Saturday, August 29, 2015

#MyAsianAmericanStory and Why Adoptive Parents Should Care

Started by Redondo Beach, CA high school student Jason Fong on August 24, 2015, #MyAsianAmericanStory grew into a phenomenon igniting the Asian American twitterverse. Fong originally launched the hashtag to combat the perpetual foreigner stereotype that continues to render persons of Asian descent as not American. He was specifically addressing comments made by Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush (former governor of Florida, 1999 – 2007) concerning “anchor babies” and Asian mothers. Clarifying that he was not discussing Latinos with his remarks, Bush said: “What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there's organized efforts -- and frankly, it's more related to Asian people coming into our country, having children -- taking advantage of a noble concept, which is birthright citizenship.” The #MyAsianAmericanStory hashtag also highlights the heterogeneity of the Asian American community and reinserts Asian Americans into United States history.

I initially was not planning on writing my inaugural Lost Daughters post on anti-Asian sentiment and politics. However, in light of recent reports of Republican presidential contender Donald Trump mocking Asians with broken English at an Iowa campaign rally, I decided I could not stay silent. In many ways this recent rhetoric and attempt to invoke the Asian menace (political, economic, and social threat) reminded me of Pete Hoekstra’s racist 2012 Super Bowl advertisement and countless other examples of anti-Asian sentiment (see Yellow Peril!: An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear) in politics and popular culture from the nineteenth century to present day.

Yet former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is not the sole individual to invoke birthright citizenship and concerns about anchor babies. Republican presidential contender Donald Trump championed the cause and initiated a wider discussion of birthright citizenship with the launch of his immigration reform plan. Historian Erika Lee offered an in depth analysis of birthright citizenship and the specific Supreme Court case (Wong Kim Ark v. the United States, 1898) that affirmed the right of birthright citizenship for children of immigrants. Discussing how American citizenship is rooted in jus soli, Dr. Lee writes: “Wong Kim Ark vs. United States affirmed that regardless of race or the immigration status of one’s parents, all persons born in the United States were entitled to all of the rights that citizenship offered.” She further notes:

Many immigration experts counter that ending birthright citizenship would create two tiers of unequal citizenship in the country and would be disastrous for the estimated 4.5 million people who have been born in the United States to undocumented immigrant parents. Many likely have one parent who is either a citizen or an immigrant living here legally. Such a change would further destroy families and disaffect another generation of immigrants and their U.S. citizen children.

In fact, citizenship does not offer protection to undocumented immigrant parents of U.S. citizen children. For more information, please see Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation released their report Shattered Families: The Perilous Intersection of Immigration Enforcement and the Child Welfare System. Addressing former Florida Governor Bush’s claims regarding Asian “anchor babies,” Karthick Ramakrishnan contextualized Asian birth tourism against wider statistics on tourists from Asian. Reappropriate, Unhyphenate, and Frances Kai-Hwa Wang at NBC News discuss the race-baiting nature of the former Florida governor’s remarks. Cultural critic Jeff Yang contends that an emphasis on immigration – Latinos and Asians, in particular – is rooted in nativist fears over a minority majority in the upcoming decades. Addressing racism in the presidential election, the Asian American Pacific Islander political action committee CAPA21 suggest “8 Ways Asian Americans Can Stand Up to Racist Presidential Candidates.” Yesterday NPR published a round-up of “Some of the Best Thoughts on Jeb Bush’s Asian ‘Anchor Babies’ Remark.”

Yet, you may be wondering how all of this relates to adoption. For one, Asian adoptees are not immune to racist sentiments. Documenting the impact of these incidents, Mila from Lost Daughters writes: “When I got called a ‘chink’ or ‘flat face’ or ‘slant eye,’ when I experienced bullying at school or had kids throwing rocks and ice at me for being Asian, I had no one at home who could understand what I was experiencing.” Grace Newton at Red Thread Broken also highlights how the hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick sought to combat stereotypes concerning racial microaggressions impacting Asian Americans.

Personally, I have been asked where I’m really from and experienced years of being told that, “I speak good English” (in all of it’s grammatically incorrect glory). During adolescence, when I was not with my white adoptive parents, I was viewed as an Asian Other. The white privilege bequeathed to adoptees vis-à-vis their white adoptive parents is absent when the adoptee is alone. This is particularly magnified in adulthood when adoptees and their adoptive parents are routinely misread by mainstream society – as friends, girlfriends, wives.

My experiences in the United States as an Asian American, Korean American, Korean adoptee, etc. are linked to:

  • Histories of U.S. involvement in the Korean War and the legacies of militarism and imperialism on the Korean peninsula
  • Legacies of Japanese American internment, the murder of Vincent Chin, and violence against South Asian Americans in the wake of 9/11
  • Legal barriers to entry into the U.S. and access to naturalization      
  • The role of the model minority myth in shaping perceptions of my math and science capabilities and alleged submissive, compliant nature

The list could go on. The point is, Asian adoptees cannot be seen outside the heterogeneous population of Asian Americans. Our experiences weave a new strand into how we understand what it means to be Asian American.

Adoptive parents need to remember that their children are rendered just another person of color by society-at-large. The colorblind love espoused by adoptive parents throughout the last half of the twentieth century does not protect adoptees from racism. This is particularly salient in the experiences of black, transracial adoptees. Parents of Asian adoptees cannot overlook how histories of Asian Americans in the U.S. impact the lived realities of their children. To do so is inherently problematic. 

I implore adoptive parents to recognize the role of race and racism in the lives of their transracially adopted children. Ching-chong jokes should not be brushed off to the side and not taken seriously. Honest conversations about politicians and other public figures using broken English to enact racist depictions of Asian and Asian Americans should not be overlooked. Openly discuss what it means to have shows like ABC’s Fresh off the Boat on television and how it relates to adoptees regarding why diverse casts matter in Hollywood. Check out what ISAtv (International Secret Agents television) is producing on YouTube. Dan Matthews (DANakaDAN) is featured in their new series, Asian-ish*.

So what is #MyAsianAmericanStory? If I boil it down to 144 Twitter characters:

@mckeekee tweets re: #MyAsianAmericanStory

But we all know that’s only a part of my story. So join me as I continue to write for Lost Daughters and explore what it means to be an adopted, Korean American living in the U.S. and in reunion with my Korean family.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Mourning Crying Bird

The bird does not strive
Locked up in a cage
It want to try it wings
To see the world
Feel the wind
Beneath it's wings

Discover the world
See what's out there
Not just read it
From a book
On a mission
To see where
 My soul is

Perhaps the bird
Will start to sing
Again once it's soul
Is found again
The tears and sad song
Hopefully will end
One day

You can try to
Clip my wings
Yet my dreams
Will never change
You can try to
Cage my soul
But you will never succeed
Try me
And you might
Lose me
Forever and eternity
Not just in a dream

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

She Named You Donna (A Memoir) by Julie Kerton

Julie Kerton's memoir, She Named You Donna, piqued my interest before I even read the first page, when I realized that Julie is one of those rare people who represent all three sides of adoption.  Not only is Julie an adoptee, she is also a birth mother and an adoptive parent.  I imagine that it must be difficult at times, shifting from one viewpoint to another; however, I was excited to get a glimpse into these differing perspectives wrapped up in one person.

Julie's story begins in 1973 when she is 15 years old and attending on all-girls Catholic high school 30 miles north of New York City. Soon she meets her first serious love, Scott, and that is when things get complicated.  As you can probably guess, Julie gets pregnant out of wedlock.  While her family was more supportive than many, the difficulties Julie experiences are painful to read at times.

In one scene at the Westchester Adoption Agency, Julie is expressing her desire to parent her baby, but the adoption agency social worker discourages her at every turn.  Julie met with this particular social worker every Wednesday until later in her pregnancy when Julie's parents arrange for a private adoption through a lawyer, to enable her medical expenses to be paid.

When Julie explains her parents' decision to the agency social worker, this conversation takes place,

" 'Can I still come and see you Wednesday afternoons?,' I ask softly.

'I'm sorry, but if you don't use our agency for placement, we can no longer provide you services,' she explains.  

And then I understand what this is all about.  She just wanted my baby."

Four years post-relinquishment, Julie describes the lingering grief:

"It had been four years, and I still couldn't forget. They told me I would. That my life would be good. But I'd been on the ride of promiscuity, running from my pain, my memories ever since."

Fast forward many years later, struggling with infertility, Julie has another experience with an adoption agency -- this time, along with her husband Peter, adopting their first child, Lauren Elizabeth.  A son named Sean follows soon after.  Julie experiences a face to face meeting with the birth mother of her son that Julie found quite painful, as Julie knew exactly what her son's birth mother would soon be facing post-relinquishment.

One day after Julie is part of a happy family of four, she is drawn to a television show featuring an adoption reunion. Julie experiences mixed feelings and argues with herself:

 " 'I don't want to know.  I'm sure I don't want to know.  I'm really fine not knowing.'

But before the show ends, I've dialed the number flashed across the screen, and hold for the next available operator, lullabied by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville insisting that somewhere out there someone's thinking about me, credit card readied for my how-to search manual."

Several days later, Julies receives a 3-ring binder titled, "A Guide to Searching".

Being born in New York state, Julies birth certificate was (and still is) sealed, so she decides to see if she can get a hold of her baptismal certificate. She is successful.  Next, Julie learns some other interesting details from the adoption agency Non-Identifying information, including that her birth mother named her Donna.

Not long after receiving her Non-ID, Julie gets a call from ISSR (International Soundex Registry) who informs her there has been a match with her birth mother, who had signed up years earlier. When Julie later receives a packet of photos of her birth family from her birth mother, she poignantly describes the following:

"I am overcome with grief.  I never expected this.  I'm not looking for a new family.  I love my family.  I just wanted to know why I look like I do.  That is all it is, not more than that.  Why does this hurt so much?  How can I love her so much?"

Her feelings really resonated with my own, when I experienced both elation and then a depression that came on soon after meeting my own birth mother.  Julie realized (as did I), that you have a sudden knowledge of what you actually missed by not being part of your birth family growing up.

A few years after Julie reunites with her birth mother Pat, Julie's birth daughter seeks her out.  Julie's thoughts post-reunion with her daughter, Belia, spoke to me deeply:

"I'm three almost four weeks into my new position of reunited birth mother. From this side, the relationship is rooted in memories.  Places my mind couldn't tour.  I'm treading on the present, daring to hope for a future.  My words are careful, my actions more so.  I look to Pat as a mentor. I'm ashamed at how I poked and prodded her for my benefit, my curiosity.  Belia is no different, calling me several times a day, for more answers and new questions.  I'm exhausted by it all. . . . ."

I felt deeply guilty after reading this part of Julie's story -- the realization suddenly dawning on me, how my birth mother must have experienced my own over-active curiosity.  At this point, I kept thinking, how much more did Julie have to go through?  It's almost like she was in this never-ending cycle of adoption grief.
Julie Kerton
I encourage you to read the book to find out!

Simply put, I loved this book.  I thoroughly appreciated Julie's honesty, no matter how difficult the truth was to read at times.  I completed the memo
ir with a deeper understanding of my own birth mother's perspective, in addition to feeling validated as a fellow adoptee and adoptive parent.

This book is truly a must-read for people both within and outside of the adoption community as the universal themes will speak to you whether you are connected to adoption or not.

Thank you, Julie, for your bravery and the heart you put into your writing.

Go here to visit Julie's blog and here to purchase the book.

Lynn Grubb is an Illinois adoptee, stepmother, biological mother and adoptive parent.  She grew up in Centerville, Ohio and graduated from Wright State University.

In March of this year, she published the The Adoptee Survival Guide: Adoptees Share Their Wisdom and Tools.  When she is not at home checking her latest matches on Ancestry, 23 and Me and Family Tree DNA, you can find her at any live concert in the Dayton, Ohio area.

She blogs at No Apologies for Being Me.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Is Knowing Our Parentage Our Right?

There's nothing like a harmless joke to set your day off in the wrong direction. Scrolling through Facebook, a friend of a friend was joking about kids not knowing who their father is. I assume the joke was in reference to the friend being a mom of donor-conceived children.

I didn't click to see what the joke was. Just the reference to not knowing your parentage being a joke was enough to sink my stomach.

I think it's curious that it's considered funny when children don't have information about their fathers. How is being cut off from half of your identity and lineage a joking matter? Does society really consider the father such an irrelevant part of a child's life that they brush it off through humor?

Making fun of a person not knowing who their father is isn't exclusive to the donor-conceived. I remember long ago seeing a scene in a movie called, "Little Man Tate." In the movie the main character, a little boy, says,
"(My mom) says I don't have a dad. She says I'm the immaculate conception. That's a pretty big responsibility for a little kid."
I can't remember whether I thought the quote was funny or if I thought it was sad. I only know that it hit me hard in the gut and stayed there. It stuck with me. At the time, I was only two years into my reunion with my birthmother and I didn't know who my father was.

There's an assumption in society that disclosure of who a person's father is is at the discretion of the mother. That assumption goes further when we see that society sees no issue with making sperm-donors confidential. And, of course, the pinnacle of this assumption is that it is fine for society to seal away birth records of adoptees so they don't know anything about their parentage.

I know, I know - society thought parentage was irrelevant. It's rooted in the core of American independent values. The idea that it doesn't matter who you come from - you make yourself what you are.

Let's look at a different quote:
"Knowledge is power. Information is power. The secreting or hoarding of knowledge or information may be an act of tyranny camouflaged as humility." Robin Morgan
Knowing who someone's parents are is power. Keeping that information secret is an act of tyranny camouflaged in good intentions.

When a mother doesn't share the father's identity with her child, she has stripped her child of their power. When we sanction businesses to allow sperm donors to be confidential, we are giving a money-driven business more power than the child they are creating. When we allow our government to seal original birth certificates, we our releasing the power to them.

So the question is, who has the right to this information? Don't just jump in, think about it for a little while.

Is it the right of the persons who parented to seal their information away? They may not want to reveal out of shame of an indiscretion. Perhaps the mother was married and had an affair with a married man and both the mother's and the father's lives will be catapulted into turmoil by unearthing the information. Perhaps the mother doesn't want the child to know the father was a rapist. We have heard all the rationale.

Or is it the right of the child? Maybe it helps to realize that the "child" will one day become an adult. Looking at them as all adults - the parents and their offspring - puts them on more equal ground. Who has more of a right? The person who parented or the person who was created as a result?

I don't have the answer. Only the question (along with a telling wrenching in my core at hearing jokes about it).

Is knowing our parentage our right?


Cathy Heslin is a reunited adult adoptee of closed domestic adoption in New Jersey. She met her birthmother when she was just 18 and moved out to Portland after graduating college to live with her birthmother. She has been in reunion with her birthmother for nearly 25 years, and with her birthfather for 15 and has a complicated extended family that includes all sides.

She writes about adoption with a focus on long-term reunion. She has written a memoir in partnership with her birthmother called Kathleen-Cathleen where she and her birthmother write alternating chapters sharing their experience of reunion from both the perspective of the adoptee and the birthmother (not yet published). They also write parallel blogs on shared themes: Cathy's blog is Follow Cathy on Twitter @CathyHeslin.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Rooted to Resiliency: How to Overcome the Blues...

Can I tell you a secret?

Sometimes I despair....why is it so hard to feel safe enough to be authentic? 

Growing up I wasn't allowed to feel sad. I was told I should not cry...that crying would just make my (adoptive) family feel "stop crying, and stop being so selfish." 

Most of all, I wasn't supposed to talk about my birthfamily. I was especially never supposed to mention that infamous 'L' word: loss.

But what if I loved my (adoptive) family, whilst also missing my birthfamily, too? When everyone else in our society can reasonably expect to have a community gathering (e.g., funeral/memorial) to recognise the loss of a family member...why was I supposed to mourn my losses entirely alone

It's scary to be a child who must not mourn. When everyone tells you that your job is to be happy -- to keep the people around you happy -- what else can you do but smile, and ACT HAPPY (whilst crying secret tears inside)?

Sisters, please join me in a quiet moment, acknowledging our losses and beaming love to all the children in the world who...right now...may also be walking bravely amongst us, smiling through secret tears. (to be continued...)

Native Province: Taipei & Jiangsu (mainland China) Hometown: Laguna Beach (OC), California Arrived in the USA: Dec 1979 / Jan 1980 Education: NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts & Harvard Generation: G2, “A Global Generation” Proud Big Sister of: Chris (from Seoul, South Korea) Why This Blog: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” 
Helen Keller

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Adoption is Not The Only Option

The recent spate of highly-edited videos crafted to present Planned Parenthood as an uncaring and ethically questionable organization got me thinking. As a woman, mother, and adoptee, the arguments for and against removing federal financial support of Planned Parenthood made me consider what happened to my natural mother 45 years ago and how her experience relates to what is happening today. Please note that my thoughts are focused solely on domestic United States newborn adoption in which the parents have not abused or neglected their unborn child.

What stuck out for me with all the Planned Parenthood debating and fighting is how the "parenthood" part of the organization's name is so often completely ignored as an option. Regardless of how one feels about abortion, it is a decision regarding whether or not to continue with a pregnancy. If a decision is made to continue the pregnancy, the choice then becomes one of whether or not to parent the child. At this point, parenting is just as much a viable option as adoption. Yet, the parenting option tends to be ignored because those fighting to defund Planned Parenthood are more often than not the same people who are against supporting government welfare programs that could provide the help that expectant parents need to raise their child. It is my observation that many of these same people are also against ensuring that all members of society have access to the safe, affordable contraception that would prevent pregnancies and, in turn, abortions.

Instead, the adoption option is often promoted as the only viable alternative to abortion as if it is an either/or decision. It seems to me that those who do not support or promote the parenting option would rather have an expectant mother who is struggling give birth and provide her child to someone waiting to adopt. Temporary setbacks regarding the parenting option are "solved" with an extremely permanent solution. Even if what the mother truly wants to do is parent. It is my feeling that this is far from compassionate. I also believe that those who demand an end to safe, legal abortion while also wanting to deny women access to affordable contraception and reproductive health care are hardly "pro-life."

Speaking as an adoptee, I believe that the physical and emotional life of my mother should have been considered just as important, if not more, as that of the fetus growing in her uterus that ended up being me. Losing your newborn baby to adoption is extremely traumatic for a parent. Helping a mother parent her newborn, if this is what she truly wants to do, is much more compassionate and "pro-life" than scaring and shaming the mother into "giving her baby a better life through adoption."

Through reunion, I have the privilege of knowing the entirety of my pre-adoption narrative. My 19-year-old mother made a choice. She chose to parent her baby and marry my 19-year-old father, her high school sweetheart. My maternal grandparents didn't approve of my father or the marriage plan and arranged for my mother to enter a maternity home. They would not help her raise her baby. Catholic Charities wouldn't help her either and instead arranged the adoption even though her parents were the only ones who wanted it. Her parents and Catholic Charities then conspired to completely cut her off from people who were more than willing to help her raise her baby--the baby's father who wanted to marry her and the paternal grandparents who did not want the adoption to happen. Despite the fact that my mother actually had support and that my father should have had the right to parent his own child, my mother's choice was not honored or respected. My 19-year-old mother, who wanted to parent me, was given no other option but to place her first born daughter for adoption in an environment of shame and sin. And we have all been living with the impact of my adoption ever since. 

Despite changes in social mores over the year, how society views newborn adoption has remained the same. Abortion might be legal. Women might have better access to contraception. It might no longer be deemed shameful and sinful to get pregnant outside of marriage. But the supply of newborns is not meeting the demand of those wanting to adopt. And the adoption industry has its bottom line to think about. Today, many expectant mothers who want to parent while also facing temporary economic, relationship, or other challenges that could be overcome with just a little bit of assistance, are asked "what can you offer your baby right now?" instead of "how can we help you overcome these setbacks so that you can successfully parent?"

Legal abortion or not, things haven't really changed all that much in 45 years. And it is not just religious conservatives who keep the status quo. I lost count over the past week of how many times I read a "pro-choice liberal" comment such as "if you don't want abortions, are you going to adopt all the unwanted babies then?" Taking into account the fact that many babies are, in fact, wanted (I was), it is my feeling that a much better question would be "if you want to make abortion illegal, then are you prepared to do everything you can to ensure that parenting is a viable option?"  

As evidenced over the past several days, the current answer to this question from many identifying as pro-life is most definitely no. Answering yes would be, in my view, a much better representation of what it truly means to value and respect life. 

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others and if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.

~ Dalai Lama

NOTE: Before anyone shares a comment telling me that that I should feel lucky to have not been aborted, I will offer a preemptive response. If I had been aborted, I would have no idea that I had been aborted because I would never have been born. So I consider the question to be completely irrelevant.

Julie Stromberg
When the time came to think about college, I decided that my career path would encompass either child psychology or journalism. Fortunately for all the young people out there, I opted for journalism and earned a bachelor's degree in communications. Since that time, I have worked as a newspaper and magazine staff writer, public relations associate, and marketing copywriter. My professional creative efforts have been acknowledged with several industry awards.

I am also pleased to be involved in several writing and advocacy projects outside of the office. As an adoptee, my advocacy work is focused on changing the common, societal discourse on adoption practices and encouraging reform that would place the emotional needs and legal rights of the children involved first.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe -- A Memoir by Lori Jakiela

“I wanted to know something that looked and moved and laughed and loved and was sad like me.”

The first thing you should know about Lori Jakiela’s new memoir Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe is that it is not a typical, linear narrative of search and reunion. Jakiela moves back and forth through time again and again as she relates her experience. At first, I felt a bit disoriented by this, but then I realized there is, in fact, a path to be followed through this story as she tells it.

The book tracks Jakiela on her journey to understand the roles of nurture and nature in her life and their effect on her identity. She explores these questions by examining parenthood—motherhood in particular, that of her adoptive mother, her birth mother, and herself. The path she creates for the reader is a map of her own exploration, how she connects the dots between things she remembers, things she learns, and things that are happening in real time.

Jakiela was born and adopted in Pittsburgh in the 1960s. She is the only child of her adoptive parents, who are now both deceased. She is married and a mother of two young children. The book’s story begins in a Catholic Charities office, with Jakiela requesting for the first time information from her adoption file. She would like to make contact with her birth mother.

It’s clear from the start that she is devoted to her adoptive parents and that they truly loved her. She deliberately refers to them as her “real parents” throughout the memoir, leaving no room for questions about her loyalty. She relates many stories illustrating her strong bond with them, especially with her mother, whom she misses terribly.

Yet as she begins to uncover details about her birth family, we learn that she always felt somewhat out of place in her adoptive family, despite there being “so much of my parents in me I barely believe in blood.” As a child, she was always reading, a trait that the people she grew up with considered uppity. Her father thought she was smart, and anticipated that she would meet a good man by going to college. Her mother did not appreciate her love of books, didn’t want her to “get ideas.” She alludes to the arguments they had: “We keep our fights between us. In front of other people, I want her to be proud of me. I love my mother. I want to prove I haven’t been a complete waste.” She recalls her mother once saying that there should be a way to better match adoptive kids’ personalities with those of prospective adoptive parents: “Like things with like things. It would be better for everybody.”

Jakiela has a cousin who is also adopted, and who is obviously biracial, though the family does not openly admit this. She notices her aunt admonishing the girl not to go out in the sun, lest her skin become too dark. In a family photo, she and this cousin stand out, the too-tall girls with coloring that does not match that of their olive-toned adoptive Italian relatives. Jakiela’s blonde hair, green eyes, and Irish ancestry make her feel like a misfit in the group. Since her mother’s death, an aunt no longer refers to her deceased sister as “your mother” to Jakiela. Her father’s father never did consider her a real grandchild.

She has always known her birth name and the name of her birth mother, but had not felt a strong desire to search. Her daughter, however, was born with a serious hip problem that requires her to wear a leg brace. Jakiela also had leg issues when she was born, and she uses family medical history as a reason to reach out to her original family now. It’s only after contact is made that she realizes about her birth mother, “I had no idea I cared so much.”

Her birth relatives turn out to be not at all like the people she hoped to find, and she resists allowing them into her life. At the same time, she begins to make connections between traits she observes in them, in herself, and in her own children. She realizes, too, that “I never thought what it would be like for the others.” She is stunned by the reactions of some of her new-found kin. She hesitates to call her birth relatives “family.”

What I love about this book is that it is so honest about the complications of living as an adopted person. Jakiela demonstrates the real caring that exists between herself and her adoptive parents while also opening up about how difficult it was to live with people who did not look or think as she did. She shows us the barrier she developed against placing too much value on genetic connection, then she allows us to watch as that wall begins to crack. We see her at vulnerable moments, and we see her struggle against that vulnerability. This all rang true for me, as another adoptee who has both found and not found what I was looking for during my search.

Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe does not have a neat, easy ending, but that’s appropriate, I think, since none of our lives as adoptees is too tidy. Jakiela has penned a complex narrative that suits a complex life. Neither the story nor its telling are simple, but the read is worth the effort.

Note: The author provided a copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Karen Pickell was born and adopted in Ohio in the late 1960s. She reunited with her birth mother in 2005 and with her birth father in 2007. Her husband is an adoptive father of two children, now grown, from his first marriage, one of whom was adopted from Korea. Karen and her husband live in Florida with their two biological children. She holds a Master of Arts in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University in Georgia; she has published poems, essays, and stories, and is currently drafting a memoir. She previously served on the board of directors of the Georgia Writers Association, as editor for the Georgia Poetry Society, and as associate editor of the literary journal Flycatcher. Karen recently founded Adoptee Reading Resource. She blogs about writing, adoption, and other topics at

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Keeping Up Appearances for Summer Olympics of 1988

The official logo for the Olympiad of 1988

Due to the fact that Korea made a desperate attempt to better their image as a child exporting nation prior to hosting the Summer Olympics of 1988. They begun to make several changes on the intercountry adoptions from Korea as early-or late as in August of 1986.

I was born during the first few months of 1986 and conviniently enough just before the temporary ban of intercountry adoptions. My speedy adoption process surprised my second parents, I prefer second not new in this regard. My adoptive mum has told time and time again of how my APs had planned a day on the beach-of course they never went. A certain phone call took them both by surprise--- in just a week or two the Swedish couple would be parents to an infant baby girl.

I was probably one of the last infant adoptees to be adopted out from Korea to Sweden, (because of the Olympics preparations all adoption processes that already was started was finalized extremely fast) Korea wanted to finalize all adoption processes in a timely fashion before hosting Summer Olympics two years later. The urgency was dire since Korea also announced it would be hosting pre-Olympics later in that year.

My APs had prepared and planned to travel to Korea to pick me up on sight but since I was an infant no adoptive parents to Korean infants was allowed to travel there themselves. That used to be the norm prior to my adoption and a practice that returned some time later when Korea decided that they were unable to care for the orphans on their own.

What I did not know was that my birthfather had his signature forged and that the consent for adoption probably would have been dissolved if my birthfather had come for me sooner or if I had not been sent of as soon as I was. I now know that the reason for relinquishment was nothing more than a lie. I was not placed for adoption because I was another daughter to a large family in poverty. A family member bravely decided that I should be placed up for adoption instead of being raised within my family by my birthparents and with my older siblings. Perhaps it was a concious choice or perhaps said person did not understand what would happen once the consent form had been signed. It's likely that this person either believed I would remain at the adoption agency long enough for my birth father to reclaim me. Or maybe this relative was hoping I might not have been adopted at all, or if I had been adopted it would have been through domestic adoption and not intercountry adoption.