Plan B

March 27, 2006 at 2:08 pm 12 comments

"There is a couple… they are older and not a great profile," the director of the agency starts with me. "I want them to start looking at other options, because they have been waiting awhile with us and it doesn't look promising. Would you mind sharing your positive experience as an adult adoptee with them? I think they may consider Korea."

So, let me get this straight. Our domestic rejects get the international suggestion? Nice!

So we all sit down together. Director in one chair, me in another, and the "bad profile" couple on the sofa. The tension is high and I get this look from the couple as if this meeting is their last hope. Director introduces international adoption by asking them if they have "looked into" it….

Mrs. Bad Profile: "well, we aren't really good travelers and we've never been out of the country, so we're not sure…"

Director: "not all countries require travel. Like Korea, have you considered Korea? The baby can be escorted back."

Mr. Bad Profile has a sour look on his face and he rumbles something about fees. Mrs. Bad Profile has pipped up and looks hopeful. Director continues…

"I am concerned though, if you would consider an Asian child," she says. "I noticed you are in our caucasian-only program."

Mrs. Bad Profile hasn't heard the second sentance, she has already started talking, "oh yes, we would consider a Chinese child!"

I started to open my mouth … but Director kicks in with, "You would need to travel for China, but Korea offers escorts."

Mrs. Bad Profile: "oh yes, that is what I mean, a Chinese baby from Korea."

I want to scream, "NOOOOO! NOT THEM! DON'T LET THEM ADOPT FROM KOREA!!" But I am silent — reminding myself internally that I need this internship to graduate. I shift in my chair and push my heel of my shoe into the ground.

After our meeting I ask Director if she thinks it's a good idea for this couple to adopt a Korean child. She turns the question on me and asks, "do you want to be the one to say who is worthly of becoming a parent or not?"

No. No I don't. But that's why I am the intern and she is the professional!

So, who's job is it anyway? Who should adopt from where and who should identify the desperate from the educated decision maker?

I went to a conference in Rochester, NY last year on adoption (mostly directed towards prospective APs) and sat through a session on "Transracial Adoption." The speaker, a fat older white man without a shave (who according to the hand-out has "a wealth of knowledge on transracial adoptee issues"), stated, "it is unfortant that in today's adoption communities, Asian children are often referred to as 'the other white meat'." I felt pretty cheap. (I'm a a vegetarian.)

I asked my parents why they picked Korea. My mom is unable to really answer this question. All she can reply with is what I already know. My father and her had struggled through miscarriage after miscarriage after my sister was born and they knew they "were meant to have more than one child." I'm glad they can be so sure…

Translation: They wanted another bio-baby, but couldn't do it. So they went on to plan B.

However, when I ask my parents why they didn't adopt a white baby domestically they are fast to explain why. My mom's brother adopted domestically. They waited 7 years before finding his birth mother. It's simple: my parents did not have the patience or desire to wait. So they went to plan B. I am plan B!

What about a black baby domestically?? "We really didn't think that a black baby would fit in well with our family. You know how the older generation in our family can be. It wouldn't be fair to the child." my dad explains. Could he mean Bubbe?? The one who refers to me as "the chink"? Nahh… couldn't be her! She has been such a positive force to my self-identity!

I am sure, if I found my birth mother, she (like so many birth mothers I have met with) would have something similar to tell me. "I wanted to keep you, but I couldn't. I knew I couldn't do it…" or something like that. She made plan B.

And so did my parents.

And so here is Julia. Plan B.


Entry filed under: Adoption.

Adoptee Crazy Kid!

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John  |  March 27, 2006 at 2:43 pm

    nice post baby.

    if you’re plan B…

    plan A can’t possibly have been better.

    and, for that matter…

    i’m then all for plan B’s…

    forget plan A’s.

  • 2. erinberry  |  March 30, 2006 at 7:04 pm

    This was a really interesting post – I’m anxious to check out the rest of your blog.

  • 3. art-sweet  |  April 1, 2006 at 10:30 pm

    good lord. I think you are more qualified to decide whether these folks are fit to parent a child from Korea than that imbecilic agency director. And the “other white meat” guy ought to be taken and shot.

    Okay, stepping down from my soapbox.

    Thanks for your blog – it looks interesting!

  • 4. Jaye  |  April 4, 2006 at 10:56 am

    Hi Julia,
    I surfed in from TTR. I think it's the hub for KADs.

    The story of the bad profiles is maddening. Is this agency truly interested in the welfare of its children or just wants to fill the numbers? This exact scenario tortures me, bad parents getting kids. Is there a way to permanently red flag certain types of couples to prevent them from going to agency to agency? Absolutely maddening!

    It's good to hear another KAD's story and I look forward to reading your blog.


  • 5. Michelle Harrison  |  April 5, 2006 at 10:12 pm

    I’m an adoptive mother of an adult adoptee from India. I was her Plan B. All adoptive parents are Plan B’s. We are lying to ourselves when we try to pretend otherwise to ourselves or our kids. It doen’st make love any less, committment any less but it puts a more honest face on our coming togtether. I am Plan B as a mother. My country is Plan B. My skin color is plan B. I have to give my daughter support for exploring in fantasy, and in living what her life might have been if she had been able to have her Plan A.

    It is an industry, a market. We also have to face that.


  • 6. Michelle Harrison  |  April 6, 2006 at 2:07 am

    Thinking more about what I’ve just written — As a mother, I’m her Plan B. Coming to the US, makes me Plan C. My white skin makes me Plan D. I am really being serious. Each one of those issues is necessary fodder for adoptees to think about, and for their adopive parents to think about, and be honest about.


  • 7. juliasworld  |  April 6, 2006 at 9:35 am

    Yes, but did you pick her? Or did she pick you?? That is hard to deal with when you had no choice in the matter (I know that often infertility is not a choice – but certainly the type of adoption is).

    Just from an adoptee’s perspective … it is often also a feeling of no control over the matter.

  • 8. Michelle Harrison  |  April 6, 2006 at 8:21 pm

    My daughter had absolutely no choice in any of it. I had choices that let me to a waiting list where her name and my name came up at the same time. I could say no, she could not. You are absolutely right, and it has to be hard to deal with, really hard. I remember once my daughter told me she felt like some kind of “social experiment where they put babies on an airplane and sent them away.” I cannot make any of it different, or better. I can stand by as she deals with it, as I try to stand by through lots of the pains of just being.

  • 9. John  |  April 7, 2006 at 2:56 pm


    “All adoptive parents are Plan B’s.” As Julia had touched upon on the comment above, I think “choice” is the ultimate differential between adoptive parents being Plan B’s (or C’s, D’s, etc, in your case), and adoptees being Plan B’s. Unless your a-child from India was consulted with, given a book of, shown a website listing about, and or created a pro’s/con’s diagram of their situation and possible outcomes, I think you’re hard pressed to validly make the comparison that they have (and here we use the most important differential) “chosen” you, the USA, your skin color, etc. as Plan B, C, D.

    As adopted children we are thrown to the winds of fate. Some of us, myself included, landed with awesome parents, and a liberal/progressive minded nuclear family. The fact remains though that I do NOT speak to them about being adopted and or adoption (I’ve concluded that it never has and possibly never will lead to a constructive part of our relationship). But I’m not a Plan B child. They had 5 biological kids, and they wanted another, and they did it out of their love for kids, their love for each other, their love for family, and yes, a portion of it, I’m sure, was for their love of their faith/religion. They didn’t choose Korea because they didn’t make the domestic registry, they didn’t choose a boy because they couldn’t get a girl (or vice a versa), they didn’t choose me at 3 years because they couldn’t get a newborn, they didn’t choose Asian because they couldn’t get white, and perhaps most importantly, they weren’t disappointed when what they got arrived on their doorstep. Many adoptees I know had far different fates. They WERE Plan B’s and Plan C’s. Their parents couldn’t conceive and they wanted kids for their own selfish reasons, and when they realized that adopting transracially isn’t an afternoon cup of tea, consciously or not acted like it was the worst decision of their life. They didn’t pass the initial domestic screening process, and went to an agency that allowed them to adopt from abroad. They didn’t want to travel abroad to learn about the culture and or pick up their adopted child from the home country, so chose countries where that wasn’t a prerequisite. They wanted to show their religious conviction, and adopted without thought or guidance. It happens, and the fundamental difference is, as adoptees, we didn’t have the choice to abstain from the selection process.

    “It is an industry, a market. We also have to face that.” Yes, and children are the commodities. How are they valued? How does market equilibrium measure inefficiencies and correct itself? How does one graph cost to utility of these kids? This is a sick way of thinking about adoption, but in some circumstances is the most accurate. I think “facing it” isn’t what should be done, but rather a need to push for a change in mentality. Equating adoption “choices” of a-parents to the fate of adoptees, I don’t think moves us towards that change.


  • 10. John  |  April 7, 2006 at 3:17 pm

    “I cannot make any of it different, or better. I can stand by as she deals with it, as I try to stand by through lots of the pains of just being.”

    Just being is hard. Just being an adoptee harder. Just being an adoptee needs support and validation from those who have chosen us as their children. All the love in the world doesn’t replace the trauma that an adoptee goes through from being transplanted internationally, interracially, and inter-familial-y.

    “Standing by” means being intellectually open to and emotionally available for all the issues and phases adoption carries us adoptees through. It’s about exploring these issues deeply and cooperatively (listening, listening, listening), even though we may lash out irrationally, be angry at, and find fault with our a-families.

  • 11. Michelle Harrison  |  April 8, 2006 at 8:38 pm

    John, I take no issue with what you say. My equating about Plan B is that I think many adoptive parents want to pretend that they are the “best choice” or the Preferred choice for the child. It’s a denial of a reality that no child would willingly leave his or her mother.

    I feel badly for any adoptee who cannot talk about adoption with his or her family. It is so central to your being. The question, “where do I come from?” is so central to how anyone grows up.

    you are right that listening includes all the stuff that makes a parent hurt, angry, confused, etc. But that’s the only way our kids can sort it out for themselves, and we can sort it out with each other.

    And I really wasn’t trying to make it a “sameness” around Plan B,just a reality that most AP’s don’t face.


  • 12. Margie  |  May 15, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Knowing that my kids could walk through life with this feeling of being “plan B” is probably the hardest thing for me to accept about adoption. You can try to turn it around in a gazillion directions, to explain it away with the “but I’m glad I was infertile or I wouldn’t have found you” argument, but that derails when you face the question why our children’s first families were pushed to adoption in the first place.

    I really do feel stupid that I didn’t get that instinctively from the very beginning.


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Julia’s Jam

It’s just not that black & white. Not because I am taking a stand against. Just because, the issues I face are somewhere in the grey area and to weed through them, I blog. I blog. ~

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