October 26, 2008

A wish for hope - and a little begging

You may remember a story that was in the news about ten months ago about a Korean girl who was adopted and then abandoned by a Dutch couple - if not, you can read about it here and here; I posted my thoughts here, although one word pretty much sums them up: appalled. The Korean adoption community reacted in much the same way, and I have no doubt that this incident contributed to recent renewed efforts in Korea to stop intercountry adoption.

JoongAng Ilbo reported that the little girl, whose name at the time her Dutch parents terminated her adoption in September 2006 was Jade Poeteray, has been adopted by a couple in Hong Kong. Stateless due to the failure of her first adoptive family obtain citizenship for her, she has been in the care of Hong Kong social services since then.

There's a part of me that is glad that a family stepped forward and made the commitment to this child, who has experienced more abandonment in her short life than many experience in a lifetime. But another part of me wonders if she will ever be able to overcome the experience she had with the Dutch couple who so seriously let her down. I hope for her sake that her new adoptive parents understand the enormity of the responsibility they have undertaken, and will stand by her no matter the difficulties she faces in the future.

I hope that this little girl finds love and support in her new family that ease the pain of the loss of her Korean family and memories of abandonment by her first adoptive family. If ever there was a need for the power of love to do surmount the seeming impossible, I think it's now, in this little girl's life.

* * * * * * *

You are correct, I've been absent recently. There's so much going on in my life - nothing new, I should add, just a whole lotta the same - that I'm finding it impossible to keep up with my online buddies. I'm very sorry about that, as I know you all have been busy writing lots of good stuff, and I haven't been able to read it.

The most obvious reason is that there are only so many hours in the day, and after a long day of work that is spent entirely, and I mean ENTIRELY, on the computer, I'm finding I need to get off the damn thing for awhile at the end of the day. Sadly, though, pretty much everyone I know in real life and online keeps in touch electronically, so I'm now woefully out of touch.

So woefully out of touch, in fact, that I'm going to ask a favor: Please leave a comment and let me know how you are!

October 20, 2008

Don't Misses 10-21-08: KAD Community Announcements

Several announcements today for the Korean adoption community!
TRACK Fall Highlights

Please read the full update of TRACK's activities since the summer, which also includes TRACK's future plans. TRACK has accomplished a lot since it's inception:

  • Late-August general meeting in Gangnam
  • August Meeting with Korean-Americans and Korean-Canadians through the Korea Exposure & Education Program (KEEP)
  • Celebration of the publication of the Korean-language edition of Comforting an Orphaned Nation, by TRACK's Director of Research, Tobias Hübinette, and published through the sponsorship of KoRoot
  • First working board meeting in September, we held our first working board meeting
  • Participation in the National Assembly’s national audit in October with lawmaker Choi Young-hee

There's more coming, for which your help is needed:

In November and beyond, we are continuing to work with the Konggam human rights lawyers as our legal representatives to design a package strategy of research, a media campaign, and legislation to address problems past and present in adoption. The first of many pieces of legislation will be OPEN RECORDS not just for ourselves, but also for the domestic adoptees. Our proposals for legislation will come from the white paper that we will write based on our research.

We will be asking for your participation if you have had experiences with your adoption agency that are not right. For instance, did you ask your agency for information, and they told you that there was "nothing" but were later able to find records? Did the information that they gave you about your case change time and time again? Do the contents of your Korean-language records and the records from your adoptive country match? Or is there a lot of "mistranslation"? If you have been reunited, does the story that your birthparents tell you match the story that your adoptive parents were told about the reason why you were relinquished?

In our work to provide adoptees with an opportunity to reconnect and dialogue with Korean society, as well as research and document the history of adoption, Citizen's Info & Media Center, a Korean environmental NGO located in Chungjeongro, has been and continues to be our fiscal sponsor in Korea. However, we will be able to take donations more legitimately when we get our own official non-profit status from the city of Seoul. We just need 100 official members to apply for non-profit status.

Yoo Jongsoon, Shin Soongbong, Oh Kichul, Lee Yewon, Kim Byung-ha, have helped us immeasurably in bridging the gap between the adoptees and Korean society, and Cho Sung-joon has given us so much help in connecting with the Korean American community. All are welcome in TRACK!

Anyone is welcome to join -- you don't have to be part of the "adoption triad," and you don't have to live in Korea.

Please send a message to Han Boon-young, Ross Oke, Tobias Hübinette or Jane Jeong Trenka, anytime if you'd like to become a member or if you just want to know more.

Let's work together to create a world where the adoption community and Korean society have a mutual understanding and compassion that allows them to heal to create a bright collective future.

Tobias Hübinette, Director of Research
이삼돌, 연구위원

Ross Oke, Director of Operations

Jane Jeong Trenka, Director of Investigation
정경아, 조사위원

Please be one of the 100 members needed to help TRACK achieve NGO status. Contact Tobias, Ross or Jane for more information!

Call for Submissions: Adoption from the Teen Perspective

EMK Press, a leading publisher of resources and materials for adoption, seeks creative and unique submissions for an innovative resource designed for adopted teenagers. This book will be edited by Bert Ballard, PhD, adoptee from Vietnam.

Today's teenager struggles with a variety of challenges, ranging from concerns over popularity, doing well in school, getting into college, driving, peer pressure, friends, religion, which is not to mention concerns and worries over drugs, alcohol, sex, pregnancy, and suicide. For the adopted teen, identity issues, fitting in with their adoptive families, birth families, personal histories, cultural differences, skin color differences, abusive pasts, and more manifest themselves in a variety of ways, often unpredictably or even disguised as something other than the underlying issue.

This new book hopes to offer voices and a place where adopted teens can feel free to be themselves, a place where they feel comfortable journeying through life as a teenager . . . a teenager who also happens to be adopted.

We call on anyone and everyone who believes they can offer something supportive, yet honest, candid, wise, and even humorous to today's adopted teenagers. This includes all domestic, international, and transracial adopted and fostered teens.

See the project's website for more details.

Korean Adoption in the New York Times & VOA News

You may have already seen the October 9 New York Times article Korea Aims to End Stigma of Adoption and Stop ‘Exporting’ Babies. Dr. Richard Boas, who has been instrumental in raising awareness of the need for support for unmarried Korean mothers, offered a thoughtful response: Korea and Adoptions. Kudos, Rick, and many thanks for your tireless work on behalf of Korean mothers!

Although it's a couple of months old, this article in VOA News is on the same subject: South Korea Debates International Adoption. Many thanks to the reader who alerted me.

Call for Proposals for 2009 KAAN Conference

The 2009 KAAN Conference will be held in Denver, July 31 to Aug 2, 2009. Our theme will be: Extending the Family of Korean Adoption. We are currently solicting presentation and workshop proposals. Find a proposal form at http://www.kaanconference.com /. Click on 2009 Proposal Form. The proposal form can be returned by email to chris@kaanet.org or by regular mail to P.O. Box 5585, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762. Email is preferred.

All proposals are welcome, but of particular interest are those related to non-adopted siblings of adoptees, grandparents of adoptees, children of adoptees, and birth families.

October 10, 2008

Adoption in a new administration

I wonder what kind of changes we can expect to the adoption landscape under a new administration?

My personal opinion: Adoption reform issues align better with the Democratic party's philosophy. Adoption as charity aligns better with that of the Republican party. A Democratic administration therefore gives adoption reform a fighting chance.

That's a really simplistic view, though. The real problem is that few legislators, Democratic, Republican or Independent, even get that adoption is broken. To achieve adoption reform and justice, legislators have to get beyond the notion of "adoption as charity" and open their minds to adoption's complexities and injustices. With a conservative adoption lobby encamped on the Hill, and a Congressional Coalition on Adoption that's more interested in recognizing their constituents than facing adoption's injustices, that's easier said than done.

I haven't heard anything come from the Obama campaign that leads me to believe they would set adoption reform back. But the following highlights just one of my many concerns with the Republican party's approach to adoption. Adoption reform, I fear, will only go backward if the Republican party wins this election.

Many thanks for Gang-Shik of KADNexus for posting the Huffington Post article that included the link to this one.
The story about Mother Teresa “convincing” Mrs. McCain to bring home two children from an orphanage in Bangladesh has been retold many times. Initially, the “About Cindy McCain” page on the McCain campaign website read: “Mother Teresa convinced Cindy to take two babies in need of medical attention to the United States. One of those babies is now their adopted daughter, 16-year-old Bridget McCain.”

The media picked up the theme. A story earlier this year on ABC’s “Good Morning America” stated, “With Mother Teresa’s encouragement she brought her fourth child, Bridget, home.” An April 2008 Wall Street Journal profile states that Mother Teresa “implored” Cindy to bring the girls to the United States. Other articles say Cindy did it “at the behest” of Mother Teresa.

But a source who was with McCain on that 1991 trip, and who asked that his name not be used because of prior legal dealings with the McCain family, says that Mother Teresa was not at the orphanage when Cindy decided to bring the two girls home.

A 1991 article in the Arizona Star at the time of the adoption only mentions that the children were from an orphanage that was started by Mother Teresa. It does not mention a meeting with Mother Teresa or her asking McCain to bring the girls to the US.

According to biographies of Mother Teresa, in 1991 she was in Mexico where she developed medical problems. From there, she went to a hospital in La Jolla, Calif.

A McCain source acknowledged that Cindy McCain did not meet Mother Teresa during the 1991 trip to Bangladesh but said McCain did meet her later on, although the source could not say when or where. The campaign has since reworded the reference to the adoption on its website.

The entire article can be found here at the Christian Science Monitor.

My kids - ALL adoptees - deserve better.

October 1, 2008

Shana Tova

... to all my friends who began their celebration of Rosh Hashanah yesterday evening. I hope the High Holy Days begin a sweet and blessed new year for you.