Jane Jeong Trenka’s Letter to the Editor

Jane Jeong Trenka: The foreign-adoption double standard

The process has improved in America, but not overseas.

Published: July 19, 2007

SEOUL, South Korea – Many thanks to Gail Rosenblum for calling
attention to the lives of American women who were forced to surrender
their children for adoption between 1945 and the early 1970s.

her article ("They never forgot," July 8) did not mention the lives of
the quarter-million foreign women who have been forced to surrender
their children in subsequent decades. In reaction to the perceived lack
of adoptable children in the United States following the "baby scoop,"
Americans have looked to foreign countries. Currently, about 20,000
children from countries such as China, Russia, Guatemala and South
Korea are brought to the United States each year to be adopted. Very
few are true orphans.

I found it particularly telling that a representative of Children’s
Home Society and Family Services, a St. Paul agency that performed 777
international adoptions last year, was quoted as saying that today the
agency is "night-and-day different in how we understand adoption and
how we understand families." There seems to be a glaring double
standard between how adoption agencies now understand the human rights
of American families and how they understand those of foreign families.

current situation of single mothers being forced to surrender their
children in South Korea almost exactly mirrors the situation in the
United States a generation ago. Yet despite our understanding that
separating American mothers from their children was a "conspiracy of
silence," the broader American society views doing exactly the same
thing to foreign mothers as "humanitarian."

I hope that articles
such as Rosenblum’s contribute to giving a human face not only to
American mothers, but also to the foreign mothers of international
adoptees. They are all mothers with human rights, and they all deserve
to be treated as such.

Jane Jeong Trenka, internationally adopted to Minnesota from South Korea, is a writer living in Seoul.

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

One thought

  1. CHS of Minnesota is my dubious “Alma Mater,” and I shuddered at that representative’s words, tantamount to the tired “Adoption is different these days!” At the age of 54, CHS still sends me their sugar-coated newsletter and even solicitations for donations, despite a rather ungrateful letter I sent to them 15 years ago.
    I agree completely with your observation that this is just the same shit, different countries. And I share your hope that awareness will extend to ALL mothers, near and far.

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