Don’t feel like writing lately–just feel like reading a lot and experiencing life. However sometimes I need to jot things down. Today’s jottings on 3 topics:
TOPIC No. 1
I read this on The Transracial Korean Adoptee Nexus:
Hello all. I was presented with a rare opporunity by a member of the Holt International Board in the U.S. She, like so many of us, is a transracial Korean Adoptee.
She recently sent me an email asking for suggestions on what we as TRA KADs would like the Korean Government to be aware of. I’ll include a tidbit of the email she sent to me without including her name or position within Holt.
“I was wondering if I
could get your opinions on what you, as adoptees,
would like from the Korean government. Our group is
trying to get a sort of ‘wish list’ together for the
Ministry of Health and Welfare of Korea, per their
request. This would include anything from current
adoption laws/policies to post adoption laws/policies.
An example: Allow Korean Americans/Korean Adoptees to
adopt under Korean requirements and not have it count
into the quota-have it count as a “Korean Adoption”.”
With the presidential election coming up in December and the daughter of former military dictator Park Chung Hee as the 2nd- favored candidate for the conservative GNP, I wonder does anyone in the Natl Assembly give a care about the welfare of adoptees anyway?
Well, I guess it doesn’t matter much as I don’t have a “wish list.” I don’t think that small tweaks to the program (adoption programs have been tweaked away at for years) are really going to help much. Nothing less than radical institutional and structural change is going to help this very ill system. The radical change that needs to happen is about what makes adoptees available in the first place. That is what Outsiders Within is all about, so that is enough said on that topic.
TOPIC NO. 2: I read this great interview with Angela Davis and the light bulb totally went off. I figured out that this (among other things) is why things like well-meaning Korean Kulture Kamps make me uncomfortable. No, it’s not because I never got to go and I’m jealous that I cannot fucking fan dance. I have no use for fan dancing or doing the big sit-down bow or wearing a hanbok in my daily life. It’s because……
Davis: The debate often focused on what young black people wanting to associate themselves with a movement for liberation should do, whether they should become active in campaigns against police violence, for example, or whether they should focus their energy on wearing African clothes and changing their name and developing rituals. One of the names members of the Black Panther Party used to call those who focused on Africa and African rituals was sort of pork chop nationalists. There were some of us who argued that yes, we need to develop a cultural consciousness of our connection with Africa particularly since racist structures had relied upon the sort of cultural genocide going back to the period of slavery so that many of us were arguing that we could affirm our connection with our African ancestors in political ways as well, following for example Dr. Du Bois’ vision of pan-Africanism which was an anti-imperialist notion of pan-Africanism rather than the pan-Africanism that projected a very idealized, romantic image of Africa, a fictional notion of Africa and assumed that all we needed to do was to become African, so to speak, rather than become involved in organized anti-imperialist struggles.
Eureka! I’ll focus on participating in struggles that are against violence against women, not for perpetuating a fictional and romanticized culture that actually supports the removal of more children and more therefore violence against women (because these things build on themselves when they become trendy) .
That is not to say that I don’t support the cultural education of adoptees (as impoverished as it is). I’m just saying that empowering women to keep their children is a billion times more important and PRIMARY. It is a middle-class thing to commodify Kulture when others are struggling just to keep their children.
Something unexpected that has been a by-product of my living in Korea for almost 3 years now has been that, thankfully, I have a richer idea of what is really going on in contemporary South Korea and “Koreans” are no longer the monolith that they used to be for me. There are all kinds of Koreans and one of the major divisions between them is class. So having the luxury of, for once in my life, being in the ethnic majority, my thinking leans more towards class issues these days (even though race is a factor in Korea as well, and of course race and class are intertwined in the U.S. and globally).
It occurs to me to look at international adoption not just from a race standpoint – especially when we have ethnic Koreans in both S. Korea and the U.S. involved in the transactions of transnational adoptions of Korean children — but also from a class standpoint.
from The Field Negro – The Rise of the Patio Negroes
So let’s look at these words I have coined for the Obama types shall we. I call them patio Negroes. They are not quite in the house, but they sure as hell ain’t out here in the fields with us. So this makes them patio Negroes in my book, half way between the fields and the house. Wisely moving between both worlds and doing what it takes to fit in when they have to.
I’m not going to claim that I’m a ”field negro,” but I sure as heck can claim to be the daughter of a Korean woman who took out the trash and cleaned the toilets of richer Koreans. I bet almost every adoptee can claim to have their origins in a low social or economic class — THAT’S WHY WE’RE ADOPTEES IN THE FIRST PLACE.
But then we get ensconced into relatively wealthier and more privileged families and it’s easy to start thinking like wealthy privileged people.
So what we have in the international adoption agencies is people – often of the same ethnic group as the children they are selling for adoption – who are operating from a point of view that is rooted in middle-to-upper-class “values,” if you can call “values” whatever bizarro notion it is that makes people think that taking children away from mothers is preferable to supporting mothers so they can keep their children, and then commodifying those children’s cultures, which is now completely foreign to them.
Yet what does international adoption offer poor working-class people like my mother?
I never once heard my mother say she was “grateful” for my adoption. I believe she was grateful to my adoptive parents because she had no other choice than to give me away and she was happy that I managed to live. But really, the adoption got her nothing. Nothing nothing nothing. She did not get a trip to Kamp Kimchi in Brainerd or whatever white place in Minnesota they haul adoptees up to so they can learn about “Korean” culture. It did not get her American citizenship (as if that’s better than Korean) or a college education (as if all adoptees get free passes to that). International adoption only robbed my mother of her children.
Oh wait. It got her a massive amount of shame and undying guilt.
I do not see how people who love freedom, truth and justice can support a practice which robs adoptees of their legal idetities, silences natural mothers out of shame, in China criminalizes them, and makes it so that most natural families can never be reunited. International adoption is the opposite of liberation. It is bondage, it is lies, it is injustice.
International adoption is not a feminist practice. It supports patriarchy, both in the U.S., where women think they have to have children to be full women, and in S. Korea, where unwed mothers and divorced women are discriminated against. International adoption sprouts from patriarchy and it FEEDS patriarchy. Talk about a vicious cycle.
Certainly I can see that there may be some personal benefits to international adoption. However the personal benefits that can be derived from international adoption cannot be used to dismiss or diminish the incredible evils that exist alongside the good.