August 31, 2008

The last hurrah of summer

I hope everyone's having a wonderful Labor Day weekend.

I've been on a cleaning binge these past couple of weekends, which may not seem like much of a vacation, but to someone whose life is spent tied to a PC feels wonderful. Last weekend Third Dad and I did a pretty complete job of basic housecleaning, plus I waded through the mess that The Boy left behind and straightened up his room. Amazing what I found in there - kitchen gear I've been missing for months, not one but two copies of his voter registration card (which he swore was lost), and lots more.

This weekend has been all about yard and paper. Yesterday I went through more paper than I care to tell you about and got rid of a bin full. It's exhiliarating to look where piles of stuff used to be and see - nothing! I also did some shopping and stocked up on photo albums. I'm years behind printing photos and getting them into albums. As much as I like digital, I find I don't have the discipline I had with film. You had the little canister to remind you to drop it off, but I just add more and more photos to the queue and never remember to upload them to print. I gotta find a better way to do that.

Today Third Dad and I attacked our seriously overgrown backyard and pulled out about a dozen lawn bags worth of weeds and debris. We have a lot of trees and some ivy that I HATE and am slowly removing. We got one side of the yard done last year and are working on the other. The problem is that our neighbors on two sides have their own ivy patchs that encroach, so even though we've pulled most of ours up, it keeps visiting. Third Dad is as allergic it plain old ivy as the rest of us are to poison ivy, so guess who gets to do this lovely job? Speaking of poison ivy, I found three little patches of it and pulled them up, too. We are having a terrible time with it in the DC area this year. So far no itching, so I think I succeeded without infecting myself, but my gloves are going in the bin.

Lest you think the weekend was all about work, I went to the pool for a swim after working up a sweat in the yard. Because it's been cool here (in spite of the heat today), the water was pretty cold, but boy did it feel good after I got used to it!

One more day and The Girl starts her senior year. One of my friends emailed the other day and mentioned that I'm the last of our group with a child at home. It's almost impossible to believe. Susan wrote a lovely story about what these feelings are like - you must read it, it's at Literary Mama.

I warn you: be prepared for lots of soppiness this year. Hiding emotion isn't my strong suit.

What are you doing this weekend? What does the start of the school year look like for you? I really would like to know!

August 29, 2008

I have an adoption dream

I’m an epic junkie. I was just able to get over the end of the Olympics because the Democratic convention gave me another spectacle to watch. There’s no secret, I think, that this is my party, so you won’t be surprised when I say that Barack Obama’s acceptance of the nomination brought me to applause, cheers and chills, and to my feet, even though I was watching alone at home.

No matter your views or politics or this man, you must agree that last night was a historic moment. I was just old enough to understand the significance of Martin Luther King’s speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. It was the first in the string of civil and international ‘60s events that shaped my attitudes toward race and politics. Barack Obama’s nomination presence and role in this convention says to me that Dr. King’s dream, which I’ve watched wither and nearly die during the last two presidential terms, is both alive and shared. Whether it’s just the glow of the aftermath of this rekindling of my ideals or a real sign that I’m not as alone in my point of view as I’ve been feeling these past years, I feel hope again for that dream. Hope.

There was, and undoubtedly will be next week in the Twin Cities, a lot of talk this week about bringing America’s dream to everyone, regardless of race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. I want to see the issues we talk about here – stopping coercive adoption practices and opening adoptee birth records – elevated to this level, human rights. But the community experiencing these inequities is fragmented. Individuals and organizations, where they exist, vie to be the mouthpiece of this movement that doesn’t exist, or exists in bits and pieces, scattered across the country.

Which is exactly the kind of fragmentation that every other movement to end oppression has experienced. Oppression, after all, culls its victims from the mainstream, and separates them from others with laws and customs that apply to them alone. They are denied access to the rights the mainstream takes for granted – to the podium, even, to speak the truth. Without the truth to get in their way, those in power make up their own, and embed it in the national consciousness.

It takes a strong, true message to bring about change, even when the inequity and injustice are clear. It takes a rallying cry. In my opinion, we don’t have that yet in the adoption community. We talk about what we all know is wrong, like the separation of families and the closure of birth records, but we haven’t figured out how to talk about them in ways that make the average person get it. That person may see adoption as a laudable charitable act that deserves special treatment under the law to protect the privacy of women, or as a way to improve the lives of poor children. In my opinion, we need a message that makes it crystal clear to these same people that laws that separate people from their genetic background and connections are unjust. When they get that truth, the details will fall into place.

Think of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits discrimination based on disability and is founded in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although today it seems completely obvious that people with disabilities should have equal rights and protection under the law, but that clearly hasn’t been the case, nor was it the case that the groups working independently on this issue were on the same path. Wikipedia’s entry on the ADA says this:

The ADA is notable because many disparate groups came together for a common purpose.
It could happen in adoption, too, but we need that message. The speeches of the last four nights gave the context, I think. We need to find the words that raise a person’s right to know their genetic identity and connections, regardless of current family status, to the same level as race, national origin, and the other characteristics to which we give particular attention in our legal code.

Of course, finding such a rallying cry has been and probably will be a problem for some time. But with the potential of a new administration on the horizon that just might open its eyes to adoption’s inequities, we in the adoption community need to put our heads together to find the words. We need to come together in spite of our differences in forums that focus on the injustices of adoption, and use our collective contacts to bring the message to the media and the Hill.

Honestly, last night watching Barack Obama speak, I honestly saw the possibility take shape. For the first time in a long time, I feel hopeful.

August 26, 2008

Don't Misses 8-26-08: Help save KoreAm & more

Apologies for how old these articles are, I just found them in my drafts. They're good, though, so I'm passing them along.

Great story! Professional gamer reunites with mom

From LisaV, a beautiful post: Conversations that never happened

Also, an important PSA!

KoreAm Journal, a staple in many Korean American and adoptive families, needs your support. Please subscribe or renew your subscription, and visit the KoreAm blog to leave a message of support. An open letter from the staff of KoreAm follows.
Hello readers and friends.

You may have stumbled here after reading our Open Letter in the August issue of KoreAm Journal or perhaps after visiting our official website. Regardless of how you found us, we’re happy you’re here.

Now please let us explain why we’re here.

KoreAm Journal has been around for 18 years. Yes, we’re old — or as we like to think of it, old school — though our passion has always been sharing the news, stories and issues of the Korean American community in the freshest of ways. In recent months, we’ve explored everything from international adoption in South Korea to same-sex marriage to Yul Kwon’s love life — you know, the important stuff. We serve as an exciting hub for Korean American voices and showcase the faces you won’t find in mainstream magazines. With limited resources, we’re doing it all.

And we’re not done yet.

But times are tough in the world of ethnic media. In order for KoreAm to continue to survive and thrive, we need your help. That’s why we’re launching this three-month Save KoreAm campaign. Please browse this website for ways to support this pioneering magazine and spread the word about our cause.

And if you have any questions, ideas or if you simply wish to share what KoreAm means to you, please comment here or contact us. We want hear from you.

August 25, 2008

Adopted: a view of the movie

One of the high points of this year’s KAAN conference was a showing of the file Adopted. Adopted’s website says this about the film:

Adopted reveals the grit rather than the glamour of transracial adoption. First-time director Barb Lee goes deep into the intimate lives of two well-meaning families and shows us the subtle challenges they face. One family is just beginning the process of adopting a baby from China and is filled with hope and possibility. The other family’s adopted Korean daughter is now 32 years old. Prompted by her adoptive mother’s terminal illness, she tries to create the bond they never had. The results are riveting, unpredictable and telling. While the two families are at opposite ends of the journey, their stories converge to show us that love isn’t always enough.
Ms. Lee, with Co-Producer Nancy Kim Parsons and others, weaves the stories of two families, the west coast Feros and east coast Trainers, and into a moving portrayal of adoption's paradox. The stories could be those of a single family working its way through the challenges that come at different points along the way. I saw my pre-adoption self in the Trainers, who were in the early stages of the adoption process. We watch them experience their homestudy, the acceptance of a little girl from China, travel to China to meet and return with their daughter, and the first few months of their lives back in the States. Their joy brought back a lot of beautiful memories from my children’s arrivals and first years with us. But when adoptive mom Jacqueline Trainer comments not long after their return that daughter Roma did all her grieving on the plane, I winced. I remember thinking similar thoughts when my children first arrived, back when love could conquer all.

Jennifer Fero’s struggle for recognition and self-defined identity is nothing short of heroic. Her family is extremely close, and at during filming was preparing for the death of Jennifer’s adoptive mother, Judy, from cancer. In one poignant scene, Jennifer explains how important it is to her for Judy to validate her Korean family. Judy responds that she wants Jennifer all to herself. The scene ends with mother and daughter visibly distraught, and with viewers sharing the hopelessness conveyed by their pain.

Similar moments throughout the movie brought me back in time or propelled me into the future. The Trainers are my past – hopeful, joyful, full of love for the child they now call their own. Jennifer, however, turns my eyes to the future. Her story is a cautionary tale that reminds me how deeply we are defined by our genetic and ethnic heritage. When deprived of them, we cannot thrive.

More about adoption and the film on the Adopted blog.

August 22, 2008

New book: Once They Hear My Name

My friend Marilyn Lammert and her colleagues have a new book out. DC area residents are invited to a book party with the authot-editors on September 14th. If any DC bloggers go, please let me know so we can meet.

Once They Hear My Name:
Korean Adoptees and Their Journeys Toward Identity

Meet editors Ellen Lee, Marilyn Lammert and Mary Anne Hess and hear passages read by the book's subjects.

Date & time: September 14, 2008 2-5 p.m.
Location: Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church, Geneva Hall, One Chevy Chase Circle, NW, Washington, DC 20015
Entrance on Patterson Street off Chevy Chase Circle

RSVP pakm@aol.com

Once They Hear My Name promises to be a major step forward in our collective understanding of the cultural hurdles international adoptees tackle every day. This is an important topic, explored in few - if any - other books. In their own words, the nine Korean adoptees of Once They Hear My Name talk about how they became the adults they are today: Americans with new ties to a homeland they never knew while growing up in middle-class American homes. The nine contributors speak candidly about acceptance and rejection, about life struggles and successes, about experiences unique to each yet connected by common threads. At their core these stories chronicle adoptees' ongoing, and often difficult, quests to discover who they are. Growing up, they initially viewed themselves as typical American kids at home with baseball, pizza, playing with dolls and the rest. But often their peers - and sometimes members of their own families - saw them as strangers, good targets for ugly stereotypes. Many of the nine adoptees chronicle their trips as adults back to Korea to find their roots and, in some cases, their birth families. These journeys yield mixed emotional results. The narratives illustrate the wide variety of ways all adoptive parents and adoptees, not just those from Korea, wrestle with identity issues. Hearing and learning from these voices may smooth the path for the growing number of families being formed today through international and trans-racial adoption.

About the authors

Marilyn Lammert is a psychotherapist and healer in private practice and a former university professor. She has taught at Washington University, the University of Maryland, and the Catholic University of America. She and her husband, Paul Carlson, adopted their son, Adam, from Korea in 1983. Adam is one of the book's nine contributors.

Ellen Lee is a licensed clinical social worker. Korean-born, Ms. Lee came to the U.S. with her family at the age of 10. Her interest in Korean adoptees began when she met Marilyn Lammert and her adopted son, Adam, and became involved in their search for Adam's birth family in Korea. Though not adopted, Ms. Lee can relate to the adoptees' sense of disconnect from their birth country, loss of language, culture and identity confusion.

Mary Anne Hess is an award-winning freelance writer and editor. During her 35 years of professional experience, she has specialized in education and family issues. Her work has appeared in newspapers and education and parenting publications across the United States.

Once They Hear My Name has been picked by Independent Publishers Group for inclusion in its Small Press Selection fall 2008 catalog.

Publisher: Tamarisk Books, P.O., Box 3006, Silver Spring, MD 20918
Contact: Dan Freedman, 240-461-5405, tamariskbooks@aol.com

August 21, 2008

Urgent: Help LiNK's Liberty House win $1.5M

Cross-posting from the LiNK blog - share far and wide.

LiNK's Liberty House project has an opportunity to win a share of $2.5M from the Members Project at American Express Members. LiNK (Liberty in North Korea) needs your vote to make this happen - and they have only nine days to do it starting yesterday. Don't think about it, don't plan to do it - please take a moment and vote now! LiNK's message follows.
Friends,

LiNK has the potential to win $1.5 million but we can’t do it without your vote! It will take YOU 5 minutes at the most and we only have 9 days to get 2000 votes! If we are among the top 25 projects with the most votes, we will then be taken to a panel for them to decide who deserves the money! Our story is compelling, but they won’t look at it unless you tell them to! 100% of the money is guaranteed to go towards refugee resettlement…that’s a lot of refugees we can help! So, below is how to nominate our project!

1) Go to the following link: http://www.membersproject.com/home/index.html

Edited by me to add: You can go directly to Liberty House with this link. You'll still need to log in as a member or guest.

2) You have to log-in to nominate our project. So go to the top right corner of the page and click “log-in.”

3) If you are a card-member of American Express, enter your online ID and password. You will then be prompt to enter your e-mail and password (you may have to create this).

4) If you are not a card-member, click on “guest sign up” located on the third column. Fill out the information and log-in!

5) You are almost done! There are over 1,200 projects to vote for…so, enter “liberty house” in the search field and our project will come up as “Liberty House-Assistance for North Korean refugees.” Click on it and then it will take you to our page where you will see a “nominate this project” button. Once you click on that button, we will receive your vote!

Edited by me to add: You can go directly to Liberty House with this link.

6) Lastly, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the “facebook” or “myspace” icon so that you can post it to your profile.

Remember we only have 9 days so don’t put this off. Your vote can be a catalyst to help hundreds of North Korean refugees!

Thanks for your time and vote!

Peace,

LiNK

August 20, 2008

More thoughts on the Spanish photo incident

... over at ARP. My gut reaction and subsequent reflection led me to more questions than answers. I want to hear your thoughts, so please go over and add them.

To lighten the day a bit, let me share this. I just saw these ladies perform on an Olympic show - they rocked the house!


August 18, 2008

From Nigeria with love

Someone in Nigeria found this blog from the following search:

what can i do so to be a lovly mother to my child?

Doesn't it make you smile to picture a woman at her computer googling these words? I LOVE it!

Should whoever entered that search ever read here again, I sincerely hope you find the answer to your question. Something tells me you don't need to look any further than your own heart.

August 17, 2008

Remind me to take that visit to Madrid ...

... off my list of things to do before I die.

Really, I have no words. Well, I do have one: RACISM

More here.

Write your legislators - this will help

It's my humble opinion that any effort to open records, stop adoptee deportations, or correct any adoption injustice should be brought to Federal legislators. What better group of legislators to bring adoption issues to than the members of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption?

Well, with many, many thanks to the bundle of energy we know as Theresa, we now have a tool to make that easier: here are the CCA Members in spreadsheet format in Googledocs. Downloadable, searchable, sortable, mail mergeable. Go get your copy now - and if you have trouble with the link, let Theresa or me know.

Whatever the issue, whatever the injustice, this group of legislators should know about it. It is time.

August 16, 2008

Richard Boas speaks in support of Korean mothers

A couple of years ago I met Rick Boas at the KAAN Conference in Boston. Rick is a physician and the adoptive father of a daughter from Korea. He attended the session Claudia and I did that year, which we called Universal Motherhood, Universal Loss (in which Claudia rocked, by the way). In conversation after the session, Rick shared that he had had a revelation on a trip to Korea some years ago. Edited, with thanks to Rick for the additional information, to add: On a visit to a Korean agency-sponsored home for unmarried mothers, the fact that many mothers were surrendering their children for reasons of poverty, hit him hard. Korea, after all, is the 13th largest economy in the world. That trip was on behalf of a foundation he had founded to assist adoptive families. It opened his eyes, and his focus changed from adoptive families to mothers and children.

Rick began digging, researching, and communicating, and ultimately founded the Korean Unwed Mother's Support Network, which seeks to bring people and organizations together in support of single Korean mothers and ethical adoption. Since starting this effort, Rick has worked tirelessly to raise awareness, and to encourage Koreans and Americans alike to provide support.

His work led him to Ellen Fornari and Give2Asia, which was founded by the Asia Foundation to promote philanthropy to Asia. Give2Asia supported Rick's initiative, and has also hosted the Korean Unwed Mothers Campaign fund in support of a group of Korean women's and single parents' intitiatives.

I heard Rick and Ellen speak at KAAN in Chicago this summer, and was both touched and heartened that they're doing this work. It takes them to Korea often; he is there for the fifth (not fourth as I said earlier) time in two years this week, and on August 14th spoke at the Korean Women's Development Institute. TRACK has posted a video and transcript of his speech here. Every adoptive parent of a Korean child must watch.

Rick, you have given those of us who have paid lip service to our support for Korean mothers a bar to reach. You have put your actions into words, and in doing that are helping us to do the same. Thank you.

August 15, 2008

The dream mothers

If you started reading here when I began blogging in early 2006, you may be wondering where the posts about mothers have gone.

I’ve been wondering, too.

Mothers dominated my early posts, and for a reason: writing about and for and to my children’s mothers was what brought me here in the first place. Those posts also held a lot of hope: for my kids to find their families, for me to meet them, for healing of the losses. It was – still is, really – a yearning, a desire I can’t control for relationships that may never be, or may only come with even more pain and struggle.

The first people that found me here were mothers who lost their children to adoption. In honesty, I never expected that. I was drawn to these women's stories, sought their friendship, and found it in many of them. They made the experience of adoption from a mother’s point of view real – so real in fact that I see now that my first posts about mothers came from a place that may not really exist. In that place, there is forgiveness all around, tears are shed and dried, and a new life begins in an expanded family. Problems exist there, but there are solutions for every one. The story has a happy ending.

Reality is different, I know that now. Reality is that it’s really none of my business if my children choose to search or not, or have a relationship with their families if they do. Reality is that my children’s mothers may hate me now and always for the fact that I raised the children they brought into the world. Reality, too, is that they may not care - that in spite of my dream that they dream of us, they may have shut us from their minds.

If that’s the case, there’s really no need for me to be here. I said what I came to say, learned it was off base, and am adjusting to the new reality.

But why is the yearning still here? Why won't these women leave my head? They’re in there with me wherever I go, the phantoms who never leave my side. With every one of my children's milestones, every accomplishment, even the smallest of events, I see them. They will not go away, even though my new reality says they shouldn’t even be there.

I don’t know what to say to them anymore. Respect falls flat. A welcome into our lives comes too late. Love? How can I profess love for someone I've hurt and never met and probably never will? How can I pretend to care about someone when I’m not really doing anything except talking about their problems?

My eyes close and I let my mind drift to these women. What do I see? A woman approaching 40, married with a family, working, doing what millions of women in Korean cities do every day. Another just ten years younger than me, with children who themselves may have children, living a hard-scrabble life in a Korean town. I see women like all women, dealing with what life has dealt them, going day by day.

Maybe reaching out to them is less a matter of talking, and more a matter of showing them, through my actions, that I see what brought them to adoption, and I’m doing what I can to change that. Yes, words are part of it, but actions will speak louder. I need to do something, not just talk about it.

Still, in the furthest corners of my heart, where no one else enters unless I allow them, these women are at home. If someday we meet, I won't talk talk to them about activism or solidarity. I'll listen to them and hear their experiences. I'll share everything I can about their children. If we meet, my head won't do any talking, my heart will.

Our conflicting emotions have bound us together in this dream-like way, and nothing I may do or say or write will change the fact that the dream will be with me until the day I die.

Do you dream about your children still? Do you dream about their lives in my family?

If you do, know that I’m dreaming, too.

August 13, 2008

Adoptee deportation and citizenship

Imagine this:

You're a young man or woman who has grown up in an American family, the only one you've ever known. Your only language is English. You go to school or work, have friends, a spouse, maybe children. Everything you know is here. For whatever reason, you commit a crime, go to court, and are convicted. You think you will serve your prison time, as everyone must, but in the course of your trial and sentencing, you learn something shocking: you're not a U.S. citizen. And under current law, you will only be in jail temporarily, while you await your deportation.

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 was passed to ensure that scenarios like this one don't occur. Under this law, transnational adoptees are automatically granted U.S. citizenship when their adoptions are finalized. However, dates and ages bound the law’s reach; consequently, citizenship was not made retroactive for many adoptees who didn’t meet its requirements at the time it was passed. Its requirements are that the individual must:

  • Have at least one American citizen parent by birth or naturalization
  • Be under 18 years of age
  • Live in the legal and physical custody of the American citizen parent
  • Be admitted as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence
  • If adopted, the adoption must be full and final
The effective date of the Child Citizenship Act is February 27, 2001. Children who met these requirements on that date automatically became American citizens. Children who were 18 years of age or older on that date did not acquire American citizenship from the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

These constraints, along with the failure of adoptive parents to complete the critical step of naturalization, places no small number of adoptees at risk, although they may not even know it. This has led to tragic deportations, and in at least one known case, that of Joao Herbert, death (thank you, Theresa, for posting that link.) Responsibility lies first and foremost in the hands of adoptive parents who failed and continue to fail to follow through on their commitment to their children, which includes completing the naturalization process. Overarching responsibility lies with legislators, many of whom who use their support for adoption to gain votes, but fail adoptees by letting this loophole stand.

Although my children both have U.S. citizenship, which my husband and I obtained on their behalf when they were very young, I cannot claim exception to responsibility. When the Child Citizenship Act was passed in 2000, I and my fellow adoptive parents knew that this gap existed, as did the legislators who worked for its passage. When Joao Herbert’s case reached the news some time after the law was passed, I made a feeble attempt to find out what could be done to make it retroactive, but the word back from the Hill staffer I talked to was it simply wasn’t going to happen in the wake of 9/11. And that’s where I left it.

Discussion on a listserv I belong to brought the issue back to mind. I made a contact with a new Washington-based adoption advocacy group, Equality for Adopted Children, and learned the following:

EACH is currently involved in developing some amendments to the Child
Citizenship Act (CCA) and we are working to have the new bill introduced in
September. One of the provisions of the bill specifically deals with adult
adoptees who were not able to benefit from the automatic citizenship provisions
of the CCA and whose adoptive parents failed to naturalize them so they do not
currently have American citizenship. Among other things, the new bill has
provisions to rectify this situation. It is definitely an inequity that EACH is
working to correct.
As is the case with any legislation, we need to understand exactly how it proposes to do this. It can’t bring back Joao Herbert – but will it overturn the deportations and pending deportation orders for adoptees who have already fallen into the gap? Until that happens, the job won’t be done. We adoptive parents have a moral obligation to raise our voices until it is.

Those of us whose children were born in Korea should also be adding our voices to the initiative underway in Korea to allow dual citizenship for adoptees. Global Overseas Adoptees’ Link, or G.O.A.'L, is leading that effort. They are working to raise awareness of the right of Korean adoptees to maintain their Korean citizenship, and assisting in resolution of logistical and legal issues such as military service requirements. Please take the time to read the documents about dual citizenship on the G.O.A.’L website, fill out and submit the survey, and spread the word.

There are so many inequities that face adoptees in the U.S. and other countries, it’s hard to know where and how to fight them. I think sometimes that people become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of it, and become paralyzed. But when I saw the topic on this listserv, I realized that six years have gone by since I made my inquiries into correcting this – six years in which I’ve done nothing! In that time ever more adoptees have fallen victim to this loophole, and at least one is dead.

I’m ashamed that I let these six years go by. I will not allow that to happen again.

August 10, 2008

Clarifying the term "orphan"

The term orphan is one that is used to designate children who have lost one or both parents. Confusion from this usage is has led to misunderstanding of the needs of children who have been identitied as orphans. UNICEF has issued a statement that raises awareness of the confusion and calls for its clarification.
UNICEF and global partners define an orphan as a child who has lost one or both parents. By this definition there were over 132 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean in 2005. This large figure represents not only children who have lost both parents, but also those who have lost a father but have a surviving mother or have lost their mother but have a surviving father.

Of the more than 132 million children classified as orphans, only 13 million have lost both parents. Evidence clearly shows that the vast majority of orphans are living with a surviving parent grandparent, or other family member. 95% of all orphans are over the age of 5.

This definition contrasts with concepts of orphan in many industrialized countries, where a child must have lost both parents to qualify as an orphan. UNICEF and numerous international organizations adopted the broader definition of orphan in the mid-1990s as the AIDS pandemic began leading to the death of millions of parents worldwide, leaving an ever increasing number of children growing up without one or more parents. So the terminology of a ‘single orphan’ – the loss of one parent – and a ‘double orphan’ – the loss of both parents – was born to convey this growing crisis.

However, this difference in terminology can have concrete implications for policies and programming for children. For example, UNICEF’s ‘orphan’ statistic might be interpreted to mean that globally there are 132 million children in need of a new family, shelter, or care. This misunderstanding may then lead to responses that focus on providing care for individual children rather than supporting the families and communities that care for orphans and are in need of support.

There is growing consensus on the need to revisit the use of the term ‘orphan’ and how it is applied to help overcome this confusion.
Many thanks to Ethica for sending out the link.

August 8, 2008

Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea

Many thanks to Living in Color for posting information about a new initiative: Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea.

It was heartening to read TRACK's introduction and see so many of the things that we talk about here online pulled into a cohesive approach to identifying past and current Korean adoption practices that violate the rights of adoptees and their families, Korean and adoptive. I mean, it doesn't get much clearer than this (Edited 3-2-09 to note that the original post no longer exists at the new TRACK website):
8 Common Irregularities in Adoption from Korea

1. Unclear relinquishment - parent did not relinquish under real name, a person other than the parent relinquished, only one parent relinquished, the child was relinquished for domestic but NOT international adoption, or the signature on the relinquishment form appears to be forged.

2. Kidnappings within the family, particularly by paternal relative and grandmother.

3. Misrepresentation of child to adoptive parents and Western adoption agency (such as age, social history, medical history, marital status of mother).

4. Contradictions in the adoption file of the same child. Contradictions may be found going from Korean-language record to Korean-language record (from police to orphanage to agency, or intra-agency), or going from Korean-language record to English-language record (or other Western language).

5. Kidnapping by orphanage - the Korean parent came looking and they were told that the child was not there, or had died.

6. Hojuk forgery - an orphan hojuk made to replace the child's real hojuk. The fake orphan hojuk was used for adoption.

7. Citizenship forgery - the child was recorded as having been sent to a different adoptive country than they really were, and were recorded as having gained the citizenship of the wrong country.

8. Identity forgery - the child was switched for another child who was not able to be sent at the time the adoption was scheduled.
These things happened, and still happen. Thank you, TRACK, for shedding light on them in a way that the world won't be able to ignore.

August 6, 2008

Thoughts for my friends

Updated around noon with information from Judy's sister: Judy is out of surgery and it went extremely well. Although pathology reports are needed to confirm the results, they look very good indeed. Wonderful, wonderful news!!!

Send Judy your love and prayers, because today's surgery day. You've got blogland in your corner, Judy, and we're all pulling for a successful surgery, a quick recovery, and 100% total healing.

A link to the video of Julia's memorial service at Koroot in Seoul can be found here and here. It is a lovely tribute, and oh it made me cry, particularly the photos of Julia with Yael Naim singing in the background.

August 5, 2008

August 4, 2008

Adoptee Rights Kudos

Read Gershom's account of the July 22 - 23 Adoptee Rights Demonstration protest in New Orleans here. Excellent job!!

The New Orleans Times-Picayune picked up the story, too. Although I was disappointed to see that the NCFA managed to worm in a quote, I was heartened to see that it came very close to the end of the article, after several quotes by adoptees, including Michelle Edmunds.

As always, the NCFA fell back on "guarantees of birthmother confidentiality" as a compelling reason to keep records closed. However, the act of relinquishment doesn't guarantee confidentiality to any woman; a child relinquished but never adopted (for example, raised in foster care) will have access to his or her original birth records upon reaching the age of majority. It's only adoptees who are singled out as a risk to their mother's privacy, for which they are punished with the loss of their identities.

This argument becomes even more obnoxious when viewed from the point of view of surrendering mothers. The majority receive no promises of any kind whatsoever - save, perhaps, false promises of open adoption that can be easily rescinded since they have no legal guarantees.

This argument makes no logical or legal sense, yet the NCFA pulls it out at every possible turn. It baffles me that so many legislators still buy it, even when it is thoroughly debunked.

But they do. And so the work continues.

Although this post is focused on the Adoptee Rights Demonstration, please don't forget that organizations like Bastard Nation carry on the work of adoptee rights every single day. If you're not reading BN Executive Director Marley Greiner's blogs The Daily Bastardette and the Adoptee Rights News Blog, you should be.

August 2, 2008

Don't Misses 8-3-08: Annette Baran & Nancy Verrier

With thanks to Mirah, I pass on a link to a set of interviews with Annette Baran, co-author with Arthur Sorosky and Reuben Pannor of The Adoption Triangle. This is a tremendous amount of wisdom in this multi-part interview, all delivered in the kind of plain English that sweeps mainstream misconceptions about adoption clean away.

Watching parts 2 through 5 brought me to a set of interviews with Nancy Verrier, author of The Primal Wound. In this interviews she shares how she came to her belief in the primal wound and the effects it has on adopted people throughout their lives.

You must watch them all.