February 27, 2007

Unranked

Would there be adoption in a perfect world? Can an adoptive family be the first choice for a child?

This has been the topic of a good bit of blog discussion over the past few weeks, really for some time, especially in the transracial and transnational adoption world. Several people have talked about this recently (Kohana, Shannon, and Boomerific, here and here) and last year (Abebech and Dawn) and undoubtedly many more. Go read, if you haven't already. An article has also been referenced that I am sure is worth reading, but I have to admit I didn't.

From my perspective, this question is a no brainer. There really is only one answer: there would be no adoption in a perfect world. Everyone would be born to the perfect family, and those families would be able to care well for the children born to them. Adoption simply wouldn't be needed if the world were a perfect place.

But this is no perfect world. Children lose their families to accidents and natural disasters. Women are pushed by circumstances they can't control to place their children with others. Adults harm the children born to them, and those children must be removed from their care. And since we believe that children deserve better than to grow up in institutions, adoption exists.

Viewed as a reaction to tragedy, it’s hard to think of adoption as the first or best choice for any child. Who would wish the kinds of tragedies that lead to adoption on anyone, adult or child? No one - at least no one with a shred of humanity. Acknowledging the losses is a simply a part of the adoption experience, and that includes accepting that it would have been better if these tragedies had never occurred.

But what is “second choice” here (or third, fourth, or fifth, depending on how you’re counting) isn’t the family – it’s the circumstances that led to the adoption. Once a family has been created through adoption (putting the injustices of our infant adoption system aside for a moment) the last thing that family, and especially that child, need to hear is that they don’t measure up to families with blood connections.

So where does my family fit in all of this?

When I look at the circumstances that brought my children into our family, I see loss and tragedy, no question. And I can say without pause that the first choice would have been for these circumstances never to have occurred. But life isn’t perfect. My children have experienced great loss, and have traveled across the world to join two people of a different race. We are now a family. No ranking needed.

February 25, 2007

Don't Misses 2-25-07

When you haven't read the 125 blogs on your blogroll for over a week, there's a lot to catch up on! For your reading pleasure, here are just a few of the posts that have touched me as I've caught up with my reading.

Judy posted a link to a blog that's new to me, musings:mamahood&more, and in particular a poignant comparison of open and closed adoption, Adoption doors. On the fence on open adoption? You won't be after reading this post. Thank you, Gretchen.

Where Do We Fit In The Picture? tells the adoption story from the perspective of an adoptee's spouse - in this case, an adoptee's wife. Sometimes I think we forget that adoption touches many more than adoptees, first parents, and adoptive parents. This blog is a reminder that it touches spouses, children, extended family, and friends, too.

Thank you, Suz, for Sad, Mad, Scared. This post captures emotions of betrayal and loss so clearly, along with another emotion, fear of the second loss of a child who has been found. These are feelings no one should have to live with.

If you're a praying person, please keep Baby James and his family in your prayers. This little one, who is fighting kidney cancer, has already suffered more than most of us suffer in a lifetime. My heart goes out to James and his entire family.

Adding one more on Monday morning: I just read a great post that talks about cultural appropriation from a different perspective - It’s not all Asiaphilia… from Lori at Third Culture Kids. I know I worry about going too far with my children's culture, although I really do try to keep the brakes on, and Lori's unique background and experiences help me understand that our life experiences contribute to our ethnic identity, not just our genetic heritage.

And now, back to that article, along with cleaning up the Korean Focus membership database and getting a long-overdue announcement out about the great stuff happening in DC and elsewhere.

February 24, 2007

Pushing up the Sky

Things are beginning to settle down at work, but I have a couple of obligations I need to complete before I can settle in to really catch up with everyone and do some posting here. Two things top the list - catching up on Korean Focus activities, and finishing an article I'm working on with two really good friends, Mark Hagland and Terra Trevor.

This gives me a wonderful opportunity to tell you about Terra's book, Pushing up the Sky, which was announced at the KAAN Conference in Seoul. Terra and her family have a unique and fascinating story, one that offers new insights into the complexity of relationships in adoption. Terra, who is of Cherokee, Delaware, and Seneca ancestry, also possesses a wisdom about racial issues that everyone can learn from. I know that I have. I encourage you all to read her book.

Hope to be writing again soon.

February 17, 2007

Back - with a caveat

I've missed writing too much to stay away much longer. I'm back.

I can't say I've done much soul-searching over the past couple of weeks, because I've been too busy with work. But I think I've figured out why I was ready to throw in the towel, and the way I deal with this in the future is the one caveat I have to set for continuing to write.

It just plain hurts to feel like the enemy all the time. I recognize that for those who are struggling with the pain of adoption, adoptive parents ARE one of the causes of that pain, perhaps the main cause. I accept that. But as one who personalizes everything (oh, if I had a buck for every time Third Dad has said "Don't take it personally" to me!), the hostility goes straight to my heart. And it hurts.

So somehow I need to find a way to acknowledge, accept and act upon the injustices of adoption without internalizing to the degree I have. I don't know that I've quite figured out how to do this, but that's the caveat. The self-imposed target simply has to come off my back.

Nothing else changes - neither my belief that adoption law and practice are inherently flawed, nor that they are in need of overhaul, nor that adoptive parents are accountable for acknowledging this. I'm not sure what this means for my writing, but we'll see.

* * * * *

Now, to get the ball rolling again:

Greetings to everyone I haven't been able to visit these past couple of weeks!!

Any ideas for things I could write about? What have I missed that's important to you all? I see that when you stop writing, the machinery kind of grinds to a halt. I need a few ideas to get it moving again!

February 8, 2007

Adoption Analogy

Yes, I’m on blog break, but if I don’t get this on paper it’ll be gone forever.

First, thank you all - and you know who you are – for your support and laughs last night. Boy that felt good, and you'll never ever know how much you brightened my very dark mood! Thank you.

I told some of you via email yesterday that one of the issues contributing to my need for a breather is work. It’s not a pleasant time in my work world at the moment, and to be completely candid, I’m not dealing with it very well. I work in a very corporate environment, although I’m not a particularly corporate kind of person. Until now I've been able to reconcile myself with this, and have found places where I fit. But not now.

It occurred to me yesterday that I may be getting a tiny taste of what an adoptee must experience living with the pain of adoption. Please, understand, I DON’T mean what I’m feeling is in ANY WAY the same in its intensity, or its importance in the scheme of life, or its permanence as that experienced by adoptees. But I see a parallel in the structure of my situation and that of living as an adoptee. And I think it's helping me understand the adoptee experience better - not completely, because I never can, but better.

Here’s what I mean. I work because I have to. There is no choice. My husband doesn’t work - when our son arrived, we made the decision that I would continue, because my job had better benefits and was more stable. So I continued working and Third Dad stayed home with The Boy, and then The Girl. And all in all it's been a good choice, especially for the kids.

Because I am who I am, a highly emotional individual, I’ve tried very hard to make sure that the jobs I take allow me the best change of controlling the stressors. I took the position I currently have, originally sort of a consultant-analyst position, because I don’t want to manage people and I don’t want to travel much. Been there, done that, and just don't want to do them again right now.

But recently my group was downsized, and I now manage three unrelated teams up and down the east coast, while still doing my original job and a couple of special projects. It's exhausting. But because my job was “saved,” no one understands why I’m not grateful. After all, how could I criticize the hand that's feeding me? And with two kids on the verge of college, leaving isn't an option, especially at my age and so close to capturing retirement benefits.

So here’s what I’m feeling:

  • I didn’t ask for the job I have now, and I’m not grateful for the fact that my job was saved.
  • Even though on the surface my job might seem like a good one to someone else, I hate having to live with it.
  • I hate that it separates me from what living a normal life.
  • I feel trapped.

But all of this isn't the point - the analogy I see to adoption pain is. For if the analogy is accurate, it's helping me to see adoption pain from an adoptee's point of view more clearly:

  • How offensive it must be when others tell you to be grateful for your life when you didn’t ask to be dealt the adoption deck
  • How hard it must be to live with adoption looking over your shoulder all the time
  • How you must hate that it separates you from just plain living your life
  • What an emotional trap the pain and loss must create
I would hate it, too. Although I can never feel that pain, what I've been experiencing recently has at least given me an inkling. And if I feel as overwhelmed as I do over something that I could really change if I tried, how much more overwhelming it must be to live with adoption loss.

To the adoptees who may read this, please let me know if I’m on base, off base, or at least in the ballpark.

February 3, 2007

Media Blitz

Whoops - correcting the dates.

This is great!!

Kim will be on The Adoption Show this Sunday, February 4, at 8:30 PM ET!

Claud will be on Montel on Monday, February 5 - check your local listings!