When Rebecca Eun Hee Viot speaks of her daughter Ruby, her tone expresses a love that clearly transcends words.
“She has basically done what no husband or therapist or boyfriend or girlfriend has ever been able to do,” Viot said. “She’s basically quieted my heart.”
Viot, a Korean adoptee, grew up in the Midwest feeling a disconnect between her US life and her culture of origin. But, through Ruby, her adopted Korean daughter, Viot has filled a void within herself.
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Today, a growing number of adoptees are adopting children from their birth countries, according to a 2009 study released by the Donaldson Adoption Institute titled "Beyond Culture Camp." Of adoptees polled in the study, 30 percent reported that they had adopted at least one child. In comparison, 3.7 percent of households in 2003 included at least one adopted child, as reported by the US Census Bureau.
These figures may indicate a potential trend: “No one’s done that kind of work so we don’t know for sure, but if you look at the study, there was a stunning percentage of adoptees who adopted,” said Adam Pertman, executive director of the Donaldson Adoption Institute.
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In 1961, at 15 months old, Melinda Matthews met her adoptive family in New Jersey. Despite some challenges, Matthews views her experience as a Korean adoptee in a white family as positive. Unlike Viot, Matthews always had a desire to adopt from her birth country.
“Adopting my daughter didn’t feel like baby-buying to me,” Matthews said. “It was, ironically, the sole thread from my own adoption that I felt compelled to continue. I absolutely needed to pass on my adoptive heritage; it meant far more to me than continuing my genetic heritage."
An adopted child was someone Matthews could relate to completely, someone she could guide and understand. "Most importantly, I could love full-heartedly and unreservedly, without passing along the twin specters of guilt and gratitude that have haunted me,” she said.
Grieving the Unknown.
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