An example of an ethical intl adoption and other things

I was interviewed a while ago by PBS. They only used a portion of my responses. Here are my responses in full, with a few new embellishments.

– What are the most important things that parents who are adopting transracially and/or transnationally need to know and learn from adult adoptees?

Adult adoptees, as adults, are capable of forming opinions and analyses about the situations that we came from and grew up in. Many adult adoptees are now professors, lawyers, film directors, artists, teachers, journalists, social workers, etc. The best adoptive parents engage in objective, adult dialogue with us. However, many adoptive parents attempt dismiss our analyses with simple name-calling, calling us “angry” or “bitter” or people with “an axe to grind.” The losers, of course, are their own children. If their cute adopted children grow up to be critical thinkers, as we all should be, what will happen if they dare to produce an analysis about their adoptions that is different from the opinion of their adoptive parents?

– In brief, what facets about the current system of international adoption would you most like to see reformed?

International law needs to be enforced, everything has to be more transparent, and prospective adoptive parents need to stop being so naive. Americans in particular need to realize that the way it’s done in the U.S. is not the way it’s done everywhere else. I think in many cases, the adoption process on the sending side is more corrupt than adoptive parents ever imagined. Because they don’t want to imagine that. They are just focused on the child. But people have to wake up and face the facts about what is being done locally in the sending country and how American money fits into that picture.

– Do you believe that there is such a thing as an ethical international adoption?

Sure! For instance, let’s say an American woman who speaks Spanish and who lives in Arizona falls in love with a widower who lives in Mexico. They decide to get married and to make their home in Arizona. After marriage, the woman adopts her new husband’s child from his previous marriage, and they all live happily ever after in Arizona, regularly traveling back and forth across to see the child’s relatives on both sides of the border.

Does that sound exceptional? Yes, that would be. And an ethical international adoption is supposed to be exceptional, for special circumstances. It is not supposed to be a baby factory that provides supply to meet demand or a highly developed network  of unwed mothers’ homes, healthcare providers, government offices and adoption agencies that enables brutal patriarchies to victimize vulnerable women in a systemic way.  Who wants to be complicit in an arrangement of gender inequality as harsh as that?

Click here for gender gap rankings from the World Economic Forum. South Korea ranks 115th in the world, between India (114) and Bahrain (116).  In the  general pattern, I think you can see that countries with high gender equality = “receiving countries,” such as Norway (3), France (18), and the U.S. (31). Countries with low gender equality = “sending countries,” such as Ethiopia (122) and  China (60) and the Russian Federation (51). What does that mean about what women really want for the babies they give birth to? Are women really exercising “choice” when they “give” their children for adoption?

In the case of South Korea, I think that the international adoptions enable the government to avoid making a real social welfare system to support unwed mothers. They also enable the government to fail to create a real culture of ethical domestic adoption. Because of this, we are faced with illegal domestic adoptions that are called “secret” (because not even the adoptee knows), and that is a real problem. Both are huge problems and they government must deal with it. We have been waiting for 60 years!

– What advice would you have for people who want to believe that international adoption is mutually exclusive from global politics and the economic market?

They should try to adopt a child from one of the Axis of Evil countries and let us know how that goes. Or conversely, pretend to be a South Korean and try to adopt a white American or European infant. I tried that and found out that the request is so strange to American and European adoption agencies that they either can’t understand the request or they think it’s illegal. Or, with no money, try to internationally adopt a child through an agency. Just tell them that you have a good home to provide.


24 responses to “An example of an ethical intl adoption and other things

  1. Pingback: An example of an ethical intl adoption and other things | Jane's Blog | Adoption

  2. Thanks for the gender gap rankings. Very interesting.

    And I personally feel that the adoption agencies do more than ENABLE the government to not address ethical adoption – their very presence FUELS a climate whereby children are a commodity for trade. It’s an imbalance that creates negative pressure…

    Lastly, I love your last comment. Turn this scenario on its head, place it in your own back yard, and it doesn’t look so lovely. I think it’s called exploitation.

  3. “I tried that and found out that the request is so strange to American and European adoption agencies that they either can’t understand the request or they think it’s illegal.”

    … what? You mean you pretended to be a South Korean immigrant (or something?) and tried to act like you were requesting the potential adoption of a white infant in America?

  4. Just for fun, a friend and I went undercover (not hard to do on the internet) and sent out about 40 emails to European and American adoption agencies. We posed as English-speaking South Korean nationals who were interested in adopting white infants from the U.S. and Europe. This experiment was much like writing emails to Congress representatives and senators about birth family rights to immigration. https://jjtrenka.wordpress.com/family-immigration/ It so goes against the established hierarchy that people don’t even know how to respond. It’s like saying the grass is blue and the sky is green. Try messing with the accepted social order! It’s fun!

  5. Why is that Minnesota has the highest concentration of Korean adoptees?

  6. P.S. “Iggy” is my non-adoption alias… I don’t know why I didn’t correct that when I filled in the name blank.

  7. i, too, loved your last statement. it gives a great illustration for those who can’t/won’t see it.

  8. “We posed as English-speaking South Korean nationals who were interested in adopting white infants from the U.S. and Europe…It so goes against the established hierarchy that people don’t even know how to respond.”

    Not surprised at the reaction you received. But nonetheless, an insightful illustration of the imbalance that persists in IA.

    “Or, with no money, try to internationally adopt a child through an agency. Just tell them that you have a good home to provide.”

    Exactly. Not going to happen.

    Thanks for sharing. Great post.

  9. Thank you for writing this. I’m very new to all of this (by “this”, I mean commenting on ANY blog publicly) and we are adopting from the country we live in. We live in Africa. We are not Africans. We are white americans. Living here while adopting has made me very aware of all the many many areas where corruption could take place along the way and NO ONE in the U.S. would ever know. It is way too easy. It scares me. We know so much about our adoption, and we know some of our girls’ surviving extended family members and we know their history and story. And we constantly battle the corruption around us to make this an ethical adoption. But, I think often of all the families who don’t live where they are adopting from, know little to nothing about the history of the child, or the process to do an adoption, and I also am concerned. I WANT my girls to grow up to be critical thinkers and be able to clearly analyze every part of their adoption, even if it means coming to different conclusions about their situation than we came to. I liked your analogy. I often think of situations like this to get myself out of my own self centered egocentric thinking. Though when I do it, I consider an african friend of mine here adopting a little girl from the foster care in the states and bringing her here. It makes me really consider what I am doing, why we are doing it, and the loss and pain that comes with it (in terms of the loss of family, past, culture, heritage, connection, history, and so much more that you could fill in for me). And this is saying nothing about the ability of the said (African)adoptive family (or any adoptive family) to love, support, encourage (and do it well) a child from another culture. Anyway, I don’t know how this comes across, but I’m trying to learn and listen. Maybe this was too little listening and too much talking. I am finding myself more and more drawn to blogs like yours and listening to the voices of adult adoptees. I look at my little girls faces and wonder what they will think one day, and hope I have the grace and humility to listen, learn, accept, and be a part of change. I hope that we are not contributing to unethical adoptions, and are fighting against them. thank you for sharing and letting me listen and learn. I hope that in listening I will be a better parent to my girls…

  10. Great post with so many good points.Totally agree about the ethics and the corruptness of the adoption industry.Drop by sometime.

  11. Ps posting a link if I may and subscribing by email to keep up with you!

  12. I’m a little confused. Your answer to the question about an ethical international adoption seems to imply that there are only two possibilities, that of a horribly corrupt system vs (what American’s refer to as) a blended family.

  13. Pingback: LIE Links | Love Isn't Enough - on raising a family in a colorstruck world

  14. Pingback: The Week’s Links :American Mamacita

  15. Excellent post, Thank you!

    Signed,
    Cute adopted child who grew up to be a critical thinker. AKA Bitter, angry, with an axe to grind- miserable woman.

  16. Who are the axis of evil countries? Can you actually adopt from them?

  17. Ha! It is not only the adoptive parents who are incapable of engaging critical thinking, the American general public as a whole are incapable of this. And these are the same people swamping into Korea as English teachers and being propped up higher than the pope and are worshiped by the Koreans. Meanwhile, the Americans laugh at us back at home. Just look at Hollywood, and the public cannot critically think. They believe that the Asian they see on television is real and is an trustworthy depiction of Asians today. Of course, every Asian knows this. But Americans also don’t realize that Korea spends 1/2 the amount of federal $ on education than America, yet they achieve sky higher results. Americans were so dumb to believe the 50 mill babies they aborted weren’t human. Thus, they have become just like Revelation 18:1 describes as “and a haunt for every impure spirit,
    “. South Korea is in grave danger reinforcing their alliance with this evil and mentally ill phony country of America. America is no better than the Japanese who took over Korea from 1910-45. And the Korean adoption racket is just a piece of the puzzle. This is not an opinion, this is fact. This is spiritually verified. If a person has a mind to critically think, and put 2 + 2 together, it’s not hard to see.

  18. Have to rant about the social “hierarchy”. The last thin u’ll see these whities do is admit the they’re lower on the food chain than any other race, ESPECIALLY Asian. They WILL capitulate for Africans, but that’s just a guilt offering. And the worst part, is that Koreans buy into this fake hierarchy and lay down prostrate before their “gods”. *barf

  19. Jane would you mind if i publish this on our newssite ?

    Kind regards,

    Hilbrand

  20. Sure, have at it! No need to ask about anything on this blog – it’s public info.

  21. Read this post with interest. I don’t understand your point about how pretending to be a south Korean national, U.S. And European agencies would not let you adopt a white baby. Could it be because it is best to place these babies domestically, and in these western countries there are more than enough families to adopt them.

    In South Korea, there aren’t enough families willing to adopt south Korean babies. That is why they are adopted internationally.

    There is no hierarchy of anything here. Just plain old supply and demand. Yes, there is corruption. Yes, money is involved. But the truth remains there are orphans in Korea who were abandoned by their birth mother. It sucks for everyone involved. Should these children be forced to grow up in an orphanage instead of in a loving family. I know several Korean adopters who would say NO.

  22. Thank you for this blog and your work. My husband and I are white/Jewish Americans who have not been able to easily start a family and are looking into alternatives. Disturbed by the sketchiness of the domestic adoption market (where healthy babies are just one step short of sold to the highest bidder with the most impressive pedigree) we began to consider international adoption and specifically Korea because young, healthy babies are available within reasonable wait times. When I began to wonder why so many healthy babies were being put up for adoption by their Korean mothers, I discovered the work TRACK is doing to change the adoption laws in Korea and improve acceptance of unwed mothers. Your work helped me to see that international adoption is not consistent with my feminist-humanist values either. Although I think that my critical thinking skills, awareness of white privilege, and sensitivity to racism are high and that I could learn to parent a transracial adoptee effectively, the cost to everyone involved except for me seems too high. I have tears as I write this because I realize it may mean I will not be able to offer my home to any child, but I thank you for providing answers to my questions.

  23. Thank you so much for your comment. Although the knowledge that you have discovered through your diligent research brought tears to you … it brought cheers to me! Thank you for being unselfish enough to find out the truth.

    In addition to the mom-run Korean Unwed Mothers and Families Association, you might be interested in looking into the activism and support of Dr. Richard Boas, who found Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network. He is also a Jewish American and a wonderful ally.

    http://www.kumsn.org/main/

    Please also check this adoptive mom’s blog.
    http://thirdmom.blogspot.com/2012/01/jane-jeong-trenka-responds-to-voice-of.html

    Thanks and please spread the word!

  24. I caught your episode on ID about being hounded by a stocker. Being in that situation is terrible and your story got to me but I’m torn about the adoption during your interview you sounded some what bitter towards your adoptive parents from how you expressed about them being a rural quiet people my question is are you bitter with them for adopting you? I understand where you are coming from for the unwed mothers that don’t have a chance to be mothers but someday if you accomplish your goals of changing Korea or have a helping change the way adoptions are done. when it comes to Americans adopting abroad if that’s the last resort are you ok with that? I just don’t know how to take your article I’m really torn. If a good American family can afford to adopt a child in need no matter where it comes from I don’t see the problem, yes I do understand the problems of how adoptions are happening with false information and I read that you found out your adoption had alot of deciet but other than that did that create a bad childhood for you? I also seen where you said you grew up being called names my apologies to that but that happens to alot of us I grew up being called horrible names I wasn’t adopted well I do take that back my step father adopted me when I was born but besides that I wasn’t angry at my parents for how people treated me. Some people are just evil you either get over it and move on or you let it consume you but who wins if you let it consume you? Not you it just makes you an angry person. I’m all for your work on helping with getting Korea to set better standards on adoptions that’s not my issue it just sounds like some negativity is thrown at America/Americans didn’t know if it was from your adoption experience? (Which isn’t my business just trying to understand) Alot of Americans who adopt though just want a child and have love to give one and is in a good position to do so and if it happens to be a child from Korea then hopefully its done through proper channels and whatever the future holds for them hopefully they will be good teachers to teach that child good morals. I apologize in advance if I offended you that wasn’t my intention and I apologize if I read to much into the episode I saw or the article I read my apologies and I wish you luck on your journey and hope for better things to come your way!

Thank you for visiting my blog. I no longer have time to update this blog regularly, but I appreciate your comments, even though I cannot respond to all of them. All comments (except spam) have been allowed to go through unmoderated since June 16, 2014. Any comments you see prior to that date have been read and approved by me. Thanks again, and wishing you peace and blessings.

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