September 26, 2008

Don't Misses 9-26-08

GAIPS Board Translations

One of the things that is enormously frustrating about search in transnational adoption is the language barrier. There are boards and registries all over the world on which adoptees and first families post their desires to find each other, like the GAIPS board in Korea, but if you don't know the corresponding language the registry is useless. Jane is doing something about it - take a look at the following posts, in which she translates a number of the messages:
GAIPS board translation #6 - posted today (September 26, 2008)
GAIPS board translation #5 (September 24 2008)
GAIPS board translation of the day (September 23 2008)
GAIPS message board (September 23, 2008)
Koreans searching for adoptees (September 22, 2008)
Many many thanks to Jane for doing this - but one person can't possibly keep up with every entry on every registry. There's got to be a way to utilize pro bono bilingual talent to do this, perhaps through university English programs in Korea and Korean programs here. Be thinking about that, and share your ideas on Jane's blog.

TRACK Update

Back in August I wrote about the new group TRACK (Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea). TRACK's mission, from its website, is
... to establish an independent truth and reconciliation commission to study the program of international adoption from the Republic of Korea. Until the commission has completed a full-scale investigation, TRACK will gather and organize the information necessary to write the history of international adoption from South Korea.
In spite of being quite new, the group has been busy, as this article from TRACK's blog shows. Representatives were interviewed by KBS radio, and also participated in a National Assembly audit. Many thanks to everyone at TRACK who is working to ensure that adoption from Korea is always ethical, and that past injustices are identified and acknowledged.

In case you missed it, TRACK received an excellent write up in the August 27th edition of the Korea Times: Korea Urged to Write New Chapter for Adoption

September 25, 2008

Who's going to AAC?

I am! I'm thrilled that Suz and I learned this week that we will be presenting a workshop together at the AAC conference in Cleveland next April. Our session is entitled Nine Months: Gains and Losses, and it will look at the months preceding the birth and adoption of a child from our different perspectives. Our goal is to show how misinformation and lack of communication during this time lead to decisions with lifelong consequences that we might not otherwise make. I have long wanted to work with Suz, and this topic is one that I know we'll do justice to.

I'll also be doing a workshop on my own called Connecting with Commitment. This one will be on the topic of transracial and transnational adoptive parenting. I'm glad to have the opportunity to share my family's experiences, and also to be able to share with others what Korean Focus has accomplished here in DC and in other cities, too.

The conference, which is sponsored by the American Adoption Congress and local co-sponsor Adoption Network Cleveland, will take place in Cleveland, Ohio (my home town) from April 22nd through April 25th, 2009. Check the AAC regularly for more information, including online registration. And if you're planning on being there, be sure to let me know!

September 24, 2008

Nightmare

I had a nightmare last night. It was absolutely one of THE MOST BIZARRE dreams I've EVER had. Seriously, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm coming unhinged. Dream interpreters: please be gentle.

I was in an office I didn't recognize; it was a strange mix of offices I know from here and our adoption agency in Seoul. Apparently I worked there in some capacity, for it was clear in the dream that I had a purpose for being there. Slick Sally P. (yes, now she's wrecking my sleep) appeared, smiling as always, for a reason that wasn't clear. I learned from others in the office that she was suspected of having poisoned a child. Everyone in the dream was on the lookout to make sure she didn't entice any other kids into her home. She had her sights set on a little boy who was there for some reason, so everyone, including me, was frantically trying to keep him away from her. Although I was doing everything I could to keep them apart, I remember a feeling of tremendous helplessness as she began to befriend the little boy and gain his confidence.

And then suddenly I was outside, at a picnic or gathering of some sort. There were tables all around, people were eating and talking and milling around. Slick Sally, the little boy, and everyone in the office were gone. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an altercation. Two rather hard looking women were trying to pull a younger frightened one into their car. It was clear she was pregnant, also clear that she didn't want to go with them. I started shouting at them and ran over, at which point the two nasty women took off, leaving the younger one behind. I ushered her over to the picnic, where she was warmly welcomed with a standing ovation.

And then I woke up.

What the heck this was all about??

September 14, 2008

The best answer I can give to a valid question

A reader left a valid question on my last post:

... where is the answer to the question regarding the rights of unborn children?

In the current abortion debate, there are really only two answers I'm allowed to give: that they equal or override those of the mother; or that they are always superseded by hers.

It's not that cut and dried to me, not so black and white. In fairness to the questioner, I will try to explain my thoughts, but I ask you to remember that I'm neither theologian nor social scientist. It's by no means completely clear in my own mind. What I say here is only intended to give you a glimpse into my thought process on this complicated and emotional issue.

For me, it comes down to this: The rights of a mother and child are inseparable during pregnancy. I'm as saddened at the angry voices that call women who seek abortions murderers as I am at the defiant voices that cry for us to ignore the statistics. Neither pole, in my opinion, recognizes our societal responsibility for what drives women to abortion.

I'm old enough to remember what women did before it was legal. I've seen the pictures of women impaled on coat hangers, which today are dismissed or even called "just desserts" by some in the pro-life camp. I can't condemn living breathing women to that fate again.

But I also can't ignore that lives are lost in abortion. There are certainly women who believe that a pregnancy is no more than a lump of tissue until the moment of birth, but neonatal medicine alone shoots that point of view down for me, and for most women I daresay. The vast majority of woman who turn to abortion do so with sorrow, and with acute awareness that in different circumstances their pregnancy would have been a much loved child. No one chooses abortion because they think it's a good idea, they choose it because it's the only possibility they see.

So, in my opinion, if we really want to protect the rights of the unborn, we'll listen to their mothers. This doesn't bring an immediate halt to the 1.4M abortions that are taking place in the U.S. today. But looking out over the years, I see a better chance for making abortion as rare as we all want it to be if we stop the debate and work toward compassionate solutions to the challenges that bring women to abortion today. Added to clarify: Those solutions, in my opinion, offer the best chance of reducing the number of abortions long-term.

And again: I offer my point of view not to try to sway people to it, just to explain how I view this complicated issue.

September 12, 2008

A choice to divide

Next time the Republican campaign opens its mouth in praise of the superiority of rural folks, consider this, from Harrup:
You'd never know from the recent Republican convention that America was about to remember the terrorist attack on New York, when 411 city firefighters, police and medical personnel died trying to save people they had never met.
Yes, exactly. The Republican party's entire approach to leadership is based on division, and"us" vs. "them" philosophy that tells people If you don't look, think, pray and act like us, you're out.

Abortion is in my opinion the central message of division delivered by the Republican party. I think it's a fair statement that everyone, Republican and Democrat alike, would like to see fewer abortions. But I firmly believe that the Republican party, in spite of cries to legislate abortion out of existence, doesn't really want that.

What the Republican party wants is to keep abortion at the center of American politics, where it can avoid the key question: Why do 1.4M American women even have to seek abortions every year? There has been no substantive downward change in abortion statistics during Republican administrations since Roe v. Wade. The Republican party, however, claims success by virtue of its message and its efforts to stack the Supreme Court. And we, American women and the American people, stay mired in a polarized debate that does nothing to address the problem of why so many abortions are necessary in the first place.

I don't like the labels "pro life" and "pro choice;" they push people into camps, neither of which may correctly represent their points of view. For example, I support a woman's right to choose whether or not to take a pregnancy to term. But at the same time, I wonder why we aren't doing more to make abortion as birth control unnecessary. The overwhelming majority of abortions take place for reasons of finance and timing; many, I would like to think the majority of these, could be avoided with effective birth control. From a purely common-sensical point of view, I think everyone can agree that surgical birth control doesn't do American women the best service.

While standing firmly behind a women's right to choose, the Democratic party states consistently that it supports effective sex education and more effective methods of birth control. The Republican party, however, stymies this common sense approach with cries for abstinence-only sex ed, now being delivered from the mouth of a candidate with a pregnant teen-ager at home.

It makes no common sense, but great political sense: abortion divides us, and the Republican party likes it that way.

Figuring out why millions of American women face unplanned pregancies and make the difficult choice to terminate them is hard.

Lip service, with or without lipstick, is a piece of cake.
Edited 9-14-08 to add: A reader asked a valid question: ... where is the answer to the question regarding the rights of unborn children? My response is here.

September 11, 2008

In the midst of political chaos ...

... the quiet of September 11th.

As they always are this time and this day of the year, my thoughts are with the victims of the attacks of September 11th, 2001, and with their families and friends. I'm participating in Project 2996 again, in which bloggers post tributes to the victims of the attacks. Today, I'm remembering someone I didn't even know had been lost until I was doing research for the memorial I wrote in 2006 to Stanley L. Temple.

After writing that post, I got kind of hooked on reading the tributes at Remember September 11 2001. One day, I noticed the name Brian Magee. One of Third Dad's best friends in college, a groomsman at our wedding, had the last name Magee. It was a long shot that they were related, but I clicked on the guestbook and and then the photo album - indeed, the Brian Magee lost in the World Trade Center was his brother. Third Dad knew Brian from the trips he and his friend had taken to New York while we were in college, and he remembered him as an incredibly good person. Knowing how close the family was, we could only imagine the sorrow they felt then, and were feeling still.

I left a note in the guestbook from all of us, but heard nothing back until about a month ago. Kevin had apparent visited the guestbook, found my note, and reached out. It's good to reconnect after all these years.

So today I remember Brian Magee, and Stanley L. Temple, and of course every one of the thousands who were lost.
The Names

Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.
A fine rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,
And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,
I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,
Then Baxter and Calabro,
Davis and Eberling, names falling into place
As droplets fell through the dark.

Names printed on the ceiling of the night.
Names slipping around a watery bend.
Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.

In the morning, I walked out barefoot
Among thousands of flowers
Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,
And each had a name --
Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal
Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.

Names written in the air
And stitched into the cloth of the day.
A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.
Monogram on a torn shirt,
I see you spelled out on storefront windows
And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.
I say the syllables as I turn a corner --
Kelly and Lee,
Medina, Nardella, and O'Connor.

When I peer into the woods,
I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden
As in a puzzle concocted for children.
Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,
Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,
Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.

Names written in the pale sky.
Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.
Names silent in stone
Or cried out behind a door.
Names blown over the earth and out to sea.

In the evening -- weakening light, the last swallows.
A boy on a lake lifts his oars.
A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,
And the names are outlined on the rose clouds --
Vanacore and Wallace,
(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)
Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.

Names etched on the head of a pin.
One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.
A blue name needled into the skin.
Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,
The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.
Alphabet of names in green rows in a field.
Names in the small tracks of birds.
Names lifted from a hat
Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.
Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.
So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.

Billy Collins is poet laureate of the United States. This poem was read before Congress at its joint session in New York City on September 6, 2002.

September 10, 2008

Brian Magee: Gadget Man, Good Man

He smiles into the camera from the photo on the guestbook page, wearing a leather jacket, what looks to be a Harley shining at his side. This man loves life, anyone can tell that.

I click, and the next picture pulls me up short. There he is again, Brian Magee, whom I've never met, but next to him a familiar face. My mind shoots back through forty years to a university campus in Washington, DC, then to an apartment in Arlington. The memories have grown hazy, but I see the same face from those memories smiling out with Brian from the photo.

I never met Brian Magee, but his brother Kevin was one of my husband's closest college friends. They, and their third partner in crime, Stephen, were inseparable, joined by love of history and political affairs, Irish music and beer. When Ralf and I got married, there were only two groomsmen at our wedding: Kevin and Stephen. But as it often does after graduation, job opportunities and family ties sent us all our separate ways - my husband and I over to our new home in Virginia, Stephen to California, and Kevin back to New York.

"No, you're kidding," my husband said when I told him the news. "I can't believe it. Brian was such a nice guy." He remembered Brian from visits to New York with Kevin all those years ago. My husband is an only child, and the dynamics of large, close families fascinate him - frighten him a little, too. But his memory of Brian matched the face I saw in the guestbook - gregarious and welcoming.

Brian's tribute and the messages left for him come from and speak to his family: the wife and sons he left behind, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews, and his mother. They talk of a man with integrity; a mentor, a listener and a friend; a man with spirit and humor, affectionately called "Gadget Man" for his love of tools. His wife's good man.

I don't know how you say good-bye to such a person, or how you reconcile his death with the irrational horror of September 11th, 2001. Is such a thing even possible?

Maybe not. Maybe the best you can do is hang onto him in your heart with all your strength, and never let go.

In Memory of Stanley L. Temple

Here is what I know of you:
Stanley L. Temple
77
New York, NY
United States
World Trade Center
In all the memorial sites and the newspaper articles, there are no memorials to you. No family members and friends write of your life, no obituaries mark your birth and passing, your work, or those you left behind. Where the click of other names leads to smiling photographs and poignant tributes, broken links follow your name, or the simple words of school children and respectful condolences of strangers.
Like this, from Sindy:

I seen that no one has wrote u and it made me feel so bad. I hope that u are in a better place now. And I hope that ur family are recovering as best as they can. May God bless u and ur family.
Or this, from Kasy Jo:

iam so sorry you were a victim hope your family doing well. iam sureyou werea great person. and iam sorrythat happend to you and your family.

god be with you always
Or this, from Kaitlyn:

Dear family of Stanley L. Temple, At my church today we prayed for your family and read your husband/dad's name to each other and thought about every person that lost their life's on this very terrifing day. With much love, kaitlyn:)
Nothing more. You are a mystery.

But there are some things I think I can know just from your name and age. You were born in the twenties, a child of the Great Depression, one of the Greatest Generation. It is likely you served your country in World War II or Korea, as you would have been a teenager at the start of the first war, a young man at the finish of the second. Perhaps you loved a wife and raised a family in New York when the wars were over, and watched your children grow to adulthood through the turbulence of the 60s and 70s. Having lived to 77, you certainly worked, perhaps at your heart's vocation, perhaps just to pay the bills. And you had dreams. I know you had dreams.

As I write this I like to think that your last day was spent in the tower viewing the city from the observation deck, enjoying the peace of retirement in a favorite place. I like to think that somewhere in New York your family and friends think of you now, sad that you are gone, but filled with memories of a long life well lived.

I remember you. Our country remembers you. And although the details of your life are a mystery, we mourn your loss as deeply as if you were our father, or brother, or son.

* * * * * * *

On September 13, 2006, an anonymous comment appeared on the original post:
I did not know Stanley personally, but worked as an employee of the City of New York to assist his family in obtaining a death certificate in the wake of the Trade Center disaster. Stanley worked shining shoes for the employees of Cantor Fitzgerald. He was not on their payroll, but his presence and employment was verified by enough surviving employees of Cantor Fitzgerald that his family was, after some wait, able to obtain a death certificate without the three-year wait usually required in case of a missing person. I don't know if his sister will see this tribute, but it's lovely to know it's out there. Thank you.
And then, on September 11, 2007, I found this remembrance on another tribute site:
I came across this page in remembrance of the 9/11 tragedy, and saw that no family members had left no response. I'm really hurt to see that that has happen because I know you have family in New York and Virginia. I tried many times but to no avail to find out what happen to you. Even today I cant get the respond needed. I only hope your loves did the right thing. For now I truly know that you are at peace with your loveing wife Margret for I personally will truely miss and be hurt at the phone conversation we had about not visiting you more often when she passed.

In loving remembrance
Your Godson
Harry

September 7, 2008

Blogging for Community Organizing Justice

I support the Day of Blogging for Community Organizing Justice.

I'm a parent who volunteers in my children's schools, the adoption community, the Korean American community and through my employer. I condemn statements that demean and dismiss community organizing and those who volunteer to make their communities and this country better places to live.

It is astonishing that the party that coined the phrase "a thousand points of light" to describe those who give their time and talent in service to their communities and country would stoop to this new political low. As a mother, full-time worker, and committed and active volunteer, I add my voice to those who are equally appalled.

For Grandma and Grandpa

It's National Grandparents' Day, so of course I ran straight to the photo albums. These brought back a lot of memories.

My Mom and Dad came to visit us within a couple of weeks of The Boy's arrival. We'll never kow why, but The Boy connected with my Mom right off the bat. She was the first person to get him to belly laugh, and he has been tight with her ever since.

When I pulled these out I had to laugh. I had forgotten that The Boy was absolutely determined to get Grandma's glasses every chance he got. He'd grab them right off her face, to the point that she had to take them off when she held him because he was doing damage - to the glasses and to her face.

It's a sad coincidence that today is also my father's birthday. He passed away in 1997 from Alzheimer's. These pictures are among the last in which he looked like himself. Slowly, then more and more quickly after, he lost his ability to speak, to do even the simplest things, and to recognize us. By the time The Girl arrived, he wasn't himself already, I can see it in his eyes in the photos of her arrival. I know that some of you have also lost parents to Alzheimer's or are caring for a parent with this disease, and my heart goes out to you.

September 6, 2008

Mixed bag

First, a thank-you to Tonggu Momma for shouting me out as a blog she hearts. I really appreciate it, and I heart your blog, too. Now, it's customary to pass the thanks on, but honestly I can't pick out just five or ten blogs, because I heart a lot more than that. So let me just thank everyone of you that I read for being here.



* * * * * * * * * *

Hanna's roaring through, it's been raining all day. We're getting the fringes of it, and have had a lot of rain and some flooding, but it should be out of here by this evening. I am so glad we got new gutters and a new garage door this year - between our leaky sump pump (which because it came on for the first time in almost 20 years this past spring and the pipe joints had all dried out) and our leaky old garage door, we would have spent the day mopping.

* * * * * * * * * *

Did you Stand Up To Cancer? If not, please do. It's not too late. I was sad this morning when I tried to reach the Constellation today and it was gone. But the error message said this:

Due to your incredible response, Stand Up To Cancer is currently experiencing heavy traffic and some pages have been temporarily disabled to ensure access to the site overall.
That's a very good error indeed!

* * * * * * * * * *

The Boy has been excited all week because his Japanese teacher gave him a special project: Helping a grad student from Japan buy a car. It's been a test of his Japanese language ability AND his car smarts. Fortunately he had the sense to call Third Dad, who does that really well, for advice. Thinking back to my sophomore year of college as a language student, there is absolutely no way I would have had the confidence to help a German exchange student buy a car. I love that he has the confidence to do that.

* * * * * * * * * *

Convention rhetoric is over, and I have questions of the "makes no sense no way no how" variety. If your politics differ from mine you may want to stop reading here :) Yeah, this is beginning to look like a political blog, which it isn't, but I hope you'll let me speak my mind a bit. I haven't been this fired up about an election for decades.

One I really don't get: How do the Christian right support Governor Palin when she dissed the real leader of their cause? Don't forget, it was Jesus who was the community organizer - Pontius Pilate was the governor. If you, like me, were insulted by the implication that all the work we do in our communities to make them better is of no value, go add your voice to Community Organizers Fight Back.

Why is support of abstinence only a criteria for being a "good mom" by Republican definition, yet the pregnant daughter of one of its strongest proponents isn't proof that we need to talk about its efficacy?

Why do Republicans draw the conclusion that if you teach safe sex, you oppose teaching abstinence? I've taught my son and daughter both. I've taught them abstinence because it's a part of my faith, but also because it's a step I don't think should be taken lightly. But once they're in college, my kids will be making their own decisions about this, and although I hope they wait until they're in stable relationships, I want them to be safe from pregnancy and sexually-transmitted disease if they decide otherwise. I'm sick to death of the implication that this point of view makes me an immoral mom. And that's exactly how the Republican rhetoric on this issue makes me feel.

Why do the Republicans continue to say in their ads that Barack Obama is all about raising taxes when he has said the words loud and clear that he will lower taxes for the middle class and poor? I'm guessing it's fear that he wants to plug corporate loopholes and turn his sights on the rich, which apparently doesn't start until you make $5M and up. Good grief, how do they have the b*lls to even say that out loud?

Why is the Republican ticket avoiding all talk of the disaster the previous administration has created? This nonsense that John McCain is a maverick just blows me away. Come on, Republican people, the guys YOU elected eight years ago have destroyed our international reputation, tanked the economy, started an unnecessary war in which thousands of Americans have been killed, and have failed to nab Osama Bin Laden, public enemy number one. Maverick? I don't think so.



* * * * * * * * *

The way adoption was used in this election is something I want to talk about more, but that's a subject for its own post. So now, off through the puddles to the grocery store, and then back home to get caught up on lots of Korean Focus stuff.

Attention DC area KF members: Programs coming up - Korean Games Day for the kids in November in Bethesda, and then our annual Lunar New Year Celebration in McLean in February. If you live in metro DC and have Korean children, please visit the Korean Focus webpage, sign up for the KF eBulletin, and consider joining.

September 4, 2008

I'm Standing Up To Cancer

I miss Julia. She's been on my mind a lot recently. It's funny how, when I least expect it, she'll just pop in there. Like the week of nothing but hummus for lunch - I know that was Julia. It still surprises me how close I feel to her in spite of the fact that we knew each other such a short time. It also surprises me how close I feel to the people I've met who were in her life. Funny, I've never met any of them face to face, but they are all as important to me as people I've known for years. There is certainly something rare about a soul that can bring people together in such a way.

I'm rooting for Judy. She's a trooper, our Judy is, she's facing the challenge of serious cancer with incredible strength. Judy's voice in the adoption community has always been clear and true; she is a tremendous advocate for adoptees, first parents and adoptive families. You can imagine what might happen when Judy turns her attention to the challenge at hand: she makes waves, big ones that I know will get a lot people to Stand Up To Cancer.

Stand Up To Cancer is a whole new way of conquering cancer:
Inspired to act by our own personal experiences with cancer, we recognize that we can no longer rely on the current system alone to give us the breakthroughs we need. So, we are calling on the public to help take matters into our own hands, investing in a revolution that will change the way scientist and clinicians work to understand and treat these diseases. Stand Up To Cancer is more than a rallying cry. It is a galvanizing force created to urgently move cancer research forward.
I've never had cancer, but it's presence in my life is frightening. It has pushed its way through the years, knocking down the people I love, sometimes taking them. Aunt Josie, dead before 30 from stomach cancer, leaving Uncle Johnny and three young children. Uncle Johnny, gone at my age from bladder cancer. Uncle Adolph, dead in his 40s from lung and brain cancer. Grandma, who fought thyroid cancer and won. Gisela, R's stepmother, gone in weeks from pancreatic cancer. Michael, just 28 when diagnosed with lymphoma, and cancer-free today. My friend's sister, who in spite of her diagnosis is doing the Breast Cancer 3-Day in Washington, DC in October. Friends who beat cancer. Others who didn't.
No more.
I'm Standing Up To Cancer. I'm donating my dollars because SU2C is giving me hope that we will indeed find a cure, and in my lifetime. I'll be watching The Show on Friday, 8 PM on all three major networks. I hope you'll be watching, too.
I've told the story of how I've been touched by cancer through the loss of my friend MG on The Stand. I've launched three stars into The Constellation: for her, for my cousin, and for Julia. You'll Julia's start by searching on first name Julia Ji-Hye. Judy has a star there, too - search for Judy Kooistra. Please add a message to both.
I also had my annual check-up the day before yesterday - perfect timing, I think - and am scheduled for a mammogram next week. If you are behind in any of your annual cancer screens, pick up the phone today and make the appointment. Do it for your family and friends, and for yourself.
This is where the end of cancer begins: when we unite in one unstoppable movement and Stand Up To Cancer.
Here are friends who are Standing Up To Cancer with me. Leave a comment with the link to your Stand or send it in an email, and I'll add you. Thanks, Jenna, for this great idea.

I've got a little news flash for YOU, Sarah Palin

Although our party affiliations differ, I watched your acceptance speech tonight, Sarah. I thought I'd offer my reactions, since you say you will be coming here to Washington, where I live, to work on my behalf.

I'm a mom. I'm not a hockey mom, I'm a drama mom and a taekwondo mom - not as cute as you and your fellow pit bulls, lipstick notwithstanding. My children don't have special needs, so I guess you're a better mom than me, too. But Cindy McCain would like me - I'm an adoptive mom, just like her. My children are Korean, though - you know, g**ks. It's not my choice of nicknames, it's John's. Actually, now that I think about it, John probably wouldn't like us after all.

I'm a Democrat. I live in the suburbs. By your definition, I look down on folks in small towns - all of us big city Dems do. But many of us city folks came from somewhere else, and if you trace it back, a whole lot of us started in very small towns. I guess that means we look down on ourselves. My family's small town is Calumet, Michigan - population 879 in the 2000 census. Is that small enough for you? Or do you cross us off your list because we had to move south to Cleveland when the copper mines in Calumet gave out? I apologize that we had food on our list of essentials.

I'm a patriot. I love my country and believe the democratic system of government offers the world the best hope of survival. But I think it will take more than military might to do that - it will take diplomacy and humility and the willingness to acknowledge our own faults. Like racism. Or 40,000,000 Americans without health care. I'm interested in hearing your plans for addressing these, I didn't catch them tonight.

You spoke a lot about John McCain's military service today. Since you claimed his patriotism by association, I'm sure you'll approve of me doing the same. My father served this country with honor during World War II. His unit was the most traveled of the war: they fought as far east as Pilsen and went as far west as Japan with the occupation forces. He was with troops that liberated the concentration camp Flossenberg. He watched his best friend give his life for his fellow soldiers in battle, for which his friend received the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for his bravery in that action, and Dad received the Bronze Star. We were very proud of him, although he never spoke about it, never used it to further himself or his career.

My Mom and Dad taught my brothers and me to be honest, to work hard, and to love our family and friends. They taught us to be grateful for the opportunities we've had, and to appreciate our freedom. Family values, don't you agree? But how is this possible from big city Democrats?

You talked loud tonight, Sarah, but you got it all wrong. So I've got a little news flash for you: I'm taking my country back.

September 2, 2008

Spread the adoption reform message on your candidate's website

Attention adoption reformers!! Did you know that you can get a blog on Barack Obama’s website? You may be able to get one on John McCain’s website, too, but as I haven’t signed up there I don’t know for sure - if you do, please leave a comment and let everyone know.

Why should we care? Because both of these websites are forums for discussion of hot issues, including, of course, abortion. Imagine my dismay when I did a blog comment search on keyword adoption, and found no small number of posts with points of view like these:
Why not reduce abortion rates AND increase adoption rates?

Until we reach that perfect world, we need to be able to rationally discuss how we can protect women’s freedom to choose –and- protect unborn children. The Obama campaign needs a plank that, while protecting women’s rights, ALSO provides additional incentive for women to bear these children and have the babies placed for adoption by the thousands of waiting prospective parents who wonder if they will ever be able to adopt.

It is so sad that there are far too many abortions, while thousands of people across the country can’t adopt because it’s very expensive – even with the generous tax breaks, you still need a lot of upfront money – and those who can afford it find themselves flying across the globe to adopt children. The current setup is insane. We’re killing kids that others want to adopt!
Abortion Solution

Let's approach this from a new perspective. Children are gifts from God. There are many people unable to have children. The adoption process is long and difficult. Many times couples are forced to go overseas to adopt children. Why can't we find a way to encourage women to give birth to the children they might otherwise abort and place them up for adoption.
Couldn't we select an empty forclosed home near a high school or college (that could be purchased for a good price), give young women free room and board, free medical care, free tutoring and some college tuition in exchange for placing their children up for adoption. The women could go to school while awaiting giving birth. We would have to have someone run this home and councel the women. I am not even advocating having the government run this. Perhaps churches could participate. We would have to make it financially attractive with tax credits or something for all those who participate. We could have an adoption office in the front and housing in the back and upstairs.

It just seems we could solve two tragic problems if we got creative with this.

Perhaps "Health and Human Services" could set up the criteria for this. By the way, wouldn't this be a good job for Hillary? That would keep her off the ticket, give her a cabinet post where she could advocate for Health care and women's issues. It might solve a lot of concerns.
The point isn't that these posters want to see abortion end. I'm pretty sure that everyone, pro-life and pro-choice, wants to see as few abortions as possible. It's the means that are the issue here, and the impact this particular point of view - that more adoptions equate to fewer abortions - has on adoption reform.
I started my own blog there. My first post is here and below. Right now it’s lost in the sea of opinions saying that more adoption is the way to stop abortion. But if every adoption reformer posts and comments on both candidate's blog sites, we might raise a little awareness that it's just not that simple.

Another very cool thing on the Obama site: You can start your own group. A search on keyword adopt brought up Adult Adoptees for Obama and Adoptive Parents for Obama, among others. How about a group with a focus on adoption reform, on both the McCain and Obama sites (presuming you can also create groups on McCain’s website, which again I can’t confirm)? This is one of those opportunities that would require individuals and organizations to step away from their factions for the sake of the cause, but if we all could do it, I bet we could exceed the numbers of people in the groups above by hundreds.
It seems to me that both of these websites and their communities offer the adoption reform movement a new platform for its message. Linking adoption and abortion in the mainstream mind has served neither of them well. Reaching these politically-motivated communities may be a way to begin the process of uncoupling them, so each can be given the attention it deserves.

* * * * * * * * * *

Adoption, abortion and a chance to get them right

Watching the convention these past four nights, and especially Barack Obama’s acceptance speech last night, I felt something stirring that I haven’t felt in a long time: Hope.I have a particular hope, one that I keep in my heart for my children. I’m an adoptive parent, and my children belong to a group of citizens who have been denied a group of rights that you and I take so for granted that I’d wager we seldom even think about them. In the majority of states in this great country, my children do not have the right to know who they are.

They do not have, in every state, the right to obtain their original birth certificate. My children must have this right returned to them - I say returned, because contrary to what many believe, adoptee birth records in this country were open into the 1950s:
In the '40s and '50s, most state laws did permit adult adoptees to view their birth records. But by 1960, 26 states were making both original birth records and adoption court records available only by court order. Twenty other states still made the birth records available on demand, but over the following 30 years, all those states but three -- Alaska, Kansas and South Dakota -- closed records to adult adoptees.

Why were states closing their records even before 1960, when the reasons being advanced were all about protecting adoptive families, and not birth parents? The historical record suggests that birth mothers were in fact seeking a measure of confidentiality. What the mothers wanted, however, was not to prevent the adoptive parents and the children they had surrendered from discovering their identities, but to prevent their families and communities from learning of their situations. A powerful reason for the earliest closings of birth records to adult adoptees may simply have been that it was consistent with an emerging social idea about adoption: that it was a perfect and complete substitute for creating a family by childbirth, so the adopted child had no other family and would never be interested in learning about any other family.

Elizabeth Samuels, Professor, University of Baltimore School of Law, Washington Post, 2001
Efforts to open birth records for adoptees often fail in the mainstream on the issue of privacy Ms. Samuels discusses, and on that of abortion.

As to the first, mothers are speaking out, and they are telling a very different story. Yes, many do want privacy, but they want to control it. In spite of greater acceptance of unmarried single motherhood, many women still have no choice but to keep this information private in the workplace and community. But in settings they can control, whether via personal visits or communication, women want information about and contact with their children.

As for abortion, in spite of much opinion to the contrary, adoption is not the panacea. The usual argument is that with a promise of privacy, an unmarried pregnance woman is more likely to place her child in adoption with an infertile couple than she is to decide on an abortion. It is portrayed as a win-win-win for everyone. But in this equation, the pregnant woman is no more than a breeder, the infertile couple comes to believe they have a right to her child, and the child becomes a commodity. Additionally, the argument never progresses beyond birth, where adoption is lived. That reality, which has its own challenges, is entirely absent from this argument.

Because attitudes toward adoption are overwhelmingly positive in this country, we also refuse to believe that unethical people and agencies might take advantage of such a situation, but they have and they do. We've traded finding ways to work through our national differences regarding abortion for a whole new set of problems to which we have closed our hearts and minds.

And in spite of the adamant voices, at the end of the day the number of abortions stopped by adoptions is small:

Meanwhile, we know that very few women actually place their infants for adoption. In the United States, fewer than 14,000 newborns were voluntarily relinquished in 2003 (the latest year for which an estimate is available), according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That proportion -- just under 1% of all the children born to never-married women -- has remained constant for almost two decades. It's down considerably from the early 1970s, but even in those days, more than nine in 10 unmarried women who gave birth kept their babies.
The 2003 infant relinquishment figure is minuscule when compared to the almost 1.3 million abortions that took place that year. And even then, it would be wrong to assume that every one of those relinquishments actually averted an abortion. Many women placing their baby for adoption may never have considered abortion in the first place.
Cory Richards, Los Angeles Times, October 2007
Reducing and ending abortion doesn't lie in promoting adoption. Abortion and adoption must be considered independently and in depth, so each can be given the attention it deserves. For adopted people, that attention will surely shed light on the civil and human injustice of closed adoption birth records. When that happens, I trust that the American people will correct it in every state of this land.