Sunday, January 20, 2019

Are You Anti-Adoption is Like Asking Are you Anti-Amputation?*

Recently I published an essay titled, “I Don’t Believe in Adoption Anymore,” as a part of my series “Reflections From the Other Side of 10 Years Post-Reunion." Inevitably, a reader always asks some variation of the question, "are you anti-adoption?"
This time, the specific question was “Is this post advocating against adoption?”
It’s a common question I have come to appreciate, because it always leads to deeper discussion and education. It also keeps me honest by compelling me to revisit the question and re-examine what I actually think--because our perspectives and views are not static. They often evolve over time as we gain new information and circumstances change.
When answering questions like these, I like to use metaphor to illustrate why these types of questions are inherently problematic and almost impossible to answer.
For instance, when you ask an adoptee are you “advocating against adoption,” it’s akin to asking me if I am “advocating against amputation?”
Ultimately, it’s the wrong question to ask.
The question we should be asking is “how do we prevent amputation?” What other less extreme and consequential solutions can we implement and develop? What can we do to keep the leg or arm in tact?
And certainly, I would never advocate for amputating someone’s leg or arm, especially against their will, for the sake of some other person over there saying they want another leg or arm. Can you imagine telling a person, “We need to amputate your leg to give it to that person over there who needs another leg.” That’s not even an option. Doesn’t even pop onto the radar of your mind, right?
Well, that’s how we should feel about severing a child from his or her mother and family. It should generally just not be an option. Rather, like amputation, it should be a last and desperate resort when all other options have been pursued and cultivated.
So, when you encounter adoptees or others advocating for family preservation or expressing that poverty and duress should never be reasons to severe a child and mother for the purposes of adoption, rather than ask with alarm, “is this person advocating against adoption?,” I hope you’ll ask the question, “how do we prevent this from happening?” How do we prevent severance of mother and child? What can we do to prevent adoption?
When we can move beyond the binary ideas of "for vs. against" adoption--and rather start asking and answering questions that get at the root of the issues, then we stop seeing adoption as a primary solution. We are able to see it as a symptom of deeper, more complex issues that need attention and care.
I am not advocating against adoption any more than I would advocate against amputation. Rather, I would prefer to prevent adoption just as I would prefer to prevent amputation. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, particularly in a day and age when the resources and opportunities to do so are at our fingertips.
*The month of January 2019 marks a decade since I reunited with my Korean family. I am publishing a series titled, "Reflections from the Other Side of 10 Years Post-Reunion" to honor and explore what I have learned over the past decade. For additional essays, click here.