[Letters] No longer peripheralIn response to the article on Nov. 11, “A generation fights to reform adoption laws”, I write from the perspective of a Korean adoptee returning to my country of birth in the hopes of being reunited with my birth family.
Adoption agencies are seen as the bridge between adoptive families and adoptees and the birth family. They work to provide a prospective adoptee with the best possible adoptive family and prepare the child for an imminent adoption. In regards to the post-adoption process, many agencies assist adoptees, but it is an area severely lacking a consistent and cohesive framework due to the current adoption laws.
As a Korean adoptee, in retrospect I am grateful for the organization of my adoption, one of the better established and renowned adoption agencies in South Korea. But having started the post-adoption process almost five months ago, I lack confidence in the agency’s ability to fulfill my wish to be reunited with my birth family. I am still waiting for an outcome.
As an adopted child, I was stripped of my Korean citizenship and my Korean heritage, having no rights. In effect I have been “raped” of my heritage by organizations, who should have protected me, with the government being essentially complicit. With a strong longing to recoup my Korean heritage, I am seen as a foreigner, someone who cannot speak the language and who cannot understand the culture.
I have no regrets about being raised in another country, as I believe blood has been arbitrary in terms of my upbringing. But I am ashamed and bewildered, returning to my country of birth and experiencing the feeling that I am not wanted and don’t belong, feelings I am not alien to.
Despite my stoicism in locating my birth family, I can’t help surrendering to the bleak statistic of 2.7 percent of adoptees being reunited with their birth families. I sense that this is due to a combination of false records and misinterpreted information, a strong air of face saving on the part of adoption agencies and the negative atmosphere and stigma associated with abandoned and adopted Korean children. I appreciate the work and activism of adoptee rights and community groups as they essentially give the majority of adoptees a voice, where the vested interests of government groups and adoption agencies are silent, in terms of adoptee rights.
During my post-adoption experience, I have been exposed to a lack of professionalism, with completed post-adoption documents being misplaced by the adoption agency, forcing me to resend my documents. Furthermore the communication with the adoption agency has been deficient as my barrage of e-mails regarding updates about my search has been met with a deafening silence.
I pray that reforms to the adoption laws in Korea improve adoptees’ access to information and records relating to their adoption. I continue to wait with bated breath about any news about my birth family. As long as the adoptee is seen as a peripheral part of the adoption process, then we will continue to wait in darkness.