Monday, January 18, 2016

Dearest Non-Adoptee …

Dearest Non-Adoptee,

Remember the innocence of childhood? I suspect you asked your mother, as my own children do, about that day you entered the world. It’s magical to think of that first breath, the wonder of a brand-spanking new brain just starting to spark.

If you are a firstborn, I suspect your parents recorded the dates of your first smile, your first tooth, that first crawl across the floor and then the monumental wobbly first step. All those things make you a living person who will grow up and later share these special moments with your own children.

I ask that you now understand me. Those moments which I preciously hold for my children are the same moments I want to hold for myself. Holding and staring at the few photographs I have of myself as a baby have sustained me for 48 years, but now, I know there are other notes taken by those who knew me during these times. Surrogates of a mother hold those memories of my life before I was someone’s “firstborn.”

One of my childhood memories that my adoptive mother shared with me was her sadness in seeing me walking in my first birthday photograph, a photograph sent to her by my foster mother via Holt Korea. She wanted that moment to hold for me and pass down to me. The loss of that milestone brought her great sadness and brings me sorrow to this day.

Imagine if someone, a stranger, held these precious memories … photographs, records of that first year, the developmental landmarks.

Saturdays are my days in Seoul to relax with fellow adoptees or spend much needed time with my little family of four. But this Saturday, I spent it with not only adoptees who were silent, but with non-adoptees who drove the conversation.

The one-sided conversation was sterile, matter of fact and rehearsed. The same words were repeated … “KAS is not allowed,” “no systematic guidelines,” “the law does not allow” …

Such surgical words applied to my life experience. Asking for my adoption file, all portions of my file is my plea to be that child of wonder looking for the information that makes me feel part of the human race.

KAS, Korean Adoption Services, is the governmental agency that acts as a liaison between the adoption agencies and the adoptees in post adoption services; adoptees are asked to submit requests for information through KAS. The KAS social worker handling my case fielded questions, but it seemed she lacked the understanding of why adoptees feel passionate about holding those files.

It is no fault of hers or yours that she and you were not adopted. How can you know what adoptees want or need?

And yet, our lives are now revealed as more nuanced than the agency script of a “better life.”

There is also a “hands-tied,” sympathetic conversation with my adoption agency … an illusion to a law I do not know, nor can I find. A law many years old that dictates how much of my life on the pages of my file may be shared with me. No one but me, my children and my sister are left to request the letters and photograph of my parents … my adoptive parents.

The domestic adoptee movement is catching momentum. More and more states are granting access to original birth certificates (#OBC). Domestic adoptees are a large group of American-born citizens, organized and able to bring the change. I hope that someday, when their wave comes crashing to the shores of justice, our transnational one will not be far behind. For now, transnational, international adoptees are scattered by the challenges of various injustices; many of us are just hanging on.

My plea to you is to be an ally. Understand that the things you cherish about your first years are the exact things we seek for ourselves and our children.

In humble sincerity,

Feminist columnist, Rosita Gonz├ílez is a transracial, Korean-American adoptee. She is married to a Brit and is a mother to two multiracial children. Rosita was adopted in 1968 at the age of one through Holt International. Her road has been speckled with Puerto Rican and Appalachian relatives and her multiracial sister, the natural child of her adoptive parents. While quite content with her role as a “Tennerican,” her curiosity has grown recently as her children explore their own ethnic identities. She considers herself a lost daughter, not only because of the loss of her first family, but also because of the loss of her adoptive parents. After her adoptive father’s death, she discovered that he had fathered a Korean son two years before her birth; she is searching for him. Rosita recently returned to the United States after a five-month stint in Seoul, South Korea with her family and their three cats. Follow her adventures as an adoptee on her blog, mothermade.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Without Consent: A Review of the Travelling Exhibition About the History of Forced Adoption in Australia from 1950-1975.

Australia's prime minister Julia Gillard. Photograph: Mark Graham/AFP/Getty Images (source).

By Guest Author: Kylie Carman-Brown, BA Hons, PhD
When it comes to acknowledging the impact of adoption on children, Australia, I am proud to say, leads the world.

In 21 March 2013, Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered an apology on behalf of the nation to all those who were affected by the practice of forced adoption. Since that historic day, the National Archives of Australia has worked to produce a website and a national touring exhibition. The exhibition was launched two years later, and Ms Gillard agreed to open it.

As a historian and an adoptee, I’ve had a strong interest in the project. The day after attending the apology, I wrote and asked them if I could help in any way. It took a while, but I ended up writing website content, and I have also loaned objects. It’s been a curious process, being both a participant in the creation of the exhibition and one of its subjects. It has brought more pain and grief to the surface to be healed, which is necessary but unpleasant, and at the same time, I think it is one of the most worthwhile projects I have ever been involved with.

The exhibition and website was one of the recommendations from the Senate Enquiry in historic adoption practices. The task was given to the National Archives of Australia, with an incredibly short lead time. The Archives was instructed to have an exhibition ready to open for the second anniversary of the apology. Given that the National Archives had limited material on which to draw from in their collection, the task was more than daunting.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Customer's Complaint on Placed Order 1 Object Mum

If I only got to wish one thing from my mum, this is what I'd wish for-instead of searching for confirmation and attention to please her own fragile ego I'd wish she'd use at least some of that time on me. At least trying to convince me that I haven't failed her as a daughter and that she doesn't require me to be a picture perfect daughter. But I know she may never be able to take that responsibility. She's still so very insecure in herself, and very sensitive. The first word I'd use to describe her would be perfectionist. Don't get me wrong I do love my mum a lot and during certain circumstances I believe she did the best she could.

Part of why I'd say that the adoptive parents as well as the birth parents both needs to be better educated when it comes to (transracial) adoption is based on my own experiences. That's also why I'd say that not every couple would make good parents and why not everyone that seeks to parent from adoption should. Some people may just not be fully aware of exactly what it means--what is expected of them and what the adoptee should request.

Any person just isn't suitable to parent (which could be due to many different circumstances) I do also know that there are other adult adoptees that have had it far worse than I have. Personally speaking, I'm trying to say that I'd wish for another mum or a new mum. I do love my mum, I just wish future prospective parents would receive better education so they may be fully prepared for what may come and what to expect along the line. Some prospective adoptive parents may not be suitable and should not be allowed to parent through adoption without a proper social support from friends, family and health care.

I have never shared this part about my life with anyone---this is the first time. My mum begun to mention suicide and death when I was in my early teens. Up until that point in my life she never had before, I reacted to this by slowly distancing myself from her instead seeking support from my dad. I never mentioned this to my parents before, I don't think I realized exactly how much it may have impacted my life and influenced me... I hate to admit it but I may be more alike my mum than I would like to admit perhaps even just like her. Children learn what parents do ---they don't do as adults tell them to do instead they do what they do.