June 28, 2012

They don't love us when we're born

I'm very fortunate to know and have the opportunity to collaborate with Jane Jeong Trenka, author of The Language of Blood, Fugitive Visions and and co-editor of Outsiders Within, among other works, and driving force behind TRACK, Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoptee Community of Korea. She is one of a group of Korean adoptees that I believe are literally changing the face of Korean adoption for the better through their work and art.

At the moment, you will find Jane in Korea working to change Korean attitudes and laws on pretty much everyone and everything that touches adoption: Korean adoption law, attitudes and support for single mothers, adoptee citizenship (Korean and adoptive), deportation, serious post-adoption support and more. There's a lot going on right now in the area of citizenship, deportation and the needs of deported adoptees, which is where my path has crossed Jane's for the past several months.

What has struck above all about working with Jane are the following: she will pull absolutely no punches in her efforts to obtain support and recognition for Korean adoptees, and her sense of justice is absolutely razor sharp. With her permission, I share a note she wrote on her Facebook page that nails something that has bugged me for a long time.

When my husband and I first adopted, one of the things that bugged me pretty much out of the gate was the fact that our adoption agency expected loyalty from us. I met families who expressed their unending gratitude to the agency at every opportunity, in words and in dollars, and actually felt pretty crummy that I didn't share it. I was and still am grateful to the people who helped us through the process and to those in Korea who cared for our children before they joined our family, but I just do not feel that I should go through life in blind loyalty to these organizations.

I also can't feel any gratitude to the Korean government for the staged welcomes and free trips they offer to adoptees and adoptive families, not while they're still issuing travel papers for deported adoptees. Additionally, that welcome doesn't extend to a deported or sick or emotionally battered adoptee who returns or is returned to Korea; that adoptee is left to fend for him- or herself.

All adoptees deserve professional and other support, whenever and wherever they need it, with citizenship at the top of the list. When adoption programs fail adoptees with legal and health issues here and in Korea, Korean adoption fails altogether. Governments and adoption agencies in Korea and the U.S. need to step up to their responsibilities to this population of adopted individuals, not just in word, but in deed.

Jane has been kicking butts all over Korea on this subject for quite some time, and wrote something on her Facebook page today that I share here with her permission (bold mine). Thank you, Jane, for nailing this.
I met a government worker the other day who told me, "You have to remember that no matter where you are, and even if you're adopted, YOU ARE KOREAN! That is your strength." I thought, "Just SHUT IT with your nationalistic Nazi master race bullshit."

The Korean government loves adoptees when we are learning the Korean language, eating Korean food, being tourists in Insadong, being reunited on TV, being successful in foreign countries, or visiting Korea on business.

They do not love us when we are sick, when we can't learn Korean, when we want to eat a burger, when we are abused in adoptive families, when we are addicted because we were abused, when we are saying that we have human rights, or *when we are born.*

Adoptees, don't let one-time fancy buffets and some smiling officials in suits fool you. If the Korean government really gave a shit about you - you who were born a Korean citizen - you would not have ever been adopted. They would have found a way to care for you, a Korean citizen, here, in Korea. They still haven't.

Three babies will leave Korea today for international adoption. What is strong about that?
There is nothing strong about that. To any Korean person that might stumble onto this blog, to any Korean American friend with the ability to influence Korean policymakers: please, PLEASE, understand that the adoption experience includes far more than cute babies and smiling parents. It includes emotional illness, abuse, addiction and crime. It includes the rejection of family and country, sometimes birth and adoptive both. And for some adopted individuals, it is a hell from which there is no escape as long as agencies and governments turn a blind eye to this part of the reality.

June 21, 2012

Who's going to the 2012 St. John's Conference in Manhattan?

Anyone know they're going already?

Office of Post-graduate Clinical and Professional Programs

An interdisciplinary and inter-institutional structure

The 7th Biennial Adoption Conference
“Best Interests of the Child?”
Race, Religion, and Rescue in Adoption
October 18-20, 2012

Location: St. John’s University, Manhattan

For the latest information about the conference, visit The Adoption Initiative website or email adoptioninitiative@gmail.com

June 14, 2012

Stopping the buck with Obama to end adoptee deportations

This is excellent!

AdopSource, an adoptee-led organization based in the Minneapolis area, has written a letter to President Obama urging him to take action to stop the deportation of intercountry adoptees (including Kairi Shepherd, who is facing deportation to India right now), provide citizenship for all intercountry adoptees, and reunite deported adoptees with their families in the U.S.

The letter has been signed by over forty organizations and individuals who are active in the intercountry adoption community and adoption reform efforts, including the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Ethica, the Evan B. Donaldson Institute, Joint Council on International Children’s Services, Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network, Korean Focus (have to plug my peeps), Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform, Holt International, Mixed Roots Foundation, National Council For Adoption and United Adoptees International.

The individuals represent adoption agencies and the adoption reform movement: David Smolin, Susan Cox, Bert Ballard, Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, Stephanie Kripa-Lewter, Tobias Hübinette, Sarah Park and more.

Read the letter here, and then add your and your organization's support to this letter now by contacting AdopSource at info@adopsource.org.

I have no doubt that if we in the adoption community come together around this issue that we'll succeed. So please spread the word about the AdopSource letter and other actions (like the Korean Focus petition of last fall and AdopSource's petition to stop the deportation of Russell Green from earlier this year), or start your own in your own community.

Thank you! And many thanks to the AdopSource team for writing this letter, getting so many people in the adoption community to sign on and sending it off to the President!

June 7, 2012

Korean adoptee bloggers unite!

First, a thank you: to everyone who commented on this and this, and allowed me to think out loud about the Anyeli Rodriquez case. I've got a little more to say, and will do that as soon as work allows.

In the meantime, Land of Gazillion Adoptees has issued a challenge to all Korean adoptee bloggers:
Can I have your attention please, Korean adoptee bloggers?!  As you know, we are a reflection of the massive Korean adoptee community.  We are part of a worldwide community that is marked by diversity of opinion when it comes to anything relating to adoption.  Some of us are “pro-adoption.”  Some of us are “anti-adoption.”  Some of us “don’t give a shit.”  However, I suspect we Korean adoptee bloggers can agree when it comes to this: “The deportation of adoptees is fucked up.”  Yes, the statement is crass, but am I wrong?

With this in mind, I ask you to join us folks here at Land of Gazillion Adoptees to talk about adoptee deportation/citizenship at least once during the month of June.  Talk about our fellow Korean adoptee Russell Green.  Talk about our fellow adoptee Kairi Abha Shephard.  Talk about adoptee deportation/citizenship in a broader context.  Talk about other deportation cases.  Talk about the need to reform the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.  Talk about the fact that others are talking about adoptee deportation/citizenship.  Talk about the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) statement: ...
Crass or no, LGA's statement about the state of adoptee citizenship is spot on. So I would add one more topic to the talking points: the pure human rights insult of adoptee deportation. It is wrong, period, and we need to let legislators and the mainstream know that we don't buy the double-talk.

Go, pass on the challenge and write, and when you're done, let LGA know that you've written by commenting on this post. Thank you!