Adoptee artist Amber Field

Amber Field explores race, gender and adoption in Jagadamba, Mother of the Universe. From an interview with Ed Moy.

In Amber Field's documentary short film Jagadamba, Mother of the Universe
(2008, 10 min), she invites viewers into her life as a queer
transracial (Korean) adoptee who grew up in Korea, Nepal, and Liberia
and then moved to Illinois when she was 12-years-old.

The film
explores her childhood growing up in the Midwest, adoption, race,
sexuality, and her life-long healing journey through music.

Her website is amberfieldmusic.com.

Former star of Margaret Cho’s “All American Girl” series adopts transracially

An interesting article that begins with a different spin on transracial adoption.

Transracial adoption crosses the color line.

Transracial Adoption Crosses the Color Line

Published in the Nichi Bei Times Weekly July 9-15, 2009.

By APRIL ELKJER
Nichi Bei Times

Eight-year-old Penelope, Nikkei actress Amy Hill’s multiracial
adopted daughter, has an interesting take on her identity. She
sometimes says, “‘I’m a little Japanese, you’re more Japanese than I,’”
shared Hill. “I told her that her birth mother is African American and
Caucasian and her father is Latino, and she just goes ‘Oh, okay, pass
the rice, give me more seaweed.’”

Turns out that Penelope currently identifies with the Japanese
American community, though Hill makes sure that she is exposed to her
multicultural friendship circles and involves her in cultural
celebrations reflective of Penelope’s ethnic heritage like Day of the
Dead.

Hill, 56, who is known for her roles on the Margaret Cho TV show
“All American Girl” and movies such as “Cat in the Hat,” weighed her
options before she decided to go local. “I always considered adoption
since I was a kid because I just felt bad for kids who didn’t have
parents, so even as a child I knew that one day I would adopt.”

Read the rest here.

Emma Thompson’s adopted son

From the Daily Mail UK. Proud Emma Thompson poses with adopted refugee son at graduation six years later.

Six years ago she saved him from a life of unimaginable hardship, as a child soldier in war-torn Rwanda.

And yesterday Emma Thompson beamed with pride as she watched her adopted African son graduate from university.

Wearing
a cream suit and green satin jacket, the 50-year-old actress wrapped
her arm around Tindyebwa Agaba as he clutched his ribbon-tied scroll.

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Read the whole article here.

Petition to include adult Korean adoptees in adoption revision legislation

Adoptee Right to Participate in Korean Adoption Law Revision

Published by TRACK on Jul 13, 2009
Category: Law Reform
Region: South Korea
Target: Korean Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Family
Background (Preamble):
In
the 56 years of overseas South Korean adoption, the South Korean
government has talked about these invested parties, attempting to
represent their best interests. However, the South Korean government
has yet to work *with* them on the very processes that irrevocably
affect their lives.

Please go to this web site to read and sign the petition. So far, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family has requested a meeting with TRACK members – but they still need signatures.

Guatemalan women demand justice for children stolen for adoption

I have been given permission to post an email I was sent via Marie from Stephen Osborn, who along with his wife Shyrel have been working in Guatemala with their organization, Love the Child/Amor del Niño. For more information, check out Stephen's blog.

As long as adoptive parents turn a blind eye to this, then they are condoning these practices.

Please
consider sharing this wherever you can.  The good name of
adoptions is being ruined because the "Christian" adoptions agencies
and fearful adoptive parents will not distance themselves from those
who would perpetrate and profit from serious crimes.   While
the U.S. Adoptions community debates the rights of the adoptive parents
to privacy, the rest of the world lumps all Americans together, and
believes we condone stealing babies from their mothers.

I just left my wife, Shyrel, in
the middle of Guatemala city, and drove away with more than a lump in my throat,
past prostitutes and pimps, and drunks, and all sorts of night people..  She is sleeping in a small tent in front of
the Supreme Court of Guatemala.   She and
a small number of women have engaged in what the press is calling a hunger
strike.  The participants say it is
fasting and praying.   They are seeking
justice.  They are so vulnerable there in
that tent tonight.   The “Palace of
Justice” towering above them is locked tight, with a high tech security
system.  They look so helpless during the
day too.  Among the hustle and bustle of
the high court litigants and supplicants, they maintain a humble stance, and a
broken hearted vigil.  In other words, she
is practicing true religion.  But it is
out of step with the Christian world in Guatemala.    There are no Pastors here, no church
leaders.   Just my wife and these other
women.  Three of them are mothers whose
children were stolen.   They have not eaten since Tuesday, and will
not until the judges respond to their request for a review of the cases of
their stolen children.

 

Shyrel’s determination to do this
has moved our theological discussions from theory to reality.  Once again, I find myself trying to wrap my
head around her motives.  Frustration at
a failed system?  Yes.  Sympathy for the completely helpless
women?  Yes.  But I think in the end, she knows it is what
Jesus would have her do.   Love your neighbor
as yourself.  What does love look like
when your neighbor’s child was stolen? 
Maybe it looks like empathy.  
Jesus put himself in our shoes, didn’t he?

What would you do if someone stole your child?   What would you do if you knew where your stolen
child was?   As a Red Blooded American
male who believes in truth, justice, and the American way, I would take up my
constitutionally assured arms, and go resolve the issue.  If that might not be the best tactic, then I
would go to my police, the FBI, or Interpol if needed, and they would for sure
hear my case, or my congressman and Senator would be all over them.  I would have my child back.   When something bad happens to us who are privileged,
we have resources.   We will get justice.

Now, try to imagine you are a poor Kachikel woman in Guatemala.   The last thing you remember is that you were
offered a cool drink on a hot day by a woman who offered to help you walk from
your bus stop to the bus stop that would take you to a relative’s house.  Seeing your Bible, she had remarked that she
too was a Christian.   Now you realize she
drugged you, and stole your child.   When
you went to the police station, they laughed at you.  The Justice Ministry suspected you were one
of those women who sold your baby, and now want to complain when the lawyers
tricked you out of what was promised.  
Spanish is not your first language, so your attempts to explain your
predicament are difficult.  You are
humiliated rather than helped by the authorities.  Then you learn that your child was sold to
people in another country.  You identify
her from a series of pictures presented to you. 
But still.  No one will do
anything.   Justice is a word that has no meaning in your
world.

Now; imagine you are a follower of Jesus. 
You have promised, that in exchange for salvation of your soul, you will
obey Him, and live by His rules.   You
hear that there might be a number of poor women who have been robbed of their
children.  You hear the testimony of this
mother.  You wince as you fear that their
children may have been put into the frenzied market that is the Guatemalan
adoption world.   But you know people who
have adopted from Guatemala.  And isn’t
adoption a good thing?  You heard for
years that there were rumors of “corruption”. 
You relegated those rumors, if true, to be simply that of government
officials accepting bribes.  You didn’t
ask why there would be a need for bribes if everything was above board.   Let it lie, you say.  Focus on the good.  Ignore the bad.

There are way too many Christians in the United States, that pre-eminent
country, who heard rumors about Guatemalan adoptions, but went ahead, and got
that baby.  Now, with at least 3 cases
proven of stolen children having been processed for adoption, these helpless,
hopeless, vulnerable women make them feel very uncomfortable.   This may be only the tip of a sordid ice
berg.  So they do not want justice.  They want it all to go away.

In Matthew 25, Jesus relegates to outer darkness those who ignored the needs
of the least of thes.  He doesn’t say
they actively engaged in anything wrong. 
I think He would approve of the saying that for evil to prevail, all
that is required is that good men do nothing. 
I don’t think, as I read Jesus, that He would approve of Good Men who do
nothing.  I don’t think He would buy the
excuse that it would be dangerous to do something.  I also don’t think He will accept our excuse
that the situation was too universal, or too complex, or too distant.  Or too inconvenient.

As we think about the incarnation of the Word of God, and the fact that
Jesus bids us follow him in ministering to the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives,
those who are bound, and mourn, what do we really think He is asking us to
do?   Praise harder? Sing louder?   Protect ourselves with more alarm systems in
our church buildings and wish this world wasn’t so desperately evil, but so
glad we will one day be out of here in the hereafter.   According to Amos, God thinks otherwise.

Amos 5:21-24 (Contemporary English Version)

21I, the LORD, hate and despise your religious celebrations
and your times of worship. 22I won't accept your offerings or animal
sacrifices–not even your very best. 23No more of your noisy songs!
I won't listen when you play your harps. 24But let justice
and fairness flow like a river that never runs dry.

Article in Redbook Magazine about adoption

This Is What Adoption Feels Like – Redbook Magazine

by Gail Shaw

It
seems so simple, and in a very basic way, it is: There are children out
there who need a warm and loving home, and there are families yearning
to provide all that and more. But making it all come together– well,
that part can get complex. Here's how five families found their way
along that unforgettable journey, and how one woman made the wrenching
decision to give up her child– plus, everything you'll need to know if
you decide to make adoption a part of your family story. (read the whole article here).

Read that?

This is what adoption feels like – TO THE ADOPTED PARENTS and to ONE BIRTH PARENT.

What does adoption feel like to adult adoptees?!?

Long-lost half-brother trying too hard

I feel sorry for the poor bloke who only wanted to have a relationship with his birth family. How tragic that he's just a pest to his sister and mother.

From Sunday's Ask Amy

Dear Amy: A year ago I was contacted at work by a man who told me he was my half-brother.

I
confronted my parents and learned that I did indeed have a
half-brother, who two months before had gotten in contact with my mom.
She had given the baby up for adoption at birth.

When he
learned about me, he wanted to contact me, but she asked to hold off so
she could tell me after she digested his entering her life. Instead, he
tracked me down at work and called while concurrently sending me a
two-page e-mail.

It was creepy and extremely upsetting.

His approach bothered me, as did his lack of respect for my mother's wishes.

My
mom and I agreed he seemed harmless, not out for money. He was looking
to connect, as I imagine many adopted children might, but he acts on
impulse and with disregard for our feelings.

I decided to tell him not to contact me again, and my mom broke off contact with him too.

Six months later, I got an e-mail from him apologizing for upsetting me and reiterating all the reasons he had gotten in touch.

I wrote: "Thank you for your apology, but I'm not interested in a relationship, and if I change my mind, I'll contact you."

It has been another six months, and he just e-mailed me again.

I want this to stop, but I don't want to engage him.

I
could block his e-mail, but I almost feel like I need to know if he
contacts me in case this turns into something more and I need evidence.

How should I handle this?

Only Child

Read Amy's response to Only Child here.

The Foreign Adopted Children’s Act (FACE) and Families for Orphans Act

If you are an adoptive parent, you are likely to have heard about these two pending legislative acts. Maybe you've even called your legislators and indicated your support. The Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) has been encouraging adoptive parents to sign a petition in support.

However, many of us do NOT support this legislation, and the thing I find interesting is that I have been contacted by adult adoptees from both sides of the international adoption debate, as well as adoptive parents and social workers asking me to post about these two legislative acts.

In particular, the FACE act would serve to demolish any and all of connections to our birth countries of origin. It would ERASE our histories, broaden the lies already in place through the amended birth certificates and in essence, creates more of a cloaked process. International adoptions, to be entirely ethical MUST be transparent.

I encourage all adoptive parents and adult adoptees to read the following response from Ethica regarding the Families for Orphans Act and the FACE.

Foreign Adopted Children's Act (FACE):

Introduced in the Senate as S. 1359 (Senators Landrieu and Inhofe) and in the House as H.R. 3110 (Rep. Watson and Boozman):  A bill to provide United States citizenship for children adopted from outside the United States, and for other purposes.

Ethica opposes passage of the FACE Act.  Ethica
believes the FACE Act, if passed, would harm adopted persons and their
birth- and adoptive families in a number of ways, including:

  • The bill is intended to eliminate the U.S. immigrant visa process, which means it eliminates the safeguards put in place to help ensure that children placed for adoption are legally in need of homes abroad
  • By conferring citizenship retroactive to birth, Ethica believes the bill creates a legal fiction and diminishes adoptees’ birth history
  • While eliminating the visa process may save adopting families a
    small amount of money toward the large costs of adopting, there is no
    guarantee that the Department of State will not charge similar or even
    higher fees for services it will provide under this bill.
  • The bill may create additional hurdles and costs for adopted persons in the future as they attempt to claim benefits and privileges they are otherwise entitled to in their countries of birth
  • Eligibility for adoption of a particular child is generally
    determined by the “competent authority” of the child’s country of
    origin.  The bill does not address eligibility for adoption in
    countries that have not designated a competent authority
  • The suitability of the adopting parent is based on the person’s
    ability to support the child and appropriate criminal background
    checks.  The bill does not address existing federal requirements for
    homestudies of prospective adopting parents.
  • Enacting this bill may stall adoptions in process
    It is unclear how this bill will affect provisions of the Intercountry
    Adoption Act (which implemented the Hague Convention).  Instead of
    speeding up processing by bypassing the visa system, confusion in
    interpretation and the development of new processing procedures,
    particularly for Hague countries, will likely create delays for
    adopting families and children.

Ethica believes that adoptees and other immigrants should be able to
become President, but pursuing the right to presidency should be done
in a way that does not erase personal histories.

Ethica also wholeheartedly agrees that citizenship procedures should
be improved for adoptees, and believes that adoptees not covered under
the Child Citizenship Act (including adopted persons who have been
deported) should be conferred U.S. citizenship. However, this bill goes
far beyond these measures and has the potential to hurt more than help.


Families for Orphans Act:

House Bill 3070 sponsored by Congresswoman Diane Watson (D-CA) and Congressman John Boozman (R-AR)
Senate Bill 1458 sponsored by Senators Mary L Landrieu (D-LA) and James Inhofe (R-OK)

A bill to encourage the development and implementation of a
comprehensive, global strategy for the preservation and reunification
of families and the provision of permanent parental care for orphans,
and for other purposes.

Ethica opposes passage of the Families for Orphans Act.  Here are some reasons why:

  • The Families for Orphans Act, if passed, would give the United States unilateral power to develop global child welfare strategies
    by providing financial incentives for other countries (including
    through debt and trade relief) to send their children abroad for
    international adoption.
  • Instead, the United States should be participating diplomatically
    with other nations in developing global child welfare strategies, for
    example, by finally ratifying the United Nations Convention of the
    Rights of the Child.
  • The bill legalizes an overly broad definition of “orphan”, capturing
    countless numbers of children who already have loving families,
    potentially including, for example, children who reside in boarding
    schools away from their primary caregivers.
  • This bill augments existing financial incentives for countries to
    favor international adoption by offering additional financial
    incentives, including technical assistance, grants, trade, and debt
    relief from the United States, which may sacrifice established child welfare principles by favoring international adoption over local solutions.
  • Reunification efforts are “time-limited” which may cause original families to be unnecessarily separated from their children.
  • Conflicts exist with various definitions in the
    bill.  For example, long-term kinship and guardianship arrangements
    which are considered “permanent” care under the bill may simultaneously
    be considered long-term foster care arrangements, which are considered
    to be temporary care under the bill.
  • The bill requires “cultural norms” to be taken into account, but
    only to the extent consistent with the purposes of the bill.  The bill
    permits the United States then to essentially disregard a country’s cultural norms.

Ethica supports the strengthening of global child welfare systems. 
However, we believe that this would best be accomplished by working
through existing frameworks of technical assistance and aid, ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
to demonstrate the commitment of the United States as a global
partner in securing and upholding children’s basic rights, limiting the
definition of orphans to those children truly in need of permanent
caregivers with placement decisions made without the influence of money.

Ethica has the contact information for all the legislators at their website. Please go there now and read their full position statements.

Comments will be closed here – instead I encourage you to go to Ethica and to your legislators.

Number of adopted children returned to care has doubled in five years

From the Times Online (UK). It appears that this article focuses more on the children adopted from the foster care system. I wonder how many (if any) of these children are internationally adopted. Also, I would be interested to know if by "return to care" they are referring to those children whose adoptions were finalized or not. In the US, being "returned to care" would likely refer to only children adopted from foster care since children adopted internationally who end up in the system are considered "new" cases (since they were formerly part of another country's child welfare system). Semantics sometimes makes it difficult to get the full story.

Additionally, I found this story only reinforced a lot of negative stereotypes about children who have been in the foster care system, as well as the typical view that children are "left to suffer at
the hands of dysfunctional natural parents." Whether this means straight out physical or sexual abuse or whether it might be poverty-driven neglect (which is very, very common) I don't know – but it does very much make a difference – for me.

Number of adopted children returned to care has doubled in five years

The number of adopted children who have been returned to care homes because
their new parents cannot cope with them has doubled in the past five years.

Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the number has
increased by a third in the past year alone as parents struggle with often
challenging children who have suffered years of neglect or abuse in their
natural families.

Going back into care after living with an adoptive family is a traumatic
experience for children, and for the adoptive parents who have to accept
their only chance of having a family has gone. It is also a huge cost to an
already over-stretched system with the children likely to need expensive
specialist care.

The increase in breakdowns comes despite a fall in the number of children
being adopted. Only 4,637 children were adopted in 2007, the lowest number
since 1999.

Read the whole article here.