February 23, 2009

Way too busy

I'm still here - insanely busy.

I'm still ruminating on all the discussion I had in Philadelphia with Suz and Joanna, and what's beginning to form in my head will get posted, but probably not for a little longer. What is falling out of everything we discussed is less "here's what was wrong with the process" and more "if someone has just done or said a, b and c, I might have taken different actions along the way." But I need time to get my thoughts committed to paper, and at the moment, time is what I have almost none of.

As typically happens when I think I'm getting caught up, every organization I work with has stuff going on that's eating what little free time I have. I had a KAC-DC meeting this week that has turned into a day-long weekend retreat either this coming weekend or soon after. I'm way behind on KF stuff, too: I have an eBulletin to get out, a print newsletter to work on, and a bunch of other little stuff. Plus an article to write about my experience at the inauguration which I really need to get done this week, tonight if at all possible. All this on top of work, which at the moment is about as miserable as it gets, depresses me.

It was tax weekend to boot. We have to file early to meet college and FAFSA deadlines, so I spent Saturday slogging through this lovely chore. It's done, they're filed, and the college-related paperwork is ready for the post office or fax.

I'm thinking a day or two off, not on the weekend and devoted entirely to catching up on all this, might be in order. Hmmmm.

February 16, 2009

A weekend immersed in adoption

I spent the weekend in Philadelphia with my friend Suz, her boyfriend (who is one heck of a nice guy), and a lovely young adoptee artist, Joanna, who opened her home to us as our workspace. Suz and I planned this weekend to give us a chance to talk face-to-face about the session we'll be doing at the American Adoption Congress conference in April.

We socialized over brunch on Saturday to break the ice, and then spent a full afternoon walking back through our adoption journeys. For Suz and Joanna, it was a tremendously emotional day. I'm still not convinced I haven't overstepped my boundaries suggesting that Suz and I do this session, and I'm still worried about how hard I know it is for her look back as we are looking.

For me, the weekend was a stark reminder of how unbalanced the adoption equation is. We compared paperwork, for example, and you would be appalled at how very little legal documentation Suz was provided. I, on the other hand, had six files full of legal documents, and hadn't even brought them all. It was almost all about my husband and me, too - all kinds of forms and autobiographical documentation, yet so little about our children's parents, and not all that much about our children. I understand, of course, that much of this paperwork fulfills legal requirements, but the sheer volume of it in comparison to the tiny bits of information we received about our children and their parents just seems wrong to me. Now, some of you will be thinking But there really wasn't much information to share in our child's case, and that may be true. But I wonder sometimes the fact that little information is available sometimes has led to adoption practices that focus little attention there, even when more information and maybe more contact would be possible. You know, like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It seems to me that an adoption is a lot like a marriage, in that adoptee and his or her families become one extended family. This view of adoption's relationships is probably what has set me outside the typical mainstream view. But you have to nurture marriages, and you would have to do the same with extended adoptive family relationships, too - right from the beginning. Like many things in life, if you don't take advantage of the time you have up front, you may never regain the opportunity. Everyone involved needs the education and encouragement to recognize the great opportunity they have to build a relationship that will help the child, most of all, but everyone else involved as well. I have to believe that even though this end goal is a long shot, we could do a lot more to foster it.

This kind of thinking is what Suz and I are hoping to spark with our session. We've got a lot of work to do, but this weekend was an excellent start. And I know we're going to make a difference.

* * * * * * *

On a non-adoption-related note: The Girl took a bronze medal in the U.S. Open taekwondo tournament this weekend. She took a bronze in the 2009 U.S. team qualifier that took place in Colorado Springs in January as well. Next stop for her is the next round of team trials, then the U.S. Nationals qualifier, and then Nationals in the summer. This kid is dedicated - and boy can she kick!

February 10, 2009

Timothy Cole Posthumously Cleared

With thanks to the Innocence Blog for the heads up:

Associated Press: Judge Clears Dead Texas Man of Rape Conviction
National Public Radio: Judge Posthumously Clears Man Convicted Of Rape

In my opinion, it's not possible to say justice was done here, given all that Timothy Cole because of this false charge, including his life. But all the same, I'm glad that his name has been cleared, for him and for his family.

February 9, 2009

Don't Divorce My Dads!

Or my moms! Instead, speak out against the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund and Ken Starr's efforts to overturn the 18,000 same-sex marriages performed before Prop 8 passed. Watch this video by the Courage Campaign, sign the letter, post the information on your own blog, and share the information with friends. Many thanks to Dawn for her alert.

Edited to replace the embedded video with a link to it.

February 5, 2009

Hope Deferred for Timothy Cole

On the way into work this morning, I listened to a follow-up on the story of Timothy Cole, a Texas Tech student falsely accused of being a serial rapist – more here, including a repeat of the story: Family Of Man Cleared By DNA Still Seeks Justice.

Brief summary: In 1985, Texas Tech student Michele Mallin was raped in a parking lot. She identified Timothy Cole as her attacker, although police had no physical evidence linking him to the crime and he had an alibi that was supported by several eye-witnesses who could prove he was elsewhere at the time. Lubbock law enforcement officials, however, were determined to convict him, which they easily did with the help of Cole’s erroneous identification by the victim and an all-white jury.

In a strange turn of events, Cole’s cries on his first night of prison were heard by the true attacker, who was in prison for another rape. This man, Jerry Wayne Johnson, kept quiet until the statute of limitations ran out, finally coming forward in 1995. By then, no one would listen, and it took until 2007 for Johnson to reach Cole’s family, who sought the help of the Innocence Project of Texas to clear their son’s name.

Today, Michele Mallin will testify in court in defense of Timothy Cole, and will be joined by his family. Sadly, appallingly, this day comes too late for Cole himself, who died in prison in 1999 from asthma that was never properly treated while he was behind bars.

You know when you’re driving how, if you let your mind wander, you have no recollection of driving a piece of the road? Well, you DC residents will shudder to know that this story so engrossed me that I can’t remember anything between Wolf Trap and Herndon on the Toll Road. It is a textbook example of racism at work in the justice system, including: Mallin’s false identification of Cole (which although I believe was extenuated by the trauma of rape and the fact that she was led to believe that the Lubbock police actually had evidence against Cole, still demonstrates how easy it is to misidentify someone); the lack of even a shred of physical or even circumstantial evidence; Lubbock law enforcement’s utter failure to identify that they already had the actual perpetrator in their hands; the prosecution’s demeaning destruction of truthful Cole’s alibi; and an all-white jury. Add the Texas justice system’s refusal to entertain Johnson’s confession and sub-standard medical care to the picture after Cole’s wrongful conviction, and the miscarriage of justice is complete.

If what happened to Timothy Cole was rare, then perhaps I might feel better about the overall state of the U.S. justice system where race is a factor. But as this morning’s NPR program says,

So far this decade, 34 men in Texas, most of them black, have been exonerated by
modern DNA testing. They spent 10, 15, 20, even 27 years wrongly imprisoned for
rape before being released.
We have a long, long way to go.

More here:

Hope Deferred: Search for a Lubbock rapist sends family on nightmare journey
Hope Deferred: Tim Cole sat in prison while another man kept silent about the truth ... finally, he tried to confess, but no one would listen
Hope Deferred: Tim Cole's family gets DNA report proving what they always knew

February 2, 2009

One Catholic's apology

I am completely appalled by the recent lifting of excommunication from four members of the Society of St. Pius.

Those of you who have read here for any length of time know that I'm Catholic. I've struggled with my faith throughout my life, having left at intermittent times and having also considered joining other faiths. But I come back because the theology of my Church continues to feed my soul deep down in a way that other faiths haven't. I also continue to see a potential for good that has been perverted by the Church's powerful, and believe (or at least have convinced myself) that good will ultimately triumph.

Of course, it's possible, too, the Church has worked its charm on me, and the real reason I stay is guilt. But I honestly don't think so.

I was given another faith mountain to climb this week by the news about the lifting of the St. Pius excommunications. One of those reinstated, Richard Williamson, is particularly onerous: he has denied the Holocaust. And that puts him outside the most basic tenet of the faith I hold dear: Truth.

There has been informal outrage from many Catholic quarters, but I could find nothing (and didn't expect to) acknowledging the action on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' website. There's plenty of dialog in Catholic forums, but it's all over the map. It frightens me to imagine how many people in my Church, which suddenly isn't feeling so "my" anymore, seem to approve of this mind-boggling move.

I don't know where this latest challenge will lead me. I do know that with every similar act made public, the power the Church has had over me diminishes, making it possible for me to chart my own course within the maze of Catholic dogma. Of course, in the eyes of many Catholics, this attitude means I'm no Catholic at all, but so be it.

I don't know if the apology of one Catholic for the behavior of an monolithic church means anything at all, but I must say this:

To my Jewish friends, I offer the deepest apology possible for this action by Pope Benedict, for the approval so many Catholics have given it, and for the silence of many others in the face of this outrage. It is an affront to your suffering and to your faith. I am deeply sorry that my Church has caused this pain to you.

February 1, 2009

Don't Misses 2-1-09

Two posts you must read:
From Paula: Twenty-Three Things This Korean-Adoptee Thought About as a Child. Think about this statement ...
That my mind understood why my Korean mother had to give me up, but that my heart didn't.
... and read the entire post for more of Paula's direct, yet gentle, mind-expanding wisdom.

From Mei-Ling: Amending the Past. Mei-Ling has the ability to explain the incredibly emotional adoption experience logically, as this excerpt shows:

I saw white teachers, white peers, white friends, white neighbours, white extended family… you name a social group, and I can guarantee you it consisted of all white people. Therefore…
I wanted to be white. And so, I rejected my heritage, my birth culture, and the language. This is emphasizing the consequence of impact, which is the result of intent.

Local Korean adoptee reunited with birth mother after 37 years

The search for his birth mother took a Minnesota man more than 6,000 miles away from home to Korea, where he was given up for adoption 37 years ago.

More, including a video of the reunion, here.

Attention foodies!

Kim Sunee, author of Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home, is scheduled to appear as a judge on Iron Chef America on February 15th. Check your local listings for details. Many thanks to Gang-Shik for the heads up.

A couple of fun facts:

Woman to appear on South Korean banknote for 1st time: Shin Saim-dang, a well-known artist who died in 1551, will appear on the new 50,000 note. This new note replaces the ₩100,000, which will no longer be issued.

South Korea has nearly as many cell phones as people: 93% of South Koreans own cell phones - I think the figure is something over 82% in the U.S.

Finally, for DC-area folks
The Sunday Washington Post magazine features an article about one of my favorite Korean restaurants: Honey Pig Gooldaegee Korean Grill. Definitely not for the faint of heart ("Sound Check: 80 decibels - Extremely loud"), but worth every minute of the wait (which on the weekends can be really long) and noise. Just set aside the entire evening, bring earplugs and dig in.