New Site/Concept Coming!

Hello All,

It’s been a long time since I last posted something here.  I have every intention of keeping this blog up and in fact I may be refocusing this blog just a tad.

In its previous incarnation, this blog has been a space to share representations, appropriations, mis-representations, and whole list of other topics related to Korean adoption.  While I will continue to highlight these types of  newsworthy items, I’m hoping to also add some source of entertainment as well.

Right now I’m working to figure out whether I should overhaul this site or maybe start fresh.

I’ll keep you all apprised as I move forward with this shift!  Hope to see you all on the other side.

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Re-calibrating…

Hi All,

I know that it has been a LONNNNGGG time since I have posted. Now that my masters program is winding down, I will be spending some time figuring out how to utilize this space.

I’ll be around, so feel free to comment if you like. But just know that I’m taking a bit of a break and will be back once I figure out how I can continue blogging.

Thanks!

GOA’L Now Hiring

Hi Everyone – The Global Overseas Adoptees’ Link (GOA’L) is now hiring for two positions:  Vice Secretary General and Secretary General.  I just wanted to give Mee Joo credit for all the hard work she has put into her post as Vice Secretary General.  GOA’L does outstanding work for the international adoptee community so I really do hope we’ll see some people step up, and pick up, where Mee Joo and others left off.  Here’s a message from GOA’L about the two job vacancies.

—————–

Dear G.O.A.’L members, supporters and friends:

This announcement is to inform the adoptee community – both in Korea and abroad – of the current status of G.O.A.’L. Over the last several months G.O.A.’L has been operating at a limited capacity as a result of staff changes, including the position of Secretary General (SG). Though Vice Secretary General Katie Mee Joo Putes has assumed the responsibilities of SG during this transition period, the position of SG remains vacant.

Recently, Vice Secretary General Putes announced her resignation, effective June 30, 2010. Although she will continue to support G.O.A.’L, she is moving on to pursue other goals. Prior to her departure, the position of SG must be filled in order for G.O.A.’L to continue operating. If the position of SG remains vacant, G.O.A.’L may be forced to close – it is no understatement to say that the very survival of G.O.A.’L is at stake.

We are making a second call for eligible candidates for the position of Secretary General. Interested persons are requested to submit a resume and cover letter by June 23, 2010. The Board of Directors, as per the Articles of Incorporation, can then select an eligible person for the position of Secretary General. G.O.A.’L will not be organizing a second election. Please visit the G.O.A.’L website for more information: http://www.facebook.com/l/c3ae6;www.goal.or.kr.

As the very existence of G.O.A.’L is dependent on both the support and involvement of adoptees, we at G.O.A.’L are asking members of our community to stand behind G.O.A.’L at this difficult time. We appreciate your understanding and continued belief in what G.O.A.’L does and represents for adoptees.

Sincerely,
G.O.A.’L

Pieces of Reunion Seeking Reunion Stories

Hey folks – A friend of mine sent this information along, and I wanted to share it with all of you.  It’s so important that everyone who is part of the reunion process has a voice here.  If you are interested in sharing your stories and thoughts please take a look.  The deadline is 10/1/10

Pieces of Reunion
Adoptees, first parents, and adoptive parents share their stories

Call for Submissions
deadline 10/1/2010

EMK Press, a leader in innovative publications and resources for people affected by adoption, is working to create a new book that takes a look at adoption reunion from all sides of the triad: Adoptee, First Parent, and Adoptive Parent. This book will explore the uncharted risks, pitfalls, and emotions that are a part of an adoption search, reunion process, and the life after reunion from the perspectives of those involved and impacted.

The emotional rollercoaster of searching for a family member across lost years is a journey most undertake without a map. The process can take years and have long reaching emotional implications, and until now, there has been very little to guide the participants. Every reunion journey is as unique as the individuals and circumstances. But there are commonalities that can be helpful when shared. Reunion changes each of us in ways we may have never imagined and it changes us forever.

How Has Adoption Reunion
Changed You?

We want to hear from you…all of you! We want to know what you felt, what you’ve learned, and your hopes for the future of your reunion. This will go beyond just the telling of the facts, but touch on the deeper emotions that weave in and out of an adoption reunion. This book is more than a bunch of “happily ever after” reunion stories that end after the first hug. We need your authentic voices and experiences to help others as they choose the path to take toward reunion and beyond.

This book will not only help those thinking about reunion and living in reunion, but be beneficial to those who work with all aspects of adoption: caseworkers, social workers, intermediaries, agencies, therapists, well meaning relatives, etc.

Adoption Reunion Stories are Needed from:

• The perspectives of adopted persons domestic, international and foster care circumstances whether you have searched or been found.

• The perspective of someone who has searched forever without finding.

• First parents, both moms and dads, whether you actively searched, patiently waited to be found, tried to pretend that it never happened at all.. or you are still somewhere in the middle.

• Adoptive parents of adoptees from domestic, international and foster care circumstances who have birthparent contact either through open adoptions or searching.

• Siblings (either bio or adopted) and spouses who have not only witnessed, but also felt the force of a reunion on their loved ones.

Reunion questions to think about:

• Why did you decide to search ( or not search)? Or were you found?

• Did you feel in control of your reunion? Did you care?

• Did you have expectations? How did reality live up to them?

• What were your hopes and fears for the reunion?

• How have your feelings changed about your birth/adoptive parents/children since the reunion?

• Has your reunion affected your relationship with other family members?

•What are some of the issues or feelings that you did or did not expect?

• What do you wish you could have been better prepared for?

• What do you wish you could do differently? What do you wish could have been different?

•l What challenges do you still face?

Stages in the Adoption Reunion Process:

We hope to gather the emotional journeys from all stages of the adoption search and reunion process.

To search or not to search: How did you decide? What did you fear? What held you back? What made it the right time to begin? Or why won’t you search?

The Hunt is On: How did it feel to be actively searching? How did you handle disappointments and dead ends? What means of personal support did you have, or not have? When do you give up?

Bingo! Found: Describe that feeling in that very moment.. what was it like? How did you react? What did you do next?

Making Contact: You waited and wondered and now it is here; how does it live up to what you imagined? How did you end up here and who do you bring with you? What was most important? What did you fear? What next?

Rejection: What happens when our biggest fear comes true? How do you deal with being sent away again? Do you give up again or what can or can’t be done to change the outcome?

Riding the Highs: Is it all going as planned? Can anyone understand what you are living though? How does this affect the rest of your life? Does the Honeymoon period end and when?

Facing the Pitfalls: What went wrong? What did you never see coming? What do you wish had been different? What attitudes or stereotypes did you find waiting? How can mistakes be repaired?

Integration: How do all the parties fit together? What defines your family now? How about your feelings towards extended family members? How do you fit in the future?

Longevity: How to make it work for the long haul? What kept the ties together? What challenges did you face and how did you mitigate them? What does an adoption reunion look like in 10 years, in 20, in 30? When do we fully heal?

Reunion doesn’t end when we meet, it continues throughout our lifetimes. We want to know what made your reunion work, or not. How have your perspectives changed through the course of your reunion? What you would tell someone going into this unique experience?

We are looking specifically for articles that deal with one subject. You may send in multiple submissions if you have several distinct topics to cover.

Stories will be collected and the final collection edited and arranged by Melanie Recoy and Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy. As an adoptee and birth mother, both have lived through their own reunions and understand adoption on very personal levels. All submissions will be handled in the upmost respect and care allowing everyone’s personal truth to tell its own story

And other ideas you might have we haven’t listed!

To submit an article, download how-to’s and the permission form by clicking here…

Questions? Shoot us an email by clicking here

John Seabrook NPR Segment

Some of you may recall John Seabrook’s recent article that appeared in the New Yorker on adoption from Haiti.  Well here’s a follow up to his story which appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air program.  The story smacked of “saving children through adoption,” and labeling adult adoptee perspectives as “ungrateful/angry.”

Let’s talk about the host, Terry Gross, whose last name aptly describes how I was feeling after listening to her carelessly quip about saving children and the history of “baby-lifts” in international adoption.

But I think perhaps it’s the most maddening to hear John Seabrook, whose only expertise in adoption is the initial research he has done in thinking about his own life as an adoptive father of a Haitian adoptee,  essentialize the entire history of international adoption.  He systematically denies the social contexts of these countries at the time their adoption programs began, and from a very America-centric/imperialistic point of view,  asserts that corruption occurs ONLY in “poor countries,” since they are more prone to be corrupted by their urge to make money…He later remarks almost smugly on how terrible it is that such a wonderful experience (allegedly for the adoptive parent and adoptee) comes out of such tragedy.  I won’t get into it right now, since that could be a totally different post given the circumstances in Haiti, which he tries to acknowledge only to wipe out his own credibility by saying the latter.

He leads the listeners to believe that those adult adoptees making their mark either through film, book, etc. portray painful experiences (he omits questions of race) and that an adoptees’ seemingly “primal” pain can be cured by trips to ones birth country.  As much as he compares adult adoptee experiences to mere “emotional baggage” he exposes his own hand as an adoptive father with relatively no understanding of race, what it means to parent a child of color, and how his “emotions” potentially drive his own opinions on the historical context of adoption.  Seabrook goes on to describe how he hopes his daughter doesn’t grow up feeling angry about her circumstances…

Of course there is always a question about how well an adoptee is “Adapting,” using pathologized and over-essentialized language like “grieving, loss and trauma” to position his own child (who is supposedly the happiest child he has ever seen), in the percentile of adoptees who did not experience or WILL NOT experience such feelings in the past or later in life.

And, sadly he goes on about how when thinking about international adoption, he and his wife believed they had more of a connection with Haiti and how they felt they could represent Haitian culture to their daughter Rose more than perhaps adopting an African American baby or other baby of color.  Again, this statement itself could be an entirely different post.

Overall, the segment left me feeling as though I was not allowed to socially critique adoption without becoming an “angry adoptee,” and that what I perceive to be my scholarly opinions (based on REAL research), are misleading since they are based on my “feelings.” The piece was totally misrepresentative of the WHOLE adoptee experience and it left me questioning how one with such little knowledge on adoption could be called on for a national radio program to discuss the history and alleged “merits” of international adoption.  Would it be so hard to acknowledge that perhaps the best people to call on to discuss international adoption might just be, the one affected the most by it i.e. the adoptee?  No.  The media seems to prefer to turn to the perspectives of adoptive parents who can tie things off with pretty bows denying that there are huge problems with international adoption, policies, and that for every seemingly “happy ending” there is extreme tragedy when a birth family is broken whether it is through “voluntary” or “involuntary” circumstances.

If you care to listen to this cringe-worthy segment, please click the link below.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126777059

KAD East Coast “Extravaganza”

Calling all adoptees!

If you’re on the East coast, or if you’d like to visit :), come to NYC on the weekend of May 22 for an adoptee East Coast Extravanza!  The East coast adoptee groups unite for a weekend of fun.  Join Also Known As, Inc. (NY), Boston Korean Adoptees, inc. (MA), and Korean American Adoptees of Philadelphia (PA) for fun, food, and noraebang.

If you are interested in attending this fun filled weekend, please check out their facebook page for information.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=115983191759145&ref=ts

IKAA Gathering Film Fest. & Sessions Proposals Due Soon!

The IKAA Gathering 2010 (August 3-8 in Seoul, Korea) is coming up soon! (Apologies for any cross-postings.) Proposals are still being accepted for:

1) Sessions – Deadline is March 19 (extended deadline!). Submit your proposals for a panel, presentation, workshop, interactive discussion, or a caucus to take place during the Gathering. To read more about the different types of sessions and to download the application form, go to http://gathering.ikaa.info/en/page/451.

2) Film Festival – Deadline is April 15. Submissions must be completed works. To download the application and read more about proposal requirements, go to http://gathering.ikaa.info/en/page/466.

As always, you can find the latest updates about the Gathering (including programming, accommodations, airfares, and more) at http://www.ikaa.org. Hope to see you in Seoul this summer!

Birth Parents, Adoptee Parents, and the Silent Language of Biology

I’ve been thinking a lot about the choice to have children as an adoptee (not that I am even close to being there yet).  But, the notion of having children, for many adoptees is pretty scary.

The “Right” Circumstances

Many of us were relinquished by our birth parents for a variety of reasons.  However, there are quite a few of us whose parents were unable to take care of us for socioeconomic reasons.  Perhaps there was no father in the picture, or religion played a role in a birth parent’s decision to relinquish their child.  Many adoptees find themselves examining the decision to have children as a re-examination of themselves as adoptees.  I’ve given it some thought, but it hasn’t been with out pain.  If I ever decide to have children, I want it to be under the “right” circumstances.  I know that there really isn’t any sort of “right” circumstance for having children, but in a lot of ways, I want to ensure that if I do have children,  I am able to take care of them as much as I can.

Our Biological Legacy

How many adoptees have ever thought about adopting?  I won’t lie, it has crossed my mind once or twice.  But that’s not to say that I haven’t considered having children biologically either.  It’s a really tough call.  Part of me doesn’t want to have children because of everything I’ve been through, and for all the frustrations I have with the international adoption system.  I want to make positive changes in policies and the systems and institutions that seem to be so poorly conceived and implemented.  However, I can’t help but think to myself “If I don’t have children, this could be the end of my particular tie to my birth family’s bloodline.”  I was the only child birthed by my two parents, and I represent the end of their bloodline.  Am I meant to carry on my birth family’s biological legacy?  Do I want to, given what I know about my birth father?  These are all tough questions, and ones that I have no answers to.

A New Mom, a New Son

I met my mom this past summer.  What changed?  Everything.  Suddenly, I’m aware of the woman who created me, who cares about me potentially just as much as she would if she had raised me in Korea.  In Korea, at our first lunch together she moved kalbi onto my plate-told me to eat up.  She hugged me close in our first photo together.  All of a sudden I had another mom, and new expectations for myself and our relationship to come.  How do you start a brand new relationship with a mother after 26 years has passed?  How do I begin to build trust and communication when we are so close yet so far apart?  Who am I as a son?  I think back to when I was a kid.  I remember always thinking to myself, “If I do something really well, maybe my mom will see me and be proud of me wherever she is.”  That feeling still exists, and has grown stronger since our first meeting.  I want to share my life with her.  But I am saddened by how I may never be able to speak to her face to face.  I’m confused by who I am as a son, and if I could ever have a son given my own pain and and anxiety.  My life seems to have been measured by expectations.  They were mostly expectations for myself, but I set the bar high-too high perhaps.

In the end, I know that these are all potentially premature dialogues I am having (in my head).  There is absolutely no way I can even think about having children at this point in my life after what I’ve learned this past year about my birth family and about myself.  But I feel different.  I long to see her face as familiar.  Not just as the face of the mother I have just met.  I want her face to be as familiar to me as my body that I know she gave birth to.  That seems to be the only thing I can cling to for comfort.  As adoptees living in America, I think we are hurt by how society sets stereotypes and expectations on us all because of the way we look.  We strive to be more than that, and to live above the superficiality of stereotypes.  But in the end, when and if we are reunited with our birth families, it’s the only thing we have that is sacred to us.  Our hands, feet, hair, and face are the only thing that link us to our birth families at times.  And they are the only things that we can communicate silently to each other as solace that we belong and that we are family.

I Am Korean American

Hi all – Have been monitoring this new project called “I Am Korean American,” for quite some time.  I’ve had three friends who have been featured, two of which, are Korean adoptees.  Thanks for putting yourselves out there Jamey and Stephanie!

You can check out the website by clicking here.

Here’s some additional information about the project…-GS

About

I AM KOREAN AMERICAN is an on-going web project that aims to collect brief profiles of Korean Americans.

Every new profile of a Korean American will be featured on the homepage. A profile will consist of the person’s name, age, location, occupation, and a personal statement that could be a mini bio, a memorable story, a rant, aspirations, or anything else. Our goal is to compile a collection of profiles that showcase the diversity and many interesting personalities of the Korean American population. We hope that our collective efforts will provide a snapshot of the Korean American community at this point in our history.

We’re not a celebrity blog and we don’t care if you’re known by millions or if you’re known by a few dozen. We’re excited to learn more about you and to share your story with others.

I AM KOREAN AMERICAN is a project of Barrel, a brand and web consulting company in New York.

Organ Donor?

I guess I’ve been watching too much tv lately.  But a few shows got me thinking about being an organ donor.  There was this 30 Rock episode I was watching where Jack finds his biological father.  In the process, he also finds out that his dad is in need of a kidney.  All of a sudden Jack’s happiness about being reunited with his father vanishes.  In the end he’s not a match anyways, but it got me thinking about similar things with my birth family.

What if someone in my family was sick and needed an organ donated?  What if  they called on me to see if I was a match?  And what if I was a match?  How would I feel about it?  I’m not sure how I feel about it right now.  If my mom called me today and said “son, your uncle needs a kidney, we need yours.”  How would I feel?  I guess I’m feeling guilty about feeling so uneasy because for a long time I always wondered whether my mom or other relatives would do the same for me if I needed it.

Has anyone else thought much about this at all?  All these new questions keep popping up and I’m not sure how I feel about them.  -GS