In praise of the KAD community

Thanks to two eye surgeries, multiple trips for work and adoption and the kick-off of a home renovation project, I have been on hiatus since June. It has been a hiatus from blogging only, as my adoption world has been incredibly full.

Summer = KAAN for me, and this year's conference was remarkable. It was held in Minneapolis, which is in many ways the center of Korean adoption culture in the U.S., as one of the most prolific Korean adoption agencies is located there. When you think of Korean adoptee activists, you will invariably arrive at someone who hails from or lives in Minneapolis, and a large numbers of these talented KADs were present. In my opinion, it made this year's conference one of the best, and for sure confirms that KAAN is fulfilling its mission to support and promote Korean adoptees.

While at the conference, I was thrilled to be asked to join the KAAN advisory council, as well as that of a brand new organization that is sure to rock the adoption house in the coming months: Gazillion Strong, which is the non-profit wing of Land of Gazillion Adoptees and Gazillion Voices magazine. Gazilliong Strong has been created to allow the intercountry adoptee community serve one another, as well as other marginalized communities. I sincerely hope I can contribute to the growth and success of both of these organizations, as the work they are doing and planning to do is most definitely needed.

While on break here, I developed in other online venues a friendship with a bright and active Swedish KAD who invited me to participate as an adoptive parent advisor in the new Swedish Korean Adoptee Network, SKAN. SKAN is unashamedly focused on improving adoption policy in Sweden, Korea and around the world, and on supporting unmarried Korean mothers and their families. I’m really excited about the opportunity to meet Swedish KADs, and to learn more about adoption policy in Sweden and perhaps other European countries - and I am definitely going to need to learn a little Swedish so I can keep up with the excellent articles already appearing on the SKAN blog.

Although time was short this summer, what with everything going on personally, the little reading I was able to do tells me that the adoptee community in Korea is alive and well and doing some amazing work. TRACK has helped to educate a Korean adoption policymaker on the dangers of denying adoptees their original birth information – and it appears the effort will bear fruit in an improved amendment to existing Korean birth registration law. This, in a word, is HUGE!

On a sad and serious note, I participated in a gravesite memorial service for little Hyunsu Kim, whose father, Brian O’Callaghan, goes on trial for Hyunsu’s murder in the DC suburbs this fall. On a hot summer day, I and a fellow adoptive parent joined a group of Korean adoptees and their families to remember little Hyunsu. How sad it was to come upon his grave, virtually barren, at the back of a little cemetery in Damascus, Maryland. We honored Hyunsu in word and song and the light of candles, and left behind a memorial of the love of the entire Korean adoption community. I will share more of what I know of Hyunsu and of that day soon, but right now let me just commend the incredible Korean adoptees in the mid-Atlantic area who are making sure that Hyunsu is not forgotten. I thank them from the bottom of my heart for honoring his memory.

Clearly, my break from blogging was filled with incredible adoption-focused activity, all driven by the work and commitment of Korean adoptees. All of this activity is just the tip of an adoptee iceberg of meaningful social action. Adoptees are indeed changing the adoption paradigm, and it's wonderful to watch it happen - better still to roll up my sleeves in support!

And so, as I clear my adoption throat and wade back into adoption writing, I must first say this: thank you, to every intercountry adoptee who is using your time and talent in support of your fellow adoptees.

Thank you to those of you doing the adoptee-centric research that has been so desperately needed by adoption policymakers, and for entering the fields of psychology and social work and building adoptee-centric counseling and support practices. Thank you for bringing your unique art and music and writing to the world, which thanks to your voices can no longer marginalize you and your experiences. Thank you for sharing your pain publicly so other adoptees can find support in it. Thank you for working to prevent adoption - yes, prevent it, as it often should be - by advocating for single and poor mothers and families. Thank you, too, for bringing hope and resources to children who live their lives in group homes and orphanages.

In short, thank you for being marvelously vibrant community you are!

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