New support for adoptees deported to Korea

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KAS announced official financial, housing, language, and other support for adoptees deported back to Korea. It is a necessary bandaid on a crappy situation, so this is good news.

At least one government is taking steps to doing the right thing, though there is a long way to go.


How many adoptees deported?

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Adoption Museum Project reports 25  international adoptees deported. First time i have seen any kind of statistic on this anywhere, and i am filled with rage.  Even State Department had no idea. At least one has died, and I hope the rest are surviving well.

“Adoption is my nationality”

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One of my favorite personal reflections on adoption ever.  It carries a sentiment that I tried to capture in the term “kad nation”, and yes there is also an “adoptee nation”.

Many times these days, I feel I belong to this nation more than even the US or Korea.  It is a nation that transcends borders. It is a global territory, moving and forming when its inhabitants coalesce.  To stand in its presence is to feel alive in the awareness of belonging to a people.  And then, as that gathering ends, it disperses again, into solitary atoms – not unlike what we did as adoptees from our homeland many years ago.



Korean statistics estimate over 14,000 adoptees in US without citizenship

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As reported in Korea Times:

Of 111,148 ethnic Koreans legally adopted into American families, 14,189, or 12.8 percent, have failed to obtain American citizenship and are left vulnerable to deportation, said Rep. Shim Jae-kwon of the Democratic Party of Korea (DPK).

As someone else recently said, adoption without citizenship is human trafficking.  Leaving adoptees hanging in the wind due to the failures of those who adopted, oversaw, and administered it is a crime against humanity.

Single mothers accounted for up to 90% of Korean adoptions

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It is well-known that lack of support for single mothers was a major source of why many children in Korea were given up for adoption, but to this extent?  From Hosu Kim’s Birth Mothers and Transnational Adoption Practice in South Korea:

Single mothers constitute the great majority of all birth mothers involved in transnational adoption from South Korea. More than 120,000 children, or two out of three adoptees, were, or are, children of single mothers. Single mothers are referred to as mihonmo, which literally means “not-yet-married mothers.” Due to the high rate at which children of mihonmo are sent away for adoption, the term has become synonymous with birth mother. The conflation of these two categories in common parlance, however, misrepresents the population of South Korean birth mothers as comprised entirely of single mothers. 2 But more importantly, it introduces the expectation that a single mother should relinquish her baby to adoption. To examine how single mothers are rendered into birth mothers, I analyze a critical historical juncture during which single motherhood increasingly accounted for the children placed into transnational adoption. This period occurred between the 1980s and the mid-2000s, when children born of single mothers accounted for 80 to 90 % of all transnationally adopted children.

The fact that the same word is used for both single mothers and adoption birth mothers is also stunning to learn.

“Your birth record is none of your damn business”

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commentary / stories

A case study in adoptees not knowing their own birth date – one of the many common knowledge details typically denied adoptees.

One attempt at contacting the adoption agency for confirmation of existing information and filling in of blank spots went along the lines of “We’re sorry, but we cannot disclose this information about you without written consent from your biological father.” But he is dead! “We know.” How the hell am I going to get written consent from my dead biological father who I don’t even know who is because you won’t tell me? “That is not our problem.”

Sadly, it turns out that

Had Khara’s true birth date been given in the information that came with her from the adoption agency, many aspects of her life would most likely have played out far better.

RIP, Phillip Clay

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commentary / news

It is always shocking when a KAD commits suicide, and we feel the loss keenly.  When that person had been deported because of shameful policies that continue to exist in the US – as befell Phillip – it feels like a knife in our back.  All that might be beautiful about adoption is rendered ugly in that light, and the words family, country, and belonging reduced to empty marketing slogans.

Even in death, our identity is taken from us.  Phillip did not practice Christianity, but he was given a Christian ceremony.  His primary language was English, but he was given a Korean-language ceremony with only a grudgingly-provided, poorly-executed English transcript.  I do not know if he went by his Korean name, but surely after so many years in the US, his English name was comfortable to him — yet it does not appear anywhere on his display.  Ironically, his Korean name was stripped from him after birth, and then his English name stripped from him in death.  Yet another reminder to adoptees that everything we have was given to us by chance, and can be taken away just as whimsically at any time.

Sadly, the lasting memory of his death may be the controversy around his ceremony, and not even the things mentioned above.  It was the front page article on that day’s Korea Times.

Let’s hope his legacy instead brings about greater understanding and change in areas such as adoptee legal issues, post adoptive services, and mental health.  Rest in peace, Phillip Clay.