Friday, July 27, 2012

Adoption Politics

This may sound crazy, or may not, depending I suppose upon whether or not you’re a part of the “adoption community,” but I continue to worry that we’re raising a child who may one day resent us for adopting him.

I know that sounds controversial. I know that any kid, bio or not, can choose to leave home and make not-so-frequent visits back. I know that, broadly and perhaps sexistly speaking, males don’t tend to call home a few times a week or head out with their parents to community garage sale day or whatnot and I certainly don’t hope for or expect that kind of relationship with my boys when they’re adults.

But international Korean adoption has been going on since the 1950s and many of those adoptees are now adults and have something to say on the matter of their own adoption. Really they’re the first few generations of international adoptees in the United States to grow to adulthood and to get their own voices and communities. And with the Internet that community is getting a hearing. And many are angry. And rightfully so.

To frame this very, very broadly and to lump all these voices together, they speak as “a people” if you will who, in many cases, were raised to think of themselves as white. And they’re not white of course. They’re Asian and Korean. But how to fit in to that culture when you have no relatives from the culture and don’t speak the language and don’t have stories about emigration in your family (other than your own emigration) and can’t speak to people who really know much about the culture. Framed like that, Korean culture camp ain’t much.

So it ain’t much: a dash of Korean culture camp, a smattering of classes at the Korean Heritage Center, and a good part of hanging out with other adoptive families and with Korean families (although the latter can smack of tokenism to me, let us befriend you to help Frankie feel more at home). And speaking openly about his adoption and going back to Korea as often as we can while he’s young and visiting and staying in touch with his foster family. Encouraging him to search for his birth family. That’s about all we have on this end. And it does feel flat, like a big-ole Minnesota hot dish—bland and creamy—instead of kimchi: spicy and salty.

The politics behind what I’m writing about is pretty huge and I’m feeling kinda flat today. But this has been on my mind as a topic to blog about for awhile.

I couldn’t bear it if an adult Alvin and Frankie (this week his nickname is Frankus) sneered secretly to each other or to friends about how hick their parents are, living in the Midwest and listening to music like bluegrass and Led Zeppelin (among a zillion others) and decorating all shabby ch*t .. But ya gotta differentiate from your parents at some point to grow up. I get it. Frankie, you’re going to have to build identity in strong and variant ways. I’m thinking of you already.

1 comment:

  1. People who complain about being adopted in America are "Grass is always greener" people. It could have been DIRE if they were left in their home country! We are so much more than our ethnicity. We are SOUL, and soul will flourish anywhere. Frankie will have a GREAT life with you! He can't possibly have gotten better parents or a better life, ANYWHERE!