July 29, 2006

Wise and Beautiful

If I could help my children reach adulthood following this gentle and generous philosophy, I would be confident that I had done my best for them.

Thank you, Harlow's Monkey, for lifting my thoughts with these beautiful words.

Your children are not your children
They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.

They come through you, not from you.
And though they are with you, they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but strive not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and he bends you with his might that the arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so he loves the bow that is stable.

Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

July 23, 2006

Two Korean Mothers Tell Their Stories

They were young women like a million other young women that you might meet in any Korean city or town. The pain of the past seemed close to the surface of the younger woman’s face, while the face of the other showed resignation and dwindling hope. But both appeared determined – to get through the hour that lay ahead of them, to tell the truth of the experience that had led both of them, unmarried and unsupported, to surrender their children to adoption years before.

Today, the vast majority of Korean adoptions (over 99% based on statistics from the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare) take place for one reason only – the unmarried status of their mothers. The stories of these women are therefore typical of those experienced by most of the mothers of the thousands of Korean children that have been adopted to the US and other countries in recent years.

The two young women came into a KAAN conference meeting room filled with young adopted adults, adoptive parents, and adoption workers. As they spoke, I heard stories that had been told many times before, by thousands of women from every part of the world. Stories of rejection, fear, and loss, but also love transcending time and space, and hope.

The Elder Mother

The elder mother was herself adopted. Her childhood was an unhappy one; her father was an alcoholic, her mother left the family several times, and she was separated from her sister. As her family’s circumstances worsened, she was forced to quit school. And feeling unloved, she found it hard to love others, too.

Her baby’s father rejected the child, and instead asked her to abort the baby. His family offered no support either, and also asked her to terminate her pregnancy. Initially, she blamed her mother for the circumstances that led to her pregnancy, and later herself. But ultimately she realized that she was waiting for her child’s father to take responsibility for his child. She admitted that at least one motivation for continuing her pregnancy was to seek revenge on him.

With no source of income, no support, and only rejection from her child’s father and his family, she followed the only route left to her – a first mother’s home. She was counseled in the different kinds of adoption she might choose for her child.

She spoke of the time she spent with her son, how important that time was, and how painful it was, only 13 hours after giving birth, to part with him. She has his picture, and still remembers his eyes, his forehead. And she hates herself for having surrendered him.

His first birthday was especially hard and was spent remembering him and their time together. She wants him to know he was loved. She hopes for his good health. She has tried to keep in touch, to no avail. The Korean agency that placed her child has told her she must wait until his is 18 years old. She was also told that “no new is good news,” that if she heard nothing about him it would mean he was fine.

She had another relationship after her child was born, but it ended when she shared the news of her child. Later, she met the man who is now her husband. And although he was initially embarrassed to learn of her child, he truly loves her and they have now been married ten years. They have four children, one who looks like her first son. Whenever she changes her children, bathes them, sees them laughing, reads to them, punishes them – no matter what she does, her thoughts turn to her son lost to adoption. And she can say now that she is happy.

Since her son’s birth, she has completed high school. She would like to go to university, but she has been reunited with her sister and is responsible for her support.

She wants to meet her son and his adoptive parents. Her husband is willing to be his Korean father. Each summer she meets adoptive families who come to Korea with homeland tours, and she can’t understand why her son hasn’t come, too. She also wonders if he misses her, thinks of her, if he wants to know her. And she would like to know: What are his hobbies? Does he go to church? Does he have a girlfriend?

And every year on her son’s birthday, her husbands sends her a letter of support.

The Younger Mother

The younger mother’s childhood was unhappy. Beatings were common, often for no more than the fact that she was a girl.

The father of her baby was a friend of her brother who loved her. His parents, however, did not approve of their relationship. He was a university student, where she came from a different class. And after she became pregnant, the rejection was complete.

Although happy to be pregnant, she was worried for her baby’s future. Her baby’s father reacted differently, however, and asked her to abort the child. She could not carry out his wishes. Ultimately, his family sent him abroad to study, leaving her entirely alone. In fear, she attempted suicide.

She spoke of the shame of single motherhood in Korea. Although she wanted to keep her baby, as her pregnancy began to show her options became fewer and fewer. She asked a friend to pretend to be her husband, telling others that they lived separately because of his work. But as she began to run out of money, her only source of income became what she could do at home – sewing and the like.

Her mother found out about the pregnancy when she was nearing full term. She was very sad and worried for her daughter, but felt she would be unable to help her daughter take care of the child. She also voiced her fears for the baby, who would grow up without a father.

Ultimately, the young mother had no choice but a first mother’s home. There, she spent a lot of time thinking about the baby’s future. After her birth, she thought of running away with her, but couldn’t, and decided to place her daughter in adoption.
She feels that others blame and judge her for her decision.

She decided that a life abroad with a wealthy family would be the best plan for her daughter, because she saw only poverty for her in Korea. She ultimately chose intercountry adoption because she thought there would be more openness. She sends gifts and postcards on her birthday, and has some contact with her adoptive family today.

She is now married and has two more sons. Her marriage, however, is unhappy. She said her husband didn’t speak badly about her past, but in her words was a confused person. He had an affair, ultimately turning her out of her home penniless with two sick children.

Some time after placing her daughter in adoption, she learned that her adoptive family divorced and that her daughter was now with her adoptive mother. She felt terrible, having thought that adoption would give her daughter a better family.

Some time later she received a letter from her daughter telling her that she was coming to Korea. They met, and finally had the chance to spend time together. Her daughter is healthy and beautiful. But it was hard to explain her to others, including her young sons. She has a wonderful memory of sleeping with her daughter holding hands.

She has had the opportunity to talk together with her daughter and her adoptive mother, and believes that in her circumstances, adoption was a good decision. She will visit the USA and see them again in August of this year.

She received job training through the first mother’s home, and works very hard to keep her family together.

She wants everyone to know that she had no choice.

July 22, 2006

Don't Misses 7-22-06

This blogging thing takes work, so I'm devising a way to keep myself organized, share the things I read that you may not have, and make general announcements. Every week or so I'll roll it all together into a single page, and hope someone finds it useful.

Third Mom's Activism Page Update:


DON'T MISS Articles and Shows

  • On problems in Korean adoption: The Nation Exporting Babies - Two Faces of Overseas Adoption by ChooJeok 60 Boon - In-depth 60 Minutes (adoptive parents, please do not miss this!)

    Note 7-23-06: I tried this link today while posting updates, and it seems it has been taken down. I'm going to leave this up, though, because perhaps it was a fluke, also in case someone else knows where the program can be found.

Wednesday, July 26
ABC's GOOD MORNING AMERICA
7AM ­ 9:00AM (east coast - check local listings)

Thursday, July 27
THE DIANE REHM SHOW ­National Public Radio
You can listen live or download at:
http://www.wamu.org/programs/dr/

July 21, 2006

Mea Culpa #2

Two posts in one day, both mea culpas, and both for overactive commenting. I'm on a roll.

This time (and it isn't the first time) I'm apologizing for overstepping my bounds by submitting comments in response to two posts (here and here) on Twice the Rice that stated an opinion regarding Korean adoption travel. This blog is a good read - covers many subjects, adoption being just one of them. And the adoption discussions don't beat around the bush.

The posts in question encouraged adoptive parents to travel to Korea to meet their children, and pointed out that a-parents who chose not to travel for their own convenience were not acting in the best interests of their children. A-parents sent unwanted comments that weren't posted, triggering more indignant responses from some.

Today, the author posted a response to the many a-parent emails and comments, saying, "My blog is neither for nor about China APs. It's not about Korea APs. It's not about any adoptive parents at all." She also said, "I often find that APs, having seen their comments published on my blog, feel that this implies my 'approval' of their actions or their choices."

I should have realized earlier that, by intruding into adoptee space, I squelch a dialog that doesn't belong to me, and force acceptance where I am owed none. The contents of the comments aren't necessarily at issue - it's the fact that I submitted them at all. And I apologize. Lesson learned,

For anyone interested in the travel issue:

In the early 1990s and perhaps later, travel to Korea wasn't always an a-parent's choice. Many agencies, including ours, had policies that prevented a-parents from traveling to Korea. We were told that having a child escorted ensured that we would be awake and ready to parent when the child arrived, not jet-lagged and exhausted. (They forgot to mention that traveling to Korea was the right thing to do for your child. Oh, and that exactly three days after your child arrived, you'd be jet-lagged and exhausted anyway even if you hadn't been on a plane.) Later I learned that the no-travel policy was financially motivated. When escorts did the traveling, one-way tickets could be booked because the escorts were often GIs, students, or ex-pats returning to the states. The agency travel fees, however, were based on round-trip airfare. The difference went to the Korean agency. I also believe, but haven't gone out there and researched it, that many, if not most, agencies now at least allow travel, although I don't know how many still encourage the escort system.

One last unrelated point: I think that sometimes adoption agencies and adoptive parents are viewed as one big monolithic entity. There are certainly some adoptive parents who are so grateful for their children that they become completely loyal to their agencies, sometimes to the point of blindness. Some, however, question agency policies, and are trying to do something about that, including working toward the ultimate close-down of Korean adoption programs.

Mea Culpa #1

I'm numbering this because I have the feeling I may need to do this again, although I hope I learn to think first and comment later.

Over the past few days, I've been trying to find if there are other adoptive parents with Korean children out here on the internet. After spending some time searching, I did find a few. Most are the blogs of parents at the front end of their adoption journey, most waiting for a referral for a child.

This week's news about the dramatic changes in Korean adoption policy has obviously affected many of these families. I found several sites on which parents shared their frustration and sadness. I found myself thinking that for the mothers of these children, it was a stay of execution of sorts. And a signal that perhaps South Korea was finally taking an interest in their situation and might finally start focusing some resources on helping them to keep their children.

There's no question that there's hypocrisy in my perspective. Easy for me to tell new parents to think of their children's first families - we have children already. Commenting that South Korea's policy change might be a good thing was insensitive to those who have grown attached to Korea and who already may be well aware of the need to acknowledge and support the mothers of their children. Right thought, wrong time and place.

To those I may have offended - mea culpa. Your journeys and mine have intersected at very different points, and I should have simply kept my comments on those posts to myself. I hope, though, that you will understand my motivation was not to lecture. It was to focus attention on the forgotten women in South Korea who may see a little glimmer of hope in this new policy.

A special thanks to Kansas Family, who emailed me following my comment with an apology that I should have been extending to her, both for the email and for posting her additional thoughts here.

July 20, 2006

Korean Adoption Changes

Changes coming in Korean adoption. A step forward, I think, toward decreasing intercountry adoption from Korea, but nothing on whether there will be increased support for mothers and their children, too. However, the fact that singles will be allowed to adopt might signal more openness to single parenting, which would be wonderful news for Korean mothers.

Read the Korea Times article here or below.

Singles Can Adopt Children

By Park Chung-a
Staff Reporter

Single households will be able to adopt a child from next year, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said Tuesday.

To activate domestic adoption, the government has decided to allow single households to adopt a child from next year. The number of single households has been on a steady increase, accounting for 15.9 percent of the total households in Korea last year

"Instead, we will require more strict process and conditions for single households regarding their family background, motivation as well as education," said Jang Ok-ju, a ministry official. "We have secured 87.8 billion won in budgets for adoption-related proects next year."

Also, the government will grant monthly allowance of 100,000 won to a household who adopts a child until he or she turns 18. It will also grant 2 million won in administrative fee, which is needed for adopting a child.

The age difference between adoptive parents and child will be expanded from less than 50 at present to under 60. Limit on the number of adopted children per one family, now standing at five, will also be lifted.

To raise people's awareness that adoption is another form of birth, the government will also allow two weeks of ``adoption leave'' from next year. Public officials will be allowed to benefit from the system first.

In addition, to reduce the number of overseas adoption through increase of domestic adoption, the government will pursue ``domestic adoption-first'' system, aimed at trying to match children eligible for adoption to Korean parents first for five months. Only after the five months, children can be subject to overseas adoption. However, children who need urgent medical care due to inherited disability will be exempted from it.

The government is also planning to grant house at discounted prices to those who adopt a handicapped child.

According to the ministry, cases of domestic adoption is as much as 20 percent lower than overseas adoption. As for domestic adoption of handicapped children, there were only 27 cases last year, which account for one-thirtieth of overseas adoption of the handicapped children.

"While adoption is considered as a way to carry out spirit of noblesse oblige or giving help to society abroad, Koreans tend to choose adoption for getting pure joy of rearing children," said Cho Min-hye, an official at the Mission to Promote Adoption in Korea.

For overseas adoptees, the government will expand granting scholarships for Korean language education in universities as well as organizations and providing various services for them including housing and tourism when they visit Korea.

To enhance people's positive view on domestic adoption, the government will also mention good aspects of adoption in school curriculum.

"We find it urgent to reduce Koreans' prejudice against adoption. Other than incentive policies, we will launch various publicity activities to establish adoption-friendly atmosphere," said Jang.

michelle@koreatimes.co.kr
07-18-2006 17:38

July 17, 2006

The Nation Exporting Babies

The most difficult thing about my adoptive parenting experience has been coming face to face with and accepting that, by adopting, I have participated in something that has done a great deal of harm to many people. From my initial joy and belief in the ethics of Korean adoption programs (which I describe here in an earlier post), I've come to realize that there has been far more unethical, even illegal, activity in the Korean adoption world than I would have ever believed.

My husband and I have been honored to be the parents of two incredible, beautiful children. They light up our home and our lives. Imagining life without them or them unhappy is unbearable. But there's a flip side. There is coercion in Korean adoption, coercion driven by financial gain. There is a societal disregard for the human rights of women, which leaves them no choice but to surrender their children to adoption, and who suffer the loss throughout their lives. And there are adopted people who mourn the loss of their first families, their homeland, their language, some never finding peace with themselves and their surroundings, some even to the point of self-destruction.

Today's post on Twice the Rice, the blog of a talented writer who happens to be a young adopted Korean woman, encouraged readers to watch The Nation Exporting Babies - Two Faces of Overseas Adoption, which was produced by the Korean news program ChooJeok 60 Boon (In-depth 60 Minutes).

I did. And I pass on the recommendation. Download the program, in Korean with English subtitles, here:

http://www.streamload.com/pilrye/EL/S7U7JPACWC/In_Depth_60_Minutes

Note 7-23-06: I tried this link today while posting updates, and it seems it has been taken down. I'm going to leave this up, though, because perhaps it was a fluke, also in case someone else knows where the program can be found.

Note 7/31/06: Another link is currently available on Jane Jeong Trenka's website:
http://www.languageofblood.com/kbs.mpeg

July 15, 2006

Frenzied Week in the Land of Morning Calm

I think I’m over the worst of the jet lag, and am finally going through photos from my trip, notes from the conference, and memories of a wonderful week. Considering I had just a week, I think I did a lot – and I definitely had fun. For grins, here’s a run-down of my schedule, start to finish.

June 28, 10 PM: Arrived at the Renaissance Seoul Hotel, dropped my luggage, ran back out to get a couple of bottles of water, and went to bed

June 29, 8 AM: Met a group in the lobby of the hotel for the start of a day trip to Icheon, the ceramics (and best rice) capital of Korea. Here’s our day:
  • Stop at a Korean rest stop (so much better than here!) for breakfast; mine was a little container of my favorite roast potatoes with salt.
  • Arrived at Icheon around 10 AM; toured the historic ceramics museum; went to the demonstration area to learn to throw pottery and make something from clay. I'm far too embarrassed to show what I made, but I was able to bring back a little proof that I'd done this.
  • A stop at the local community center to join a group of ladies learning ballroom dancing – what a hoot!
  • An Icheon rice lunch at a local restaurant – excellent – followed by shopping at several local ceramics shops.
  • Next a tour of the modern ceramics museum - ceramics that look like fabric? like metal? Amazing!
  • After that, off to Temerden Hot Springs and Water Park for an afternoon marinating in hot springs (infused with tea, lemon and lime, herbs, and even rice – all good for various skin ailments and general well being), being battered by the whirlpools and jacuzzis, swimming, playing on the waters slides, and roasting in the “sweat lodge.”
  • By the time we returned to the buses for the trip back to Seoul, we were as limp as wet noodles. But there was one more stop – another rest area for a light dinner of ramyun.
  • Home and straight to bed for a wonderful night’s sleep.
June 30, 9 AM: With my friend Mike and his son, I headed over to the Hongik University area (a favorite) so Mike could claim some luggage he left there earlier in the week, his son could hit the internet to catch up with friends, and Mike and I could walk up to Eastern SWS. But first – breakfast at my favorite Seoul cafĂ© – the Richemont Bakery around the corner from the Hotel Seokyo.

June 30, Noon:
Lunch at a Chinese restaurant with my friend Jeena, who is back in Seoul after finishing her master’s degree at the University of Victoria. It was great seeing her, catching up on her family – and the combination of chapchae and fried rice was delicious!

June 30 afternoon and evening: KAAN Conference socializing, welcome dinner and films. More on the conference in another post.

July 1: KAAN Conference all day.

July 2, morning: KAAN Conference and good-bye to friends who were leaving.

July 2, noon: Met a group of DC friends from KAC-DC (Mike, Sunny, Jin, and David) who are either living in Seoul now or were visiting. Sunny drove us and Jin’s friend Robin to a wonderful duck restaurant for lunch. We feasted on two kinds of duck: duck stuffed with rice and black beans and roasted in a pumpkin, and duck roasted in a clay pot.

July 2, afternoon: Sunny, Jin, Robin and I headed to Insadong to shop.

July 2, late afternoon: Robin met up with other friends, Jin headed by to Kwangju where she lives, and Sunny drove me to the Hotel Seokyo where I would be spending my last couple of days with other friends.

July 2, evening: Carole, Michelle and Leslee of Korea Homeland Tours returned with their tour group. Once the tour was safely onto their next agenda item (seeing the new show Jump), the four of us headed up toward Hongik University to find a place for dinner – we passed up the "Virgin Bikini Sexy Events Bar" for Italian. Then a leisurely stroll back to the hotel, with a little window shopping in the trendy boutiques and lots and lots of laughing. So much fun.

July 3, morning: After breakfast at the Seokyo, we walked up to Eastern SWS again for a meeting with the Director and visits with several of the social workers. For those who have read about the file nazi, this was when I was able to see our children’s files and confirm that the photo albums they made in 2001 were in them. I was happy to see that ESWS is now cataloging everything in the files in a computer system, also happy that they were willing to let me see the files. Sadly though, there have been no contacts from my children’s families.

July 3, afternoon: Shopping in Itaewon, following lunch at the Nashvills Steak House - decidedly American, but the burgers were good. We did some shopping, and while waiting for Leslee, who was picking up a ring she had bought, my eye caught a gorgeous amethyst pendant, and I had to buy it. I did, however, have the strength to pass up the matching earrings. Later bumped into a bunch of friends who were there with another tour - small world.

July 3, evening: Back to the hotel for Korea Homeland Tour’s farewell dinner. The families had all prepared skits about their time in Korea, and one as better than the next. When the dinner was over, Carole, Michelle, Leslee and I went to a great wine bar near Hongik with Austin (the tour guide and translator, who I know from my family's tour in 2001), Annie (the general manager of the travel agency in Korea that KHT works with), and Christina (also with the travel agency). The wine bar was lovely – in a little garden on a side street, and the wine and conversation were wonderful. What a great way to end a great week!

July 4, morning: Said good-bye to Carole, Michelle, Leslee and the tour, who left to return to the US at around 10. I then headed off to Namdaemun to get the last of my gifts. Back to the hotel for a shower, and then off to the airport.

And did I crash on the plane? Well, no. On the flight from Seoul to San Francisco, I was seated next to a young Korean man, Sing Ho, on his way to visit his brother in San Francisco, who is a pilot for KAL. We talked much of the time, I did sleep a bit, but it was more fun to chat with him. Finally, after a 9-hour layover at SFO, a red-eye to Chicago, a connection to BWI, and a super shuttle to National, I saw my husband and daughter for 10 minutes (they were on their way to a taekwondo tournament in Atlanta), and then my son (who picked me up). Back home at noon on July 5th. And THEN crash!

And now – back to the grind. I totally love Korea, cannot wait to return. And I urge any a-parents of Korean children who may stop by to go to Korea early and often. It’s an experience your family will love, and which your children must not miss.

July 13, 2006

Evan B. Donaldson Transcultural Adoption Initiative

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute has a number of initiatives underway. This one is of particular interest to intercountry and transculturally adopted individuals. Please spread the word.

TRANSCULTURAL ADOPTION & IDENTITY

This study, with initial funding by the Kellogg Foundation, will examine factors that contribute to the development of healthy identities of internationally and transculturally adopted adults and relevant services available to multicultural families. We are seeking adult international adoptees to participate in our internet survey which will be posted on this website by the summer. The results of the survey will be published as part of a comprehensive white paper to be published in the fall. For more information on this project, contact lead researcher Hollee McGinnis at hmcginnis@adoptioninstitute.org

July 12, 2006

APA Parenting Meme

I enjoy reading Mama Nabi’s blog. Although Mama Nabi is Asian and I’m not, her family, like mine, is a blend of races and cultures. She writes of many of the cultural and racial issues that are important to me.

Recently, Mama Nabi wrote of an experience her little daughter had with some nasty children who teased her because she is Asian. Think racism is a thing of the past? Think again. My opinion is that when kids make the kind of racial comments that were directed at Mama Nabi's daughter, they aren’t being kids – they’re being their their racist or racially insensitive parents.

At the end of the post, Mama Nabi included a meme, and tagged those interested in “not just APA but other cultural/ethnic/social issues“ to do the meme, too. So I’m taking the liberty of answering as the white parent of APA children. I pass on the invitation to others who are also interested in these issues.

And so – the meme:

1. I am: Slovenian and Croatian (a little more Croatian); my husband is German.

2. My children are: Korean

3. I first realized what my ethnicity was, started thinking more about race, culture, and identity when: I was in elementary school. Because our area was devoid of diversity, those that looked like me (short, dark, high cheekbones) were perceived to be “foreigners.” I’m not making this up: while standing at a drinking fountain one day when I was a freshman in high school, another girl came up, looked at me intensely, and asked, “Are you Chinese?” THAT is the definition of the quintessential lily white environment. Maybe because I was seen to be outside of the ethnic makeup of my community, I took an early interest in the world and people in it.

4. People think my name is: People have absolutely no idea what my married name is, unless they are German. Where I grew up in Ohio, there were enough Croatians around to recognize my maiden name as Croatian. Outside of that area, though, it was often mistaken to be French.

5. The family traditions I most want to pass on are: Celebrating with family. My family has always been close, and we take every opportunity to get together and be together. We talk and laugh a lot, and genuinely like being around each other. I hope my children see this for the treasure it is, and continue to do it throughout their lives.

6. The family tradition I least want to pass on is: We also get angry quickly – there are a lot of Balkans with short tempers, as recent and not-so-recent history bears out.

7. My child's first word in English was: Our son’s first English word was “mama,” and our daughter’s was “dada.”

8. My child's first non-English word was: I honestly don’t know. But I think it would have been one of a couple of things: perhaps a German word they heard at home (my husband is a native speaker of German and I speak it fluently); or perhaps a word of Spanish or French learned in pre-school; or a word of Korean learned in taekwondo, which our son started at six and our daughter at five.

9. The non-English word/phrase most used in my home is: “Hola!” from our daughter, who spent most of elementary school in a Spanish-emersion program. Or, an unprintable German phrase delivered lovingly, of course, from me to my husband when he ticks me off.

10. One thing I love about being an APA parent (in my case, a white parent of APA children) is: I just love my kids, everything about my kids.

11. One thing I hate about being an APA parent (in my case, a white parent of APA children) is: That through this experience I’ve come to understand just how entitled white people are without recognizing it; I see this in white attitudes toward race and adoption. I’ve also come to understand – and this is the part I really hate – that even though I speak out against inequities, I’m ultimately a part of the problem by simple virtue of my race. For a much more articulate expression of what I’m trying to say, read Peggy McIntosh’s White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.

12. The best things about being part of an APA family are: Being part of a family that is ethnically greater than the little corner of northeastern Ohio that I grew up in. Next to parenting my children, having been welcomed (and I have truly been welcomed) into the Korean community is one of the greatest privileges I’ve had. I hope my children continued to be welcomed in the same way, although I know this isn’t always the case for KADs. I also know that the experience I’m having is not the one my children are having, and that they might view our family makeup as more of a burden than a blessing, if not now, then perhaps in the future.

13. The worst thing about being part of an APA family is: Although I consider our family to be an APA family, I know that because we are an adoptive family, society doesn’t see us in the same way it sees a non-adoptive APA family. Instead, we are seen as a white family with Asian children, which may seem only subtly different to someone who is white, but which is a very different experience for our children. For me, it means that no one takes our family seriously – we’re the perpetual oddity. And for our children, it means they may have the feeling that they don’t belong to our family in the same way our other family members who were born into the family do. My husband and I have done all we can to make sure that’s not the case, but ultimately what our children feel is what counts.

14. To me, being Asian Pacific American means: This is one I simply can’t answer because I’m white. I can only hope I'm on the right track helping my children to develop a sense of identity as Asian Pacific Americans, Korean Americans and Koreans.

July 9, 2006

Letter to NBC Dateline re: Web of Deceit

To: NBC Dateline
Attn: Victoria Corderi and Stone Phillips

I watched your program "A Web of Deceit" with great interest this evening. Like the couples who were scammed by Amy, my husband and I, too, are infertile. We are now the parents of two children, both Korean and now teens.

Although I recognize that your program intended to expose what can only be described as a sick fraud, I fear it also perpetuated the idea that prospective adoptive parents have any right to the child of a pregnant woman who is considering her options. Although my heart went out to these couples, who were clearly taken advantage of by an individual who aimed to do just that, it also disturbed me to see how readily each claimed Amy's child as their own just on the basis of Amy's promise to place her child with them.

Given the many organizations and initiatives in our country that seek to destigmatize adoption and adopted people, this attitude may be understandable. But step back from Amy's callous dishonesty and think about this situation from the perspective of a young, unmarried woman who is receiving no support from family or community to parent her child. I can think of no other situation in which society would tolerate one woman's claim to another's child - yet we allow this every day when the other woman is unmarried, justifying it with our counsel to "do what's best for your baby," "be courageous," and "give your baby a future."

It is, of course, hypocritical that I raise these concerns, given that my family exists through adoption. I can only say that over the years, as I have heard the stories of adopted people and mothers lost to each other through adoption, often suffering through their entire lives from the loss, I have come to understand that the "adoption plan" (as it is called in politically-correct language) is often made under pressure, coercion and worse.

Amy's scam is without a doubt a horrible injustice, and it and other similar adoption scams should be stopped and prosecuted. But I believe that every adoption that takes place when a mother is pressured in any way to surrender her child without being given every possible support to keep him or her is an even greater injustice. In these cases, the injustice is not the emotional pain caused to a couple yearning for a child - it is the actual loss of a living, breathing child to a mother, and of the mother to the child.

I encourage you to reach out to the mothers of adoption and give them an opportunity to tell their stories. Their voices have been silenced by secrecy and shame for far too long.

Sent to NBC Dateline July 9, 2006

July 7, 2006

Back from Korea

I'm back - exhausted, but exhiliarated after what turned out to be an amazing trip. When you put your mind to it, you can pack a lot into a single week - and I left no minute unused.

Good news! The photo albums my kids asked to put in their files are there, every single page. And although there's been no contact from either of their families yet, I just have a very good feeling that it will come in time. At least I'm really hopeful.

Korean adoption is definitely on the verge of a paradigm shift. I was absolutely thrilled when the discussion in the conference session in which I participated was entirely on search and open adoption. And I don't mean that the Korean adoptive parents were voicing interest - they were in or trying to be in open adoptions with their children's families.

But without a doubt, the most moving session was that in which two mothers shared the stories of the surrenders of their children. These brave women confirmed everything I've begun to believe - that they had no support from families, friends or community; on the contrary, they were given no options but to relinquish their children. And do they want reunions? Oh yes. And as more and more mothers speak out, and more and more adoptive parents do, too, things will change. I took lots of notes in this session, and will definitely be writing about it.

I really wish my family could have been with me, but this time it just wasn't possible. My husband and daughter went out of town for a taekwondo tournament the day I returned - we actually met at National Airport for a few minutes, giving me a chance to at least give them a hug and kiss before they left. My son chose not to go this time because he didn't want to go to the conference. He has been to two KAAN conferences, and although he enjoyed them both, he wanted his next trip to Korea to be for travel. So we're going to try (finances allowing) to all go next summer.

I have so much to post, but jet lag (brutal) will probably keep me dizzy for a couple of daysyet. So more to follow soon!

And now, off to bed - hopefully this time I'll fall asleep before 3:30 AM.