Sun Yung Shin: Skirt Full of Black

My friend and fellow writer, co-editor of Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption, has just published her first book of poetry. Ms. Shin is also the recipient of the 2007 Bush Fellowship for poetry. If you are in the twin cities area, please come to her book reading on Tuesday, April MAY 1 at 7 pm. at the Loft Literary Center. (Mianhamnida – SORRY I had the wrong month – good eye, Kyong!)
 

Skirtfullofblackb

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” Adoption observations give author idea for book”

Adoption observations give author idea for book

By  Paula Wild
Record Arts Writer

Apr 27 2007

 

The seed for Hornby Island author
Amanda Hale’s second book began with her observation that it is common
now for people to adopt children from other cultures.

“And then somehow Cortes
came into it,” she said. “The novel became a quest for discovery –
Cortes discovering ‘a new world’ and Paméla discovering her roots.”

Read the rest of the story here.

TGIF Links


This American Life
"The Missing Parent’s Bureau"
Ironically, I listened to this story on my ipod, as I was driving to visit one of the kids on my caseload this week. I was fascinated and disturbed by these stories – especially the segments on the child actor’s workshop on pretending to be an ‘orphan’ and the interviews with women who chose to use sperm donors. I was really irritated that most of these stories once again LACKED the voices of adults who actually lived these experiences. Once again, it’s presented as all about the parents!

New York Times "CBS Radio Show Hosts Suspended After Phone Prank"
"CBS Radio suspended two hosts from an FM station in New York City
yesterday after an Asian-American advocacy organization complained
about the broadcast of a six-minute prank phone call to a Chinese
restaurant that was peppered with ethnic and sexual slurs."

Countercurrents.org– "Big business in babies"
" . . . All adoptions are not the happily-ever-after-fairy tales we’d like them to be."

CNN – "Couple uses MySpace in adoption search"
"Dear birthmother," their MySpace posting begins. "We cannot imagine
how difficult making an adoption plan for your child must be. … Thank
you for including our profile in your search for the right family to
raise your baby."

Chicago Tribune – "Massacre fallout: Charges for essay"
"Told to express emotion for a creative-writing class, high school
senior Allen Lee penned an essay so disturbing to his teacher, school
administrators and police that he was charged with disorderly conduct,
officials said Wednesday."

Amnesty International – "Failure to Protect Indigenous Women from sexual violence in the U.S."
I first heard about this on NPR.

Warning: This is a rant. This is only a rant.

I’m getting more than a little weary of all the helpful words from the world at large, lamenting and tsk-tsk-ing all of us Koreans for our collective feeling of shame and sorrow that the Virginia Tech shooter was Korean. I’ve read it on my blog, on other blogs, on discussion boards, you name it.

Here, in a nutshell, is what is upsetting me. Many of us in the Korean American and Korean communities have expressed our feelings of sadness and sorrow that a Korean/American person committed this horrible tragedy. Even officials from South Korea have apologized.

We talk about terms such as oori or uri (Kimchi Mama’s has a great post explaining this concept) and how those of us who are part of cultures with an emphasis on collective or community identity versus the very American way of individual identity also feel a sense of shame over this tragic event. We also express concerns about backlash. And now we are being criticized by "others" for this.

Most of these "others" doing the criticizing belong to the dominant white American majority. And what I’m reading is, Why would they [Korean Americans] feel this way? We know that it was a mentally ill individual who did this. Why are they worried about backlash? I haven’t seen any backlash. Apologizing is only bringing them down as a group of people. Korean Americans should stop feeling bad about an individual’s actions, it has nothing to do with them as a whole, etc. etc.

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“Forget culture”

I search the internet for articles and essays about adoption. This one written by columnist Vicki Woods just really blew my mind. It’s not from an adoptive parent or anyone who appears to have a connection to adoption. I think this essay is supposed to be humorous and tongue-in-cheek – even so, the language used in this essay is so disrespectful. You can read the whole piece published by the Telegraph, but I’m excerpting a few choice pieces here:

This week, it covered the Indian government’s proposals to speed up the country’s adoption process and make it easier and quicker for foreigners to adopt Indian babies. Especially girl babies. The chairman of India’s Central Adoption Resource Agency had fewer than 100 would-be adopters applying from Britain last year. He hopes to shorten the wearying adoption process from more than a year to a snappy 45 days. From what I know about India, I reckon that’s some hope. But it can only be a good thing for wretched women wanting babies.

Eleven million babies are abandoned each year in India and 90 per cent of them are female. Quite staggering figures, eh? Grazia brought them to life with a double-page picture of six tiny little scraps lying on carry-cots in clean nappies and pyjama tops. . . The one at the top left was looking straight through the lens – wide-eyed, crinkle-browed – and gave me a maternal pang so intense that I had to swallow hard. That’s the one I’d pick if I were in the mood to adopt an abandoned Indian baby girl. When I showed it to my daughter, she said that’s the one she’d pick as well. The prettiest one. The one anyone would pick, actually, the one who’d look perfect in a Pampers ad. Any art director would pick her. The photographer picked her – she’s the emotional focus of his picture.

It is slightly discomfiting looking at a display of foreign babies laid out like so many hot summer shoes, though. Slightly discomfiting to find oneself idly picking a foreign baby out of a litter like picking a puppy. Still, it’s easy for me: I’ve had babies. Women who can’t have babies are desperate, filled with longing, and it’s OK by me if they pick a foreign one from pictures, or from Indian orphanages.

The adoption process is notoriously difficult in this country. People in the adoption business have views that are sometimes antipathetic to mine on foreign adoptions. Example: Indian babies should be brought up by Indian families, so as not to deprive them of their inherited "culture" blah blah. That’s a bit holier-than-thou for me. Orphaned (or abandoned) babies do need loving homes. For the woman who wants to be a mother somehow, anyhow – and for the baby, who will have a chance at childhood – I say forget culture.

Stuck

When I first heard about the Virginia Tech murders I was driving home from work and at that time there was not information about who the shooter was. My first thought was what a sad and senseless tragedy this was, and all I wanted to do was go home and hug my kids.

The next morning I found out the killer was Korean and the first thought I had was, Every Asian man in the United States must be terrified right now. And the second thought was When will the retaliation begin?

It didn’t take long, as it turns out. As I’m finding more out, there are a lot of questions and concerns that I have, as well as the rest of the world. But many of my questions are going to be different as a fellow Korean living in the United States.

For example, how do I write this post?

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