In which I respond to Mr. Stephen Thatcher’s commentary from the Me&Korea May 2019 inaugural adoption conference. Mr. Thatcher is a Korean adoptee. Find his statement on page 93.
It’s with great professional restraint that I don’t open my letter with a descriptive passage detailing my initial reaction to your Conference on Adoption essay. Instead, I’ve stepped back, breathed a few times, and hopefully composed myself enough to make myself cogent and clear.
Far from being representative and inclusive of Korean adoptees’ perspectives, your antagonistic and sweeping generalizations dismiss a swath of experiences in five judgemental pages.
Many Korean adoptees indeed encountered racism within their adoptive families and communities. This racism isn’t an “obsession,” as you described; it’s a societal fact that impacts how people of color identify themselves and develop self-worth. Evidence is not on your side, Mr. Thatcher, as color and racial issues–even within biracial and monoracial biological families–has well-documented negative effects. Please, feel free to ask for resources for this statement.
You also state:
Wow indeed, sir, that you overlook a child’s rights when determining “worthy” placements. I’d reword this and call it “healthy” instead. If you truly care about these “orphans,” as you describe us, wouldn’t you agree that a racially competent home–one that can adequately support a child of color and their unique cultural heritage–would be best? I mean, you say it yourself:
Obviously, no one with a heart wants children living on the streets. But we also don’t want them growing up blinded by their gratitude at the expense of their race.
You also claim adoptees “sensationalize” their experiences:
Here’s where I’ll drop my professional courtesy and respond as myself:
FUCK THAT DISMISSIVE BULLSHIT.
In one word, you’ve handwaved a lifetime of struggle many Korean adoptees face. You dismiss it as unimportant, and downplay it as being propaganda to push an anti-adoption agenda; which is funny, because your agenda to disparage and smear other adoptees seems more community-breaking than people telling their truths.
Adoption needs these stories you find so unpalatable because if you truly want to improve it and make it better, we have to learn from our mistakes. And yes, in some cases adoptions were made to parents who had no business adopting transracially. Rather than spitting on the adoptee stories you believe are repugnant lies, you should embrace them. Humans run adoption agencies; humans are imperfect. We get blinded by love and charity but forget that bad things happen to good people and good people get rejected while sneaky ones get pushed through.
You’ve also seemed to confuse classist issues with what some adoptees are really saying:
I can’t mindread, but this seems suspiciously like you’re referring to some adoptees as whiny brats unhappy they didn’t get the toys they wanted, instead of seeing their lives as cautionary tales. Again, I’m not a mindreader but it seems you are:
No one can fully understand or appreciate why an adoptee might objectively look at their adoption and those of others with less-than-ideal outcomes and become against it. You, like me, can’t possibly know what “reality” any of us would face had we not been adopted. I found out my family regretted sending me away. I love my birth family. My adoptive family abused me. But I can still critically look at transracial adoption and understand that these things happen, but it’s on people like me–not myopic generalists–to fix it.
Having gotten this off my heaving chest, I wonder: Do you consider me anti-adoption? Based on my responses to you and work, would you judge me as having been so shortsighted I’d be unable to determine how “bad” my life would be in Korea and how great I had it in the United States?
You likely would, but unsurprisingly, you’d be incorrect. For all my adoptive mother’s flaws, she taught me what assuming means. I am not, in fact, “anti-adoption,” but do believe a firm overhaul of transracial and intercountry adoption systems need work. This work needs to be in the child’s best interest and based on sound, unbiased scholarly research and not rants against people with whom you disagree.
For my part, I am happy for you and your adoption outcome. I agree orphanages and institutions are not equipped for long-term childhood care. And, obviously, I agree that
but what you miss is adoption is a result of a child’s loss. Adoption promises a better life. If adoptive parents are unqualified despite their best interests, are we really doing this orphan army justice?
I’d also like to close this letter by answering one of your (presumably) rhetorical questions:
Yes, I have. Yes, I do. And maybe you should do the same for those who see things differently than yourself.
Feel free to reach me any time. My lines of communication are always open.