Colonization and Adoption – A History

Recently, after giving a presentation on American Indian Transracial adoption, I was asked a question. “Where do you think you’d be now if you hadn’t been adopted?” Without pausing, the man who asked the question answered for me. “I bet you wouldn’t be giving presentations with a college education.” He was a lawyer who handled private adoptions. He was right; I probably wouldn’t be where I am now. However, the price I—we—have paid to be here has been high. So what is the price I paid? That we, as adoptees have paid? We have become second class citizens in our...

Colonialism, Race, and Child Welfare

Note: Excerpts of this essay are drawn from my article manuscript, “Generations Stolen: Opposite Futures and the Elimination of the Native,” in Race, Law and the Postcolonial (Routledge, 2015). My second grade teacher was Native American. Her son and I were best friends during elementary school. I do not recall which tribe she belonged to, but I remember being drawn to this aspect of my friend and his family. The following year was one of my favorites because that was the year Mrs. Glennon introduced me (and the class) to Native American history. Thinking back, it makes me wonder if...

Chapter 2

Cover by Christopher Harrison CHAPTER TWO Dad’s favorite place to go running was Lorraine Creek, on a small path through the woods that he had beat out himself, running there through the years. He said that the trees and the water always felt like they were running with him, like they were the only things moving in the twilight of the early morning. I knew just what he meant. “Creek’s high this season,” he said, his breath jagged. It was the Monday after our win against East. I jumped over a sinkhole. “Yeah.” It had snowed a lot that winter,...

Chapter 3

There were grainy, chopped up tapes of Hank Aaron talking about hitting more than 20 home runs for 20 straight seasons; tapes of him in the early sixties, discussing removal of segregation signs and policies at the Milwaukee Braves’ spring training facility in Sarasota Springs; footage of their contest against the Dodgers in Atlanta on April8, 1974, where he hit his 715th home run in front of 54,000 people and broke Babe Ruth’s record. It happened in the fourth inning, with two outs and a man on first base. Though I knew exactly when it happened, I would never fast-forward;...

Café Korea

I have enjoyed getting to know Korean adoptees like myself, and I have really enjoyed learning about and eating the food. And sure, I am thankful, grateful, blessed, lucky, and so on that I was adopted into a loving family. But tonight at dinner, I had a moment. I wish I would have had someone filming us: me; my Korean adoptee boyfriend; and my non-adopted, half-Korean daughter at dinner at a local Korean restaurant. For me, the moment really illustrated how I have been feeling lately about myself, relative to who I am as a Korean adoptee in this country....

Can you hear me, Guatemala?

When someone adopts they have to reach their hand into a rotting cave and pray to any sort of God that they grab onto you and only you. Like any natural birth, I came with the slime of my mother stuck onto me. For my tenth birthday, I asked my adoptive parents for pictures of this mother, Flora Vasquez. The lawyer who facilitated my adoption went up into the hills of San Lorenzo, Guatemala to hunt Flora down. They sent me a compiled photo album filled with pictures of this woman. I thought seeing Flora would bring me peace. In...

Books

When Gazillion Voices’ parent company Land of Gazillion Adoptees, LLC (LGA) partnered with CTQ Media and Publishing in 2012 to release Parenting As Adoptees, the companies’ founders – Kevin Haebeom Vollmers and Adam Chau – did not plan on doing additional books, at least not in the immediate future. Adam and Kevin both had other aspirations, goals, and projects that needed their attention. Nevertheless, in the last two years, LGA and CQT Media and Publishing have worked with The Lost Daughters collective on Lost Daughters: Writing Adoption From a Place of Empowerment and Peace and Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston to publish...

Bridging false divides

TRACING POPULAR VOICE In a project I give in my illustration classes, I have students deconstruct a Lebanese proverb literally and figuratively in order to illustrate its meaning. In the ensuing research, we examine how proverbs condense and resonate historical and cultural roots that still carry forward. Students are often amazed at what is gleaned from interviews with grandparents and other relatives as to historical meaning. Many of the proverbs examined comment on the role of children in society. For all of the proverbs I’ve come across that speak to me concerning my adoption, there is one that readily stands...

Bisexual Adoptee Identity, Invisibility, and Inclusivity in Asian American Activism

It’s a sunny summer day in Insadong, an art gallery and souvenir shop-filled neighborhood in central Seoul. I’m inquiring about prices with a shop owner as we stumble over each other’s languages, and to her my face doesn’t make sense with the English coming out of my mouth. Where Am I From? she wants to know. Why Don’t I Speak Korean? Am I Japanese?Aniyo, mi-guk, I reply. Ibyang. American. Adopted. She looks at me, shrugs, and quotes me 15000 won. Back in the States, I sit in a packed room, listening to an Asian American community leader talk about the...

Becoming

Save Me, Acculturate Me, Inform Me The evolution of how our society views children has been changing with every generation. I am of the generation of parents who would like to believe I treat my children as individuals with potential, not mere vessels to fill. Not so in the world of adoption. The stagnation of how we, adopted children, are viewed is troubling. We were and still are the commodity for those doing God’s will. We continue to fill the void of infertility. We are the recipients of many years of purposeful re-education of parents to be more holistic in...