Kicking off NAAM

Harlow’s Monkey image

Hi! Welcome to my blog, Harlow’s Monkey. I’m JaeRan Kim, an assistant professor at University of Washington Tacoma, and I’m a Korean adoptee who researchers and writes (and occasionally teaches) about adoption. If you’re new to my blog, hello, and if you’ve visited before, welcome back!

It’s that time of year again, the annual National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM). For many adoption practitioners and especially child welfare workers, NAAM is a busy time when they will be focused on adoption-related recruiting events and preparing the kids or parents on their caseload for finalization. A lot of states will host special adoption finalization days when multiple families will go to court to complete their adoptions. And even though NAAM was created to encourage foster care adoptions, it has now become an idea of celebrating all things adoption.

For many adoptees, however, NAAM has become a month-long trigger. Rosy celebrations of Instagram-worthy portraits of adoptive parents in the media without much acknowledgement of the losses and grief inherently part of adoption is hurtful for many adoptees. A few years ago, several adoptees worked together to create the #FlipTheScript campaign as a way to provide counter-narratives during NAAM and it’s worth revisiting this campaign again.

Today, I’m kicking off my own personal NAAM series of blog posts. Although I’ve been writing and blogging for over 14 years now, I’m not good at the social media stuff. I’m too wordy for a tl:dr world. There is a lot of terrific content coming from adoptees on Instagram and Twitter and I’m not going to even try to create content of that caliber! I’m so impressed with the content and insights of these adoptees and with their reach to educate audiences on the adult adoptees’ perspectives. They are reaching more adoptees and more adoptive parents than I ever did – even back in the blogging heyday of the early 2000s.

The blog format is my preferred mode, but I’m challenging myself this month to try to reintroduce myself to the world. Many people might not realize that I’m quite an introvert and when I started blogging, I used the name Harlow’s Monkey because I didn’t want to be public. It took a couple of years before I went public, and even now I can’t tell you how often people tell me, “I didn’t know YOU were Harlow’s Monkey!”

This month my goal is to post content all throughout November. I’ll be writing new content as well as posting links on my social media accounts to some of my work. Fortunately, Mr. Harlow’s Monkey is a marketing guru and designed some fun templates for my social media

So to start off my NAAM social media month, I’m including 10 Facts About Me.

  1. My first year of life is a mystery – born in South Korea in 1968, I was found outside a public building when I was about a year old.
  2. Adopted to a white family in Minnesota in 1971.
  3. Went on a Korean television show to try to find my Korean family in 2000
  4. A college dropout, I went back to college in my mid-30s to get my social work degree
  5. Started blogging in 2006, while I was working as an adoption worker for teens in foster care. Although I’ve taken some breaks, Harlow’s Monkey blog is now over 14 years old.
  6. Before my adoption, I spent almost two years in two different orphanages.
  7. Married for over 30 years and have 2 grown kids
  8. Before becoming an academic, I worked in adoption-related jobs at: a private adoption agency, a public child welfare agency, a state Department of Human Services, a post-adoption support organization, and a university-based child welfare center.
  9. I’m an introvert, that’s why I used the public moniker “Harlow’s Monkey” for so many years.
  10. My goal as an academic: center adoptee voices and to amplify counter-narratives, especially those of adult adoptees.

To end, I want to post a link to the Adopted Feels podcast by two Korean adoptees, Ryan and Hana. When I was in Seoul in 2019 for the International Korean Adoptee Association’s research symposium, I had the opportunity to share more about my life and work with Hana and Ryan. You can access my episode here (and also, check out the others!).

See you next time!

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

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