Plan B

"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.

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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Shannon Smith  |  August 22, 2006 at 12:52 pm

    Hi Julia, I found your website after a disscussion that has ensued on chfs forum about intercountry adoption from Korea. I don’t know if that is your agency but it is mine. I am the mother to five beautiful children. When my husband and I were first married we lived in Korea. We went there because my husband had served a mission there for our church and after returning, majored in Korean language and Asian Studies at BYU. He loved the Korean people the language and the country. We lived there for a little over a year and visited a children’s home several times and knew a few families that had adopted children in Korea. We knew then that we would adopt a child from Korea. We looked forward to sharing and learning more about his culture and his language with him. I then became unexpectly pregnant and as the years went by and more biological children came to our family we never forgot our promise and our desire to bring a toddler boy home to our family.

    This past April that dream became reality when we all traveled to Korea to bring our 2 1/2 year old boy home. I am very nervous as I embark on this adventure because I so want him to grow up proud of his Asian and specifically Korean heritage and proud to be an Asian American. The posts I have read by other KADs make me feel so very hopeless, that I am sort of doomed from the start. this is not to say that I was not so naive as to think that raising him would not have it’s own challenges. We know it would but wanted to work throught them togeher with him.

    Finding your blog gives a new sense of hope. You seem like such a smart, thoughtful, beautiful person who has a strong sense of who you are and your value as a daughter of God.

    I wish you the best in all of your journeys. I will be checking to read from time to time.

    BTW the story of Mr. and Mrs. bad profile just made me cringe! Your description of meeeting the young woman at the prayer wall was beautifully writen and illustrates our shared humanity. You are a great writer.

    Shannon

    Reply
  • 2. Grace  |  November 13, 2006 at 11:43 pm

    You are a great writer and I am enjoing your blog.

    Yes. Plan B. This is the story of adoption – the Triad of Loss. Mine, for not having birthed a child with the husband I love, the Birth Mother for whatever she felt, for the Baby, who suffered too many goodbyes. But what beauty! How can such beauty come out of such sadness?

    My extremely intelligent, happy boy, who has so many characteristics of his oma and daddy; this Baby boy, who will be loved beyond measure with all the opportunities and more, and the Birth Mother, who had a solution to her problem.

    I can sense your emotions …Plan B. Maybe you are too young, but how many times has your Plan B, or C or D turned into the BEST THING EVER? I hope you will see your life that way. I know I have. I am amazed at what I have felt, learned, experienced, questioned by having become a mother through adoption. I am richly blessed.

    Reply
  • 3. asacrificiallamb  |  March 26, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    I don’t know about other adoptees, but as an adoptee myself I have a problem with being referred to as a “daughter of God.” It feels dismissive to me. It feels as if the connection with my natural family, my relationship to it, and my very self have been dismissed, skipped over and re-routed “as if” I came directly from God, with no connection to Humanity. If people believe all human beings are children of God, that’s fine with me. But I don’t imagine people who stay with their natural families would be comfortable having their familial connection being similarly whitewashed.

    I also have a problem with surrender being called a solution to a problem. I feel it’s really a solution for others – not for the mother. As “solutions” to “problems,” we adoptees end up feeling as if we must continue to be the solution to everyone’s problems. And we see ourselves as having BEEN the problem – the problem that caused the loss of our own mother and family. We end up feeling responsible for our own predicament.

    Plans B, C or D can indeed turn into the best thing ever but that is when they are your own plans. If it doesn’t turn out so well, you are disappointed. To be on the receiving end of someone else’s plan B, C or D is a bit different. It can hurt no matter how things turn out.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 5. christine2  |  August 27, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    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.
    It seems to me that people who blog do so to have a place where they can express their thoughts and feelings and emotions. Perhaps you may consider writing your own blog rather than violating others.

    Julia, this is one of my favourite blogs, and I think you write and express yourself beautifully.

    Reply
  • 6. Brit  |  October 27, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Julia – you’ve got a sharp pen!! and it hits clean head on – keep writing dear

    Reply
  • 7. Kev Minh  |  December 1, 2007 at 1:09 am

    This post is fantastic. Thanks for putting your voice out there.

    Reply
  • 8. issycat  |  April 22, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Hi Julia. I found you through Alltop. This is my first time reading here. I am also an adult adoptee.
    Your blog resonates strongly with me and while I do not know what it is like to be adopted internationally, I still can relate to much of what you have to say. Your blog is helpful and wonderful. Thanks.

    Reply
  • 9. Margie  |  April 30, 2008 at 7:48 am

    A-parent here. Full disclosure: Plan B was the reason we adopted from Korea – after eight years of failed infertility treatments, we went for the “adoption option.” From Korea – for all the wrong reasons.

    Plan B turned into the greatest joy of MY life. I can (and too often do) wax poetic on the incredible blessing adoption has brought my family – my perfectly normal, happy family.

    But you know what, it’s not about ME. It’s about my kids, who should never, EVER have been anyone’s Plan B. It doesn’t matter that before they even arrived I would have laid down my life for them in a New York second, and of course still would today. It doesn’t matter that they are living full lives with us.

    No one should be considered anyone’s Plan B. It’s up to adoptive parents and adoption agencies to drive that point home.

    Thank you, Julia, for bringing this point home so incredibly clearly.

    My attitudes back when we first considered adoption were shameful, and by rights I shouldn’t have been allowed to adopt.

    Reply
  • 10. Emily  |  November 9, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Julia, I am so sorry you are pained over being plan B. Our society, the world’s culture, seems to not place children in high esteem or value which has led to many abortions(plan B) and adoptions(plan B). Women and men make what they feel is a/are mistakes, and a life is created. No child is an accident. No child is a mistake. I think this is what was meant by referring to one as a child of God. Every life is precious and created with purpose to know and love God. We are in the process of adopting a 2 year old little boy with medical needs from Korea. He is not our plan B. And, although it may appear that he was his mother’s plan B, we have “known” him before he was born. Somewhere deep in our hearts he was meant to come to us. The moment we saw him, we knew he was our son. Yes, by choice, but first in our hearts,and finally in breath and being. He was born. God has adopted all of us into His family. He gives us adoption to show His great love for us that He does not leave us as orphans or judge us by the world’s standards. I only hope that some day you feel the great joy that comes from knowing that who you are is how you choose to view your circumstances-as a beautiful gift of opportunity to share with others beyond appearances to the human bond and intricasies of love. May God bless you as you work through where He has placed you and where He has you go-that anyone choosing to love any child is a beautiful gift both given and received. Thank you for sharing and may you be comforted in knowing that you are a beautiful gift both given and received created to return the beauty of unconditional love not judged by appearances. This is the great calling.

    Reply
  • 11. Mads Roos  |  July 12, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Hello Julia, Plan B.

    I really liked your piece.
    Thank you.

    – Mads, Plan B

    Reply

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