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Adoption and Child Separation at the Border

On June 1, 2018 Rebekah Henson published an important thread on Twitter critiquing the hashtags #FamiliesBelongTogether and #Ke...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Guest Post: A Korean Adoptee's Experience, by May Smith/Kim Chae Won

"The only reason your real parents gave you away is because they didn't love you!" Words like acid spilled from my bully's mouth on the playground. He was a year older, a second grader, and impossibly large to the first grade version of me. I can only assume, many years later, that he singled me out since I was, as far as I can remember, the sole Asian student in my private, Catholic elementary school. As an adult looking back, I can't even begin to comprehend how a seven- or eight-year-old could know to say something so hurtful and mean. Perhaps he didn't fully understand the weight of his words (it is even more disheartening to think that he learned those words from an adult). But their stinging, corrosive effect has lasted me twenty years.

Up until two or three years ago, I was living an ignorant and uneducated existence when it came to my adoption, who I was, and how it all affected me. I had been fed - and had whole heartedly believed - the all-too-common dialogue of, “Your birth mother loved you so much that she gave you away so that you could have a better life” and “What matters most is that you have a family who loves you, who wanted and wants you, who will always be your family” and “Think of the life that you might have had if you had stayed in Korea! It would have been terrible! You have a family that saved you from what could have been a terrible situation!” It is certainly easier to believe that all of those things are true. Why would anyone, especially a child who had been relinquished for adoption, want to believe that perhaps her biological mother not only did not want her, but could never want her? Why would anyone want to believe that she gave her child up for adoption because the culture shunned her and looked down upon her for having a child out of wedlock? Why would anyone want to believe that her adoptive family may not have been the best choice for her or that being taken from her homeland, her culture, her language, her people was not necessarily better than remaining there?