But What Do YOU Think About the Baby Box?

by Luanne
Last Monday, Kasey wrote about the Baby Box in Korea. She talked from the perspective of an international Korean adoptee who has been thinking more in-depth about adoption recently.

The Baby Box is one of those painful controversies where it seems both sides have very valid concerns and the best of intentions. Pastor Lee and the people who support the Baby Box are concerned for the lives of babies who might be at risk because their mothers feel they cannot keep them. Opponents of the Baby Box view it as dehumanizing and a permanent severing for these children from their rights to their own familial and genetic histories.

Many adoptees feel a powerful need to search for their birth families and to learn more about the people they come from and the genes they carry. This will never happen for babies left in the Baby Box.

Here are two videos to help you decide. Then look at the photo of the baby girl left in the Baby Box. Maybe you will cry, too.

Baby girl left in baby box

Baby girl left in baby box

A Korean Adoptee On The Baby Box

by Kasey Buecheler

Living in the InKAS (International Korean Adoptee Service) guesthouse, I have met and made many adoptee friends who come from all around the world (Australia, Denmark, France, Belgium, and Sweden, just to name a few!).  As a result, I have developed a stronger interest in the adoptee community that exists in Korea.

Meeting all kinds of adoptees during my stay so far in Korea has opened my eyes to new issues that I never recognized before.  Growing up, I had many adoptee friends, but we were all from similar families, with similar financial upbringings.  I didn’t have a broad perspective on the subject of adoption, but I did learn to embrace it.  However, coming to Korea and hearing different opinions has really changed the whole way that I see adoption.  In some aspects, I can say it has made me a bit more cynical, but I am glad to have been made aware of certain topics.

One specific topic that has gone viral within the past few weeks is the issue of the baby box in Korea.  Although it has been in use for a while now, recently it has gained media attention due to a documentary called “The Drop Box.”  In this documentary, Pastor Lee is commended for his humanitarian effort with his baby box, which is a box he created as a means of “collecting abandoned babies” that are unwanted by their mothers.   Many believe that this box is saving the lives of children who would have otherwise been abandoned on the street to die.  When I first heard of this story, I was also moved by Pastor Lee’s actions and began to read more on the subject.

The more I read, the more I began to realize the problems that arise with the usage of this baby box.  While some may perceive it as a way of saving babies, it also encourages an unethical method of giving up babies.   Instead of going through the proper steps in putting a child up for legal adoption through an adoption agency, it enables single mothers to abandon their children, leaving them with no birth registration. I can understand the importance of having this information, as many of my adoptee friends have sought this information in order to do birth family searches and know more about their past.  I have met adoptees whose information was incorrect/missing and seen how devastated they are when they come to this dead-end.  On top of this, there is also no way to know for sure who put the child in the box to begin with (which, in itself, has some scary implications).

While I am certainly no expert on the subject, I have read enough to know where I stand on this issue and encourage others to learn more about it and form their own opinions as well.

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What’s a Korean Adoptee Doing in Korea?

Here is what Korean adoptee Kasey Buecheler has been doing in Korea!

by Kasey Buecheler

I am back in America from Korea and visiting family while I figure out the rest of my year.  As some of you may have read before, I have been keeping myself busy studying Korea, teaching English, and participating as part of a mentor program for domestic adoptees in Korea!

I began teaching English through the Language Bound program, started by InKAS (International Korean Adoptee Service).  This is a special program where adoptee teachers are sent to teach children from low-income households who may not be able to afford English classes for themselves.  I had never taught English in this way before, and being employed by InKAS gave me experience in a classroom and memories I will never forget.  My kids were absolutely wonderful. I soon found myself looking forward to each class.  It was so rewarding to see my kids develop an interest in learning–and for me to provide them the opportunity to do so.

It was also through InKAS that I became involved in the Korean domestic adoptee mentoring program, which I can say is one of the most rewarding accomplishments for me from last year.  In Korea, adoption is still very much stigmatized in society and adoptive families usually choose to keep this aspect of their lives secret.  This mentoring program was designed to pair us up with a younger domestically adopted child and help them accept their adoption and learn it is nothing to be ashamed of.  We went to an over-night retreat where we were first introduced to our mentees (mine a 14-year-old girl) and spent time getting to know each other.

It was not easy at first. I had one of the oldest mentees, and she was very shy and seemed really uncertain about her participation in the program.  However, I could tell right away how supportive and encouraging her family was (her mother ran up to me and gave me a big hug the first time we met) and we have been able to get closer by meeting up after the retreat finished.

At one point, her parents invited me and a couple other mentors (who were assigned to two of their other children) to go with them to a church service/adoption get-together at their adoption agency (which I’m assuming specializes in domestic adoptions only). It was amazing to see these families celebrate their adoptions together and feel absolutely no shame in doing so.  It reminded me very much of adoption get-togethers that my own family would go to when I was younger. Food, fun, and friends.  This mentoring program helped me to realize how different the problems of the domestic adoptees are from international adoptee. However, seeing the families connect with each other at this agency made me realize how much we have in common as well.

InKAS Mentoring group

InKAS Mentoring group

An Invitation to Parents of Adult Adoptees

by Luanne

Guest blogger Lisa and I are at the stage where our children are adults. We can’t find a private Facebook group (or any, for that matter) for Parents of Adult Adoptees. So we are proposing to start one IF there is enough interest.

What seems amazing at this point is that their problems as adult adoptees at times seem larger than when they were children. And their relationship with their adoption changes, too. What they feel and think at 13 is not the same as at 18 and not the same as at 24 or at 29. Who knows what it will be like as they age into their thirties and beyond.  We want to be knowledgeable about ways to be supportive to them.

Here’s your invitation:

If you have older kids, 17, 18 and above, would you like to meet in a Facebook private group to discuss issues relating to our adult adoptees in a supportive environment? If you do, ask to join here. We can’t wait to see you over there!

I’M ONE OF THE BAD GUYS

by Luanne

The more I’ve learned about the world of adoption, the more I feel myself (an adoptive mother) an advocate for adoptee rights. I’ve become more aware of the situation of birth parents and, I hope, more sensitive to them, as well. Much of my time reading blogs and articles and sharing this information is related to adoptee issues.

But today I want to write about something else.

With the wonderful new movements pressing for adoptee rights, it does sometimes feel that with the shifting viewpoints, I am seeing a growing wave which demonizes adoptive parents in general. The articles about “re-homing” have reinforced this trend.

While there are bad people in every group, all adoptive parents are not bad people or bad parents. Many of our adoption laws and institutions are fraught with injustices and callous disregard for the children and for birth parents. Too many are interested in the money that can be made from a trio (child, BP, AP) in need.

But that’s not the individual APs. I am here to speak up for the thousands of good people who parent children by adoption. This is for them. (I in no way mean to diminish what the adoptive child goes through when I say the following).

When the adoption process and/or prior life events harm a child, the people who are there to help the child through their troubles are the adoptive parents.

When a child has behavior problems at home and school, it’s the APs who are there to deal with the fallout and get the child help. When a child has anger issues, the APs are the main recipients of the anger and sometimes abuse. When a teen has addictions, the APs go through emotional suffering and get help for the child. When the child is an adult and issues relating to adoption flare up, the APs are still there for the adult child.

We APs give our hearts to our children; our hearts bleed for them. We also give a huge percentage of the time we have on earth to them. We sweat and cry for them. Our minds and lives are transformed to fit the new family that has been created. We don’t turn our backs on our children, no matter how bad things can get. We never give up. We are there for them until we die.

Thanks for listening . . . .

Smore Stories – The Arena Of Adoption Must Become More “We” Than “I”

Smore Stories – The Arena Of Adoption Must Become More “We” Than “I”.

Do You Fantasize About Your Child’s Origins?

by Luanne

I’ve read about the fantasies that some adoptees have about their origins: birthmother, birthfather, original extended family, culture or country of birth. Although every adoptee might not experience this fantasy life, it seems natural to me. As a writer (and non-adoptee), I am always imagining alternative lives for myself, with much less impetus to do so.

In fact, and I’m sure my parents wouldn’t like to hear this, when I was young, I used to tell people I was a changeling, so sure I wasn’t anything like my parents. [Big wink]

What I want to know now is this: am I the only adoptive parent who has had fantasies of their child’s origins? For those of you adoptive parents whose children do not know their birth families, do you imagine what they might be like?

When Marc showed himself to be a little puzzle genius at the age of three and four, I wondered if one of his first parents–or maybe an aunt or uncle–had the mind of a puzzle solver. Maybe someone was an engineer or a police detective or an internist.

I just spent way too long looking for a photo of Marc with one of his K'Nex creations . . . .

I just spent way too long looking for a photo of Marc with one of his K’Nex creations . . . .

When Marisha was singing and dancing at age four, my mother first said, “Oh, she’s going to be a singer,” and then, “Oh, she’s going to be a dancer.” Mom turned out right on both counts. But at the time I wondered if Marisha’s first mother was a dancer, if her first father could sing. When I discovered online that her Korean “clan name” is replete with singers and musicians, I imagined that her talent was genetic and how her first family members would love to hear her sing and watch her dance.

When I find myself doing this imagining I tell myself to stop, that it’s not healthy. But I’m not sure. Is it healthy or unhealthy?

Do you fantasize about your child’s origins?

To Adoptive and Prospective Adoptive Parents

by Luanne (adoptive mother and adoptive sister)

After learning how it is in some other families, I feel compelled to mention a subject I hadn’t really thought about in the past: gratitude in adoption.

I find the whole subject kind of flabbergasting. Even as I say that, I’m not holding up my family as a perfect family. We’re far from that. Hahahaha.

But when I was growing up, learning how some adoptive parents view this subject would have blown my mind. And now, having raised two kids who were adopted, it blows my mind. In fact, to use an expression my British friends use, I’m gobsmacked.

As I’ve written in the past, my brother was adopted 50 years ago, so the household I grew up in had its own way of experiencing the adoption issue. My parents were on the vanguard of telling an adoptee–my brother, in this case– from the beginning that he was adopted. There was no secrecy, no trying to “pass him off” as a biological member of the family.

And, like my kids after him, my parents never told my brother he should be grateful that he was adopted.

WHAT??????

Here’s a video that begins to explain:

Some of you are probably applauding the specialist on the video.

If you skipped the video and are just wondering why I think gratitude and adoption don’t mix, let me explain that I think it’s great to teach children to be grateful and to foster gratitude whenever it makes sense.

But what is important to remember is that an adoptee should NEVER (and I mean NEVER EVER EVER) be expected to be grateful for having been adopted. Why should a child be grateful for being ripped out of their birth family, which includes cultural and genetic history, just so you, the adoptive parent, can adopt him and “save” him? And just because you happen to be one of the privileged minority of humans in the world and can give them the sort of life that having more resources can provide?

If the idea of telling an adoptee to be grateful pops up in your head, I am begging you to uproot it! A child should never be expected to be grateful for feelings of abandonment and loss and discontinuity. She ought to feel free to be glad, relieved, and even grateful that you are her adoptive parent and not someone else . . . if that is what she feels inside. She should never be required or demanded to have certain feelings.

If you haven’t yet adopted and don’t understand what I’m talking about, please reconsider the idea of adopting. Honestly, there are enough other challenges in adoptive families and, indeed, all families without causing more dysfunction.

Was it Enough?

Question to Parents (or Prospective Parents) in Open Adoptions:

A question was posed the other day by Tao from The Adopted Ones Blog .  How would you describe the training and focus you received from your agency on the notion of “openness”?  “Was it a one-hour class type thing – or a major focus in how it would look and ways to document it?”

If you already adopted your child or children, is the “open” part of open adoption what you expected? What you were told to expect by your agency?  Has anything surprised you?  Has it been better or more difficult than you expected?

We thought about setting this up as a poll, but really we don’t know what parameters to place.  Without hearing from you, we don’t know how good a job the agencies are doing about preparing adoptive parents for open adoptions.

Open Adoption Bloggers

Open Adoption Bloggers.

Recently, DWLA posted several stories about open adoption by a birthmother and an adoptive father.  If you want to read more about open adoption, you can find more stories through this site.  Here is the “about” description on the Open Adoption Bloggers blog.

My name is Heather Schade. I’m the caretaker here at Open Adoption Bloggers.

I started this blogging network because I believe in the power of telling our stories and listening to the stories of others. In the very beginning, it was stories that demystified open adoption for me and made it something I not only agreed with in principle, but really wanted for our family. Stories turned unknowns like “contact” and “visitation” into regular people sharing phone calls and meals. Stories from other adoptive parents let me make sense of the role I play in our personal triads. The honest words of first parents made me more sensitive to my kids’ birth families. Listening to the stories of adopted adults helped me to be–I hope–a more empathetic, aware parent with my kids.

When I’ve struggled with our own adoptive relationships, knowing there are other people who have faced the same worries has eased the loneliness. And when I stumble on a blog of someone who’s been living open adoption for years and years? I’m almost turning cartwheels at all their insight into what lies ahead.

Beyond the sterile research studies and mass media pieces, I think it is our stories that show the world the reality of and reasons for what we do in open adoption. And that give us a sense of comraderie as we live out openness–something which is all at once completely normal and completely counter-cultural.

The heart of Open Adoption Bloggers is the list of 300+ bloggers writing about their open adoption experiences. Writers from all sides of open adoption gathered together in one spot– place for us to find each other and for others to find us. We also gather for Open Adoption Roundtable discussions and host the Best of Open Adoption Blogs awards.

My husband and I are the lucky parents of three young children through open adoption. You can read more about our family and my thoughts on adoption at my blog, Production, Not Reproduction, which has been named a Top 25 adoption blog by Adoptive Families magazine, About.com, and Circle of Moms. My writing has been published in Adoptive Families and I presented at the Symposium 2011 Opening Adoption: Realities, Possibilities, and Challenges in Richmond, Virginia on social media and open adoption.

Questions? Ideas? I’d love to hear from you. Please contact me at admin [at] openadoptionbloggers [dot] com.

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