October 28, 2009

God adopted us, so adoption is good - right?

With thanks to osolomama and Mirjam via email for the heads up, I’ve been chewing on this recently. I know many of you have been talking about it, too.

I’m not sure what it is about the kind of religious fervor I see in this post that disturbs me so much. The self-righteousness? The inflexibility? The narrow definition of Christianity (which is often so theologically incorrect as to no longer be in Christ’s ballpark)? The certainty that anyone who disagrees must be Godless, hate-filled and worthy of this much-better-Christian’s prayers?

All of the above and undoubtedly more. I'm a Christian (Catholic, so some may disagree - heh), but I simply don't relate to what I read in this post. My Christianity always taught me that no human being knows everything; that humility is one of the greatest virtues; and that love can’t coexist with force – physical, emotional, verbal, intellectual, or otherwise. I was also taught that many, maybe all, of the things Christ taught are found in other religious traditions, and that if you follow those teachings you in fact follow Him. No wonder a lot of the people I believe most deserve to be called Christians practice other faiths.

The post’s author writes with certainty. There’s no room for other points of view in his world, or on his blog for that matter; most comments are published with his rebuttal included, tit for tat. This blog proselytizes, and adoption (which nowadays is the subject of some of the most ill-reasoned and theologically unsound - but profitable! Think Russell Moore! - preaching these days) gets dragged along for the ride.

Clearly I don't like it. But I don’t like the some of the discussion and comments any better.

Don’t misunderstand: the post was very disturbing. I thought a lot of what I read in the comments, and worse. But there’s no point arguing with someone whose “worldview” (his word) equips him with the authority or pomposity to offer his prayers for everyone who disagrees with him. This individual’s mindset is locked down tightly, so tightly that all we commenters (yes, I commented, so I'm including myself in what I don't like) really did was provide prayer fodder.

In my opinion, the bigger challenge is to extricate adoption practice from the clutches of faith-based agencies that promote such behaviors. I don’t believe all faith-based adoption agencies fall into this category; there are some that are doing good work, and a few that are downright progressive. But the "Christian adoption movement," which some Christians claim has been given God’s approval because he “adopted” us, has become something unto itself. When you read the sites of those who promote it, you find that it no longer has anything to do Christ or Christianity or Christ-like behavior, but instead is all about pounding the point home that because that because there are five references to God's adoption of humanity in the Bible, we should all go out and adopt. Those who do adopt get a kind of theological atta-boy: See we adopted an orphan, and since God adopted us this is a good thing and we’re good people!

Never mind that the orphan wasn’t one, or that the adoption process was shot with injustice, or that the family who lost their child remains mired in poverty or misfortune. We'll pray for them.

Getting our legal system to understand the danger of this kind of adoption, which has given itself the mandate of heaven and set itself above the law, is the real issue in my opinion. We’ll never make this point in one-on-one debates with the people who believe in it. We need to get credible adoption organizations to start making the point at much higher levels. Hopefully the current political climate will make it possible for them to do so.

For those of you who, like me, see and treasure the parallels between Christianity and Buddhism, two books I like:

Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers
Living Buddha, Living Christ

October 27, 2009

More thoughts about FACE legislation

A commenter on my post yesterday about FACE legislation sparked these thoughts, which I should have included in that post in the first place.

Before I share my reasons for opposing this legislation, I recommend that everyone go out and read all of the following:

I want you to see this from a couple of different angles, including the language in the legislation, before I share my problems with it. They start with deficiencies in the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA 2000,) which grants citizenship to intercountry adoptees upon arrival in the US. There's a loophole in this law that excludes adoptees 18 and over which has led to adoptee deportations, as well as the death of at least one, Joao Herbert.

The fact that this loophole still exists almost ten years and numerous deportations later demonstrates a failure on the part of lawmakers to understand the adoption experience. I can think of few things that take place at the hands of our legal system as unjust as deporting someone who was brought here by Americans, raised here, whose life and family is here, and who may know absolutely nothing of the language and culture of the birth country.

FACE does nothing to correct this serious flaw. It would simply eliminate the visa process and make citizenship retroactive to birth upon finalization of an adoption. If it is to pass, there will be no overturning of adoptee deportations, no retroactive granting of citizenship to adult adoptees. ith child trafficking a real and present danger in intercountry adoption, this makes no sense.

EACH, one of the major supporters of the legislation, gives reasons like reducing adoption fees, speeding up the process and making it possible for transnational adoptees to run for president. These first two focus primarily on adoptive parent needs, but the last one really puzzles me, because it honestly seems a little silly in light of the adoptee deportations that have already taken place and are pending. It's certainly not an adoptee citizenship battle I would have picked, not here and now.

Would I like to see my children be able to run for President one day if they so choose? Of course, if that's what they want to do. But I know a whole lot of other people I'd like to see be able to do that, too - my friend Mark Keam, who is running for delegate to the Virginia House of Delegates, springs immediately to mind, and I bet you all know plenty of others. You may find yourself excluded from seeking this high office, for that matter.

I don't want to set my Korean-born children apart from Mark and others in their Korean American community. I want to redress the failures of the CCA 2000, and address the bigger picture of immigration reform, and immigrant rights and responsibilities. For this reason, I see FACE as counterproductive to the broader discussion, and believe it would set a dangerous precedent.

Holt raises important concerns having to do with respect for adoptee history, with which I agree:

  • By conferring citizenship retroactive to birth, FACE creates a legal fiction and diminishes adoptees' birth history
  • Current immigration procedures requires the preservation of child history and records by the Central Authority. Adoption information and records are regularly lost or misplaced by families requiring adoptees to seek their birth and adoption history. That information is preserved for them, but FACE would eliminate the preservation of this critical information.
In case you weren't aware of it, the Central Authority for intercountry adoption to the US is the Department of State. Take them out of the adoption process by eliminating the immigrant visa, and the risks are clear.

I'm also having difficulty understanding FACE would speed up the granting of citizenship. The CCA of 2000 grants citizenship upon arrival, which in my case pre-dates finalization (FACE's citizenship milestone) by over six months. The difference is that FACE would make the attachment of citizenship retroactive to the child's birth. If ensuring that intercountry adoptees obtain citizenship speedily is the goal, FACE is unnecessary. I think the real driver has nothing to do with this, though. I think it has to do with adoptive parent desire to make their internationally-adopted children look just like birth children in the eyes of immigration law.

Only they're not.

Please write your legislators today and urge them to oppose this legislation. When you do, remind them to plug the CCA 2000 age loophole, to overturn the adoptee deportations that have already taken place, and to grant immediate citizenship to all intercountry adoptees who were excluded by the CCA 2000.

But don't forget: Fixing the CCA of 2000 is only a part of the work we need to do to reform and improve our country's immigration laws. It's a starting point that's of particular importance to adoptive parents, but can't be where our involvement ends.

October 26, 2009

Holt Action Alert: Oppose FACE Legislation

Back in July, I passed on some important information from Ethica about pending legislation that will affect intercountry adoption. Holt International has begun an action alert to encourage those who oppose this legislation to make our opinions known by encouraging our legislators to oppose the proposed bill.

If you, too, are concerned about the negative impacts of FACE legislation on the adoption process, as well as its potential negative consequences for adoptees, please visit the Holt action alert page now. In addition to a clear explanation of Holt's concerns with this legislation, you will find a suggested letter that can be emailed to your legislators from the action alert page.

Join Ethica, Holt and many others and register your opposition to FACE legislation today.

Edited 10-20-09 to add: Some of you may not be comfortable using an adoption agency website to contact your legislators. You can find your representatives and senators directly on the House and Senate websites, too. It doesn't matter how you voice your concerns - it matters that you do.

And please spread the word!!

October 20, 2009

Love isn't enough

Love conquers all.

If you're an adoptive parent, you've probably heard or read these words before. Heck, maybe you've even said them yourself, or believed it at one time or another in your adoption journey.

I'll be honest: way back at the beginning, I believed it, too. But I learned quickly that saying the words and hoping they were true weren't enough to fulfill my responsibilities to my children. I learned that along with that love, you have to act: respect and nurture your child's connection to his or her culture and community, and work actively to end racism. I've written my thoughts about this before - here, here, here, here, and probably a few more places, too.

I've also written from time to time at Anti-Racist Parent, one of the best places on the internet for parents raising children of color to come together and discuss the issues facing them. If you're also an ARP fan, you may know already that there are, to steal ARP's own phrase, changes afoot.

Anti-Racist Parent is now Love Isn't Enough: On Raising a Family in a Colorstruck World, where many new topics will now be discussed:
We talk about race, mostly, but we also want to talk about education and self-esteem and childcare and religion and gender bias and homophobia and the things all parents, regardless of race, worry about…and how all that stuff intersects with race.
Bookmark Love Isn't Enough, and stay tuned for new discussions and more changes.

October 18, 2009

Vote for Dawn and support Ethica!

Seriously busy at work and home - there's a light at the end of the tunnel, but while it's still a speck in the distance, please do me a favor:

Go over to the Bump and vote for Dawn - This Woman's Work. She's got a commanding lead, and we want to keep it that way, because if she wins the contest will donate her winnings - $1000! - to Ethica.

Dawn, you are a heck of a class act!!

October 9, 2009

Korean Mothers in the New York Times

I'm falling down on the blogging job again - forgive me please! As it turns out, having both kids at school does NOT mean that life instantly becomes a day at the beach. Actually, the one who got a day at the beach is The Girl, who was told us with great glee last Sunday how she a couple of friends took at $.25 bus to the beach for an afternoon the day before. She should have told me about how hard she was working on chemistry before she told me about the beach, because I would have been a lot more likely to sympathize then.

Projects are coming out of the woodwork, not to mention the fact that The Boy came home for a long weekend last weekend and kept us hopping with fixing clothes, shopping, and cooking lessons. We made bulgogi, which he wanted to demonstrate to a bunch of friends. The only problem is that he's not sure if he can get the right kind of meat where he is, so we have to work on that. Maybe this will give Third Dad and I good reason to go down more often: We can call our visits bulgogi runs.

I suppose being really busy is better than being bored stupid and crying all the time because the kids are gone, but I'm a little surprised that I don't have more time to do stuff like write now that they're off. It also makes me realize how much wasn't getting done around here when I was writing a lot more. No wonder the place is a wreck.

Anyhow, my real reason for posting today:

Be sure to read this article in the New York Times about the ongoing struggle of single Korean mothers to stand up to Korean societal stigma. Two of my favorite people are quotes: Jane Jeong Trenka of TRACK: Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea, and Rick Boas of KUMSN: Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network.

The Korean government's illogical approach to increasing the birthrate in Korea, a subject of great national interest at the moment, is summed up clearly here:
For years, the South Korean government has worked to reduce overseas adoptions, which peaked at 8,837 in 1985. To increase adoptions at home, it provides subsidies and extra health care benefits for families that adopt, and it designated May 11 as Adoption Day.

It also spends billions of dollars a year to try to reverse the declining birthrate, subsidizing fertility treatments for married couples, for example.

“But we don’t see a campaign for unmarried mothers to raise our own children,” said Lee Mee-kyong, a 33-year-old unwed mother. “Once you become an unwed mom, you’re branded as immoral and a failure. People treat you as if you had committed a crime. You fall to the bottom rung of society.”
What is done to women the world over who commit this "crime" of bearing children while unmarried unites each and every one of us. It doesn't matter if we share the experience or not, or if we are connected to adoption in any way, or what our personal opinions are about the morality of having children outside of marriage. What matters it that once a woman is pregnant, she deserves the exact same emotional and material support that a married woman would receive. This is a woman's issue, and I hope all women will unite behind it.