November is a tricky month for me. It’s the month assigned as my birthday. My first Thanksgiving with my family after being adopted coincided with my 3rd birthday. Birthdays for adoptees can be hard – and for most of my adulthood I’ve done my best to ignore it – partly because in my case it’s likely not my real birthday. Because the holiday is focused on giving thanks, I’ve lost count of the number of times when someone at the dinner table said they were thankful I was adopted and mentioned my birthday and adoption coinciding with the holiday. I appreciated feeling included but I hated the specific call-out and the obligation to express gratitude.
It doesn’t help that November is also National Adoption Month and the onslaught of media stories promoting adoption and syrupy feel-good profiles of “forever families.” In 2014, several adoptees at The Lost Daughters began the #FlipTheScript campaign countering the prevailing narrative of National Adoption Month. This year I saw a couple of different social media/Instagram NAAM prompts with adoptee foci. The attention on adoptees’ voices continues to be a needed shift but I admit to feeling maxed out at times with all the posts about adoption trauma.
Thanksgiving is also the designated National Family Health History Day. The assumption is for families to share important family history while enjoying their holiday meal. Which is frustrating for any of us without any family history!
Adoptees, if November is draining and hard on you, I see you. I’m right there with you. For the rest of you, please be especially kind to the adoptees in your life each November. And with that, I welcome December and I’m looking forward to the new year.
This week I’m not linking to an existing study, but I wanted to point out what could be an interesting study if someone wanted to take this on. I was looking at 23&Me’s Facebook page this week and noticed that the majority of the stories they feature describe the experiences of people who were adopted or donor-conceived (or fathers who were not informed about their existence). Many of the folks were late-discovery, meaning their parents and families concealed their origins. There are so many considerations here – the secrecy, the stigma, the ethics. The image below is a screenshot from one of their featured stories and they brand it #AdoptionAwarenessMonth. I think a content analysis of these stories would be a very informative research study.
A few articles I read this past week that might be of interest to you:
- An article in the Korean Herald last week shared the story of Swedish Korean adoptee Karin Jensen’s reunion with her Korean family
- I also recommend an article in the Colorado Sun about adoption displacement. In the past decade, over 1000 children adopted from care in the state were “returned” – so much for permanency and “forever families.” The link provided takes you to the first of four articles in their series.
- This Telegraph article, “Lies, love and deception: inside the cut-throat world of international adoption,” features stories of several adoptees around the world who discovered their adoptions were completed under illegal, falsified, or other unethical processes.
- Susan Devann Harness, author of Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption, is interviewed in this article and video.
One of my favorite filmmakers, Deann Borshay Liem, released the video presentation of a panel event “African American Adoption of Korean Children” held this past May. The video is embedded below and also available here.
Spread the Love
Please consider supporting the Korean Unwed Mothers Families Association (KUMFA) this holiday season. The organization is seeking donations to help the mothers get holiday gifts. You can go to their website for more information about how to sponsor. Sponsoring and supporting these moms is supporting family preservation, as the stigma around unmarried mothers is still so prevalent.