Monday, November 24, 2014

Insight for Allies

Definition from

It's been a big month for Adoption. #NAAM and #flipthescript have raised the level of dialogue, with the many voices of adoptees building to a chorus. Our song is beautiful, and it is drawing an audience: this site has more than tripled its readership in the past month alone. It's hard to say exactly who all our new readers are, but very likely a large portion of you are here because you love an adopted person.  Here at Lost Daughters, you have an opportunity do more than just love us, but also to truly see ushear us, and know us

Adoptees are your sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, teachers, students, mothers, and fathers. You are here because you already are or want to become an adoptee ally. We all stand to gain from this alliance.

What does it mean to be an ally? Merriam-Webster defines an ally as one who joins another person or group in order to get or give support. The LGBT community prominently leverages the straight ally community to combat homophobia and support equal rights. In the same way, an adoptee ally can be anyone who supports the voice of adoptees, promotes equal rights for adopted people, or challenges discrimination of all types. 

And just what is it that adopted people need allies for?  What do we want that we don't already have? Here is a short list, and by no means is it exhaustive:

Validation. We want to speak and be heard. We want to know we are not alone in this rich, complex, but often isolating experience. We want to be recognized as the true experts on the adopted life. We want the freedom to speak our truths without decrement to our relationships. However we each, individually, have been impacted by adoption and choose to express it, we have a right to the validity of our perspectives.  Hear us, respect us, and give us freedom to live authentically.

Equal Rights. This means access to the basic documentation that most people take for granted, such as original birth certificates and medical history. Those of us who were raised our whole lives as Americans should not fear deportation if our parents failed to complete the required citizenship paperwork. We are sick of being treated as second-rate citizens and perpetual children when it comes to accessing the information that comes freely to most non-adopted people.

Honesty. Many of our adoptee identities have been built on lies. We became paper orphans to feed a hungry adoption industry with no regard for family preservation. We were told we were born in our parents' hearts, that biology doesn't matter, that God meant for us to be taken from one mother and given to another, that we're better off in this new life. Adoptive parents who remain in wiling ignorance come back to the well, waiting for another healthy infant when truly deserving children already live in surrogate homes. When we search for the truth, we are answered with lies and equivocation. We call for adoption to be ethical and reserved for children who truly need homes.  

Better post-adoption support. When adoption is necessary, we want our hard lessons to be applied to the next generation. Many adopted people are well adjusted and happy -- they don't write, speak, counsel, and tweet about adoption. But many do, and the reason is because we don't want our hard-fought battles to have been meaningless. We want adoption services to extend beyond the a couple post-placement social worker visits. 

"Insight for Allies" is a new column designed to help non-adoptees navigate the adoption world from the perspective of adoptees. We are your sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, teachers, students, mothers, and fathers. We are diverse in our experiences, attitudes, opinions, and emotions -- but in many ways we're all in the same boat. Our hope is that we can navigate these turbulent waters together.  

I contribute to the Lost Daughters blog and several adoption-related anthologies, all in development. I wrote for the now-retired blogs Faiths and Illusions and Grown in My Heart.  I have an American family that raised me and a Korean family that lost and found me. Both families met in 2013.  I live with my husband, Brett, and four children (3 biological, 1 adopted) in Southern California. Find me at or on Facebook as Soojung Jo.