Monthly Archives: June 2007

Adoption from South Korea: Isn’t 50 Years ENOUGH?

Beginning as an emergency measure in the mid-1950s, the Korean international adoption program grew from a small, post-war rescue operation to its peak in the mid-1980s, when over 8,000 children per year were sent out of Korea for adoption. Most were sent to the U.S., often with the assistance of Christian organizations.

 

157796_adopted_koreans.png

 

Rapid industrialization, urbanization, and poverty kept the program open in the 1970s and 1980s. The number of South Korean children sent abroad for adoption abruptly dropped as a result of negative world media coverage during the 1988 Summer Olympics, but has hovered around the 2,000 mark since 1991, according to Korean government data.

Adoption from South Korea has remained relatively stable for the past 16 years, but the growing numbers of children being adopted from other countries has created the illusion that numbers are dropping dramatically.

illusion2.png

 

Since the IMF crisis in 1997, single mothers have been targeted as the new source of Korean children for the West. The Ministry of Health and Welfare reported that in 2004, all but one of the 2,257 children adopted overseas came from single mothers. About 70% of single mothers relinquish their children for adoption in South Korea, compared with less than 1% in the U.S. North Korea does not have an international adoption program.

South Korea’s dependence on the international adoption program has stunted the growth of more appropriate government-funded social welfare programs, as well as delayed the social acceptance of single-parent families.

With the 11th-largest economy of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries and the third-largest economy in Asia, South Korea is no longer an impoverished country. Moreover, with a 1.13 percent birthrate in 2006, the country has the lowest birthrate in the OECD. The impending demographic crisis coupled with the country’s prosperity makes it clear that South Korea can and must take responsibility for caring for its own children within its own borders.

International adoption is NOT the solution. Instead, the South Korean government must find its own solution by investing in sex education, supporting single parents and creating incentives for domestic adoption.

END INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION FROM KOREA.

 

Over a quarter-million foreign babies adopted to the U.S. since 1990

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Solidarity with white “natural mothers”

I thought Anita had a good point so I’m posting my response to her comment from “About” page below.

 

Anita Says:

 

My heart goes out to you, and all people ripped from their original countries/families! I am a birthmother (and I am white)in reunion! You have expressed your view point dramatically, and it echos my thoughts in many ways. I am only saddened to hear colour mentioned so many times, when I think this important human injustice is not limited to a colour issue. It is a family and human rights and dignity issue. I am impressed that you were able to find your original family! I know that is a difficult task and that the odds were against you.

 

Hi Anita,

 

Thanks for your message. Yes, you are right that adoption is not limited to a race issue. People working in the international adoption industry who are wondering how natural mothers in “foreign” countries feel about having their children taken for adoption would do well to ask a mother of the Baby Scoop living in their own backyard — whether in Canada, the U.S., Australia, or the U.K. Mothers are all mothers, no matter where the live, what language they speak, what their culture is.

However, the adoption system and the way it intersects with other world systems in order to exploit women who have few resources has been especially brutal to women of color ever since the days of the American Indian boarding schools and the “Stolen Generation” in Australia. That is because of the power of global institutionalized racism is getting exercised in addition to the patriarchy and moral police that work together to take mothers’ children away from them.

The brutal practice of taking children away from their mothers and calling it “social service” continues especially in “intercountry” adoption (20,000+ per year to the U.S.) which is usually transracial and transcultural in nature (though not always). I think there is some bonus dehumanizing that happens when the mother of the adoptee is a woman of color; that’s one of the reasons why U.S. family immigration law is as it is and why the international adoption system has been constructed as it has been. So that’s why I am talking about race — because the landscape has literally shifted from white mothers in Western countries as suppliers to “foreign” countries and to women of color as the suppliers of children for adopters.

For a detailed discussion about how institutionalized racism and the international adoption industry work together with other systems to rob women of their children, such as the U.S. prison industrial complex and U.S. military interventions, I hope you’ll check out my anthology “Outsiders Within,” co-edited with Sun Yung Shin and Julia Chinyere Oparah.

Anyway I think we all have a lot to learn from each other and we are all basically in the same boat. The Korean mothers (who are also a racial majority in their own country as you are in yours; it only becomes a transracial situation when their children go to white families and adoptees grow up as racial minorities, often even within their own families) are interested in learning from white mothers  about how to make the kinds of changes in society that will help them keep their own children. We are having a Baby Scoop in Korea right now, except that Korean children are being sent not just to different families, but overwhelmingly to completely different countries, to adoptive parents who do not share their race, language, culture, or anything else.

I’m thankful to all the white natural mothers in North America, Australia, and the U.K. who are sharing their stories and organizing, as in this whole world system, your work also benefits the 20,000+ women in Korea, China, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Russia, Vietnam, etc. who lose their children to the U.S. international adoption system every year. Most of those children who will never be found by their families again. The barriers are just too great. (In Korea we are batting less than 2% for reunions. Then we have to learn the Korean language to even communicate with our families if we are lucky enough to find them. Grim. Frustrating.)

I am very lucky because my mother found ME. She passed away 6 years ago, but I hope that I will live to see the day when adoption as it is practiced today is viewed as the archaic, primitive, and exploitative practice that it really is.

Best wishes to all the moms, solidarity –
jane

Gorge on cheap Korean food

분식 (BOON SHEEK) is Korean fast food. It is dirt cheap and it is what often passes for Korean restaurant food in the States. After awhile it is MAT OPSO (has no flavor) but at first it is like heaven.

(Did you notice how in adoptee grammar, a whole phrase can become a single adjective!?!?! Our new improved homemade international adoptee Korean is way more fun than “native speaker” Korean…. ha ha ha!!! See what they are missing out on!?)

I highly advise all my peeps coming to Seoul for the Gathering to start learning the Kimbap Nara menu on Mary Eats. You will be able to eat fairly deliciously at many such 분식 places — they all serve basically the same things — and you will also be saved from eating pre-packaged food out of the convenience store or going to McDonald’s for the millionth time. (Although the nature of McDonald’s does change in Korea… it is more delicious than you ever dreamed possible…. and the nature of ramyun also changes after midnight, when you put a slice of processed American cheese on it… food can be magic here….)

Combine anything (name of food here) + (chuseyo) and the rules say they have to give it to you.

Remember, look for the sign that says 분식 (BOON SHEEK).

Eat deliciously.

Toward a diverse (Korean) society

or “I Will Eat Whatever I Want To.”

Excellent article in the Hankyoreh.

 “Marriage immigrants” number more than 75,000, multicultural marriages account for more than 14 percent of marriages yearly, and approximately 35 percent of men in farming, forestry, and fishing are marrying foreign spouses. If the trend continues the number of children born to at least one immigrant parent will be 1.5 million in 20 years. Roughly 53 percent are earning less than what the government considers a minimum cost of living.

American adoptive father launches campaign to help unwed Korean moms

Yonhap Interview 

By Kim Young-gyo and Jane Jeong Trenka
SEOUL, June 14 (Yonhap) — Just one year ago, Dr. Richard Boas, the American father of an adopted Korean girl named Esther, was financially helping other Americans so they could adopt children from overseas.

However, Boas’ perspective radically changed after visiting South Korea late last year. Now, he is an activist for the rights of single and unwed mothers and their children. Moreover, he has become a staunch supporter of domestic adoption within Korea.

“Isn’t it in the best interest of a developed society — any society that loves its children — to support them in whatever way possible?” Boas asked in an interview with Yonhap News Agency earlier this week.

The ophthalmologist from Connecticut was in South Korea during the past week meeting lawmakers, academics and social workers to promote not international adoption, but family preservation.

Almost 20 years go, Boas and his wife adopted Esther, believing that they would be able to give her a better life in the United States.

“As grateful as I am that Esther came into my life — and that I had the great privilege of bringing her up, of being her father and seeing her grow into a fine young woman — it pains me to see any woman give up her child because people and the government won’t support her,” Boas said.

The Korean international adoption program began in the aftermath of the Korean War, peaking in the mid-1980s when over 8,000 children a year were sent abroad for adoption, mostly to the United States. In the 1990s and beyond, the “problem” of single mothers in Korea has provided a new supply of Korean children for the West.

The number of South Korean children sent abroad for adoption abruptly dropped as a result of media coverage of the program during the 1988 Olympics, and has hovered around the 2,000 mark since 1991, according to Korean government data. However, along with China, Russia and Ethiopia, it is still one of major “sending” countries to the U.S., according to the annual U.S. State Department report on “orphan” visas.

Nearly all internationally adopted Koreans in the past few years have come from unmarried and single mothers. South Korea not yet ratified the 1993 Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, while the U.S. has signed but not yet implemented it. North Korea has no international adoption program.

South Korea, the world’s 11th-largest economy, has been criticized both at home and abroad for its low rate of domestic adoption. Government figures show that there have been about 87,500 domestic adoptions versus 158,000 international adoptions since the end of the Korean War in 1953. Even though the government is now promoting domestic adoption, Confucianism, which stresses patriarchal bloodlines, and social stigma against unmarried and single mothers and their children are commonly cited as the reasons for high relinquishment and low domestic adoption.

South Korea ranks 53rd in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD’s) Gender Empowerment Ranking, between Chile and Botswana.

“I had the sense of almost rescuing a child from what seemed like a very dismal fate in Korea,” Boas said of Esther, whom he adopted when she was three and a half months old. She is his third child, in addition to two biological children.

With his children grown, Boas closed his medical practice and started a program with other Connecticut adoptive parents to help people adopt internationally. The Adoption Foundation at Family and Children’s Agency financially aided about 15 families to adopt children, including special needs children and siblings.

However, Boas’ view of international adoption changed radically when he visited South Korea for the first time in October 2006 and met a group of unwed mothers who had already made arrangements to give up their children, even before delivery.

“When I met the moms, I started asking myself questions that the other Americans weren’t asking.” Boas said. “Why would these moms give up their babies? Isn’t it the right of any birth mom anywhere in the world to bring up her child if she’s capable and loving? Why are these kids not being absorbed into Korean society, either by their birthparents or by domestic adoption?”
The rate at which unwed mothers relinquish their children in South Korea, estimated at 70 percent, comes as a shock to Americans, where fewer than 2 percent of unwed mothers relinquish their children for adoption.

After meeting healthy and seemingly capable Korean unmarried mothers, who were nonetheless sending their children overseas for adoption, Boas wondered, “Why am I favoring so much international adoption when it doesn’t need to be necessary? This is like the tail wagging the dog.”
Boas returned home to Connecticut, unsettled about what he had seen in Korea. He read about the South Korean social welfare system in comparison with Western European countries and the U.S. Then he encountered an article by Marie Myung-Ok Lee, the Korean-American author of “Somebody’s Daughter,” who had studied Korean birthmothers.
“She became aware that the effect (of international adoption) on these mothers is devastating. They learn English just so they can get a phone call from their child 20 years later. They still long for their children,” Boas said, explaining why he turned his attention to helping Korean mothers keep their own children.

Through his foundation affiliation, Boas now provides funds to the San Francisco-based foundation Give 2 Asia, which also maintains an office in Seoul. In turn, Give 2 Asia supports such organizations as the Single Mothers Network, the single and unwed mothers’ group home Aeranwon and the Korean Women Workers Association.

“I think the problem, in retrospect, was that so much of this has been adoption-driven … I understand some years ago the agencies in Korea even competed with one another to try to find all the adoptable kids they could. It may be in the best interests of the adoptive family, but children are by definition helpless. They can’t make requests. They’re not asking to go overseas.”
Boas said that domestic adoption can also help boost South Korea’s declining population; with a 1.13 percent birthrate in 2006, the country has the lowest birthrate in the OECD.
The practice of international adoption has become “business as usual,” Boas said, but now “Koreans have a golden opportunity to really evolve and do so well by these kids and their mothers. I think when you really come down to it, the economic price and the social price is relatively small. I think it’s much smaller than the price that everybody is paying now.”

Move it.

I had reservations about posting this yesterday, posted it for about an hour, pulled it, and then I found Sue’s very nice comment on the post below. Since Sue’s my “ideal reader” and one of the coolest adoptive parents I’ve ever met, and she found a nugget of value in my inflammatory post, I will let it fly. Here goes — and thank you, Sue!

And BTW, all, WELCOME TO CONFERENCE SEASON.

Some of my best friends are white people.

I knew some white people growing up.

I have some white people in my family.

White people like me.

However, one of the things that I like about living in Korea is that white people move out of my way. For instance, if I’m in a store (outside of Itaewon) and they’re in front of something I want to look at, they automatically JUST MOVE. It’s great, and it’s courteous. I would do the same for them and indeed I always have.

However, I did have a rather unpleasant experience with two white ladies who would not get out of my way last weekend.

So I’m at this feminist literary conference at one of the top universities in Korea and I’m giving a paper called “Adoption is a Feminist Issue: Toward an Imaginative Feminism,” basically stating that adoption has to do with reproductive choice and economic justice for women, so why aren’t feminists talking about it? I’m citing the lack of discussion about it as a failure of imagination, and thanking all the literature professors who are listening for cultivating the imaginations of students so they can be more compassionate toward all kinds of people. And I also made the comment that one of the reasons why feminist academics perhaps are not appropriately framing adoption as a feminist issue is because there are so many adoptive mothers within the halls of liberal academia.

Well, believe you me, I had no idea (until the organizer told me the day before) that the woman who was going to read her paper right before me was a Spanish (from Spain) woman who is also the adoptive mother of a Chinese girl! Who’d a thunk it? And although the mother was all mad that I was talking about “white” adoptive parents, it wasn’t me that made her go like TWENTY MINUTES over her time limit which ate up both my time and the Chinese professor’s time after me. (Isn’t it just like white people to help themselves to all the available time and deprive others of theirs?)

Nor did I have any idea that her other white-looking Spanish friend who was along with her was ALSO the adoptive mother of a Chinese girl! Dios madre!!

So here we are at one of the top two universities in Korea at an international feminist literature conference and it completely devolves into — well, let’s put it this way, it was like certain people had suddenly checked their gigantic brains at customs. It was sort of like an adoption panel.

The mother sitting next to me ended up CRYING in front of everybody and talking about her love for her daughter. “I only know the language of love,” she sniffled. Oh Jesus Christo upside down exclamation point, I thought, isn’t this typical that the white lady has a mental break and then the strong woman of color is supposed to mammy her up? Not only that, but she presented her paper on a Chinese Canadian author who refuses to identify herself as Chinese or Asian, but prefers to be called a “West Coast” author. Is that surprising at all, that the author that this white adoptive mother chose to present on is a bulimic Chinese author who has completely elided her own race and who is self-Orientalizing/fetishizing by being a dominatrix and calling it some kind of women’s empowerment? (Is that like, taking Chinese women’s children away is supposed to be a form of white women’s empowerment?)

Meanwhile the other adoptive mother in the audience seemed to have a little more self-control, but simply didn’t seem to get it about economic disparity and why I think it’s a little crazy that while the Chinese peasants are rioting about the government’s one-child law, foreign adopters can buy up the peasants’ kids for 20 times the amount of money it would take for the Chinese mother to just pay the fine and keep her own child. Is that not unfair? Nor did she get the part where I was saying that no, I don’t think that women should be reduced to their biological functions either, however what I am talking about is not relatively wealthy women’s choices in reproductive technology, but rather all women’s choices to simply raise their own (biological) kids. I mean, are we so space-age and post-feminist now that it’s passe to actually have children out of one’s womb instead of adopt them?

Afterwards, it was reported to me, these two white-looking — but more importantly, white-acting women — who just came all the way to Seoul from Spain for a 2-day conference, I suppose on donkey-back with some hardtack packed away in a kerchief, said they are not white, but women of color, and that they are POOR.

WHAT THE FUCK I’LL SHOW YOU POOR!

Since I wrote my paper far before I ever met either one of them or knew they were going to be there, it wasn’t a personal thing, but of course they personalized it. My paper was not personal, however THIS is, because I really am that petty.

Now, since I am in full venting/bitchingmode, I should mention that then one of my righteous homegirls — hailing from India and more recently Canada — R, who is researching international adoption, made a great intervention into all the silliness during the discussion, which later got her cornered by the Spanish ladies even though R and I had agreed to get out of there for a break afterwards. (I must take up smoking and drinking. It is so sad that in times like those when a smoke break and a martini would be so nice, but I don’t actually like either cigarettes or alcohol. R says we are strong women for being able to handle all this with just a Sprite. I did knock back a Sprite later and no one could stop me!!! No one I tell you!! :)

Anyway, back to the lobby scene where R is cornered by the two uh, women of color, which I think to them means that they are opaque, not transparent. “Excuse me, but we were just going out for lunch,” I say to the Spanish ladies, physically putting myself in between them and R. And here’s why I’m pretty sure they are white, no matter whether they think they are “women of color” or not: BECAUSE THEY INVITED THEMSELVES ALONG. I was thinking, R and K and I are going out for lunch. NOT YOU. I didn’t ask YOU out for lunch, bitch. (I know, feminists are not supposed to say “bitch,” but at least I didn’t say “cunt.”)

So we ended up going for coffee, and the white-acting lady who did her paper on the Chinese author in denial gets out of her folder like TWELVE PICTURES of her Chinese kid. And I thought, isn’t that just like a white lady to bring twelve pictures of her Chinese kid playing piano to a conference in an Asian space so Asian people will have to act like they care? As if we are not surrounded by cute little Asian kids already, some of whom are apparently being raised in such an anti-feminist way, that is, by the women who so vulgarly gave birth to them? Just because she left her kid at home in Spain, I guess she had to bring the photos along as her ticket into Asian space this time. Good lord, that is the oldest and lamest trick in the book. My friends are a lot more nice than I am, because they actually looked at her photos. I was like, I am not going to play that game with you.

Props to K for keeping the Spanish ladies company in a civilized manner and responding to all their nosey questions about her life as an adoptee, such as “What would your life have been like if you hadn’t been adopted?” which I suppose they felt entitled to ask her since that day they were doing their impression of white people even though they are really opaque. However, I thought, the least I can do since these people have already taken up my time and intruded on my space is learn something about what’s happening in Spain. So I asked some questions about how they’re raising the adopted kids in Spain, and wouldn’t you know it, they have no contact with the Chinese community there (it’s the Chinese people’s fault because they are so closed, they said) except when they take their girls to the Chinese restaurant. “But do you try to build some relationships with Chinese people who are not in service positions?” I asked. She assured me that the Chinese are RICH and they are the OWNERS of the restuarant. My explanations about yes, maybe they’re rich, but they are still asking you what you want to eat and bringing you food, which makes it a service position — went completely over her head. It was all I could do not to bust out into my version of The Scream, beat her with my shoe, choke her to death, steal a lock of her hair for my voodoo doll, etc.

And then the two white ladies went to the bathroom, together, for about 15 minutes, and I was wondering if they were holding each other in there and crying or talking about their dates or what. They were sort of huddled together for the rest of the conference. Yes — clutch each other because it is getting too Asian around here!!

The white people whom I like in Korea were probably also nice folks in their Western countries. Nice, meaning respectful of other people and not hogging up all the time and space and resources and wasting all their time either being racist or feeling guilty for having been racist before or feeling guilty about having been born white or trying to deny being white or trying to cover for their racist friends or trying to appropriate Asian cultures. I don’t think that being white automatically makes one unsavory to be around, but I think in Western countries that kind of behavior is easier to get away with. I guess I’d forgotten what a challenge (i.e., a test of marathon will and mental strength) it is to live in a culture where people are allowed to be like that all the time.

OK, so that being said, certainly the white people in Korea, beyond moving out of my way in the store, are not giving me much of a break, but that is way too long to go into. Basically, Korea is crawling with Asian fetishists, which is why Itaewon is the most dangerous place to be in all of Korea (in my opinion). And Korea manages to be a white supremacist culture, even with a Korean ethnic majority. Just didn’t want you to think that I am letting people off the hook simply because they get out of my way (since they think I can’t speak English).

However, having white people get out of my way, usually, is definitely one of the perks of living here.

Adoption Koans

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

If a tree falls and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?

If a mother has her child taken for adoption but she says nothing about it in public, does it matter if she has been hurt?

What is the sound of a a silenced natural mother crying?

What is the use of an adoption file if the information in it has been falsified?

What is the use of keeping an adoption file if the people most affected are not allowed to see it?

What is the use of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption if even Guatemala can claim to be a signer?

What is the use of international law if it cannot be enforced?

What is the use of U.S. citizenship to an adoptee if she cannot sponsor her natural family for immigration?

What is the use of the 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child to an adopted person?

What is the use of adoption reform to people for whom reform is too late?
How long does reform take, and in the meantime, and how much collateral damage is acceptable?

내부의 외계인: 타인종간 양자입양에 관한 집필


내부의 외계인: 타인종간 양자입양에 관한 집필
타인종간 입양에 대한 비판적 통찰

제인 정 트랑카씨는 G.O.A.L과의 인터뷰를 통해 그녀의 최신 저서 내부의 이방인: 타인종간 양자입양에 관한 집필』에 관한 설명을 해 주었습니다. 줄리아 신예어 오파라와 신선영씨가 공동 편집한 본 선집은 South End Press in Boston이라는 출판사를 통해 2006년 가을에 출간될 예정입니다.

왜 책의 제목을 내부의 이방인이라고 지으셨는지요?

이 제목은 패트리샤 힐 콜린즈라는 이론가에게는 너무나도 익숙한 개념일 것입니다. 콜린즈는 내부의 이방인이라는 관점은 흑인 여성들에게 특별한 통찰력을 준다고 주장했습니다. 그 통찰력이라는 것은 자신이 속한 지배적 사회의 세계관에 젖어있는 가진 자들이 얻기 힘든 것입니다. 그와 같이 지배적 사상 속에 있지만 여전히 그로부터 배제되어 있는 것이 바로 타인종간 입양된 사람들의 상황입니다. 입양관련 문헌은 지난 50년간 입양하는 사람과 입양을 촉진하는 사람들에 의해 장악되어 왔습니다. 우리는 책의 제목을 내부의 이방인이라고 함으로써 오늘날까지 부재했던 입양인 당사자들의 지식이나 경험을 중심으로 하는 제작물이 입양 문헌에 있어 중요한 부분임을 알리는 것입니다.

책의 주제와 집필에 참여한 작가들에 대해 말씀해 주시겠습니까?

이 책은 타인종간의 양자입양에 관한 것입니다. 더 정확히 말하자면 유색인종 아이들을 입양하는 백인들의 전세계적 실천에 관한 것이지요. 동일 주제의 다른 저서들과는 차이점이 있는데요, 우선 여러 나라와 여러 인종간의 문제를 다룬다는 것과, 그 중심에는 타인종간 입양된 사람들이 서있고, 책을 쓴 사람은 다름아닌 그 입양인 당사자들이나 동지들이라는 것입니다. 여기에서 제가 동지라고 하는 사람들은 입양을 촉진하는 사람들이 아니라, 타인종간의 입양 문제를 비판적인 자세로 보는 사람들로 학자, 가족구성원, 그리고 행동주의자 등을 뜻합니다. 입양이라는 것이 가족과 같이 사적인 영역에서부터 공동체, 학술 및 예술 분야, 그리고 국가적 전 지구적 범위까지 어떻게 세상에 영향을 미치고 있는지에 대해 인식하고 있는 사람들이지요. 기고가 분들은 미국, 독일, 스웨덴, 캐나다, 호주, 덴마크, 한국, 그리고 영국 등의 8 개의 다른 국가에 머무르고 있으며, 본래의 출생지와 인종적 배경은 더욱 다양합니다. 뿐만 아니라, 이분들은 다음과 같이 여러 분야에서 활동 중이지요: 학계, 문학 및 예술, 풀뿌리 행동주의, 심리학 및 카운슬링, 사업, 정치, 저널리즘, 교육

이 책의 다른 두 편집자는 누구이지요?

우선 신선영씨는 시카고에서 자란 한국인 입양인으로 Coffee House 출판사에서 곧 발간예정인 Skirt Full of Black』이라는 시집과 Cooper’s Lesson』이라는 동화책을 쓴 작가입니다. 신선영씨는 또한 보다 학문적인 글을 편집하는데 필요한 이론적 지식을 가지고 있고, 탄탄한 Asian-Americanist입니다. Julia Chinyere Oparah는 혈통적으로는 이산 이보족 여성이며, 나이지리아 Owerri Umochoke족에 속하지요. 태생지는 스코틀랜드이고, 다인종적 수양가정을 배경으로 잉글랜드 남부에서 성장했습니다. 현재 캘리포니아 오클랜드의 Mills 대학에서 인종학과 교수로 재직중인데요, 영국에서 조직을 결성하는 흑인 여성들에 관한 책 Other Kinds of Dreams』의 저자이며, 감옥산업복합체를 주제로 한 Global Lockdown』이라는 책의 편집자이기도 합니다. 또한 San Francisco Bay Area 지역에서 타인종 입양인을 지원하는 단체인 Sankofa의 공동설립자이지요. 오파라는 이 책에 지구의식뿐 아니라, 캘리포니아에서 집결하는 급진적 아프리카계 미국인들의 정치의식까지도 더해주고 있습니다. Angela Davis의 제자인 오파라는 학술과 행동주의의 균형을 중시하는 위대한 정치사상가입니다.

 

타인종간 양자입양이라는 큰 맥락에서 볼 때 왜 한국의 입양문제와 입양인들이 중요한가요?

어떤 다른 민족보다도 한국계 해외 입양인이 많은 것이 현실이며, 이제는 다수의 입양인들이 성인이 되어 큰 무리를 이루고 있는 시점입니다. 우리는 G.O.A.L과 같이 입양인이 직접 운영하는 기관들을 통해 우리가 조직을 편성하여 우리 자신과 다음 세대의 입양인들을 위한 긍정적 변화를 도모할 수 있다는 증명하였습니다. 저는 우리 한국입양인들이 한국의 문화를 이해하기 위해서는 제법 많은 시간을 할애하고 있지만 다른 입양인들 같은 한국에서 출생하였지만 나와 다른 국가로 입양된 사람들, 한국 외의 다른 민족 배경을 갖고 있지만 나와 같은 국가로 타인종간 입양이 된 사람들을 이해하기 위한 노력은 많지 않다고 생각합니다. 타인종간 입양인 공동체 내에서 한국계 입양인들은 참으로 전지구적이며 다민족적인 움직임을 지휘할 수 있는 어마어마한 잠재력을 가지고 있습니다.

입양인이 아닌 사람들이내부의 입양인을 읽거나 그에 관심을 가져야 하는 이유는 무엇일까요?

제가 미네소타의 대학교를 방문했을 때, 저는 종종 입양된 사람과 친구이거나 안면이 있는 학생은 손을 들어달라는 요청을 했습니다. 늘 변함없이 거의 모든 학생들이 손을 들었지요. 해외로부터 입양을 받아들인 나라들에서는 도심지뿐 아니라 시골의 지역 공동체에서도 다른 인종적 배경을 가진 입양인들을 발견하기 쉽습니다. 아마도 한국을 찾은 모든 해외 입양인들은 낯선 사람들이 우리의 입양에 대해 느끼는 감정을 비교적 쉽게 표현하는 것을 본 적이 있을 것입니다. 그러므로 저는 대부분의 사람들이 타인종간의 입양에 대한 어떤 생각을 가지고 있으며, 종종 그에 대해 거북함을 느낄 수 있다고 믿습니다.

우리를 입양한 백인 사회에서 사람들은 그러한 거북함을 가늠해 볼 길이 없습니다. 아마도 그들이 부적절한 질문을 할 경우, 인종 차별주의자처럼 보이는 것이 두렵기 때문이겠지요. 그 이유 중의 하나는 우리가 신보수주의적 시대에 살고 있기 때문입니다. 신보수주의 사회에서는 누구든 원하는 대로 입양시킬 수 없는 백인은 혜택 받지 못한 불우이웃으로 보입니다. 개인적으로 저는 요즘 대부분의 수양부모들이 백인은 피부색에 대한 편견을 갖지 않는다는 입에 발린 말이라도 하도록 교육 받는 것이라고 생각합니다. 그렇지만 그 반면에 아직도 사랑과 가족이란 단위로 뭉쳤기에 그 모든 것을 극복할 수 있는 강력한 진보 군단은 존재합니다. 그러므로, 타인종간 양자 입양에 관련된 사람들은 이 책에서 다루는 다소 강도 있는 이야기에 대해 지나친 신경을 쓰기보다는 현재 자신의 일에 집중하라는 이야기를 해 두고 싶습니다. 한국에 있는 사람들의 인식에는 당연히 약간의 차이가 있습니다. 그들이 느끼는 거북함은 그 구성원 개개인이 감당할 수 없었던 상황에 대한 집단적 죄의식에서 비롯되는 것입니다.

타인종간 입양은 세상의 다른 많은 문제점들을 더 부각시켜 보여주는데, 이것이 바로 사람들이 거북함을 느끼는 바로 그 이유입니다. 그것은 인종차별에 관한 것입니다. 개인적이거나 욕을 퍼붓는 정도가 아닌, 사회 전체의 문화적 인종차별을 말하는 것입니다. 이것은 어떤 여성들이 자신의 아이를 포기하게 하지 않을 수 없을 정도로 생활을 궁핍하게 하고 차별 받게 만듭니다. 반면에 다른 이들은 너무나 비교될 정도로 부유하며 편견에 구속 받지 않아, 그 유색인종아이들을 입양할 수 있지요.

타인종간 입양을 두고 계속 라는 질문을 던지며 파고들어가면, 다음과 같은 것들을 알게 됩니다: 외국의 무자비한 가부장체제의 상징적 재원이 되는 미국의 입양비용, 미국과 전 지구에 걸친 인종간의 불공정한 관계, 미국이 선도하는 전쟁 속의 국가들과 유색인종의 공동체를 짓밟는 국내 정책들. 언제나 인종적으로 구분되며 때로는 수입이 되기도 하는 몸 안에 살고, 주로 백인으로 구성된 가족과 공동체를 배경으로 하는 우리 타인종 입양인들은 이러한 문제들을 뚜렷하게 보여 줍니다.

이곳 한국에서 우리는 언제나 다른 억양을 가지고 서구식 틀에 박힌 버릇을 보입니다. 그러므로 어찌 보면, 우리가 이 이야기를 사랑, 적응, 혹은 행복한 다문화적 가족이 아닌 우리가 태생한 지역과 어머니를 위한 평화와 사회 정의에 이야기의 초점을 맞춘다면, 우리는 우리가 입양된 곳의 사람들에게 세상의 정의를 위해 할 일이 얼마나 많은지를 상기시켜주는 할 좋은 기회를 기지는 것이다. 이러한 것은 단순히 우리의 몸뚱이가 걸어 다니는 것을 보여주고, 어색한 억양의 언어를 구사하는 것을 들려 주는 것을 통해 실현 가능한 것이다.

 

입양인의 의견을 물어볼 때 사람들은 보통 우리가 입양을 좋게 생각하는지 나쁘게 생각하는지를 알고 싶어합니다. 『내부의 이방인』은 이에 대해 어떤 말을 할 수 있는지요?

『내부의 이방인』은 좋다 나쁘다의 이분법적인 논쟁에 얽매이는 것이 오히려 타인종간에 대한 우리의 이해력을 저하시킨다는 것을 밝혀줍니다. 본 저서는 이러한 가치판단을 하기 보다는 새로운 논쟁거리와 질문들을 표면화시켜 줍니다. 타인종간 입양을 세상의 만병통치약으로 보는 대신, 애초에 왜 그렇게 많은 아이들이 입양되어야 하는지를 생각해봅니다. 예를 들어, 우리는 전지구적역사적 패턴을 발견할 수 있었는데요, 미국 군대와 경제정책이 남자들의 생명을 빼앗고 이로 인해 과부가 된 여자들은 아이들을 돌볼 수 없게 되어 입양이 불가피해 진다는 것입니다.

그 두 진영의 관점에서 보면, 이것은 사실 그들의 틀어박힌 생각에서 극도로 이탈된 것입니다. 그러나 우리의 논지는 사실 매우 단순하고 상식적인 것입니다. 전제된 상황의 경우, 세상의 평화와 정의의 실현, 그리고 더 많은 서구의 해외원조를 지지하는 것이 바람직하지 않을까요? 우리 정부가 다른 사회의 남성들을 죽음으로 몰아간 후, 자비의 허울아래 아이를 여성으로부터 빼앗아 가는 것을 방관하는 대신에 말이지요…… 어려움을 겪고 있는 사회가 필요로 하는 것은 다름아닌 음식, , 의료서비스, 그리고 교육이 아닐까요?

만약 우리가 다음과 같은 권리들에 대한 질의를 한다면 미국에서 어떤 다른 구제책이 마련될 수 있을까요: 저임금을 받는 부모들이 직접 자녀를 직접 키울 수 있도록 적당한 경제적 지원을 받을 권리, 약물 등에 중독된 여성이 재활치료를 받아 엄마로서의 역할을 할 권리, 또는 엄마에게 내려진 구금 조치로 인해 혼자가 되지 않을 수 있는 아이의 권리.

아시다시피, 미국인들은 왜 그렇게 인구 비례에 어긋나는 많은 수의 흑인아이들이 양자 양육시스템 하에 있는지 의아해 합니다. 그만큼 비례에 맞지 않는 수의 흑인 부모가 구금되고 있는 것이라는 대답은 아마도 가장 명백하면서도 간과되어 버리는 이야기일 것입니다. 여기에서 우리는 아동 복지 제도와 사회의 상위 메커니즘이 어떠한 협력관계에 놓여 있기에 그리도 많은 유색인종 아동들을 양자 양육시스템에 맡기는 합작의 결과를 초래한 것인지를 묻게 됩니다.

이것은 단순히 입양에 관한 것이 아니라, 우리의 세상 전체에 관한 것입니다. 타인종에게 입양된 우리들은 세상에서 벌어지고 있는 일들의 일부 증상일 뿐입니다. 몇 걸음을 뒤로하여 이 상황의 전체 그림과 앞으로 무엇이 필요한지를 알아보려고 하면, 우리는 식민지 건설, 인종 차별 주의, 군국주의, 제국주의, 그리고 지구화의 모습을 발견합니다. 그리고 결국 그런 문제들이 타인종간 입양이라는 낯익은 얼굴로서 우리 곁에 존재하는 것임을 알게 됩니다.

그러므로 우리는 경제적인종적ㆍ지구적 정의를 위한 투쟁에 연관된 장기적 해결책에 관심을 기울여야 합니다. 이러한 것은 유색인종 아동들을 가족에게서 떼어내거나 입양이라는 선택에 굴복시키는 근본 원인에 초점을 맞추지요. 우리는 우리의 동료들이 입양된 아이 한 명을 구하겠노라고 주장하는 대신, 사회 전체 우리의 어머니와 아버지, 그리고 형제자매 를 위한 정의를 요구하도록 부탁하는 것입니다.

 

(영한번역: 한지선)

 

Adoption industry hacked to death

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA, August 5, 2007 (Impoverished Women’s News) — A digital data flood initiated by hackers has rung the death knell for the international adoption industry.

Over the past several months, anonymous users have hacked international adoption agencies to bits, shutting down e-mail, freezing up Web sites and servers, infecting computers with weird Asian viruses, and causing agencies to lose valuable information stored on computers. Thousands of adoption case files have all but evaporated, and advertising for adoptive parents — for the children of living but impoverished women — over the Internet has necessarily ceased.

Reports through postal mail have confirmed that many children who were just a few months ago “available” for adoption have been reabsorbed into their families or adopted domestically, pissing off at least 20,000 propsective American adopters. A $1.4 billion dollar business in the U.S., the adoption industry continues to lose untold amounts of revenue as consumers scramble for refunds.

“We put a second mortgage on our house for this adoption and held a fundraiser at church,” said one disappointed prospective parent. “Now all we have is this grainy photograph of a child whom we (are deluded enough to think we) love, even though we’ve never met her (nor do we give a fig about her natural family).”

“However,” she added, “since I don’t have to worry about the weight restriction on adoptive parents now, I’m going to eat all the doughnuts I want!! Whoo hoo!”

Authorities suspect the hackers to be involved in a global ring, since a giant network of computers seems to have been used to attack the agencies’ computers. Many attacks were traced to IP addresses in PC rooms in South Korea, where anonymous users can use log in to computers in any urban area. Coincidentally or not, South Korea, one of the world’s most wired countries, is also the world’s largest exporter of adopted children to the West.

Thanks to the IHT for a good idea.