March 31, 2008

Korean reaction to the tragedy

Suz has a post up about the Korean reaction to the Sueppel murders, as reported in Yonhap. Please go read the article and Suz's, post, too.

My own thoughts about this horrible tragedy have been all over the map: anger that Steve Sueppel couldn't find another way to solve his problems, the unmitigated arrogance, insanity even, of thinking he had to take his entire family with him; sympathy and sorrow for the family that grieves him (yes, him, too), his wife and his children; disbelief that such a tragedy can even happen (although it did, right here in my area, this weekend - I woke up to the news that the estranged husband of a local pediatrician killed their three children.) I don't think I will ever forget the image of the six Sueppel caskets lined up in that cemetery. What a loss. And what a living hell life will be for the surviving family members.

Although I believe Steve Sueppel's act had nothing to do with adoption, the fact that the children have parents in Korea connects it to adoption. I know there is no such thing as a "predictive" homestudy, and that any human being, given a particular set of circumstances, is capable of terrible acts. At the end of the day there is probably nothing anyone could have done, save Steve Sueppel himself, to prevent this tragedy.

But that doesn't take adoption out of the picture, far from it. Every one of us who thinks, writes, talks, or works in adoption should be reflecting right now on what we can do to ensure adoption practices are honest and ethical and protect children above all.

Each of those beautiful children who died in Iowa City last week has a mother and father in Korea. Those women and men may not have read this story, which didn't hit the national press with the force I would have expected. And given the Korean agency's policy of not providing proactive updates to mothers and fathers, they may not know what happened to their children for a long time, maybe never.

I don't know how an agency would tell a woman her son or daughter had been murdered by the person to whom she had entrusted him or her. I don't know how that woman would recover from her grief. But I believe they have a right to know, and to support from the agencies to which they turned when pregnant.

My heart goes out to each of them, just as it does to the Sueppel and Kesterson families.

March 30, 2008


This is utterly heartbreaking: Dad Kills Four Korean-Born Children

The article's title doesn't make clear that Steve Sueppel killed his wife first and finally himself as well. There's really nothing adoption-related here, apart from the question of whether or not a homestudy could have caught the potential for this man's actions. It's a pure and simple tragedy.

I simply cannot wrap my head around what must have gone on in that house. What must the thought of it do to a Korean mother who knows her child is in this country?

And I have to say, re this:
Sueppel mentioned in the note the embarrassment and other fallout from criminal charges he faced. A federal grand jury indicted him in February on charges that he stole nearly $560,000 between 2000 and 2007 from the bank.
Something is really out of whack with our U.S. corporate culture when someone can embezzle over half a million dollars and not seem to lose too much sleep over it, but beat his entire family to death when caught.

Just can't wrap my head around it.

3/30/08: Edited to add a link to coverage of the Sueppel funeral. Beyond sad. Yet I have to ask myself, how many tragedies, perhaps not of the same scale, but tragedies all the same, pass me by entirely? This one struck a chord because I saw my son and daughter in the faces of the Sueppel children. How many times does a similar story come onto the news and pass through my consciousness leaving hardly a blip on my radar screen, simply because I don't relate in the same way?

March 11, 2008

Don't Misses 3-11-08

Dawn has a survey up to identify the needs of the open adoption community to direct future development of Open Adoption Support - take the survey here, and spread the word!

Attention readers - I found a wonderful blog today, readingspark. It's the blog of Sarah Park, a Ph.D. candidate in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Sarah holds degrees in history and Asian American studies as well, and has used them to do some amazing projects, including several anthologies of Korean American and Asian American children's literature. readingspark is loaded with reviews and links - enjoy, I know I am!

If you haven't joined the Ethica Newsletter Yahoo Group and the Ethica blog yet, please do. You get your own page, where you can post things you want other like-minded folks to see - really, this blog could be the central meeting place for adoption reform, but to make it work we have to go over and jump in. I'm guilty as charged muself, but will try to do better. Go join both, support Ethica, and start sharing!

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute has released a new report: Adoptive Parent Preparation Project Phase I: Meeting the Mental Health and Development Needs of Adopted Children. If you're in the NYC area, consider supporting EBD by attending the Taste of Spring Benefit on May 14, 2008. Food, wine and fun in NYC to benefit an organization working for adoption reform - sounds good to me!

Start planning now for the Adoptee Rights Demonstration in New Orleans, LA on July 22nd, 2008. Visit the event webpage for details. Consider making a donation to the cause, too - more information here.

And two more anti-racist resources: and - thank you Mollie for that last one!

March 10, 2008

Posting at the new blog

Quick message to let you know that I've been posting a bit on the new blog, Komapseumnida. I'm trying to keep my really personal thoughts a little separate from this blog, which is more issues-focused. I hope you stop by - and please comment, there and here, I'm completely childish when it comes to comments, love them!

Fork in the moral high road

That adoption paralysis I talked about a couple of posts ago? Here's what it's all about.

I have this vision of ethical adoption in my head. It includes simple, logical practices that respect a mother's human and civil rights, ensure that her decision is truly unpressured, and ensure that the adoptee has access to his or her identity and information. Profit is absolutely out of the picture.

My vision actually begins with pregnancy and parenting counseling provided by an agency whose sole mission is to do just that. This includes counseling to help mothers recognize their responsibilities to their children, as much as their own desires and capabilities. If the mother is underage, I see her parents as participants - to learn how to support their daughter and to avoid pressuring her into adoption if she really doesn't want it.

Only if, after the best efforts of such an agency a woman still decides that she cannot or will not parent, will adoption come into the picture. Human and civil rights are the benchmarks in my adoption vision, as opposed to faith-based criteria, which may or may not respect those rights.

Openness would be encouraged, and when agreed upon would be legally binding. Prospective adoptive parents would receive counseling to understand the importance of respect and honesty in their relationship with their child's mother. First parents and prospective adoptive parents both would also be counseled on the importance of genetic identity to their child. Adoptees would grow up knowing who they are from the very beginning of their lives.

My vision is global. With respect for human rights as the benchmark, any country with adoption programs would adhere to the standards. And there would be plenty of money available for post-adoption support if needed.

It seems so simple, so logical. But over and over again, as I find new blogs, I see disturbing arrogance on the part of adoptive parents. Arrogance born of self-described morality. Entitlement. Dismissal and disrespect for first mothers and adoptees (two of whom, Kim and Joy, have shared their thoughts about this recently, in response to a post that demonstrates what I'm talking about). When I or others speak about it on some of these blogs, the reaction is typically to misinterpret (willfully or otherwise), to dismiss, or to outright demean. The result for me is a "why bother" attitude. Yet I know not to underestimate the power of the internet in changing adoption practices would be unwise. Hence, adoption paralysis.

I believe in my adoption vision, and I know I'm not alone. Even if others' visions may look a little different, I know there are many, many people out there - entire organizations even - who believe that honesty and respect for human rights should guide adoption practices, not the principles of one religion or another, and certainly not profit. So if so many people think the same way, why is it so hard to reach the arrogant? Why does their voice remain so loud? And how will the vision ever come to be if they can't be reached?

I see myself at a fork on the moral high road on which many adoptive parents are traveling. And I'm asking myself if it makes any sense to continue the journey with those who just won't see, or to take the fork back to the safety of the like-minded.

I fear if no one is willing to stay the course, things will never change. But honestly, it's like p*ssing in the wind, as Third Dad would say. And I certainly don't like wet socks.

March 7, 2008

I hate hate

I've read this article over and over in complete disbelief. Go read, and come back. Transracial adoptive parents, I'm especially talking to you.

Each time I read it I see a different face in the photo - The Boy's, The Girl's, my friends' children, my neighbors. What Kyle Descher experienced could happen to any of our transracially-adopted kids; refusing to believe this and failing to speak and act puts them at risk and allows these crimes to continue that much longer.

Hate crime certainly isn't an adoption issue per se, but I believe adoptive parents have a particular responsibility to actively speak out and work against it. There are so many ways you can do that in your communities and here online. Start by reading to raise your awareness of the issues - here are a few of the blogs I read to do that:
angry asian man
Anti-Racist Parent
Kimchi Mamas
New Demographic
Rachel's Tavern
Rice Daddies
What else? Talk about racial issues, write about them on your blogs. Although that may be hard for us white adoptive parents, the fact is we owe it to our children to acknowledge the reality of their world. Racially-motivated crimes happen in that world, and no pretending on our part can change that. Acknowledge it, talk and write about it. Let the world know it's an issue that's important to you. (Shameless plug: Be sure to link to Anti-Racist Parent and Racialicious in your blogroll.)

Like John Hughes, the article's author and Kyle Descher's uncle says, I hate hate. So I'm going to do something about it.

Thanks to The Transracial Korean Adoptee Nexus for posting the article.

Missing everyone!

I know I've been absent. Life has simply gotten in the way. Work, taking care of Mom after knee-replacement surgery (she's doing great), The Boy coming home, a conference on North Korean human rights (oh, friends, what is happening there is unimaginable), KAC-DC meeting, a wedding this weekend - ah, all of that in just two weeks. I'm exhausted.

There is so much I want to write, so many things swirling in my head. One thought in particular is largely responsible for a sense of “adoption paralysis” that’s gripped me recently, so I’m working on a post that will attack it, and hopefully wrestle it to the ground.

In the meantime, read the Paula Benoit story and take heart that someone with more political power than you and I probably have is speaking out about open records. I missed the poll and can’t find the results – does anyone know?

And now a plea - I'm unplugged, help plug me back in!! What has been going on? What’s new? What good things have happened? What’s bugging you? What should I read first? What actions need immediate attention? What new blogs are out there?

I miss you all!