July 30, 2009

Heading to KAAN

It's in Denver this year. The Girl and I are going, and I can't wait - to see my friends, for the always-terrific sessions, and for those late night sessions at the bar.

I'll try to post from there, but if I don't you can bet I'm having a good time. I've got a lot to post about when I return.

For the moment, I'll leave you with this: Welcome House has announced that they've received confirmation from Holt that adoption from Korea will stop at the end of 2012. I'll see if the representatives of the Korean agencies who are attending KAAn have more information.

July 26, 2009

ARD: From Philly 2009 to Louisville 2010

Reports, photos and videos from the Adoptee Rights Demonstration in Philly on July 21 are starting to come online from all over. Kudos to everyone who worked on and/or attended the demonstration and helped to make it the success it clearly was!

Next year's ARD will be in Louisville during the week of July 19th. It's not too early to start spreading the word or planning to attend. My goal is to be there with a group of adoptive parents to send the word that we support the right of adopted people to equal access to their original birth certificates.

Start here, at the Adoptee Rights Demonstration blog, where you'll find all kinds of links to reports, photos and blogs. Also check out the ARD Philly YouTube page and the Adoptee Rights Philly Facebook page. There will be more reports over time, so check frequently.

ARD needs our help to kick things off for next year's Adoptee Rights Demo, which will take place in Louisville, Kentucky during the week of July 19, 2010. Visit the YouTube page From NOLA to Philly - The Adoptee Rights Demonstrations and do three things:

* Watch the video
* Add it to your YouTube favorites
* Add a comment

These will help push the video to the front of YouTube's non-profits page, which will in turn spread the word about the cause. Please spread the word, too - on your websites and blogs, with the organizations you belong to, and with your friends! APs, while you're at it, join the Facebook group Adoptive Parents for Open Records to show your support for the open records cause.

July 24, 2009

The facts, ma'am, nothing but the facts

More thoughts on the Gates arrest, prompted by the ongoing news and comments by the loquacious BWaters over here.

This particular commenter voiced about the facts, quoted a line or two from the police report and reminded me to read what the witnesses had to say. Interestingly, however, BWaters failed to include Dr. Gates' own account as a possible source of information about this case. I therefore suggest you read them both - here's the police report, and here's Dr. Gates' account.

As for the eyewitness accounts: Just google the Gates case and read them at your own risk. As pretty much everyone (except apparently BWaters) knows, eyewitness accounts are not always reliable and have contributed to wrongful arrests and convictions.

This case definitely has me thinking - about what happened to Dr. Gates, about people's reactions to it, and about where the dialog might take us. I'm going to be dead honest with you: it's depressing to read how many people refuse to see race as a factor in this situation, or argue that racism exists at all. It's frankly shocking (and an example of white privilege at its finest) to see comments that ignore the history of police mistreatment of people of color, suggest that a black man wouldn't react differently to the presence of the police on his doorstep than a white man would, and confuse obnoxiousness with criminal behavior.

It's just plain ridiculous that someone would believe that giving Reggie Lewis CPR proves anything related to this event at all.

Also, a couple of clarifications:

As the title of my first post indicated, I believe racism is at the root of what happened to Dr. Gates. However, readers and commenters beware: I say nowhere in that post, nor do I believe, that Sgt. Crowley's personal attitudes toward race are the issue, and comments here that make that accusation will be deleted. Racism can become so institutionalized that, in spite of protestations to the contrary, we are all capable of racist behaviors. I believe the set of circumstances that led to Dr. Gates arrest triggered just such an outcome.

I'm not sure "racial profiling" is the correct term to describe it, however, although Dr. Gates does in his account.

July 22, 2009

No explanation but racism

Edited 7-23-09 to add:

I'm scratching my head at why the majority of commenters seem to purposely miss this fact:

Professor Gates was ARRESTED - not warned, not admonished, but ARRESTED - IN HIS OWN HOME AFTER DISPLAYING THE IDENTIFICATION REQUESTED BY THE POLICE. There may or may not be racial overtones to the fact that someone called the cops on him, but that's not the point. The point is that in spite of the fact that he had proved to the police that he was in his own home, they arrested him.
I've been trying to put myself in a similar situation, but it's hard. Because I'm white, and have never been questioned about my place in my neighborhood, I don't know if I'd immediately turn to anger as a response. But I do know it's out of the realm of my reality that a cop would arrest me once I'd proved my place there. An admonishment or warning - yes; an arrest - no.

Another commenter said this: "If a suspect, be they black or white, gets in the face of an officer, he's going to get arrested, no matter who he has proven himself to be." For which crime was Professor Gates a suspect after he provided his ID, which is when the arrest took place? At that point, decorum and decibels were irrelevant and the police should have apologized and gone on their way. Richard Weinblatt, director of the Institute for Public Safety at Central Ohio Technical College, points out on his blog:

Bottom line: while the officer was justified in investigating a crime, he stated in his report that he was satisfied that the occupant, Professor Gates, was legally allowed to be there and that no further danger was present. That, from a law enforcement perspective, is THE key phrase. It was at that point he should have left. This became a battle of competing egos.

I think a refresher of Peggy McIntosh's White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack is in order. To those of you who are trolling for posts that share my opinion onto which to drop your comments: read that first.

* * * * * * *

Just back from a short vacation, but while I'm catching up, please go read this, along with the other reports on the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University and PBS documentarian.

The charge: "loud and tumultuous behavior in a public space." Only Gates was in his own home in broad daylight.

The catalyst for the charge: "a call about a potential break-in at his home that was phoned in by a white woman."

I don't have the energy to read all the (mostly stupid) comments following the article, because I'm just plain sick to death of people rationalizing situations like this. This is racial profiling. Period.

Attention KAAN Conference attendees: Don't miss the session White Privilege: A User's Guide with John Raible, Jen Hilzinger and Mark Hagland.

July 9, 2009

Ethica positions on pending international adoption legislation

Legislative updates from Ethica. Read the legislation (I need to do the same), and voice your opinions, which may or may not echo Ethica's. If you're on Facebook, a Facebook group has been formed in opposition to the FACE Act.

International Adoption — Ethica’s Positions on Pending Legislation
July 8, 2009

Ethica urges you to read these bills in their entirety. Do you share Ethica’s concerns about these bills? It’s important that Committee members hear YOUR voice. Contact info for each of the bills is below.

To reach your Representative or Senator, go to the House or Senate websites and locate your member by zip code or state. To find your zip+4 zip code, go to the US Postal Service website.

Senate Bill 1376

Sponsored by Sen Amy Klobuchar (MN), Senator Durbin (IL), Senator Feingold (WI), Sen Inhofe (OK), and Sen Landrieu (LA)

A bill to restore immunization and sibling age exemptions for children adopted by United States citizens under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption to allow their admission to the United States.

Ethica supports the passage of this bill.

  • Ethica believes the immunization waiver was intended in original legislation but was left out by oversight.
  • Ethica believes that the health risks a child faces by the current immunization requirements are greater than the public health risk that such a requirement serves to protect.
  • The previous guidelines requiring parents to vaccinate upon return to the US provided a safe, medically supportive protocol without public health implications for the 12 years it was enacted. This is still the protocol used for non-Hague adoptions.
  • This immigrant class is the only class that does not contain a vaccine exemption option.
  • Ethica supports the sibling age exemption increase to age 18 for children who are part of qualified sibling groups adopted within the same family as is the case for non-Hague adoptions. We believe this, too, was an unintended oversight in amending Immigration and Nationality Act. Ethica believes that siblings should remain together whenever possible.
This bill will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. To contact them to voice your opinion on this bill, call 202-224-7703 (Democrats) or 202-224-5225 (Republicans). To find members of the committee who would be happy to hear your opinion: http://judiciary.senate.gov/about/members.cfm

House Bill 3070 Families for Orphans Act

Sponsored by Congresswoman Diane Watson (D-CA) and Congressman John Boozman (R-AR)

A bill to encourage the development and implementation of a comprehensive, global strategy for the preservation and reunification of families and the provision of permanent parental care for orphans, and for other purposes.

Ethica opposes passage of the Families for Orphans Act.

  • The Families for Orphans Act, if passed, would give the United States unilateral power to develop global child welfare strategies by providing financial incentives for other countries (including through debt and trade relief) to send their children abroad for international adoption.
  • Instead, the United States should be participating diplomatically with other nations in developing global child welfare strategies, for example, by finally ratifying the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child.
  • The bill legalizes an overly broad definition of “orphan”, capturing countless numbers of children who already have loving families, potentially including, for example, children who reside in boarding schools away from their primary caregivers.
  • This bill augments existing financial incentives for countries to favor international adoption by offering additional financial incentives, including technical assistance, grants, trade, and debt relief from the United States, which may sacrifice established child welfare principles by favoring international adoption over local solutions.
  • Reunification efforts are “time-limited” which may cause original families to be unnecessarily separated from their children.
  • Conflicts exist with various definitions in the bill. For example, long-term kinship and guardianship arrangements which are considered “permanent” care under the bill may simultaneously be considered long-term foster care arrangements, which are considered to be temporary care under the bill.
  • The bill requires “cultural norms” to be taken into account, but only to the extent consistent with the purposes of the bill. The bill permits the United States then to essentially disregard a country’s cultural norms.
Ethica supports the strengthening of global child welfare systems. However, we believe that this would best be accomplished by working through existing frameworks of technical assistance and aid, ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to demonstrate the commitment of the United States as a global partner in securing and upholding children’s basic rights, limiting the definition of orphans to those children truly in need of permanent caregivers with placement decisions made without the influence of money.

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs will first debate this bill. They can be reached at the following location for your feedback:
Phone: (202) 225-5021
Email: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/contact.asp

Members on the Committee who are also available to hear your opinions: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/members.asp

Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act (FACE Act)

Introduced in the Senate as S. 1359 (Senators Landrieu and Inhofe) and in the House as H.R. 3110 (Rep. Watson and Boozman)

A bill to provide United States citizenship for children adopted from outside the United States, and for other purposes.

Ethica opposes passage of the FACE Act. Ethica believes the FACE Act, if passed, would harm adopted persons and their birth- and adoptive families in a number of ways, including:
  • The bill is intended to eliminate the U.S. immigrant visa process, which means it eliminates the safeguards put in place to help ensure that children placed for adoption are legally in need of homes abroad
  • By conferring citizenship retroactive to birth, Ethica believes the bill creates a legal fiction and diminishes adoptees’ birth history
  • While eliminating the visa process may save adopting families a small amount of money toward the large costs of adopting, there is no guarantee that the Department of State will not charge similar or even higher fees for services it will provide under this bill.
  • The bill may create additional hurdles and costs for adopted persons in the future as they attempt to claim benefits and privileges they are otherwise entitled to in their countries of birth
  • Eligibility for adoption of a particular child is generally determined by the “competent authority” of the child’s country of origin. The bill does not address eligibility for adoption in countries that have not designated a competent authority
  • The suitability of the adopting parent is based on the person’s ability to support the child and appropriate criminal background checks. The bill does not address existing federal requirements for homestudies of prospective adopting parents.
  • Enacting this bill may stall adoptions in process: It is unclear how this bill will affect provisions of the Intercountry Adoption Act (which implemented the Hague Convention). Instead of speeding up processing by bypassing the visa system, confusion in interpretation and the development of new processing procedures, particularly for Hague countries, will likely create delays for adopting families and children.
  • Ethica believes that adoptees and other immigrants should be able to become President, but pursuing the right to presidency should be done in a way that does not erase personal histories.
  • Ethica also wholeheartedly agrees that citizenship procedures should be improved for adoptees, and believes that adoptees not covered under the Child Citizenship Act (including adopted persons who have been deported) should be conferred U.S. citizenship. However, this bill goes far beyond these measures and has the potential to hurt more than help.

This bill is being considered in two committees in the House of Representatives and one committee in the U.S. Senate:

In the House:

House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Phone: (202) 225-5021
Email: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/contact.asp
Members on the Committee who are also available to hear your opinions: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/members.asp

House Judiciary Committee:
Phone: 202-225-3951
Find members of the committee who would be happy to hear your opinions: http://judiciary.house.gov/about/members.html

In the Senate:

Senate Judiciary Committee
Phone: 202-224-7703 (Democrats) or 202-224-5225 (Republicans)
To find members of the committee who would be happy to hear your opinion: http://judiciary.senate.gov/about/members.cfm

July 1, 2009

KAAN Early Registration Extended to July 15th

Please spread the word - and come to the conference!!

Don't miss what promises to be a great experience this summer! It's the annual KAAN Conference for adult Korean adoptees, adoptive families, and Korean Americans.

Sheraton Denver Hotel
Denver, Colorado
July 31 - August 2, 2009

This 11th Annual KAAN Conference uniquely brings together all the member groups around Korean adoption. This year's conference will be held at the Sheraton Denver Hotel in Denver, Colorado from July 31st through August 2nd. It promises the best sessions ever.

For example, Carissa Woodwyk, an adult Korean adoptee who is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has authored the book Before You Were Mine will talk in a keynote address about the impact of relinquishment on adoptees' psyches; an adult adoptee and a relative by family association will discuss Family Labels and Language and talk about what it means to have to explain one's family on a regular basis; and, in an adult-adoptees-only session, adult adoptees will discuss the face and body image issues that many experience in the session Why I Don't Like My Face. In Meeting a Korean Birthmother and Birthfather, attendees will hear the story of a Korean mother and father who placed their child, have been reunited, and now live in the U.S. Adult adoptees will also be able to come together on the evening of Friday July 31st for an adult-adoptees-and-their-guests-only dinner. Special tracks for kids and teens round out the schedule.

KAAN understands that the economy poses a special challenge this year to individuals and families who would like to attend. The good news is that early-bird registration has been extended through July 15. At only $199 for a Friday evening through Sunday mid-day event, the conference remains an extremely reasonably priced event for anyone with experience around Korean adoption. Partial registration is also possible, and reasonable airfares are available.

For more information and to register, go to the KAAN Conference website at:

See you in Denver!

I hate reading things like this

This makes me heartsick. I hate this disease, I really do. I hate thinking of the people it has taken. And I hate thinking that it will take many more before a cure is found.

In the meantime, the best hope for many leukemia sufferers is bone marrow transplant. For the best possible outcome, you need a match, a really close match. The best chance of that comes from biological family members, but of course for an adopted person this may not be possible.

For this reason, we need lots and lots of people of all ethnicities and races need to step up to the plate and register to be bone marrow donors. Registering is easy - a swab, some paperwork, and you're done. Actually donating marrow is harder, but the possibility of saving a life outweighs the risk and discomfort. Ask anyone who has been a match, and I'm sure they'll agree.

So please, please register. You can learn more here:

Asian American Donor Program
Asians for Miracle Matches
National Marrow Donor Program
The Caitlin Raymond International Registry
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

If you've already registered, you can do more: Sponsor a marrow registration drive at your workplace or an event. Give dollars. And stand up for adoptee rights. Opening records gives adopted people at least a fighting chance of finding a relative whose marrow might save their life, should that need arise.

There are no guarantees with this disease. Even with a match, it may win. But to deny an individual the opportunity of even trying to fight it with a family member's marrow?

That's just wrong.