Thinking out loud about Jane's response to Voice of Love

I took the liberty of wordsmithing Jane’s comments on this post (which I also posted verbatim here) to put them into a format that makes the tasks at hand really clear – Jane, if I have missed the spirit of any of this, please correct me.
  1. Remove reservations to Article 21a of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which ensures full consent of parents, relatives and legal guardians following appropriate counseling.
  2. Sign the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption and the adoption meets the standards of international law. 
  3. Improve women's rights.
  4. Act in the best rights of the child by following the internationally recognized principle of subsidiarity, in descending order of preference based on what serves the needs of the child above all:
    Family preservation (including unmarried single parent families)
    b. Domestic adoption in Korea
    c. Intercountry adoption
  5. Stop including mixed-race and premature children in the category “handicapped”.
  6. Make a concerted effort to develop systems for handicapped children to be supported by their own families.
  7. Create transparent practices and enforce them in Korea.
  8. Close loopholes in the U.S. laws that have left some adoptees without U.S. citizenship.
  9. Ensure that birthfamily can be contacted for medical information (e.g., bone marrow transplant, other serious medical needs) upon adoption and into the future using all possible means, including confirmation that relinquishing parents’ names have not been falsified by themselves or others.
  10. Stop all actions which manipulate, in any way mislead or take advantage of the emotions of relinquishing parents, adopters and adopted individuals.
You will immediately notice a few missing words that began each sentence in the original list: “We are not going to adopt from Korea

Jane is right to challenge prospective adopters in this way. I sadly can’t demand the same from my peers, though, which I know will disappoint no small number of folks. My reasons are personal: For me to advise others not to adopt when I sit here with my family is rank hypocrisy. It also feels, deeply, like a betrayal of my kids, to whom such a statement is sure to say “We shouldn’t have adopted you.

Instead, I can encourage and advise prospective adoptive parents to acknowledge that adoption from Korea isn’t the sterling practice you may have been told it is, and for them to demand truth and transparency throughout the process.  The items on the list below are honest-to-goodness, real-life issues, and you have a right to expect that any adoption agency, in the U.S., Korea or anywhere in the world, is addressing them with their words and actions. If the response you get from a U.S. agency is “we can’t influence Korea’s policies,” then remind them that if they aren’t trying to do just that, they’re part of the problem.

I can also tell prospective adoptive parents that it is their equal responsibility to work on these, and to work on them myself.

I would also add two things to this list that might get lost otherwise:
  • In item 4, we need to place “group homes and institutional care” where we think it belongs. I believe it is 4.d; you might put it at 4.c or even 4.b – heck, maybe even 4.a, depending on the family. Regardless, you get my point, which is that we need to be talking about this. Do you remember the old “Open Mikes?” I did one on this very topic way back when that was followed by an interesting discussion, and would love to do it again focusing on Korean adoption. I think I will.
  • We need to start talking more seriously about expectations and responsibilities for adoptive parents relative to preservation of their children’s genetic family information, protection of their legal status, and support for their ethnic and cultural identity. Since adoption agencies don’t seem to agree on the importance of this, in my opinion we adoptive parents need to teach our own.


Reading this post after reading the post above it, I kind of feel like that reason why people have to demand transparent, ethical adoptions before they sign up at all is because if they don't, the focus remains on how efficiently the government and agencies can process papers for you, instead of human rights. There's a correlation between how fake they are and how fast they are. In what direction are these people being pressured, and by what means? How do you pressure them in the opposite direction?

I also think there's a difference between "We shouldn't have adopted you" and "We adopted you based on the knowledge we had at the time. We have different knowledge now that shows us that we may have all been victimized and used by the system. We do not love you any less because of what we know now. You are no less a part of the family. We are just trying to make sure that other people like you, us, and your first family, do not become victims of the same system."

People have an avoidance of the word "victim." I did too, until I was stalked and nearly murdered, and subsequently had regular contact with the county victims and witnesses office. You get the phone call and answer "Yes, it's me" to this: "Hello, this is the XX County Victims and Witnesses Office. Is Jane there?" Yes, I was a victim of a crime. I witnessed a crime. The survivors of sexual violence and the survivors of the systemic violence of unethical adoptions could share some of the same vocabulary. I was a victim of an unethical adoption. I witnessed my family's victimization. The adoption process was a crime. I want to protect others from crime.

Thanks Margie, as always, for your wonderful consciousness-raising work!

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