December 29, 2007

Judy, Judy, Judy!

Ha, you think I'm quoting Cary Grant, but he never said that. In Angels Have Wings, he said "Oh, Judy" and "Come on, Judy," but that's it.

No, I MET Judy!! Ah, what a treat!!! She is absolutely adorable, so sharp and cute. Hilariously witty, she has the kind of sense of humor I envy and adore. Much like Third Dad, who I think is one of the funniest people on the planet. Most of all, though, Judy is without a doubt a WYSIWYG - "what you see is what you get," she is honest and open and generous. And let me tell you, Judy gives the best hugs around, you should be giving lessons, J. You made me feel very special that day with just one hug.

We talked about all kinds of things - work, family, holidays, growing up, and yes, the C word. Judy is facing so much right now, I honestly don't know how she made the trek up from her home to our meeting place, and I hope getting away and having the chance to meet did good. It did for me, and I hope we have the opportunity to do it again next time I'm up north.

She loved the bracelet we made for her, as you can see! Many thanks to everyone who joined in - you guys are great! Judy, wear it with the knowledge that we're all here with you evicting the bitch!!

J, you may not remember this, but some months ago I was pretty down about something, and the most adorable picture popped into my email from you and Nate - it meant a lot to me then and still does. You're in my thoughts (I'm visualizing HEALTH!!!) and prayers. I and all your online friends are here for you - just as you have always been there for us. Smooches!!

December 21, 2007

Hopefully the third time's a charm

Before I get into the subject at hand, I have to apologize to all the a-parents on my blogroll! You fell off!! Several weeks ago I tried another method of blogrolling that I ultimately didn't like. I reversed back to Bloglines, but apparently not 100%. I just realized today when I went to my blogroll looking for a link that you were gone! You're all back again, and I'm so sorry!!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So now on to the main point. I've collected my thoughts, and hopefully I can make sense of what I was talking about here and here. Yes, this subject is important to me, but I realize it may not be to others. If you do read this, thanks for humoring me.

To understand what's been bugging me, you have to understand my my starting point with the role of religion in adoption - which is that there should be no role at all. Although I am Catholic, I don't view adoption as a way to make more Catholics. Although my children have been raised in the Catholic faith because it's the only one I know, they have my full support to seek and find their own paths. And as Buddhism is the faith they are likely to have known had they stayed in Korea, it holds a special place in my heart and our home.

I don't see adoption as an act of charity. I believe in the separation of church and adoption just as I believe in the separation of church and state and school. In my opinion, faith is, and should remain, a private matter.

To me, this is all very straightforward, and very easy. I'm therefore disturbed by how many view adoption through the lens of religion and charity. Like the devout agency director I know who at an agency event thanked adoptive parents for their love for the "poor, unfortunate children" - with the children there. Or the new adoptive mother of a little Korean boy I read recently who, with disdain, described the statues of Buddha she saw on her trip to Korea as "idols of worship." Or the religious and lay who view surrendering children as the road to redemption for unmarried mothers.

I also get why those who have been hurt by religious institutions would have no respect for them. Heck, there are many times I feel the same way about my own church. Plus, I think we change institutions for the better by watching them and speaking out when they go beyond their charters. I don't believe blindly, and I don't want others to do that either. My search, my road has taken me through questioning to rejection and back again to embracing the theology of my faith - but never will I embrace the actions of my church without question.

Sometimes, though, criticism crosses the line to ridicule, which falls into a different category for me - that of religious intolerance. Although what set me off this week may have only been intended to be a bit of humor, I received it differently. And it has made me think.

It's made me think about whether or not someone of my faith is really welcome in the adoption reform community. It also made me wonder if bringing religion into discussions of adoption reform furthers the cause or helps change the offending institutions. I don't know, but these are questions I'll be thinking about a little more in the future. Nothing about my point of view of adoption reform changes, though, so please don't go away thinking that I feel any differently about what has to change. I need to find a way to reconcile my reaction to the anger against my Church with my beliefs.

I could be hypersensitive at the moment, I do get that way from time to time, forgive me for that. I also may be viewing this through my "religion should be a respected, private matter" eyes. I want everyone to do as I do - respect others' religious views, refrain from proselytizing, and keep religion out of public policy.

OK, does any of this make sense? I'm not sure, but I feel better just for getting it out and onto paper. Thanks for letting me ramble!

December 20, 2007

Calling all strong women!

If ever there was a time for strong women to support a strong woman, this is it. Please go over to Judy's and give her yours.

Judy, I'm with you, we're all with you, and you are so not done.

December 19, 2007

A little clarification

I need to clarify a bit.

First, some of you have written to ask what happened. Well, nothing really happened. I simply saw something yesterday that, for whatever reason, I couldn’t get past. It was a pun, focused on the Catholic Church, and most days it probably wouldn’t have raised my eyebrows. But somehow at this time of year, a time that is particularly holy in my faith, it hit the wrong chord.

Please understand that I believe every individual has a right to express themselves as they wish. When a particular institution deserves criticism, as my Church definitely does, people have a right to express it. And because I have chosen to remain Catholic at a time in which Catholicism is facing disgrace, I’ve become accustomed to sucking it in.

For me, though, there’s a distinction between criticizing the institution and the individuals who have committed the crimes, and mocking the faith. That’s the line that was crossed for me this week – no big deal, just a personal reaction, maybe even an overreaction. It's just making me pull away a bit. I need to figure out if I as a Catholic am a) really welcome in the adoption reform movement and b) if I can reconcile participating in a community that feels my faith is worth a few laughs.

I definitely want to continue writing, but just need to step away from writing about adoption reform for a bit. You’ll notice I updated my post yesterday to remove the sentence that said I was considering closing the blog. Yes, that’s in my mind, but I’m not looking for anyone to encourage me to stay here. I just need a break from the adoption reform topic for a bit.

And I need to think about what has been good about adoption again, too. My experience and that of my children has been good. Yes, my children face the same losses and pains, but I can look them square in the eye and tell them their first families are our family, and that I seriously, honestly and deeply pray every day that they will be reunited. Whatever the future brings, I will support them. I can also look them in the eye and tell them that I love them for who they are – Korean Americans, not little mini-mes I’ve molded in my own image. There’s really no way I can ever express my gratitude for the gift of them.

The only things I can do are continue to work for reform, which I will be doing even if Third Mom shuts down. There’s a life outside blogland, friends, and there’s a lot going on out there, so please have no fear that I would ever, ever walk away from this fight.

And the other thing I can do is continue to write, which I am going to do, but with a different voice for awhile. I’ve started a new blog, Komapseumnida – ha, you have to go figure it out. This new blog is all about my family – not deeply personal stuff, just memories. Like I say in my first post there, every memory is a gift, for which I say komapseumnida.

December 18, 2007

It is time

… to step away. I’m taking a break, starting now through the new year.

I sometimes can’t believe I’ve been blogging for almost two years. In many ways it’s been a wonderful experience. I’ve made friends, I’ve met others who share my point of view about adoption, and I’ve learned more than I would ever have learned had I relied on the magazines and websites I’d been reading before I found the blogosphere.

But lately I’ve seen some things that I just don’t have the strength to fight. One in particular, at this particular time of year, has just cut a little too closely. And I have to pull away.

As many of you know, I am Catholic. I have never hidden my faith, nor would I, although I know that to many of you who are working for adoption reform, we are the enemy. It has recently become more personal - not as in a personal attack, but in a personal reaction to the things I read and see.

I don't believe I wear blinders when it comes to the actions of my Church. I neither condone nor defend the actions of the heartless nuns and social workers who have taken and may today still take children from young women in the name of “morality.” I am disgusted by the actions of the clergy who have abused children and found protection from the Church hierarchy. They are, however, a part of my Church, not the entire community. Ferreting them out and changing the Church from within is as valid a way to fight them as is leaving.

I respect every person whose conscience has told them they cannot remain Catholic, and truth be told I’ve considered it myself. But I've made the decision to stay and reclaim my Church from those who harm it. The only way I know to do that is by example - by acting and speaking the way I want my Church's leaders to act and speak. When the subject is adoption, my message is clear: That adoption must be practiced lawfully and justly, not as an act of charity, and that false morality is no reason to separate a mother from her child.

I apologize to all who see this break as "cutting and running." Maybe it is, I don't know. I am absolutely not asking anyone to change their point of view or hold back their opinions about the Catholic Church. I'm simply struggling with seeing symbols of my faith held up to ridicule in a way I could never do to another's. I'm struggling with how hated we Catholics seem to be in some circles of the adoption community. I need to pull away a bit and think about whether I'm in the right place, as it doesn't feel right at the moment.

This all said, it’s time to focus elsewhere for awhile. Have a wonderful holiday, everyone, and happy new year!

December 14, 2007

For shame

This story is beyond appalling: Outcry as Dutch diplomat disposes of adopted 7-year old

Quoting from the article,
According to the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post, the diplomatic couple handed the child over to Child Protection Officers in Hong Kong because she had difficulty adapting to family life in the Dutch style.
"Difficulty adapting to family life in the Dutch style?" I hope that this is untrue, because if it is, it says a million things that are wrong about intercountry adoption - and if a diplomat is able to do such a thing, it tells me that those with the power to put it right are woefully out of touch with reality.

My heart goes out to this little girl. Although she has Korean citizenship, because her diplomat a-parents failed to gain Dutch citizenship for her, she speaks no Korean. I don't know what the best course of action will be for her, but I pray she finds better protectors than she found in her adoptive family.

December 9, 2007

Listen to the voices

... of the adoptees ...

Read Craig Hickman's letter to the Wisconsin bureaucracy that responded to his request for his birth records. It is brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Many thanks to Marley for posting it. And if you don't have Craig Hickman's blog bookmarked, do.

... and the mothers ...

THE ADOPTION SHOW: Voices Ending the Myth

Sunday December 9, 2007 9:00 PM EST

Origins-USA Study
Mothers' Voices: Surrender Experiences and Long-Term Effects

Guest Speaker: Bernadette Wright

Bernadette Wright is a mother who lost her only child, a son who she named Sebastian, to a grey market baby broker in 1990, when she was 19. She has not seen or known anything about her son since he was taken from the hospital at two days old. Bernadette is passionate about working to prevent other families from being unnecessarily separated. She is the President of Origins-USA, a national organization devoted to promoting family preservation and advocating for people separated by adoption. Bernadette holds a PhD. in Public Policy and works professionally at a consulting firm, providing research on how to improve the system for people with disabilities who need supportive services. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia with her partner Don and her cat Veronica.

December 8, 2007

Open Mike: Should women be forced to parent?

The Stephanie Bennett update I put up a couple of days ago elicited an anonymous comment from someone who appears to be close to the situation. It was a perfectly respectful comment, and raised some issues on the other side of this situation that made me think a bit.

Before I put this question out there, understand that I still believe the actions by Stephanie's school, the adoption agency in question, and the prospective adoptive parents were inappropriate and unethical. No matter the story behind the story, these behaviors were wrong - Dawn has a really good post up about the intersection of adoption ethics and women's decisions that explains it ten times better than I can.

This subject has actually been turning in my mind for some time. Much of the discussion of adoption reform is polarized, focusing on "all or nothing" extremes that, if implemented, have the potential for creating far larger problems than we're experiencing in adoption today. In my opinion, if adoption policies started with the assumption that a woman wants to parent, but provided alternatives for those who do not, we'd preserve a lot more families.

This is a two-parter, feel free to respond to one part or both. Remember, all comments are welcome, anonymous comments, too - just be nice!

Do you believe a woman should be forced to parent?
Why or why not?

How can we ensure that a woman's decision is respected when family, friends, counselors and community push her in a different direction?

December 7, 2007

Don't Misses 12-7-07

Let me start with this: I love LisaV's blog!

And I loved this post about the charming "lucky" comment our kids get to field all the time. Lisa wrote it in response to some comments on Hollee McGinnis' post Blood Ties and Acts of Love on the NYT Relative Choices blog recently. It nailed the topic and made me laugh to boot. Like all of Lisa's posts.

Land of the Not-so-Calm

I found another new blog through those same comments - Land of the Not-So-Calm by Sang-Shil. Sang-Shil was one of the adoptees the NYT censored following Tama Janowitz's post. The comments she left in response to Hollee's article offer some really good advice to transnational and transracial adoptive parents.
While I would never actually say anything in real life, every time I see a family with transracially adopted children I have the urge to ask the parents questions more like these:
  1. What kinds of research and how much effort did you put in to ensure that your children’s relinquishment and your adoption of them was done ethically?

  2. How are you working to integrate your children’s culture into your entire family’s life?

  3. Are you making sure that your children see faces that look like theirs in the community around them, including peers their age and adults that can serve as role models?

  4. How will/do you teach them about racism and model responses to racist incidents and inquiries–and with regard to all races, not just your children’s?

For the Records: Restoring a Right to Adult Adoptees

If you haven't read the Evan B. Donaldson study on adoptee rights yet, be sure to do so. It's been in the news a lot recently - a couple of links follow to article from the past couple of weeks. If you didn't hear the NPR Talk of the Nation show featuring Adam Pertman of Evan B. Donaldson and Tom Atwood of NCFA, be sure to catch the replay.
And hey - I'm going to be on The Adoption Show in a couple of weeks, along with Marsha Roberts of Informed Adoption Advocates. We did the interview yesterday, it was great fun but I was a nervous wreck. I'll post the date when I know it.

December 6, 2007

Latest news on Stephanie Bennett

With many thanks to Possum, who found the info at Amy's, here's an update on the Stephanie Bennett case. (Edited to add: And a thank-you to Dawn, who pointed out that the agency is actually A Child's Waiting.) If you're not familiar with the case, here's a list of "Stephanie Bennett blog blitz" posts to catch you up.

I found myself thinking a lot about how the couple trying to adopt Baby Evelyn could hide her when it was so clear that Stephanie did not want to proceed with an adoption. Interesting that Suz posted yesterday on this very subject. I think it's pretty clear that as long as the mainstream views adoption as the right of the infertile, we're going to see the Stephanie Bennett story repeated.

I quote from Amy below:

Do you remember this case? It involved a seventeen year old girl, Stephanie Bennett. She was molested by a family friend. She got pregnant as a result. She had a daughter named Evelyn. She went to her high school counselor's office to get advice on a schedule change. She ended up discussing adoption with him. He presents her with an adoption agency pamphlit. The next day an adoption recruiter was at his office. This recruiter advised this girl to run away from home. This young girl was terrified. The father in her case had been threatening her, Evelyn, and her family. He had threatened to kill them all. They suggested that she tell the court that she was being abused by her parents. The agency is A Child's Hope. They are known for causing adoption disruptions. These folks are in it for the money. They don't care about adoptees, natural parents, or adoptive parents. Yes even adoptive parents have filed complaints against this agency. This agency was under investigation. At this time there is no word on that. There was rumors that this agency was going to be shut down. There was rumors that people were going to jail. Nothing has happened. There is talk of adoption agencies being forced to tighten up their homestudies.

Stephanie's family went to court on December 4, 2007. The judges in this court appearance blasted the adoption agency and their attorneys. A decision could take 60-90 days. Stephanie has yet to have her day in court. The court system has yet to decide which court will hear her case. As time ticks further along, the harder it becomes to get her daughter back. You can reference these blogs as points of contact

I also know several adoptive parents who have written on her behalf as well.

Possum added a reminder to sign the petition to bring Baby Evelyn home!! There are over 700 signatures toward the goal of 1000, so if you haven't signed yet, do it now!