They don't love us when we're born

I'm very fortunate to know and have the opportunity to collaborate with Jane Jeong Trenka, author of The Language of Blood, Fugitive Visions and and co-editor of Outsiders Within, among other works, and driving force behind TRACK, Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoptee Community of Korea. She is one of a group of Korean adoptees that I believe are literally changing the face of Korean adoption for the better through their work and art.

At the moment, you will find Jane in Korea working to change Korean attitudes and laws on pretty much everyone and everything that touches adoption: Korean adoption law, attitudes and support for single mothers, adoptee citizenship (Korean and adoptive), deportation, serious post-adoption support and more. There's a lot going on right now in the area of citizenship, deportation and the needs of deported adoptees, which is where my path has crossed Jane's for the past several months.

What has struck above all about working with Jane are the following: she will pull absolutely no punches in her efforts to obtain support and recognition for Korean adoptees, and her sense of justice is absolutely razor sharp. With her permission, I share a note she wrote on her Facebook page that nails something that has bugged me for a long time.

When my husband and I first adopted, one of the things that bugged me pretty much out of the gate was the fact that our adoption agency expected loyalty from us. I met families who expressed their unending gratitude to the agency at every opportunity, in words and in dollars, and actually felt pretty crummy that I didn't share it. I was and still am grateful to the people who helped us through the process and to those in Korea who cared for our children before they joined our family, but I just do not feel that I should go through life in blind loyalty to these organizations.

I also can't feel any gratitude to the Korean government for the staged welcomes and free trips they offer to adoptees and adoptive families, not while they're still issuing travel papers for deported adoptees. Additionally, that welcome doesn't extend to a deported or sick or emotionally battered adoptee who returns or is returned to Korea; that adoptee is left to fend for him- or herself.

All adoptees deserve professional and other support, whenever and wherever they need it, with citizenship at the top of the list. When adoption programs fail adoptees with legal and health issues here and in Korea, Korean adoption fails altogether. Governments and adoption agencies in Korea and the U.S. need to step up to their responsibilities to this population of adopted individuals, not just in word, but in deed.

Jane has been kicking butts all over Korea on this subject for quite some time, and wrote something on her Facebook page today that I share here with her permission (bold mine). Thank you, Jane, for nailing this.
I met a government worker the other day who told me, "You have to remember that no matter where you are, and even if you're adopted, YOU ARE KOREAN! That is your strength." I thought, "Just SHUT IT with your nationalistic Nazi master race bullshit."

The Korean government loves adoptees when we are learning the Korean language, eating Korean food, being tourists in Insadong, being reunited on TV, being successful in foreign countries, or visiting Korea on business.

They do not love us when we are sick, when we can't learn Korean, when we want to eat a burger, when we are abused in adoptive families, when we are addicted because we were abused, when we are saying that we have human rights, or *when we are born.*

Adoptees, don't let one-time fancy buffets and some smiling officials in suits fool you. If the Korean government really gave a shit about you - you who were born a Korean citizen - you would not have ever been adopted. They would have found a way to care for you, a Korean citizen, here, in Korea. They still haven't.

Three babies will leave Korea today for international adoption. What is strong about that?
There is nothing strong about that. To any Korean person that might stumble onto this blog, to any Korean American friend with the ability to influence Korean policymakers: please, PLEASE, understand that the adoption experience includes far more than cute babies and smiling parents. It includes emotional illness, abuse, addiction and crime. It includes the rejection of family and country, sometimes birth and adoptive both. And for some adopted individuals, it is a hell from which there is no escape as long as agencies and governments turn a blind eye to this part of the reality.


Just stumbled upon your blog today, searching for some signs of active Korean Adoptee community here online. This article has said a lot to me today. It has shown me that international adoption is not as invisible as I feel, and yet it confirms some of my fears. I do not feel love from my Korean counterparts because I have white parents and cannot speak the language as if it is my fault, and I find myself forced to live in a world of you aren't Korean enough or you're too Korean for us. So thank you for this article, because I feel as if it is my first real step out into the adoptee community
Margie said…
Thanks for commenting. You'll find a large and VERY active Korean adoptee community online. Quite a few of the blogsv in the list to the right are written by Korean adoptees, plus you'll find many Facebook pages managed by Korean adoptees and focusing on the issues important to your community.

I'm a white parent of two young adults, both of whom were adopted from Korea, and know that what you say about not feeling love from Korean Americans and Koreans is true. I don't like to generalize, and believe that some Korean Americans do understand the situation better than others, but have seen exactly what you describe from some Korean Americans.

I hope you find a strong community here online. Thanks again for commenting.
Thanks for the comment on my blog and the reply. It is really cool to see an adoptive parent taking such a proactive stance in the adoptee community. My parents are very similar in this manner and I am grateful for having them. I have started research for online communities and such, and so I hope to find the right fit.
Mei-Ling said…
What a well-written article.
Margie said…
Thanks, Mei-Ling, credit is all Jane's. She nailed this subject.

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