Monday, March 30, 2009

Still Learning Korean

We're several weeks into our Korean class, and we now know the alphabet (sort of) and are starting to put together simple sentences. We're both struggling with being disciplined enough to study the vocabulary, but we're definitely making progress. I wonder if anyone in Korea would be able to understand what we are trying to say. It has been so long since we've attempted to learn another language. And I have new found respect for children who are just learning to read and write; it is a very difficult thing to do!

One big highlight of the class for me are the yummy (and weird) Korean snacks they put out at breaktime. I can't help it, I love to eat!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Adoption - Sponsored by Kleenex

Today we went to an amazing conference focusing on adoptees and their experiences growing up. It was such a great experience to hear from the only people who can actually speak about what it is like to grow up adopted. We went to sessions talking about birth parent reunions, homeland tours, and issues of transracial adoption. It was eyeopening, scary, heartbreaking, and reaffirming at the same time. We also saw many familiar faces, and made new acquaintances. I know I keep on saying this, but there is such an amazing instant bond to others in the adoption community. Hopefully our child will feel the same support. 

And, as always, the Kleenex tissue box played a prominent role for everyone involved. I have never once went to an adoption related event where people were able to hold back tears for longer than about 10 to 15 minutes into the event. 

The most entertaining, yet eye-opening, part was the introduction by Alison Larkin. She was born in the US, but adopted by English parents and grew up in Africa and England. She has a one woman comedy show based on her adoption. If you ever have a chance to see her, do so! I just got started on her book, The English American, and it is a fabulous read. Check her out here:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What Should I Feel?

Everyone knows that I am very excited about this adoption. I will get to be a mom! I am enjoying the anticipation, and I am very much looking forward to the moment that we can hold our child for the first time. 

But, adoption is not all warm and fuzzy. It involves significant loss and pain for both my child and its first parents. 

While we are gaining a family member, the other parties are losing theirs. 

It makes me wonder if it is even appropriate for me to feel the way I do. Does my wish for a child automatically mean that I wish for the first parents to lose their child? For the child to lose its first parents? Is it right to feel joy about becoming a parent when this event will likely cause so much trauma to others? 

But what would the appropriate feelings be, if not joy and happiness? 

Would it be fair to this child if I felt sad about its arrival? Would the first parents be able to raise this child themselves if we weren't adopting it? 

I will continue to look forward to the parenting experience, but I hope I will always remember that adoption means both loss and gain.

Second Homestudy Visit!

Today I had my individual appointment with our social worker. I actually enjoyed it and had a great time chatting with her. OK, so it was more of a one-sided chat, but she made me feel very comfortable. We basically talked all about my life so far, from my childhood through now. I had a hard time remembering some dates, I should have brought a cheat sheet! And I am not a very quick thinker and had a bit of a hard time coming up with one favorite memory involving my husband (I don't know why I picked the one I did) and three words that describe him. 

Hubby's appointment is next and then it'll be time for the much dreaded home visit!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fish out of Water

As a prospective parent I am trying to find as much information as I can about raising a happy and healthy child into a happy and healthy adult. I am clueless in so many ways, and am currently using the internet as my primary source of information. 

I love learning from other people's experiences, and thus have been looking at a wide variety of blogs of adoptive parents and adoptees. I was hoping to learn how parenting an adoptive child will be different from raising a biological child, and wanted to see what mattered to adult adoptees reflecting on their experience growing up. What I found scared the living bejesus out of me!

There is a very large population of "angry adoptees" out there, who are very vocal about how adoption has impacted their lives in a very negative way. Not all of them are transracial or transcultural adoptees, but since I focused on the expereinces of adoptees from Korea, the majority of search results that popped up were KADs. 

A recurring theme was their feeling that they did not feel like they did not belong in American society, and should have never been taken away from their own culture.

First, let me say that I wholeheartedly agree that in a perfect world, every child would have a loving and secure home with their birth family. In a less perfect world, every child would be cared for by an adoptive family in their country of birth. In our world, children find families across oceans. But they do find families. 

Second, I do not believe in the myth that there are millions of healthy children in the world who are waiting for adoption. While there are certainly millions of children who are in need of a good home, most of them are not sitting in orphanages waiting for a Western family to come along and rescue them. And yes, sadly in some countries, adopting children out to the "West" is nothing but a money maker. But there are those children in foreign countries that are "available for adoption" (oh how I hate how that sounds) to Western families because their country cannot take care of them. Reasons may be poverty or just the societal stucture. In Korea, children are available for domestic adoption until the age of five months, since most people want to adopt an infant. Only then are they referred to an international family.

Third, I have no idea what it is like to grow up in a family that does not resemble you physically. And in many cases, a society where the majority of people do not resemble you physically. I understand that this can contribute to feelings of loneliness and frustration.  

That being said, I do not believe that you belong to a culture based on birth and genetics. You may belong to a race based on genes, but you belong to a culture based on life experience. 

Most of us are interested in our heritage. As matter of fact, Americans seem to fanatically keep track of where all of their ancestors hailed from (1/16 Russian, 1/8 Eskimo, 1/32 Viking, 1/3064 caveman, anyone?). I am not denying in any way the importance of knowing one's roots and the culture of one's ancestors. However, I do not think that one cannot live in a culture that one wasn't born into. We want our child to know as much about Korean culture as possible. At the same time, our child will grow up American. That is the culture it will be exposed to on a daily basis, and I do not understand why anyone's genetics should hinder them from being a part of the culture of the country they live in. I can simply not recreate an authentic Korean environment in the USA for my child to grow up in. 

I will play the immigrant card once again. I did not grow up in American society, and my values are largely based on those of the cultures I grew up in. They are not my values because I genetically inherited them! Actually, by the time I was four years old, I lived in two countries that I genetically did not belong to. And as I am exposed to American culture after moving here as an adult, my way of looking at the world is changing. There were, and are, many times when I felt I simply did not fit in with the people around me, since we did not share the same experiences growing up, or the way we look at life. It has nothing to do with genetics! My child's life would be completely different if it was able to stay and grow up in Korean culture, but it is not genetically bound to be unhappy if it grows up in a society with a different way of life and values than the culture its first parents grew up in.  There are many traits that are aquired genetically, belonging to a culture isn't one of them.

Again, I think it is important that our child knows Korean culture (and other cultures), but even a second generation Korean American would not be able to grow up in a pure and "authentic" Korean culture.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Yesterday was our first meeting with our social worker, who is great. Even though I think she is fabulous, I am still not enjoying this process. I feel a little sorry for her for having to summarize our lives which have been anything but ordinary. I have no idea how she is going to condense all of that information! We scheduled our next appointments as well, which will be done individually. I think I will need to bring a cheat sheet listing all the information she will need! I am so glad this process is finally started, but now I can't wait for it to be over.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

First appointment coming up!

Yesterday during lunch my phone rang, and to my big surprise our social worker called to schedule our first homestudy appointment! I didn't expect a call until later next week, so I was pleasantly surprised. We scheduled our first appointment for Friday. I don't think people understand why anyone would be excited about meeting with a social worker, but I am stoked!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Just a little step closer

Apparently whining on a blog helps - today I got an email from our agency saying that they received the missing clearances and that they would look for a social worker so we can begin our homestudy. 

Just 5 mintes later I received another email with the name of the social worker who will be working with us! So now we are waiting for her to call us and schedule our first appointment! 

Things are moving along!