A Social Justice Framework for Adoption

ADOPTERISM [uh-dop-ter-iz-hum] (n.): The invisible box surrounding the adoption triad that positions adoptees, adoptive parents, and first families in opposition to one another. ~Laura Klunder, “Adopteephobia,” Gazillion Voices (March 5, 2014) Reframing Adoption within Adopterism and Adopteephobia Adopterism is the structural power dynamic in which adopters have access to power and privilege, and families of origin and adoptees are positioned as targets of intimate, institutional, and systemic violence. Adopterism is a symptom of multiple and intersecting oppressions including racism, classism, genderism, and ableism. Within the system of adopterism, adoptees are denied access to birth records, under the guise of protecting...

A Reply to the Vitriol

The rant. Angry words splashed onto a virtual page. Nonsensical. “Adoption is child trafficking! It should never happen under any circumstance!” Where does this person live that they can make this statement with such venom, with such determined and righteous force? It sounds like privilege. My mom lay dying. Is this your ‘real’ mom or your ‘adopted’ mom? I hate that question. I didn’t used to. For a long time, I viewed it as a need for clarification, a way of explaining how having two moms works. However, it’s complicated. I share genes with one woman, but nothing else; I...

A Reflection on Mama’s Day & What I’d Take With Me to Mars

Until the age of 29, I had never met anybody who looked like me. That is, until I met my birth mother. This is the memory I’d take with me to Mars. In June, I attended the Allied Media Conference in Detroit for the first time. Described as a “collaborative laboratory of media-based organizing strategies for transforming our world,” it is an annual gathering of healers and rabble rousers of all kinds that pays particular attention to centering the stories, experiences, and leadership of women, people with disabilities, queer and trans* folks, people of color, lower income people, immigrants, and...

A Prayer From An Empty Hospital Bed

I didn’t know till now how secret from myself my hopes were.They tell me you’re on medication.They tell me you don’t remember me.The anesthetic they injected before my birth must have done its work.Now, you remember no pain.Now, you don’t remember the extraction, the surgery,the body that burgeoned like a weed from yours.Me, the mud you wiped from your boot at the door,or maybe it was your mother and father who scraped me from your sleeping soles,either way the rain has comeand rinsed my rust down the driveway. Your mind is fluorescent hospital hallway.Our blood has been bleached from the...

A Conversation With John Ng and Lina Goh of Zen Box Izakaya

For this Gazillion Voices podcast, I took a short trip over to Zen Box Izakaya, one of my favorite local restaurants, and had a nice conversation with John Ng (Owner and Executive Chef) and Lina Goh (General Manager) to talk about the history of their two restaurants, thoughts on the local food scene, ramen on a stick, and perspectives on the concept of food as a gateway to culture. ~ Kevin Haebeom Vollmers About John Ng and Lina Goh (via Zen Box Izakaya) Executive Chef / Owner: John NgIf John Ng’s architectural skills embodied the level of passion, creativity, and...

A Conversation With Hei Kyong Kim, Author of The Translation of Han

My friend and fellow Korean adoptee author, Hei Kyong Kim, has a fantastic new collection of poetry and prose called Translation of Han (CQT Media and Publishing). I talked with Hei Kyong about her book, her writing process, the meaning of Han, and one of my favorite topics: the adopted body. Katie: What compelled you to write this book? Hei Kyong: I have always been fascinated by the concept of Han and noticed a theme that seem to connect to my writing. So I decided that I wanted to explore it further in terms of adoptee identity, the hardship of...

A Conversation With Deborah Jiang Stein, Ho Nguyen & Linda Hawj

In this three-part podcast, three amazing women share thoughts about their work, activism, and aspirations. Many thanks to Deborah Jiang Stein, Ho Nguyen, and Linda Hawj, as well as guest contributors Brie Morris and Andrea Wood. Deborah Jiang Stein Deborah Jiang Stein is a writer and public speaker from the melting pot trenches of multiracial America. Born in a federal prison, heroin-exposed, she now leverages her unique background to reach others with her message of resilience and possibility. She advocates for personal transformation and believes in the power of every person’s story. Check out Deborah’s new book Prison Baby: A...

10 Things Adoptees Don’t Want to Hear

As adoptees, we probably aren’t allowed to tell you we’re tired of dumb comments from adoptive parents, friends, neighbors, and even strangers. But we are. Here are 10 things adoptees don’t want to hear anymore. 1. I Bet You’re Thankful To Be Alive. As if adoptees should be more thankful to be alive than someone who hasn’t been adopted. Why should an adopted person be more grateful for life than you are? In fact, maybe you should be reminded regularly that you, too, could have been aborted or found dead by a dumpster had your parents not saved you. 2....

5 Tips to White Dining

My White boss invited me to have dinner with her family. I am a person of color with WTF (White Trigger Formation) and fear that I am being tokenized. She never asks me about my work, though she always calls me “girlfriend” and goes in for a fist bump when she sees me. Can I confront her about my concerns? Token, Saint Paul, Minnesota *** Dear Token, No. Let me rephrase that: Hell No. Under no circumstances can you bring up the r-word to White people with whom you work. I don’t care if your job is diversity and you’re...

Why Birth Mothers Don’t Search

The other day, during an email exchange about adoption search registries, a colleague pointed out that, compared to the number of birth mothers searching for information, it seemed that the registries were overpopulated by adoptees. He asked me why I thought that to be the case. Did the lack of mothers searching correlate to the desires of the mothers to be contacted by their adopted children? The short answer to that question is no: if adoptees begin searching and do not immediately find a matching search request waiting for them, either on an online or state registry or at the...