Emma Carew was adopted from Korea, and in a piece called How I Came to Accept My Adoption, talks about "adoptee culture," noting that knowing Korean adoptees while she was growing up was important, and marked a difference from her generation of Korean adoptees and the generation that came before her:
Two years ago, I enrolled in the first known college course about international adoption called “Cultures of Korean Adoption.” About half the class was made up of Korean adoptees, and the class was taught by a Korean adoptee who was doing her Ph.D. work in the area of Korean adoption.And in her evocative conclusion she says:
Most of the other adoptees in my class had very different experiences growing up than I had. Certainly the writers of the memoirs we read had very different experiences, having grown up a generation or two before us. In the 1970s, Korean adoptees seemed to be few and far between. Resources like Korean culture camp, language villages and dance groups didn’t exist for adoptees and their families. Schools didn’t offer counseling groups for adopted students. Agencies didn’t encourage parents to introduce their children to their native cultures.
I grew up in Minnesota, the so-called Korean adoptee capital of the world. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 adoptees currently live in Minnesota. I met my first Korean adopted friend when I was in first grade and went to Korean culture camp for the first time when I was 8. I went to Korean school on Saturday mornings for a year and performed Korean dance for eight years. Our dance group was mostly adoptees, including our teacher.
From fifth grade all the way to college, I had adopted friends and an adopted role model. I had a support network that understood that sometimes I felt out of place in my own family and that knew it felt weird to be the only Asian kid in a class at school.
It’s unlikely that I’ll ever be fluent in Korean, a fact that seems to drive my Korean birth family a little crazy. I probably will never live in Korea, because it’s a culture I feel so disconnected from. But it’s also unlikely that I’ll ever lose my connection to the adoptee culture, one which I firmly believe exists. It’s a culture of conflict, loss, identity, tragedy and confusion, but it’s mine and I’m okay with owning that.Serves as a reminder of how important it is to involve our children with groups of adopted kids as they get older even as they are juggling so many activities in school, doesn't it? I'm really grateful to the FCC Older Child Group in our area, where we work hard to maintain those relationships.
FYI, this isn't a new piece, but I like it, and it gives me a chance to introduce AsianWeek, the online magazine where it appears. It's subtitled "the Voice of Asian America," and it does a good job of presenting the various voices of Asian America.
And since I'm speaking of AsianWeek, I can also mention their Asian American Short Story Contest with an entry deadline of March 31, 2010.