So today I got to kind of live my fantasy:
I got to speak to Korea about adoption
While attending Jane’s talk on Beyond Shame and Guilt, there was a reporter there who heard about my struggles with Holt and wanted to interview me. So we exchanged emails and I answered three questions for her via email. A couple days later, she emailed again and asked if I could answer some more questions in person.
So yesterday I went and met her and an interpreter, and answered a lot more questions, and a photographer came as well to take some candid shots. Surprisingly, we spent way over an hour talking.
Later the same day, they had me come to the studio for a photo shoot of me holding my Holt orphan picture, blown up. JiSun was proud to point out all the famous celebrities who graced the walls and who’s been shot at their studios, but was sadly disappointed because I had no clue who they were. Poor JiSun had a fear of heights and part of the shoot was on top of the mechanical tower of the roof of the building, and the photographer had her holding a white board to reflect light, and she was petrified the entire time. I will say that being professionally photographed by a magazine photographer is a much more pleasant experience than any portrait photography I’ve had to sit for. I imagine they will be quite stark photos, and I was just wearing my every day clothing.
I had thought this magazine was only an on-line magazine, as she sent me a link to their web-site. But it turns out that 한겨레21 Hankyoreh21 (which means One Nation) is a weekly glossy equivalent to TIME magazine in the states, and it has stunning photography. It was the first journalistic publication in the world to switch from private ownership to co-operative ownership, and there are something like 20,000 member owners, so it has a history of being progressive and publishing progressive articles.
Being a weekly, they typically do a focus segment with several stories. In honor of the fourth annual adoption day, next week’s issue has a spread of adoption-related stories. I guess in large part due to their coverage of one adoption case last year, a birth mother who fought with an international adoption agency to have her child returned ACTUALLY WON custody of her child: the adoption agency backed down due to all the negative press it was getting over the details. So they have returned to interview her. And then there will be the portion on me and my struggles with Holt, and they have a couple other interviews as well. Probably with Jane as well – Jane’s Korean mother tracked her down in America (unknown to little Jane at the time) and later had an atypical open adoption, much to the dismay of her American family. Her adoptive family was unsupportive of her desire to embrace her birth culture, and they are now estranged. Unfortunately, her Korean mom passed away before Jane could get to Korea, but she has good relations with her biological siblings and has been living in Korea for the past five years now.
I’m really really really tickled to have been allowed to express my opinion about international adoption to Koreans! I was asked some pretty probing questions about my abuse, of course, but they were also keenly interested in how Holt handles birth family search. I felt really listened to when I told them my view: about how single moms deserve respect, about the unknowns of giving your children to strangers, about the west being different but not better enough to exile your children there, about Korea’s self image and taking care of its own people, about being valued less than biological children and being objectified. I even told them that international adoption agencies need to get out of Korea’s womb! ha ha ha ha ha (don’t know if that will make it in or not!)
Anyway, next week I’ll get a copy and try and share it here, if I can get it translated by someone. Also, after it is published, I will post what I sent them here if a lot of it ended up getting edited out.
Wow. That felt good. I feel so worthwhile today.
Now, it’s 3:30 am and I haven’t a clue what to do with my students in less than five hours…better get to work…