Reports Coming In…

Four days later, I am beginning to be able to gather the impressions people have had of the show.

It’s been very difficult to ascertain because of the communication gap that exists due to most people’s English speaking levels.  Mostly, I hear how sad it was.  But I am coming to believe that “sad” is a catch-all word, and that the impression is more nuanced than that.

At lunch my Korean friends told me they had never heard about the bad side of adoption before, and that this was important for them to hear:  they had often said in the past that they wished they had been adopted to America.  One of my adult students said he was in tears.  Just now on the roof, a Korean English teacher, with an excellent command of English, told me he hadn’t realized how frustrating it was to be separated from ones identity.  He opined that he felt it was the fault of the Korean government for sending children away with no regard to how it affects the children and separates them from their country and culture.  He expressed how now he can see things from the adoptee perspective and his opinion was greatly changed.  Many students in my classes mentioned the show and several of the boys wanted to talk to me about it.  One offered to teach me Korean (maybe I should take him up on it) and another said, “my country is (makes crazy sign at his temples).  Not me/us, but the country.”  I asked him to help me change it, and he nodded his head.

I am, to say the least, very very ecstatic over this.

People are asking me about how the adoption fees are spent and where the money goes.  Seven Star spoke again about the time he escorted children to Europe for Holt.  There were two escorts, and each were in charge of three children.   He said they were not paid for this.  I told him how Holt charges the parents escort fees.  I told him about Myung-Sook’s being forced to escort children to be adopted (for free while the adoptive parents presumably still paid for escorts) and how emotionally heartbreaking it was.  Everyone was outraged and said that the Korean people need to know.

Yes, they do.

I told them how HOLT thinks its okay for them, a COMPANY to hold our information from us.  I told them how it’s okay for HOLT to drop a bomb on girl #4709, but that it’s not okay for any of girl #4708’s sentiments to be passed along, because that constitutes CONTACT, even though only HOLT knows her identity and contact information.   What would be more shocking, a phone call from Holt after 40 years out of the blue?  Or a letter from Holt that included a friendly note from me with an explanation of why I was inquiring after her?  Because of the way they handled this, they have scared her away and possibly ruined the only chance I have to learn the truth.  I told them that there is a special place in Hell for HOLT, and they all agreed.

I am, to say the least, feeling very very good that I’m not the only one that thinks so.

Some more information has come to light about my search that I’m not at liberty to publish, since Holt is reading my blog now, but I guess I can say that this chapter is not quite yet closed.

It was a mistake for HOLT to treat me so callously.  It was a mistake for HOLT to lie to me.  It is a mistake that HOLT continues to put policy over human decency.  They say they are protecting girl 4709, but really, what are they really protecting?

Answer:  their own self worth.

3 thoughts on “Reports Coming In…

  1. Precision: I actually didn’t escort any child. It was the group of adoptees of Motherlands Tour who escorted the children. I was in the group of Family Tour. Before going to the trip, I was told by my parents that if I was a us-citizen, I could have a chance to escort a child. Thanks god, I was Canadian.

    “it’s our government’s fault… we can’t do anything.”

    During my last trip, in 2003, I asked my Korean friends a direct question, “Korea is rich now and you are all richer than me. Why Korea is still exporting children today?”

    I asked it to all of those I met, one by one, or to the groups. I needed to find an answer (because during the 30 years of suffering, the only answer that helped me to accept my situation was that Korea was a poor country).

    At first, none of them dared answering me. Then, a professor from University of Pohang told me Koreans were hypocrits, they belive Confuscius who taught about love but they don’t love other’s children because those babies were from prostitution. (30 years of brainwashing into believing we were all children of prostitutions prevent me to think that there might be some other children who came from a loving family/loving mother like me).
    A couple (that I met here in Montreal) said it was “our government’s fault”, because “in Korea, we don’t have a good social program like in Quebec… so we can’t do anything.”

    I kept questionning the rest of my friends. One said he didn’t know why. Another didn’t want to answer, he laughed each time I asked him the question as if I was a cute child bothering them with a funny question. Then, he suggested me to stop asking this question, because, he said “I’m saying it for you, if you continue to ask this question, you will lose all your friends.” That’s what happened, I lost all my Korean friends. (Anyway, I felt that they wanted to be friend with me because I was a foreigner and they wanted to practize English and one of them wanted to be my friend because he wanted me to accept Jesus).

    Then, one night the man who suggested me to stop questionning got angry at me, he said “you, in America, you said ‘you’ to your friends and ‘you’ your fathers. You treat your fathers as you would treat your friends or dogs, you don’t respect them, we in Korea, we respect our fathers, but we don’t criticize you, so don’t critize us…” I thought then why do you send your children to people who don’t know how to treat their fathers. He continued talking about how Korea now is helping poor countries and he said that himself was thinking about opening a hospital in Africa (then my thought was why don’t you help yourself instead).
    Two women said they had no answer but they said “but we understood you. Korea needs to stop sending it’s children.” That night, I told them “I will never come back to Korea again.”
    There is one lady who asked me forgiveness in the name of Korea. Her answer was Korea didn’t know what they were doing. She thought herself sending children away was a good thing to do.

    Unlike me, you did something to put the country to the path of change. I hope this show will help them not only to understand adoption, but also to say “as part of the society, it’s MY fault and OUR fault” and do something to change their society.

  2. Today I have only theories to explain the euphemistic view of Koreans regarding adoption.

    There most certainly is a disconnect in Confuscian ideology and practice that I have yet to understand, because I am not a scholar of Confuscianism, nor am I a member of Korean society. In a society where ancestry and ancestor worship is so important, how can they reconcile sending children away from knowledge of their ancestors? Perhaps Confuscian ideals are a privilege only the elite can afford to practice? Perhaps neo-Confuscianism was created by the elite to control the masses? And weren’t we really “orphaned” because we were social liabilities?

    And if there is this disconnect between core beliefs and social standing, what kind of inner shame and turmoil must this create in the hearts of Koreans? The topic of adoption must be (and continues to be) repressed to suppress these uncomfortable feelings.

    And what are these uncomfortable feelings? Perhaps international adoption is not unlike a type of social cleansing, a way in which to banish the blemishes of an all too human existence, and for this reason I have begun to call international adoption the adoption solution. Cleansings such as these could be the direct result of neo-Confuscianist pretentions. So if the desire of the people are pretentious, governments being a reflection of the best and worst of its people, and the government facilitates this cleansing, then the people can blame these desperate acts on the government upon later criticism. But the scrutiny stops short, because recognizing complicity in the violation of basic human rights and fundamental Confuscian tenants would also amount to a recognition of ones own pretentiousness and desperation.

    Of course there are exceptions to this idea, but I’m beginning to think that, for the vast majority of adoption scenarios and for the millions who watched and allowed this to happen, that the adoption solution was and is a true and comprehensive societal phenomenon here.

    But I still lay the blame for this upon the international adoption agencies and primarily upon Holt for their pivotal role. To position themselves and their adoption solution into this social fabric has created a crisis of conscience and a legacy of broken families. They did this with total disregard for the society’s beliefs and culture. And the aftermath has totally changed and scarred the Korean psyche, contributing to an already back-breaking burden of shame. The shame should be all Holt’s. And the biggest shame of all is they say they did it for the glory of God. That they continue to do this is taking the Lord’s name in vain.

    I don’t know what my role here is. My moment in the sun will soon be over. I wondered, after reading the Hankyoreh article and seeing the SBS documentary, if my role here was to be the pitiful adoption story gone wrong, or why I spent so many hours in interviews when almost none of it made print. But now I realize that it was not for the camera, but for those writing and filming. Because those writers are artists and members of Korean society, and they were able to convey the truth of the adoption solution in a way which Korean people could relate to.

    I am hopeful. Not so hopeful about any quick governmental reforms, but I am hopeful about changing public opinion. Because with the embrace of capitalism came also the embracing of western thought – both of which are a double edged sword. Everything from the past is in question as Koreans decide what of the past has value and what of the future is worth pursuing. And I hope adoption will be thrown away, as the barbaric and thoughtless non-solution that it is.

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