Saturday, November 18, 2006

To Adoptive Parents

I am constantly amazed by the number of Asian adoptees in the United States. The chance that my son will meet other adoptees on a regular basis is high. I read an article in a Minnesota paper about a Korean adoptee group that was created by twin adoptees. I was not at all amazed that they would have the motivation to do it, but I was stunned that there was a large enough concentration in one area to form a group.

When I was growing up, my parents ran an international adoption support group. There were children from all different countries – Korea, India, etc… It was a good size group, but it drew from cities all around us. Many people drove over an hour to get there. We drove at least thirty minutes to get there. I was generally asked to help run herd on the little ones. I was quite a bit older than most of the other kids. Though, it was a very good experience, I lacked contemporaries to talk to.

Now, everywhere I turn there are groups for adoptive families, for adoptive parents, for adoptees, for people who support international adoption and for those who don’t. In the article one of the founders was talking about some of the complexities of adoption and how she felt it would be good for Korean adoptees to have a venue to speak about their experiences. More than just a place to get together, there was a need to have a place where there was an open dialogue.

Over the years that my parents ran their group, they did a couple of things that I believe are very important. The first thing they did was make sure that their group was more than just a place to socialize. They brought in speakers for the parents and for the children. The second thing that they did was make sure that parents realized they had a support network – people who understood what they were going through.

I belong to several groups, online and offline, and I know that all of them have the second part down. It’s great to see the network of people who are available to complete strangers. My parents had to work for this and now it’s at your fingertips. What I don’t see is a drive to use what is available to explore the deeper issues – the pitfalls of adoption in general, the problems of interracial adoption, racism…

When I say, “Make use of what you have,” I really feel strongly about it. While my generation of Korean adoptees were spread out across the country with few ways to communicate, these new generations have so much going for them. There are more Korean/Asian adoptees in a smaller area and there are more ways to communicate across the internet. Make use of what you have…these tight knit groups…to learn more and to help your children learn more.

Often people say, “You’re so lucky that you are a Korean adoptee. You know what your son will go through.” I am lucky that I’m a Korean adoptee. I feel that. However, it doesn’t make me an expert. I know that. I plan to use what I have and learn whatever I can.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mo. I would also add that adoptive parents should bring adoptees and Korean Americans (or the appropriate community) into their activities as much as possible, especially in your leadership. We a-parents aren't the experts - our children and their ethnic communities are.

zoe said...

Good observation, Mo, and thanks for the encouragement for APs to get into the deeper issues of adoption within AP/adoptee groups.

Just wanted to add, too, that while I completely understand your reluctance to proclaim yourself an 'expert' on whatever your son's experience may be, you ARE an expert on adoption from your own experience and perspective. :) Think about who have been considered the 'experts' in the past (and present, to some extent) - folks who have no connection to adoption other than the fact that it funds their paychecks! Or people who like to banter about the immorality of an 'unwed mother'. Now that's scary! You have infinitely more 'expert status' in the adoption world! ;) I'm sure it's annoying to have other APs tell you how easy it will be for you to be an AP because of your adoptee status - so just to clarify, that's not what I'm saying - just that I appreciate your perspective.

Adopting Little Sissy said...

Hi Mo,

Just came across your blog and appriciate the time you take to share your views. Lots of great things to think about adoption. Its good to "hear" your perspective as well. Reading through some of your posts has been refreshing. We value the Korean heritage and culture but also know that once our little Sissy comes home we need to allow her to be at "home" here in her new family and not focus so much on the "life" she left. We are praying in advance for all of this parenting stuff and look forward to many adventures with our daughter! Thanks for the insight, it is super valuable.