Yesterday I participated on a panel at the Annual Adoption Conference of New England held in Milford, MA. The first thing I noticed when I walked into the conference were the large number of adoption agencies and prospective (predominantly white) parents racing back and forth looking at posterboards of children from all over the world taking notes in their ACONE supllied folders.
It was like a marketplace. This wasn’t the first time I had encountered something like this before, but I couldn’t but feel powerless. I was the product, or an investment. Like a CD I had finally matured to my fullest capicity and here I was on display for all to see the potential investment that could be had. If felt surreal walking up a hallway seeing endless walls of adoption “counsellers” (also predominantly white) dotting the floorplan of what had become a worldwide adoption menu. I approached the check-in table and inquired about where my presentation room would be. The lady behind the table pulled out a floor diagram pointing to the room I would be in. “Just follow the walls of vendors-ahem I mean adoption advocates, and you’ll see your room right before the court yard.” At least someone else noticed the consumeristic through-line here.
The panel went well-productively I thought. Most of the parents in the room asked intelligent questions and seemed to genuinely want our opinions to help raise their children. Others seemed indifferent and forced by their partner to come and “hear us out.” One woman towards the end of the program put me on the spot with a question that I wasn’t quite ready for.
“I was wondering, as an adoptee with adopted siblings of different ethnicities, do you think it would be more important to construct my family with all Korean adoptees, or with a multiracial family?”
I’m still sort of plowing through what I should have said without much luck. It was an interesting experience, and with each experience I’m able to compile new insights that hopefully can help a-parents grapple with adoption. Hopefully next time I’ll be more prepared.