumfa moms…