Recently I reflected that X and myself really aren’t so far apart on our views. I have come to believe that “justice” is both hard to define and probably a fool’s pursuit. We can’t change what has already been done and must learn to live comfortably with it. We can work to improve the future for those that follow us, but it can’t undo our abandonment or heal us. We must come to terms with our history, our lack of history, and all the trauma that formed us. But I wouldn’t be so cruel as to say as he does, “Quit yer whining.” Cryng is part of the healing process, and maybe that’s why he can’t heal.
Well, a few days ago X showed up on facebook adoptee groups putting his opinion out there again, not really discussing, again., and giving the same old story – that not only were mixed-race adoptees saved, but that racism is still a problem and stigmatizing is still a problem and that Koreans don’t want to adopt these problem children so international adoption is still necessary.
I didn’t have time to respond at the moment and now can’t find his comment because THERE ARE TOO MANY FREAKING ADOPTEE GROUPS ON FACEBOOK to keep up with. So, I will respond here.
We should ask ourselves first, “Is there, in fact, such a problem,? then if yes, “Is the problem nearly so large as to warrant evacuation measures?” and, more important still, “Why is this still a problem?”
In today’s Korean society, couples put off having family for career ambitions, couples divorce prior to conceiving, some travel abroad and marry foreigners, some marry visiting foreigners, and some who don’t have the status or skills to woo an eligible Korean woman import brides from other countries. Korean ethnicity is no longer homogeneous. The orphanages are not filled with half-breed children, they are filled with children who have dysfunctional parents or orphans whose extended family can’t care for them or children in respite care whose guardians are having a temporary rough time. Then there are the Holt orphanages filled with special needs children. The children sent abroad for adoption are infants, sent away to hide a family’s shame and jettison the weight which will prevent a woman from succeeding because she has no other options without family support. We also see personalities in the media rising in popularity who are mixed race. They are not feared nor reviled, they are thought of as beautiful and exotic. We know those raised in Korea did not have an easy time growing up here, but because of them society is becoming more tolerant. What if they, too, were sent away? There would not be this progress being made, that’s what.
X believes that Korea is an ignorant society that can’t change, and so intervention by the West is necessary to “save” its lesser citizens. This is in stark contrast to what I’ve experienced living here. I’ve never witnessed a place and people that changes so rapidly in my entire life. Change IS possible, and it IS happening at lightening fast speed. It just seems slow to impatient adoptees because we want to see change in our lifetime, or even more unreasonably, in the small time we are involved with Korea. The reason X can’t see this is because he’s old. He makes his living from the older, wealthier, most self-serving, conservative Koreans who have a lot at stake if society becomes more liberal. He is out of touch with youth culture. He also is holding onto the canonization of his savior Harry Holt because the entire identity he’s created for himself pivots around being saved. Now, as a war baby he has the right to love and admire Holt – but what happened to him didn’t happen to most of us – and I’m not going to argue that as a war baby he wasn’t saved – he was – but that isn’t the case anymore.
International adoption does not save anyone from Korea. What it does do is provide the means for racial cleansing. What it does do is allow for the disposal of less than perfect progeny. What it does do is allow families to not answer for shame that maybe they deserve to bear responsibility for. What it does do is provide a really painful means to regulate women who do not follow the prescribed moralities set up by the patriarchy which subjugate them . What it does do is give the government a free pass to ignore their social responsibilities. International adoption maintains and nurtures the very ills it means to save children from. It is the catalyst for relinquishment. It is the grease that oils the perpetual machine, this vacuum. And what we are seeing in Korea is what will happen in the rest of the source countries of the world unless we put some brakes on the madness and find ways to show people that every color is beautiful, all children are perfect in God’s eyes, and that our wayward daughters are still our daughters and our grandchildren are still our grandchildren.