Adoption Survivor

dealing with it

Archive for October 2008

The Value of the Abused Voice

with 10 comments

Time and again I hear adoptees speaking out about their civil rights beginning with the disclaimer:

I had a happy childhood and am NOT an angry adoptee…but

I guess they fear their voice will be dismissed if there is any hint of dissatisfaction with adoption. So with that line of thinking, a happy adoptee’s voice is more valuable than a dissatisfied adoptee’s voice. Because if you’re dissatisfied that equates to maladjusted and everyone knows maladjusted people can’t form logical conclusions.

Time and again I hear adoptees speaking against the adoption industry and their civil rights being violated explain how their anger is justified anger and the trauma they experienced with their misguided, self-centered adoptive parents are base on reasoned arguments. But at least

it’s not like I was abused or anything

I guess they want to distance themselves from abuse out of fear their voice would be dismissed as being tainted with damage or their judgement clouded with emotion. Because even worse than being maladjusted is being damaged. Everyone knows the damaged person also has damaged mental faculties.

Time and again I have sympathetic adoptive parents AND fellow adoptees excuse away or dismiss things I say because I was also abused. Lots of I’m sorry for you and I hope you find healing and lots of well,

just keep in mind she was abused…

so I guess they are saying, take what she has to say with a grain of salt. Because she doesn’t know what normal is, she can’t know what we’re talking about, she can’t speak about just adoption, and we can only feel pity for her.

But I ask, “Why does my abuse disqualify me from the ability to form rational thoughts about parenting, adoption, and child placement reform?”

In many ways I and my abused adoptees stand in a unique position. Especially those of us who have grown and raised our own children. In my life I have been:

  • separated from my mother
  • severed from my birth country
  • transported to another country
  • assimilated to a country that didn’t accept me
  • deprived by my adoptive mother
  • sexually abused by my adoptive father
  • an at risk teenager
  • a runaway of sorts
  • a teen mother
  • a welfare mother

I’ve also overcome that all and been successful at many things. If I can put myself through college while working and raising two children and get accepted to Yale; If I can analyze logic and backwards engineer programs; If I can draw a concept and turn it into a building to live in; If I can discuss phenomenology and existentialism and aesthetics and yet love diner food; If I can raise incredibly bright, loving, well-adjusted children who are responsible citizens and critical thinkers; If I can take in troubled children and I can be a non-threatening friend to young people; etc., etc., etc., then why am I disqualified from talking about adoption because I was abused?

There are many positives to being abused as well. Being abused has heightened my awareness and recognition of what is beautiful. Being abused has given me a greater appreciation of life and what makes a life worth living. Being abused has given me insight into what a child can live with and what they absolutely can not live without. Being abused has shown me where and how adoptions can fail and the subtle ways in which the best of intentions can decay.

On the contrary, I think this wide spectrum of experiences puts me in a unique position to analyze the process of adoption. This variety of exposure to the many aspects of adoption has been expansive, not limiting. My abandonment was one category. My adoption was another category. My loss of culture was another category. My experiencing racism is another category. My being abused is another category. My being a parent is another category. I can address each category individually AND as a complete ouvre. It IS POSSIBLE to recognize the distinctions and separate them. It IS POSSIBLE to see how they influence one another. It IS POSSIBLE to see what they have in common. Who better to see what they have in common than someone who has experienced them all? There is way more in common than people would care to recognize.

Especially intriguing to me is, what is essential and fundamental to the genesis of ALL OF THE ABOVE. Very few people have been in the position to be able to recognize that. In a strange way, I guess that makes me one of the “lucky” ones. And this blog. This blog is going to be an attempt to put words to what that essential is:

Before the primal wound was DESIRE.

Controlling our desires is a measure of our maturity.

Living with the consequences of acting upon our desires is a measure of our responsibility.

Uncovering the motivation behind our desires is a measure of our wisdom.

Adoption is DESIRE.

Think about that for awhile.

Think about what desire drives people to do.

Think about the quest to satisfy our desires.

Think about how that changes people.

Think about the hidden costs.

Adoption is DESIRE.

Everyone is happy to hold everyone else accountable, but never oneself, because that would mean recognizing how their own desires impact others. All the while everyone claiming it is all about the child’s welfare.

Of course, that’s just what this adoptee thinks, but I was abused –

so it couldn’t possibly mean a thing

Written by girl4708

October 31, 2008 at 5:04 am

Posted in After Abuse

Pushing Culture

with 2 comments

Response to an Amom about her daughter’s culture:

She has NO desire to learn about Korea at this point and takes offense when I suggest anything cultural

yeah, this IS pretty offensive, actually. I was the same way.

You know – there’s ACADEMICS and there is REALITY.
Transracials are acutely aware of inauthenticity. We question the motives behind everything having to do with suggestions related to race and culture. We get tired of having to put up with ignorance of racial issues, especially when they come from our own families.

CULTURE is something you have to LIVE. It’s commonwealth, born of common struggle and overcoming, which is handed down person to person.  YOU can not provide any culture to your child that you do not know yourself, or in a vacuum removed from a cultural environment. It’s impossible/futile.  Attempts to display cultural esoterica will come off as caricature.  Over interest in culture will appear to be the cultural appropriation it probably is.

Pushing culture based on a person’s race is therefore even more offensive. Here’s this impossible thing you should strive for because you’re (insert nationality here) and because you’re not from here…you’re an alien.

Loss of culture is just one more sadness a transracial adoptee has to deal with. But because it seems so out of reach or so inadequate, a lot of us buried the desire to acquaint ourselves with it, resigned ourselves to that, had to reject it to defend ourselves.

If you aren’t near any people of your child’s birth culture, but are truly interested in your child being exposed to their culture so they don’t feel a loss later, then MOVE to some place where their culture is evident in their environment.  It’s a horribly isolating feeling to be the only person of your race where you live, know nothing of that culture, yet bare the burden of representing your entire nation of origin, simply because of the color of your skin.

If you have the good fortune to know any people of your child’s birth culture, THEY can introduce your child to their culture. But it shouldn’t be formally. It has to be real.  S/he has to see/experience how they live and develop their own thirst to learn more. S/he has to like hanging around them.  Culture camp is another thing entirely. It’s not real, but it is at least a bubble. It can whet an appetite.  But it’s just a bubble, and the child will know that too.  They’ll no doubt develop an interest in their culture on their own when they are not feeling the tension over it that they do now.

Yes. That’s right. Tension. That you bring it up creates tension.

Repeatedly the worst disservice adoptive parents do as ignorant racists – that’s right, racists – is contribute to the retardation of the child’s exploration of culture by pushing it. I don’t say this to beat adoptive parents up. I say it in all sincerity that they just don’t know – they’re just being dumb.  Most racism is just sheer ignorance on people’s part.

Odds are, you are an example. If, for instance, you are interested in knitting, your child might take an interest in your interest. Most adoptive parents aren’t TRULY interested in their child’s birth culture except to gather some exotic things and to try and elevate their children’s specialness. As if we need more reasons to justify how different we are.

Am I making myself clear here? Unless you’re going to fully embrace exploring their culture and making it part of daily life and immersing yourself in that culture and that community, then lay off – keep it pressure-free for your kid, and the kid will probably come to the table on their own.  Your job is to provide them an environment with pressure-free access, and to support them when and if they show any interest.

Written by girl4708

October 26, 2008 at 12:32 am

Posted in Q&A

Tagged with

Why can’t people believe that we do exist?

with 7 comments


A question asked earlier today spoke of those adoptees who were happy with their adoption and who don’t want to search for their birth parents or feel that they are living in a state of loss. Someone remarked, in response to that question: “[I] didn’t go past your first paragraph, because [I] totally disagree. [W]hat normal human being does not want to know where they came from?”

Well, here I am and I know that I’m not alone. I was adopted as an infant and have been with my family since that time. I have a loving mother and father as well as an “egg-head” sister and a “goofball” brother. I love them all unconditionally for who and what they are, my family. It’s been that way for the 45 years of my life thus far.

I’ve never felt any sense of loss over being adopted. As far as I’ve ever know or considered I am of Scottish decent, the same as my family. I’m bald, my (adopted) father is bald. When I had hair it was reddish brown, the same as my (adopted) grandfather on my (adopted) mothers side. I’ve loved camping my whole life while my (adopted) brother and (adopted) sister consider the Banff Springs Hotel as being as close to the great outdoors as they care to get. (I put the word adopted in brackets only for clarity sake)

And most shocking to some, I’ve never felt a need to search for my birth parents.

Why is it that people expect us to believe their stories of pain and suffering over adoption issues but at the same time they deny that some of us are happy and well adjusted in our situations? Those against adoption will rant on and on about all the different ways they feel their rights have been infringed upon which affects their right to be happy. Does trying to deny my happiness and that of others somehow balance things off for those who are unhappy?

  • 9 hours ago

Additional Details

8 hours ago

And for those curious about what I meant by my brother and sisters idea of the great outdoors…. check the link:

7 hours ago

Thanks for the psych analysis Gershom. Next time, can I lay on the couch?I assure you, I am very happy and well adjusted. I’ve got a successful career, a wonderful family and I’m secure in both who and what I am. If you choose to believe otherwise though that is your right.…

My Answer – NOT Chosen Best Answer:

I believe your experience and that you exist.

I also believe my experience and that I exist.

Our truths co-exist.

The vast majority of people I meet get really excited about adoption – it’s one of those things a lot of people entertain doing. I know I did at one point. And then they find out I’m adopted and they get all happy. And then they find out my outcome was not a happy one, and then their first response is to look for ways to continue being excited about adoption. These are some of my closest friends! So my reality gets denied all the time too, Randy, in a very personal way. So I feel ya.

The thing we share, though, is I never thought adoption had anything to do with my unhappiness for the last forty years of my life. Two years ago I may not have painted as sunny a picture as you do, but I wouldn’t have ascribed any of my unhappiness to adoption. And all my life I totally rejected the idea of searching for my birth mother. Had no desire to do so. She was irrelevant. Adoption was not an issue, and even if it was lurking there somewhere, my emotions were so completely compartmentalized I wouldn’t have recognized it.

The thing we don’t share, however, is that back when adoption wasn’t an issue with me, I never would have thought of coming on to a public board defending my adopted status. So those of us who have come to the realization that adoption, actually, had a pretty huge impact on the direction of our lives, wonder why the content adoptees are even here at all, why they are thinking about adoption at all, and why they protest so much. It’s just a curious phenomenon is all. One I don’t understand.

Adoption did not become an issue for me until I had a major major MAJOR crisis in my life. Major enough that my very existence was a tenuous prospect. If that hadn’t had happened, I would probably be carrying on the same way I always had – where the word and the concept of adoption never even entered my thoughts.

Sometimes it takes facing something as big as death to look at the intangible parts of your deepest being that are all intertwined with abandonment, and how adoption complicates and obfuscates that. Previously, identity as a concept didn’t register on my radar either. I mistook it for personality. I’ve got one of those, so I didn’t need to think about it further. But almost dying makes you face the profundities of life. And birth and identity are part of that.

I’m happy for you that you got a good match, that you don’t know any different, that you feel secure, and I for one am totally willing to let you go on feeling that way. I’m just trying to explain how some of those who aren’t willing to let you feel that way might have come to that conclusion.

And, of course you know adoption is a political issue as well. And though our grievances get a little equal time here at Y!A , they get practically zero time in the real world. So a lot of us feel like our voices are being negated by the happy adoptees. Because we’re surrounded by people who want to believe only the good things about adoption, as if it was only all good. The thing people miss is – WE wanted to believe too. We truly did.

Our realities can and do co-exist because our truths are our own. It’s just stupid to fight about it. I see you. Do you see me?

Best Answer – Chosen by Asker

I think what Randy quote from the other question/response says a lot. That the person refused to read more only due to the fact that they didn’t agree with what was being said in the post. That seems rather ignorant to me. You also do have some people who refuse to see things outside their own box. Not just from one one side but both (all) sides.I do have some information in my adoption file if I ever wanted to I am sure I could easily find biofamily if I wanted to. I have my biomothers name and with the internet it makes it so easy to find anyone. However I simple don’t want too. Maybe this fact makes some think I am not normal. The fact is I have never been normal. It’s the strange and un-normal people who are interesting. Seriously what is normal to one is not normal to another. Just check out the National Geographic show Taboo.
  • 3 hours ago
Asker’s Rating:
5 out of 5
Asker’s Comment:
I received a tonne of good answers here but I had to choose one. You captured the meat of my question perfectly. Thank you.I won’t comment on the 17 negative emails I’ve received or the free psych evals other then to say they were read and appreciated for what they were.

Written by girl4708

October 25, 2008 at 6:26 am

Posted in Q&A

Would you have preferred to have remained in an orphanage?

with 4 comments

Q. What if you were one of those children who became an orphan by true means and no other family in your own country was able to adopt you? Would you have preferred to remain in an orphanage in your birth country for your childhood as opposed to being adopted internationally?

A. I have a Korean adoptee friend who was adopted at 9 and fully aware of the impact of her adoption. She preferred growing up with others in a shared circumstance, rather than being isolated in a new and foreign country. She had happiness and solidarity at the orphanage. She had only herself in North America. The isolation of our experience is the hardest part to bear.

Myself, I can not answer what-if questions. My life has been full of tragedy, and if I dwelt upon what-if’s I would be rendered incapacitated to live in this world. I try to address this hand I’ve been dealt with, with as much grace as possible. It is not easy, because I’ve been dealt a particularly lousy hand. I certainly won’t be grateful for being spared from an unknown what-if either.

I often fantasized I was in an orphanage playing with other children as I was growing up. Every adoptive parent means well and likes to think they will be an improvement to their kids lives. However, the parent’s perceptions don’t always match what we kids experience. Despite the higher mandate to provide the disadvantaged child with a better life than it had before, that mandate is poorly understood, implemented and enforced. My parents felt they were good parents, but I will never be grateful. You can read my story here:

I worry about meeting my birth mother and what I will tell her when she asks about my better life she gave me up for. Like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. And even if I wasn’t abused, I think I would question whether our culture or our society is really any better than the one I was saved from.

Q. Your adoptive mother obviously provided well for you (it is evident in your writing style, and obvious education). Would you have rathered she not have adopted you?

A. My adoptive father was a music teacher, my mother a housewife. They were educated, but not critical thinkers. My brain has always worked differently than everyone in my household. I drew. They played music. As a child I spoke in metaphors because I thought in metaphor. They could never understand what I was saying because their ability to derive meaning from a metaphor was non-existent. It is a lonely place to be when you are raised by people so radically different than you.

You will find many adoptees are excellent writers. There are so many things we are not free to express as we are growing up, that the words just incubate, waiting for the right time and place to be be born.

I became an at-risk teenager and even ended up in remedial classes. I left home at 17, dropped out of school at one point, though I did graduate. I married what would become an alcoholic, and did not return to school until I was a divorcing welfare mom. I excelled at my university and even got accepted to Yale. Today I reject my degree and choose to live as simply as I can.

There is more to life than success. Filling in the years that were taken from me and erased, searching for the beginning of my story, starving for just one face that reflects me has become a yearning that some days seems to drive all I do. I suppose it is not unlike the yearning of a barren woman. Only my identity was mine to begin with, so I am reclaiming something taken from me. My first three years formed me, don’t you think they didn’t. That experience is like the word you can’t remember, the idea you can almost put your finger on, the deja vu that makes you pause and wonder about other lives. For adoptees, that’s not just speculation. It is the vestiges of an imprint.

I know many of my troubled years were a result of being abused, adopted, inter-country, and transracial. It wasn’t until I reached my forties that the deeper impact and implications of abandonment and adoption reared their ugly head. As I said before, being severed from your identity by international adoption is surgery. On top of the wound of abandonment, which may never heal. Clearly, my life has not been better or any worse than had I stayed in Korea. But I talk to non-abused adoptees, and except for the added complication of abuse, we all are profoundly impacted. I won’t call this damage, though damage is there. I think we’ve just been forced to deal with a lot of things the majority of people have never had to deal with in places the majority of people have never had to walk. You can’t get much more profound than identity.

Coming to America did not bring me any distinct advantages that I can appreciate. Korea, the country of my birth, is an educated nation and now a first world economy. And, as prosperity has increased, so too have the conditions and regard for its women. I am researching my birth country and find many elegant things about it that belie its marginalization I have been taught to think of as a westerner.

I am moving to Korea in February and will establish residency there as I search for my birth family. It is true I probably had more opportunities here. But opportunities do not always equal happiness. I feel, I feel as if my path has been interrupted by adoption. Like it’s taken forty years to find my bearings and find my way back home.

Yes. I’d rather I not been adopted.

Written by girl4708

October 24, 2008 at 6:02 pm

Posted in Q&A

Two words: Exit Strategy

with 2 comments

about Vietnam’s Withdrawal from International Adoption

International adoption has a double standard and a double face that few adoptive parents are willing to recognize. International adoption is based on the premise that less privileged societies can not take care of their own. International adoption is based on the premise that greater means = better life = more love. International adoption is full of rationalizations that promote the self-congratulatory nature of rescue and the satisfaction of contributing to a color blind world, which is a fantasy. The truth is with more support services parents in temporary distress would not relinquish their children. The truth is poor families love their children. The truth is people instantly respond to people of a different color than they do people of the same color. The truth is the little cute asian bundle of joy is going to grow up one day and realize all of the above. They may be grateful. They may love you, what choice do they have? But they’re also going to secretly be disturbed.

Potential adoptive parents say they are doing it for the children, but in all honesty, the primary locus for the vast majority of adoptions is centered on the prospective parents’ desires to complete themselves and validate their existence. This is called placing the adults’ needs above the child’s needs, and its manifestation can wreak all manner of havoc and confusion for the child. This desire, this need to have at all costs is something that needs to be deeply explored by prospective parents in terms of its healthiness to both the adoptive parents AND the child they are acquiring.

International adoption, due to the imbalance of nations, has been a ripe field for exploitation by first world countries, with little over-sight and regulation. It is a shameful and barbaric statement about our privilege when we find it unacceptable to accept unethical practices in our own country, but we can find ways to look aside or tolerate unethical practices in other countries, if it is to our benefit.

International adoption has been an experiment. An experiment that started out with good, humanitarian intentions, but that has been subverted, expanded, and capitalized upon until it has become an entitlement. It has taken many decades for the outcomes of international adoption to become evident, and because the practice continues, its constant evolution will always be decades away from clear understanding.

First world countries have been too slow to adopt ethical practices and regulate international adoption. It stands to reason supplying nations have learned from the past few decades of this experiment , have become alarmed, and no longer want to be a part of this exchange when they see the aftermath and feel the shame of exporting their babies and the mismanagement of this process. How would you feel if it were your nation on the supply end?

While I disagree with the sudden and complete withdrawal of these supplying nations and the financial and emotional heartache that can result in receiving nations, I can not fault them for finally stepping up to the plate to take a more responsible role in the welfare of their own citizens. I agree with potential adoptive parents when they say, “what about the children?” who languish in limbo post withdrawal and pre reformed social programming. That is why I believe in a ten year exit strategy instead of sudden withdrawal. However, the same criticisms can be levied on our own, wealthy nation. How can we expect to get international adoption right if we can’t even get it right in our own country? Who can trust us?

All potential adoptive parents should examine themselves thoroughly and, like any good actor ask, “what’s my motivation?” Deep honesty will pay off by eliminating much of the politicizing and polarizing. For, upon examination we should better be able to hold our desires up against what is truly in the best interests of the child. In the case of the international adoptee – it’s culture, it’s heritage, it’s place in society, something they can identify with. Many of these intangibles of when held up against a life with foreign parents with greater means are marginalized. But their value is intangible and beyond measure. International adoption is radical surgery that leaves scars on top of the given adoption scars of abandonment and loss.

And for those potential adoptive parents who absolutely think they are god’s gift to rainbow children as if what they have to offer will make all those costs to the child tolerable, to insure the availability of ethnic children, I would hope that you get in on adoption reform and the ethics bandwagon. Quickly. Otherwise, more and more countries are going to follow the lead of Vietnam, and you will be forced to deal with what you have here at home. You know – those kids who really NEED parents. The ones whose parents have really died. The ones who were abused. The ones whose parents couldn’t cope with their disabilities. The ones languishing in OUR foster homes and group homes. What about them? Did I mention something about double standards before?

I repeat: If you’re smart you’ll get in on adoption reform and support it wholeheartedly. There will be less children available, but their interests will be better looked after. It is better (from your perspective) than having the option cut off completely.

As a product of one of these transracial, intercountry adoptions, the end of international adoption would be a dream come true. I hope the adoption agencies exploiting disadvantaged people on one end and separating you from your money on the other end are exorcised out of existence, and I hope this trend towards domestic preservation continues. I’m going to continue to speak out, as more and more of my fellow adoptees do, about the realities of international adoption from the adoptee’s perspective. Our parents were not so different from you. We are not so different from the children you hope to be adopting. We didn’t ask for this. But despite better conditions, we have had to live the consequences of your decisions, and we’re the ones who are asked to adjust and we’re the ones who have to deal with all of our losses. And we don’t want any other children to have to suffer the added separation of country and culture on top of losing our mothers. We just want you to think deeply and hard about what the hell you’re doing. About your wants and your rationalizations.

Written by girl4708

October 24, 2008 at 5:59 pm

Posted in Q&A

Mother of all adoption agencies renigs on promise

leave a comment »

Holt adoption agency promised to contact the person I am searching for, possibly even a sister or twin.

Now they refuse, barring access.

Read my letter to Holt here

Written by girl4708

October 23, 2008 at 6:41 pm

Sage Advice for Adoptive Parents

with one comment

Re: What if? Questions to Adult Adoptees

After reading the heavy traffic that this group generates, I was
wondering if the adoptees would like to share specifics of what was
good and not good, what would have helped, what should have been
avoided, in their upbringings.

Here are Sunny Jo’s perfect answers:


keep b-culture alive in daily life through contact with immigrants from
the child’s b-country who can take the contact beyond ethnic food and
cultural artifacts

make sure contact with b-culture (mentioned above) is introduced early
on so to make the b-culture an equally natural part of life as
the ‘culture’ of the a-family

keep in contact with other a-families

live in diverse areas where your child won’t be the only person of
colour. do NOT believe, however, that ‘anything but white’ is ok, an
adopted korean child won’t necessarily have more in common with a
person of african or arab origin than a white person will.

go on frequent homeland journies back to the b-country, and even
(partially) pay for the child’s first (and/or subsequent) homeland
tours as an adult

involve the entire a-family (parents, siblings etc) in the
adoption/cultural activities, without appropriating and appropriating
it (a difficult tightrope to walk)

read ‘beyond good intentions’ by cheri register

if possible, enter your child into a mentor program which gives him/her
a chance to meet adult adoptees (and/or ‘native’ koreans)

encourage language studies

give back to your child’s country of origin by supporting social
change, e.g. through sponsorship through SOS children’s villages or
other charities

read books, articles, websites, blogs etc written by adult adoptees
(and APs with adult children)

support local adult adoptee orgs (e.g. financially) but accept that
it’s up to the org to let you in to their events or not

love your child like your own, but accept that s/he never will be
fully ‘your own’

allow your child to grieve and be angry

seek professional help if necessary


adopt only one child from the same country, esp. in families with bio

adopt children from totally different countries/culture (e.g. africa
and asia)

accept adoption agency advertising, information and propaganda at face

be possessive, an adopted child will never be ‘yours’ in the same way
as a bio child since the BPs will forever, whether known or not, be
part of your child’s life (and APs can never take their place)

think that food, education and other stuff valued in your culture, will
make up for the losses caused by adoption

ignore or trivialize racism, e.g. by comparing it to injustices you
have suffered

expect your child to be grateful

think you ‘saved’ your child since many adoptees have bio siblings who
stayed with BPs and are doing just fine

feel threatened if your child wants to move back to tyhe b-country as
an adult or young adult

accept any kind of racism or bigotry coming from family, friends,
neighbours or anyone else

accept your child to be treated as an exotic pet, e.g. by strangers who
want to ‘pet the hair’ or ask private questions about the child’s
background etc etc

believe that it was god’s will that your child came to you, b/c that
would automaticly make it god’s will for your child’s BPs to end in the
unfortunate circumstances which led to the abandonment – and no god
worth worshipping should want that on anyone

force your religion, culture etc onto your child since it might
conflict with the child’s original religion or culture. as a family
member the adoptee should ofcourse be part of celebrating holidays like
anyone else, but if the child chooses to opt out of certain regulations
(e.g. dietary regulations which prevents certain foods from the b-
country) then this should be respected

Written by girl4708

October 22, 2008 at 8:37 pm

Posted in Q&A

Since everyone who has been adopted is sad?

with 3 comments

Should I just not adopt? I can’t have children and have never wanted to have my own children. I have always wanted to save a child from a bad country where they would not have a good life. Why is that so bad? Would the people out there who were adopted prefer to have lived a bad life? Just curious not attacking anyone b/c I have not been in this situation.

Not Chosen Best Answer

You know, I find all your sentiments lovely and your exploration of a deeper understanding wonderful.

However, the desire to save is often misguided. There is too much left to interpretation of what is a “good” and a “bad” life. There is too much cultural stereotyping that goes on about other nations and what is backwards or progressive. There is too much propaganda over what an adoption from one of these countries can accomplish, and there is too little acknowledgment that the person adopting might be gaining more than the person they’re adopting.

Have you traveled much? Have you stayed in a rural setting and gotten to know people in a third world country? You will find incredibly intelligent people with amazing potential working to improve their communities, even if there is no sewer system and lack of reliable water. You will find huge extended families and parents breaking their backs to give their children the best they can possibly give them. Even in war torn countries, you will find siblings fighting to stay together and separated families achieving the impossible to find one another. You will find that when you are poor, sometimes all you’ve got in the world is your flesh and blood. You will see the rich heritage and the common traditions and the love among the strife. In many places these backwards places have a much richer life than our own. And in many places their lives are oppressed because big consuming world powers influence , fuel unrest, and capitalize on local weaknesses. Further destabilizing families and communities by introducing the hungry adoption market aids in undermining these cultures, not helping them.

More than anyplace else, adoption in third world countries is often a permanent catastrophe based upon a temporary setback. Many orphanages are staging points while families pull their lives together, and when the parents accomplish this and return, they find their children are gone forever. And in other countries distracted by more pressing basic needs, children are stolen and placed in orphanages for profit to fill the huge western appetite. Until you investigate all the very real ethical violations that occur in these countries as adoption is being established as an institution and sometimes even after it is regulated, you will think of saving children from a horrible fate a wonderful option. But when you look closer, you will find grieving parents and extended families. Adoption often contributes to as much sadness and heartache over time as it does help. And to what end? For the price of one western adoption, that money could save several entire families in some countries. For the price of one adoption, whole communities could have clean drinking water and school supplies or the beginnings of a sewer system or…

Being saved is what brought me to America. I have decent clothes and food and shelter. But I have been severed from my culture and isolated by the color of my skin. So on top of the impact of adoption in the source country, there is also the experience of being raised transracial, of being a minority in a different culture composed primarily of people you don’t resemble at all. Adoption is a very VERY complicated issue on its own. Then add on top of it being intercountry and transracial, and what you have left is an incredibly confusing path for a child to maneuver through. Yes it can be done. But is it really the best option? I don’t think so.

Please read this previous Y!A I answered:;…

I really do hope you and others explore DEEPLY what the impact of your decisions mean and choose to find more effective ways to “save” the planet. There are less radical ways to save children than to surgically remove them from their homelands and place them in an alien landscape, where people speak a different language, where they can not initially communicate or express themselves, and where they are entirely dependent on the very same people (strangers) who removed them from all they knew and loved.

I hope I’ve been of some help.


About this movie…


There are far too many of these documentaries existing on trafficking and corruption and conditions of international adoption. China, Cambodia,different African countries, India… And, there aren’t enough of these documentaries getting airplay.

Best Answer – Chosen by Asker

I was adopted as a baby, along with my twin, by a dad and a mom (who could not have children for some unknown medical reason). My life with them was much better than what my life with my birthmother would have been. (She did drugs and smoked, had no husband, lived a hippie lifestyle, and had bipolar disorder, which I have, and can be very debilitating). I would rather have grown up adopted by them, than been raised by my birthmother. But (even though I have never met her) I love my birthmother! My point is, I would think that child would like to be saved from a place where their quality of life is not very good and be raised by a loving mother, where, like me, he/she has more opportunities. I am adopted, and I am not sad, I am glad. Hope this helps!

Asker’s Rating:
4 out of 5
Asker’s Comment: (A classic example of someone only hearing what they want to hear)
Thanks! Some people were such ***** about this. I would be doing this for the child and I would not be removing it from its country, its mother would be.

Written by girl4708

October 21, 2008 at 7:55 am

Posted in Q&A

It’s all about me

with 32 comments

One of THE most offensive arguments for adoption I have ever witnessed.  If I had more time in life I would write down the transcripts and tear it apart.

I am sooo, sooo sorry for Dana Horton’s children.

They will probably spend their lives on a couch trying to figure out what happened to them…

Written by girl4708

October 19, 2008 at 4:25 am

Relative Choices

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Article in the New York Times

November 13, 2007,  8:01 pm

Written by Hollee McGinnes

Like many adopted people I never had a simple answer to the question, “Where did I come from?” For most people raised by their biological parents, this question can be answered by simply gazing at their parent’s face. There in the turn of a nose and the curve of the eye they are reminded of where they came from. bounded by blood, a part of a human continuum passed from mother to daughter, from father to son.

The author, the day she arrived in the United States, walking off the plane at J.F.K. airport. (Photographs courtesy of Hollee McGinnis.)

I, on the other hand, seemingly dropped out of the sky on a Boeing 747, walking, talking and potty trained.

Read the full article here

Written by girl4708

October 15, 2008 at 3:22 am

Posted in Infinite Longing

Austin at the Orphanage

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So I’m learning Korean.  Middle-aged woman with early onset altzheimer’s attempting to learn a TOTALLY foreign tongue.   Or IS IT???  I DID hear it for almost three years of my life and nine months in the womb.

Anyway, at the language program I signed up for I ran across one of the instructor’s blogs, where he volunteers at a Korean orphanage getting to know the children.  I haven’t read the entire thing yet, but here is one post:   More Background…and a video!

I appreciated the comments – I think if more people knew about adoption in Korean culture, westerners would not be so quick to rescue them.  It is too simple a solution to a very complex problem.

Oh, and btw.  THIS orphan is moving to Korea to live for a year or two.  There’s a lot of us so-called orphans.

Orphan.  The dictionary definition doesn’t begin to describe what it means.

Written by girl4708

October 15, 2008 at 2:47 am

Posted in Infinite Longing

Adoption, pros and cons?

with 6 comments

what are the pros and cons of international/local adoption and close/open pros and cons adoption?

Best Answer – Chosen by Voters

i can only give you the cons of international adoption, since i haven’t really felt any of its pros.

international adoption MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE AN ALIEN from another planet
– you’re almost always in the spotlight: either total strangers will be squealing in delight about how cute you are gushing about adoption or asking probing questions they would never ask if you were white.
– people will have ignorant expectations based on stereotypes about you, and you will always have to explain your background, your lack of history,and your lack of culture to people.
– you will be hounded by people with a fetish for the exotic.
– you will learn about your culture but it will be ACADEMIC and you will be torn between its added imposition and a yearning to fully know it, which is impossible unless you repatriate.
– you will be surrounded by a sea of white faces so your whole world is white faces. you will stop and pause when people approach you differently or respond to you differently. you will dismiss this. and then when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror you will be horrified to want to treat that image differently as well. you will be horrified that the image staring back at you is not the image you are used to seeing. you will despair. you will be always the odd man out. you will want to seek out more like yourself, but you will be embarrassed to be seen with them. because there are no images of your kind in popular culture. because you see how that kind gets treated and you think you are somehow not like them. this is called internalized racism.

international adoption MAKES YOU FEEL ISOLATED
– you will meet other adoptees as children and be thrown in together, but actually you’ve nothing in common.
– you will meet other people of your culture, but there’s no way to connect to them. they will speak to you in their tongue. you will awkwardly explain you can’t speak in their tongue/your should-be tongue. they will walk away, disappointed in you and sad for you.
– you can not entertain searching for your birth mother, because she is buried deep within another country, a country where you can’t communicate, a place teeming with those people.
– your parents will be proud of themselves and what they did by getting you. because you are different looking, you will have to suffer that pride by your very presence every time anyone sees you together.
– your parents will want to talk about adoption, but you know they can’t handle anything negative you might feel about it. and you’re too young to verbalize it. you suck it up because you have to. you have to deny the reality of your difference and thereby negate any of the problems associated with being different. you have to fabricate a false front that can handle everything with cheery optimism. you become the good will ambassador for adoption, but it’s a lie. that’s a lonely place to be.

international adoption eventually MAKES YOU ASK QUESTIONS
– why did my parents have to rip a child from its culture?
– what kind of rescue fantasies did they have, and are they valid?
– what does charity mean? how charitable is adoption, anyway?
– what is my birthmother’s story? was my adoption ethical? did my parents check into this?
– what were they trying to gain/proove by choosing this radical route?
– who did they think they were?
– was i just a toy for purchase?

adoption hurts – we walk around with no beginning to our stories, no connection to anything, devoid of roots, dropped here as if we truly were aliens.

international adoption hurts even more
– there’s so much more lost, and it’s irretrievable.
– we’d rather our countries had helped our mothers
– we’d rather our extended families had had access to take care of us
– we’re outraged to learn very few children are real orphans
– we’re outraged that so many relinquishments are based on temporary economic hard times.
– we’re outraged that the people who run non-profit adoption agencies board members make six figure incomes
– we’re outraged at the hidden costs of adoption and that people are profiteering by our sale
– we don’t appreciate how adoption siphons off the problem of out of wedlock childbirth, when the countries could address these problems with adequate birth control and social programs but adoption allows them to shirk their responsibility to their own people.
– we’re outraged that there is a market to exploit all these
– we’re outraged that the so-called potential adoptive parents who claim charity as their purpose would not bother to sponsor families to avoid relinquishment.
– we’re outraged that the cost of one adoption could save multiple entire families in the country the child comes from.
– we’re outraged that the civil rights of adoptees get violated daily, that their histories are fabricated, that their names are changed, that their birth records are tampered with, and that they are denied access to their records.
– we’re outraged adoptive parents do not do their home-work, or choose to ignore unethical practices.

please adopt ethically.
please adopt domestically.
please adopt one of the children passed over here because they are no longer babies.

Written by girl4708

October 14, 2008 at 2:01 am

Posted in Q&A

Tagged with

What emotion now?

with 22 comments

Most days, I am a sad grieving adoptee.  Some days I am an angry adoptee.  But today, today I am a guilty adoptee.

What people forget is that anger is not an isolated event.  It is near the end of a long process.  Prior to anger is frustration, and prior to frustration is confusion, and prior to confusion is sadness, and prior to sadness is a wound.  And after anger is guilt and blame, not necessarily in that order.  And to deal with all of the above, we are forced to work backwards.

Today my guilt is over my adoptive mother.  I have written publicly recently that she deprived me emotionally.  That was such a hard, hard admission to make.  I feel just awful about it.  Even if it is true.  I never would have come to that admission, even an acknowledgment of that, if a therapist had not pointed it out to me.  I refused to believe it was even possible.  I wanted so hard to believe there was something good about my adoption.  Only my mom seemed human to me.  Because I felt sorry for her.  And because I felt sorry for her, I chose to not hold her accountable for anything that happened to me.  But now I do, and yet I still feel guilty about it.

The smart 60's housewife

Look at my mom here.  Before K-mart existed.  So smart and stylish.  In their mid-century modern furnishings, in their ranch house in the suburbs.  She went bowling, she held a cigarette like Lucile Ball.  She was in the church choir.  She went to the beauty parlor every week.  My parents were on the cutting edge, adopting a child internationally.

Look at my mom here.  Stuck in the house all day.  Nothing to do except read romance novels, eat candy, and chain smoke.  Try and keep up with the Jones’ on a teacher’s salary.  Wear a girdle to fit into the form-fitting shift dresses.  Iron a mile of white shirts.  Every day scheduled with a different household task.  Then off to church on Sunday.  Year after Year after Year.   No real friends.  Nothing personally fulfilling to do.  Just have babies and keep house.

My mom and dad had two children two years apart.  Four years later they had another baby on accident, after which my father had a vasectomy.  Six years later, they adopted me. “Why,” I asked her, “Why did you decide to adopt?”

Why, we just saw those cute Korean babies in magazines and we wanted to do something good and Christian and charitable for them.

The truth is, my mom was bored out of her mind.  The truth is, once the youngest was in school there was absolutely nothing for her to do during the day.  The truth is, my parents’ marriage was strained.  The truth is, my mother had a competitive streak and low self esteem and she wanted to be envied.   Adoption was going to fix everything; and it did, for awhile.

Adoption made my mom a celebrity in our neighborhood, in our small town, in their church.  She had someone to shop for, to dress up on Sundays.  I was like a doll for her.  I remember how upset she was that my feet were too tiny to buy black patent mary janes to match the outfits she’d made, for instance.  It REALLY bothered her.  All the time I sensed little irritations coming from her, just under the surface, over anything and everything.  Feeding me lunch was laborious.  Reading me a story was annoying.  I’d ask for something, and she would sit me in front of the television.  There weren’t a lot of  hugs and kisses.  Actually, I don’t remember any.  She would hold my hand in public, but that’s about it.  The only thing I remember that was remotely bonding was a brief while where we walked to a department store and she would treat us to a float at a bakery/soda shop on the way.  When I got a little older, she would say, “why don’t you play outside like the other children?” and be annoyed that I chose to sit inside and read a book.  My reality was a burden, but without me, her days were totally empty and pointless.

When I told the therapist how cold my siblings were and how much they resented me, the therapist told me my mom was a bad mom.  She pointed out that my siblings must have felt emotionally deprived too, or they wouldn’t have resented me.  She pointed out that if my mom had been a good mom, she wouldn’t have tolerated that kind of attitude, that she would have sensed something was wrong and taken care of it.

I got defensive over my mother.  She obviously had issues of her own, from her own childhood.  I felt nobody understood her but me.  She seemed as fragile as my father claimed she was, sitting there with an absent longing look in her eyes as she devoured romance novel after romance novel, candy after candy, cigarette after cigarette.  She sighed all the time – her life was a life of quiet desperation, resentment, and passive aggressive hostility.  I told myself it didn’t bother me that she never spent any time with me.  I told myself it didn’t bother me that I was left to waste away the hours by myself.  I knew she had been an only child and she probably gave me the same amount of attention, or lack thereof, that she had received. I told myself it didn’t bother me that I was a prop or a project or even just a topic of conversation.  I voluntarily shouldered all of the secrets of my incest so as to not hurt her.  In my eyes, she had absolutely nothing worth living for.  I felt sorry for her.

I dreamed she would divorce my father.  The two of us would run away and she would become a liberated feminist and we would learn to have fun and be girls together.  She would save me from my father’s attention, and I would help her become independent.  Maybe we could become friends…Of course, that would never happen.

Instead, when my father confessed he had been molesting me for years and years, she called him a bastard and, besides that one word uttered SHE NEVER SPOKE OF IT AGAIN.  Not to me, not to him, not to anyone.

I never got one hug.  Not one question.  Not one tear.  Nothing.   She never said even one word to me about it.  Ever.  My entire childhood of abuse just never happened.  So much for my fantasy of her protecting me and us carving out a new life together.  My mother kept her emotions to herself as much as she kept her affection on ice.  I was on my own.  But hadn’t I always been?

There had been a time where, as a CPS case aid I monitored supervised visits with potentially hostile mothers.  Mothers who sided with their partners instead of their children who had been sexually abused.  I guess if I had reported my father, my mom would have been classified as a hostile mother.  But even those mothers hugged their children.  I would sit there and record their visits and watch them interact, and in one hour those children of hostile mothers got more physical interaction than I got in my entire life from my mother.  My therapist was right.  I WAS emotionally deprived.  I can count on my fingers and toes how many hugs I have gotten in my life, and none of them were from my parents.  (except for when I left home)

On one occasion, my mother spoke wistfully of how I used to lay my head in her lap as she sat on my bed in the morning to wake me up for school.  Actually, this only occurred four times.  And it was I who initiated that affection.  And it surprised me she did not pull away.  And these four times, which amounted to all of ten minutes, was the highlight of our life together, the sum of our affection.   So yes, I feel guilty about including her in the dark portrayal of my abusive childhood.  Because she was so emotionally bankrupt herself – she just didn’t know HOW to love anyone.  I wanted her to love me so badly, but there was nothing there.  And she wanted to be loved, but she had nothing to give.  She expected all the mother/child loving and bonding to originate from me.  We both needed a mom but we were both deprived children.

I’m sorry, mom.  I’m sorry I couldn’t be your mom and love you.  I was just a kid.  I’m sorry dressing me up wasn’t enough. I’m sorry your life was meaningless.  I’m sorry I was your husband’s surrogate wife.  I didn’t ask to be.  I didn’t ask for any of this.  I’m sorry.

Grandma Holt, why would you let people like this adopt?  I would rather have had a hug than three square meals every day.  I would rather have lived in an orphanage with other children than be sexually abused.  Instead I was left to take care of these needy people on the verge of collapse.  I had to dance around the unspoken impending doom of their collapse every day.  I was the well from which they both dipped.  I don’t really blame them for being broken and emotionally depriving me or sexually abusing me.  I blame you, Grandma Holt, for irresponsibly placing me in their swansong of dysfunction.  I blame you for introducing me to them. I HAD to care about them, they’re all I had.  I had to care first about them – and now that I care about myself, I feel guilty about them – and it’s all your fault.  Because you wanted to do God’s work, but you didn’t give a damn how.

Fuck you and your damned saving the world with adoption.  It’s over forty years later, and I’m no better off than when I left Korea.  It’s over forty years later and I have to go half way around the globe in search of one hug from one familiar heartbeat.  It’s been over forty years of silent grieving.  Your irresponsible missionary zeal was the root cause of yet more pain and sufering – and it was all unnecessary.  The war was long over by the time you took me.  The Amerasian war babies were safely off the penninsula.  Your rescue mission was done.  If there was a period of economic hardship, and you were such great Christians, why didn’t you do more to help Korean families feed themselves?  You’re no Christian.  You are an exploiter of vulnerable people.  You are a peddler of human flesh.  Yes.  I blame you, Grandma Holt.  The abuse I suffered was all due to your negligence.  I am holding you accountable.

Now I’m an angry adoptee again.

Adoption is so fun.

Written by girl4708

October 6, 2008 at 2:46 am

Posted in After Abuse

Female, Unknown

with 3 comments

A name is something most people take for granted.  Unless, of course, you are an adoptee.  We recognize that names, along with so many things bestowed upon the biological, are a privilege we may never know.  Many of us have many names – the names we had as so-called orphans, our nick-names as orphans, our new legal western names, the bastardization of our orphan names, new westernized spins on our nick names, the marriage of orphan names and new western names, etc., etc.  Often, when people would call my name out loud, I wouldn’t even recognize my own name.  I just didn’t know what name to expect, as I’ve always had too many, and none of them felt right.

And then I got married and had yet another name.  And then I got divorced and wanted a new name but couldn’t think of anything meaningful, so went back to my maiden name.  And then I had a nervous breakdown and realized HEY!  I am carrying the name of my abuser around as my own name.  Every time I hear MY OWN NAME, I think of my abuse.  I decided I absolutely had to come up with something different.  It didn’t even matter to me anymore about meaning, as long as it was different.

My daughter broached the subject of a name change recently.  She was tired of our culture’s insistence on names of ownership that are tied to the patrimony.  She wanted her name to have meaning, and she wanted to honor women in her family.  She’s known I’ve wanted to change my name too.  I told her I would change  my name at the same time, maybe we could all take on the same new name together.   When I told my son about this, he said he would go along with it too, since he honors both the women in his life!  (I love my kids!)

Together we traced the history of all the women in my adoptive family.  The names were uninspiring, and their stories were uninspiring.

I asked my daughter if there were any famous woman she wanted to honor, and she felt that was too arbitrary, searching for inspiration instead of just being inspired.

I did a little research on the history of matronymic (when the names follow the mother’s side of the family vs. the father’s) surnames, and I ran across an interesting little something found under a wiki about Indonesian names.  Specifically, when the colonists didn’t know how to deal with an inconsistency in how they traditionally record births in Indonesia vs. how they are referred to in daily life:

In the Netherlands, for example, a person without an official family name would be given the surname Onbekend (which means Unknown)

My new last name could mean “unknown.”  I got all excited and forwarded this on to my kids to see if they wanted to go along with being daughter of unknown and unknown’s son.

Of course there were difficulties – I didn’t have to have it literally say unknown – I just wanted it to MEAN unknown.  So I looked for its meaning in other languages to find a name with a musical quality I could live with.  Let’s just say the kids were not too thrilled with the choices.  For one, they didn’t like that I was following the practice of a colonizer, and “picking the name’s language based on how it sounds is too arbitrary!” my daughter complained.  “too bad ‘x’ was used by Malcolm.”

Yes.  Too bad indeed.  ‘x’ a placeholder for an unknown.  Being a pure algebraic symbol, it was free from any cultural connotations. It was, indeed, perfect.

Later I told a KAD friend about what I wanted to do and she, too, said “it’s just like Malcom X!”  and she sent me the following link:

I watched/listened to Malcolm ‘X’ and I felt something stir in me – something like love – something like that thrill in your chest while simultaneously becoming an invertebrate on the plummeting side of a roller coaster, crashing to earth.

I decided whether my children join me or not, I WILL be named unknown soon. It not only frees me from my owner and  abuser, but it means something profound.  It represents my identity on this planet.

Recently, I found out that my Korean adoption records state that even my earliest known name was a provisional name.  That even the one name I’d always used as the datum of my identity was a total fabrication.  At two years old, someone erased me and someone else made me somebody else, and I was forced to live somebody else’s life with people who renamed me and made me somebody else yet again.

Then, just yesterday, a fellow adoptee mentioned her pseudonym as an author:  unknown female, which was her name as a relinquished newborn at the maternity hospital where she was left.  I asked if I could user her pseudonym as my real name, and she was all for it.

I’ve yet to decide whether I will go for literally being called unknown female, since i know that’s obnoxious and it will make everyone around me uncomfortable.  yet the joy of writing that down on checks and forms is sooo appealing.  I am also in search right now and don’t want to offend my first family should I find them, so I will wait until after my trip to Korea this spring.

But something about this name, this unknown female, makes me feel like i AM coming to terms with my identity and all I’ve lost and all I’ve been through and it’s a tribute to that.  It feels good to have a name of my own choosing, something that has meaning to me.  It will feel good to have a name which reflects the truth of my life, and to finally , once and for all, own my name for myself.

Written by girl4708

October 3, 2008 at 5:13 am