…. and then I grew up.

October 19, 2007 at 8:19 pm 10 comments

As promised…. a post long time coming. ‘Ode to Jean Ling-yu Rosenberg’…. or, what could also be called ‘A reflection of my Past.’  Jean wrote the following comment on my “Plan B” page, I liked it so much, I felt it needed to be more front and center.

~~~~~~

4.Jean Ling-yu Rosenberg  |  July 16, 2007 at 6:18 pm

You have major self esteem issues. I am Jewish and Chinese myself and do not find myself ranting and raving about how hard it is growing up in a “white” world and complaining that my parents adopted me. What, you’d rather live in an orphanage in Korea with no future and being looked down upon as an orphan child? Be fucking thankful for what they did for you, you hyperactive ungrateful brat.

~~~~~

 Christine replied to this comment in saying, “Oh Jean. You may not ‘rant and rave’ about being adopted and non-white, but you DO rant and rave, don’t you? And accuse, and swear, and name-call.”

So, what is it that I find so charming about Jean’s comment? Well, other than just getting a kick out of the fact that she read my blog although she hated it, she just sounds so familiar. I draw two conclusions from her comment that stem from my own life experiences. They are as follows…

  1. My first thought (and many of my adoptee friends who saw the comment had the same guess) is that Jean is not the adoptee she claims to be. She is perhaps an adoptive parent, with a little Ling-yu maybe, who feels my dissatisfaction with the adoption business is a direct blow to her happy home… which btw… she paid good money for! Ahhh… what would this world be without so many silly people?!

  2. But then again, at a younger age (and if she was truly an adoptee from China we can make our own assumptions as to her age, due to Chinese adoption being fairly new, compared to Korean adoptions), I also would spew such adoption propaganda here and there. I even thought to myself (and it came from hearing the same opinions from my own adoptive parents) such words such as “ungrateful” and “brat.” I used to consider such things such as “better off” and “home” and “orphanage no place for children.” Yes… it was all very clear to me back then, what a blessing my life was. How lucky I was. Lucky to be taken from my birth country that, if they had it their way, would have kept me locked up with no chance in this world. Thank G-d for white people and their money, who saved me. Yep, that was me. And then… well… I grew up.

I grew up. No, I did not get bitter. I did not get angry. I did not become ungrateful. I did not forget the concept of orphanage. I simply matured enough to understand a few basic concepts….

 One being that adoption will always exist. Even if there was no Confucius influences on Korean society (look at how many adoptions happen domestically). Even if the welfare program was better in Korea (look at how many adoptions happen domestically). Because there will always be woman who become pregnant during a bad time in their lives, or as a result of an affair, or a violent crime, or when they are sick, or, or or. And there will always be infertility and people who aspire to become parents again. (Not to mention the people with the desire to “save” a cute little exotic kid.) It is, in my opinion, a very natural cause. Through this realization that adoption will always exist… I am able to forget the idealist prospectives of “when all babies will be born to mothers able to care for them…” In all honesty, this concept of adoption being an immortal system is reassuring to me. I don’t want to be among the last generation of adoptees. Selfishly, I want adoption to always be.

However, this takes me to my second concept. Since adoption will always be, why shouldn’t we work to improve the system? Lots of people have worked to make it a more profitable system, a more efficient system, and even a more appealing system. Adoption agencies advertise all kinds of catchy things. Adoptive parents chit-chat and spread the word on which agency will get them a younger baby faster. Which agencies slide you through the process with more ease, less home work, and better door-to-door service. Which agencies offer delivery or which require carry-out. Prospective birth parents chit-chat and spread the word on which agency has the better selection in families, the nicest social workers, and the best services (sometimes even being who can pay the most ‘birth parent expenses’). But in all this chit-chat and news spreading, who is talking about the adoptees-to-be and their needs and the families post-adoption? I know who … the same people who are being accused of being ungrateful brats, adoption-haters, and whiners. Thus, I am honored to be called such names!

Next, and perhaps most earth-shattering for me, I have come to realize that my parents’ opinions on adoption cannot be the same as my own on adoption. I have a loss and they have a gain. Is my adoption experience all loss? No. Is their adoption experience all gain? No. They do not have in me what parents of biological children have. They missed my first 8 months, they do not look at me and see a reflection of their younger selves, they do not day-dream about how their grandchildren from me might have their nose, their curly brown hair, or their genetically influenced talents towards the arts. There are losses there. My losses are similar — only completely the opposite. And we can agree on many things when it comes to adoption. But we cannot know how each other feels. And thus, there is no reason why I need to spew their opinions on adoption and not have my very own likes, dislikes, and concerns about the system.

Lastly, I do not need to feel grateful for being adopted. Just as I am not grateful for that detour sign that allowed me to find a faster way to work this morning overall improving my life by a good 15 minutes each workday… I need not be grateful to my parents for adopting me. They did not pick me from a catalog (and even if they had — they would not be picking me for who I am, just for what a beauty I am) and decide to “save” me. It was not personal. They had their own selfish reasons (and in my opinion — the best reasons to adopt are selfish ones … ie “we want a child”). They should be as grateful to me for fulfilling their needs as I am to them for fulfilling mine…. which is NOT AT ALL. We were both brought together by a system … a natural system to some extent, but mostly a man-made system … and that is just how it was going to be. They did no good deed and I did no good deed. Grateful and adoption are two concepts independent of each other — not one influences the other.

Thanks, Jean Rosenberg. Whomever you are… number one or number two. You have made me realize how much I have grown on this issue. I wish for you the same one day…

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Entry filed under: Adoption.

It was a nice ending. Health.

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John  |  October 19, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    well said.

    it’s a system. and like all systems – fallible. let’s make it better.

    and less simply, meta morph the framework through which people assume the adoption process.

    Reply
  • 2. JR  |  October 20, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    I love this post!

    Reply
  • 3. Brooke  |  October 23, 2007 at 9:31 am

    Hi Julia,

    Glad you are posting again, I was worried about you. What I love about your writing, your opinion is you try to see it from all sides of the triad and you do a very good job of it. Most of us have a lot of difficulty with that, we are so focused on our viewpoint. Thanks for your insite, as an adoptive mom I appreciate you helping me see how all sides of the triad see things.

    Reply
  • 4. Kahlan  |  October 23, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    *clapping hands and nodding* Well said, Julia.

    Reply
  • 5. Cheryl  |  October 27, 2007 at 1:19 am

    Loved this post Julia. Thanks. Glad to see you posting again. I was worried about you.

    Reply
  • 6. Brit  |  October 27, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    awsome post! we’ve still got some information work to do ^^ sounds like a comment based on oppinions and awarenss as outdated as the hair-do from the FB profil pic’ of my 80’ies perm!
    somewhat like a young man from Sri Lanka, whom I met today, who was provoked from our play (ethnic Danes acting lifestories as part of an integration project) at the Red Cross yearly meeting. He claimed that he had never ever experienced racism. Until a few minutes after, when he listed experiences with lots of racist comments and ignorant hate-remarks with the comment.. But I just don’t listen to them. That is perfect and needed to keep trust and save one’s own integrety and sense of human values.. but.. even though one ignores the pain of walking with a stone in the shoe.. the stone remains there.. and it feels quite nice to take it out!!

    Reply
  • 7. passer by  |  November 10, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    hi julia, glad to see you posting again. a new faculty who i’ve asked to be on my dissertation committee works on transnational adoption, so i’ve been reading quite a bit about transnational adoption.

    there’s this one piece he co-authored with his therapist friend based on one of his friend’s cases. The commenter you’re writing to reminded me of the girl featured in the essay who is a transnational, interracial adoptee and is, unfortunately, a homophobic racist. (Interestingly, though, she wanted as her therapist a 1.5 generation female Korean therapist.) In the course of therapy, it turns out how much duress she was under to internalize the norms of the world she was a part of (which didn’t regard her ethnic origin important and which had no way of accounting for her loss or for her emotional labor) and to justify herself through those norms.

    Your insights about the system of adoption is so mature and well balanced. Not to give you reassurance, but Korea, despite having risen in economic standards, is still the world’s fourth largest exporter of children. I hope you can keep on writing for those people.

    Reply
  • 8. docmitasha  |  November 14, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    I loved this post. Thanks for writing it.

    Reply
  • 9. Jiniogeonikiz  |  February 6, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Nice site keep it up!

    Reply
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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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