Sunday, February 20, 2011

Born Identity: Adoptees Adopting

From New American Media, Born Identity: Adopted in U.S., Asians Returning to Home to Adopt Their Own:
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.

6 comments:

Amanda said...

*sigh*

Linda 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."

WHAAAAAAAAT? Oh my God, there are just so many things wrong with this. "Pass on an adoptive heritage"? That is like me saying I am going to start binge drinking because many in my adoptive family are alcoholics.

Adoptees who adopt, in MY opinion are dangerous, and the following quotes explain my opinion:

"An adopted child was someone Matthews could relate to completely, someone she could guide and understand."

“She (the adoptee)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.”

Using a child to "quiet your heart" is no different than using a child to heal you from your infertility. Neither of these "conditions" can be healed by a stranger's child, and a child should never be used for your own therapy.

No two adoptees react to the loss of their first family the same. It is arrogant and dangerous to assume an innocent child will have the same reactions, or to think you will "relate" to her/him.

I feel such pity for adoptees who adopt, but I feel even worse for the children who will be raised by them.

Mei Ling said...

"Neither of these "conditions" can be healed by a stranger's child, and a child should never be used for your own therapy."

The whole point of adopting a child is because one feels the need to parent.

Wouldn't you consider that to be therapy in itself, Linda?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...this seems to have stirred something.

As someone in their early 20's I can't say at this point in my life whether adoption will be right for me or part of how I write my future, but I CAN say that should I choose to return to adopt a child from my birth country it will be born of the desperate need that still exists there for the MANY waiting and family-less children.

When we step aside from our own baggage and theoretical garbage, simple facts remains.

Children still wait. Orphanages still exist. The need IS there. This article highlighted a portion of 2 adult adoptee's rationales for adopting; I hardly think they are representative of the whole.

And should I choose to someday adopt,please don't give me your pity Linda; save it for all those children who face a future with no familial connection, sustainable skills, financial support or life experiences beyond the walls of the orphanage they will be forced from at age 13 or if they are "lucky" - 16.

And for the record, comparing adoptive heritage to alcohism is fairly nearsighted(at best). Sort of like when First Families are labeled dysfunctional or potentially abusive or otherwise.....I do have an adoptive history/heritage and one I'm quite proud of; it involved being adopted at the age of 9, an older, forgotten child, blended in with a loving and accepting family to finally call my own. My adoptive heritage gave me my future.

Its very real and very precious to me. I can't speak for everyone and that's why I'm careful to not make sweeping judgements and dismissals of others. :(

Linda said...

@ Mei-Ling "The whole point of adopting a child is because one feels the need to parent. Wouldn't you consider that to be therapy in itself, Linda?"

Parenting via adoption is not a "need", it is a want. Yes, I do agree that many people adopt as a form of "therapy" for their infertility. Bad therapy.

@ Anon- I do agree that adoptees such as the ones quoted in this article are NOT representative of the whole. You do not have to accept my pity, nor do you have to accept the way I feel- because my feelings are my OWN. "Adoption heritage" is a term straight out of an NCFA PAL handbook, much like "adoption plan", lol. Adoption was something I had no control over. It was something that was done to me, and it is not something I would ever do to another child or mother.

As an adoptee, I was purchased, became the property of my a p's and was supposed to accept their "heritage", as well as have it on my amended birth certificate. It was not a natural situation, it was the result of societal and religious coercion.

I will not accept my adopter's heritage, it is theirs, just as their reasons for adopting me are theirs. They celebrate both, I do not. Again- my feelings are MINE, and pertain to ME, and show how every adoptee reacts to their situation in different ways.

Alcoholism is a disease, and an INHERITED one. Half of my a family are alcoholics- some have been in recovery/sobriety for years, others are still drinking. I do NOT have this propensity, it is not a part of my heritage, therefore I do not have to worry about drinking socially. Alcoholism is NOT a part of MY heritage, just as cancer, which IS a part of my heritage, is not part of my adopter's heritage.

My "heritage" is something that has been passed on to me through birth, from MY blood ancestors, not something that was done TO me by strangers or society. While certain stories/experiences/historical things may be thought of as "heritage", my adoptive family's heritage is not mine. Semantics, maybe, but I would never continue the cycle of adoption. Instead, I choose to work towards ending adoption as we know it. There are many international adoptees who have moved back to their country of origin and work for natural family preservation, instead of taking a child to a strange country, just as many domestic adoptees work for natural family preservation in The US.

While I do agree that "adoption gave you your future", had you not been victim of societal rule, you would have had a future with your natural family in your country of origin. I do not know your circumstances, and I am certainly not dismissing your experience, but "most" of us were victims/products (whatever you want to call it) of a society where women did not have the choice to parent their children.

There are ways to help children who face a future with "no familial connection, sustainable skills, financial support or life experiences beyond the walls of the orphanage" WITHOUT removing them from their country and without forcing them to live a life with strangers. Contributing to this corruption allows the corruption to continue.

My "born identity" was taken from me. I was not born to be adopted.

Anonymous said...

@Linda,

Again, you presume too much. I have had contact with my birth Mother (thanks to the efforst of my A family) and she did not wish to parent me. Period. No one in my country wished to adopt me. Period.A forgotten child. Period.

I was not a victum then of anyone other than a selfish woman and non existant man.

Make it about societal evils all you wish, but again, when you presume to make generalizations, even if they are YOUR OWN feelings/experiences, and apply it to others, then expect someone to speak up once in a while. Yes, even to you!

As to adoption heritage. PUH-lease! I was not even speaking to the Dutch heritage of my adoptive family. I was speaking to what adoption have given me. THAT is MY heritage. NOT diseases, imagined or otherwise. NOT American holidays (though they are quite nice!) AND NOT something forced upon me.

I speak to the transforming moment of MY life when I was rescued ( yeah, does that make you sick?? Sorry...all true!) from an abusive environment and given a shot at a normal life. At a future.

THAT is MY heritage and that's what I was speaking to.

Thanks for trying to recreate my past for me though and grudgingly accept my future. LOL

Geez.

P.S. I also thank god that my heritage doesn't HAVE to be that of my bio. family's....cuz they? Had and have nothing to offer me.