The first public hearing on revision to Korea’s adoption law is Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Fransisco Education Center in Seoul. I would recommend taking a taxi as it is a bit hard to find. I think it is easiest way is to come by City Hall. That way the taxi driver can take a right next to the palace if you are going south. Here’s a link so you can print out a map.
THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT. This is history-making time. They are talking about three things:
1. Ratifying the Hague Convention
2. Domestic adoption law
3. Korea’s “special” adoption law that allows international adoptions.
What is at stake is how the Central Authority will look/operate under the Hague convention. What kind of rights to records will adoptees have? What kind of authority will the CA have over the agencies? That sort of thing. It sounds like what they are thinking now is that adoptees can know their original identity if the parents allow it. And if not, you would have to go to court (and fight with whom?) So I really don’t know how this is different from what is going on now, unless the records will be taken away from the agencies and put into the central authority for safekeeping. We need to go as a group and get clarity on that.
A couple of issues are really worrying to me. One is that they are thinking that they will legally allow people to secretly adopt, meaning the adoptee will never know s/he is adopted because on the family register there will be no trace of the adoption. It will look as if the child was born to that family. So this is a big problem about right to identity for the domestic adoptees. Right now that sort of thing is illegal — but for some reason they think that domestic adoption will rise if they obliterate the rights of domestic adoptees. Don’t you think that the solutino is to make more public awareness (or keep children with their mothers or in kinship care) instead of erasing their identities? Damn, I have never sat so long in a meeting where people were trying to figure out how is the best way to take children from mothers instead of keep them with them. Perhaps I was not understanding everything, but it’s not like the government or this panel thought that adoptee opinion was important enough to make anything happen in a language other than Korean anway.
Another big concern is that — believe me, this really is in the book and they really said this — they want to adopt kids from Africa. Because Korea is “globalized.” Wow. Wow. I mean, ponder that shit.
So I attended the meeting today which was the mid-term meeting of this group of people who are making recommendations to to Health Welfare and “Family” Ministry. The way I got to come in is I asked Daewon to get me invited. Thanks Daewon! Anyway, from the adoptee community it was just me and Kim Dae-won and Rev. Kim. I had a big problem getting time to speak and finally a social worker sort of intervened for me and let me speak.
One of the things I asked about is translation. I had emailed the “responsible person” in Korean before about getting translation for the adoptees. This is a very basic fundamental democratic right — if you are the people they are making laws about, you should be able to understand what they’re talkinga bout. Well, the “responsible person” said NO the government is not going to provide translation. I asked her again today in person in English. The answer was still NO — not going to do it, but go ahead and bring your own. But the PRINCIPLE of it is what is at stake. They cannot pour all those resources into translation to get our asses adopted and then expect that when we come back we are just going to sit and watch silently and happily while they make more laws about adoption, at the center of which is US. The Americans had a revolution about “No Taxation Without Representation” and this is the same thing. The survey that went out was translated by GOAL – there was never any intention on the part of these folks to allow the adoptees to participate. This is like a bunch of men making laws about women and forgetting to invite any women to the meeting.DUMB.
I’m going to see our people — KoRoot, ASK, GOAL — tomorrow morning bright and early (Who needs sleep!?) with Dr. Boas and Co., and then I’ll post more on an action plan tomorrow. We need to go and represent. We need to show up in our adopted bodies and just use our eyes to hold people accountable. “We are watching you” and “We want to participate democratically” is the message. “Treat us like people with minds and opinions about our own welfare.”
Anyway, if you think of yourself as political about adoption in the very least, I hope you’ll come to the public hearing. Whether we can understand everything or not, we need to show up and fill chairs and let them know we want to participate. If not for yourself, please come for the domestic adoptees. They have a very long uphill battle too, which is about to get longer and steeper, and perhaps we can help them out a little. And come for those African kids!! I mean, can you imagine what THAT would be like to grow up as an African adopted kid in Korea!? I would guess like a million times worse than growing up as an adopted Korean kid in Minnesota. So please please clear that calendar and come. If this isn’t important, I don’t know what is. If you never got moving for anything else ever, move for this one. This is about YOUR HUMAN RIGHTS.