Malcolm X Returns to Beirut

I was working on some photo research on Malcolm X back in February for a series of illustrated posters. A colleague from the American University of Beirut (AUB) had asked our artists’ collective, Jamaa Al-Yad, to provide a visual overview of his visit to Beirut and the region over half a century ago. At the time, Malcolm X had been forbidden from speaking at the AUB, and we were actively working to return him to campus. To this end, we scheduled a public lecture and theater performance to mark the 50th anniversary of his assassination. I was primarily looking for...

Lost Fathers

First fathers are virtually absent from international adoptions. In Korean adoptions, it seems inevitable that original fathers appear to vanish. The diverse reasons for this are complex. First fathers (also) search and keen for their lost children. However, this is not the dominant narrative served up by adoption agencies. For example, in the process of adopting our son and later our daughter, I was never urged to write a “Dear Birth Father” letter. Twelve years later, I wrote the letter anyway. To the First Fathers, 안녕하세요! I confess that I am not a spiritual man. Raised by scientists, I have...

Making Connections between Adoption and Ethnic Studies

Amadou Diallo.James Byrd Jr. Two names that some of you may be unfamiliar with. Two men murdered in 1998 and 1999, respectively – one by police in New York City, the other at the hands of three men, two of whom are known white supremacists in Jasper, TX. My Lai massacre.No Gun Ri massacre. Two low points in American military history during the Vietnam and Korean Wars, respectively. Both incidents rarely discussed or highlighted. Blood of civilians resting on American soldiers’ hands. Two Wongs can make it white.Big Buddha bash. Two phrases on shirts produced by Abercrombie & Fitch in...

LIGHT AND BURNING

But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer. – Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning David Psychotherapy practice is a mixed bag. This is my passion, my life’s work. But as a psychologist in private practice, this is also my small business. I pay NYC business tax; I file a Schedule C. Any psychotherapist who asserts that fee-setting and insurance considerations are determined solely by patient needs is disingenuous. Or independently wealthy. Or both. Still, as a born caretaker and super-feeler (if...

Like Water, by IBé

Carry on bagFrom shore to shoreToo heavy for this cargo.15 years from good byeBefore memory leaves meI’d need these shoes to walk back to my father.He gave them to me;At the airportBefore walking 10 miles barefoot to his six feet under.When I got the phone callAll I had was this handkerchief my sister made me.She pricked her fingers a thousand timesTo stitch her name across the bottom.I just want to keep that promise. Mr. Custom Officer,Don’t confiscate by bag.The dry leaves and white powder stuffAre ingredients to conjure my mother in my new kitchen.Mr. Officer,That Koran is not a ticket...

Letters

The following are letters that were read by presenters at the successful, joint Land of Gazillion Adoptees/Lost Lit “Adoption Lettters: Unsealed” event in Brooklyn, New York. Some audience members shared their letters as well, and we will be sharing them in a couple of weeks. Enjoy. Back row: Kevin Vollmers, David Amarel, John Sanvidge, Joy Lieberthal RhoFront row: James Lane, Kathryn Joyce, Andy Marra, Martha Crawford, Lynne Connor Joy Lieberthal Rho Dear Hwang On Soon Halmoni, Abuji, FVP, It is ironic to me that I chose three unrelated dead people to address this letter. However, you are all survived by...

Learning how to be a critical consumer of adoption research

Several years ago while I was cleaning out some files, I came across my adoption papers. Included in my file was a 1969 research report, “OUR Children: A Study of Korean Adoption.” This study report based on interviews with 46 Korean children adopted through Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and their parents was fascinating, largely because reading it now reveals that little has changed since 1969. This study is one of many that have been conducted on adoptees or foster alum since Sophie van Senden Theis’s groundbreaking 1924 study on the outcomes of foster children.1 As Dr. Myers points out...

Jennifer Schupp

Name: Jennifer SchuppAge: 36Gender: FemaleIdentify as: Asian American, Korean American, Korean, Adopted, etc. Have you always felt comfortable in your skin?: No, but I don’t know many who have. I assume my experience is similar to other non-white adoptees who grew up in small-ish towns peopled mostly by Caucasians with small-town mentalities. In short, I stood out when I didn’t always want to. In addition, I don’t have the lean-hipped, birdlike frame and diminutive stature of many Korean women, so I felt I didn’t fit that mold either. I remember being in Korea when I was a teenager and towering...

Jenny Kelly of Asian Adult Adoptees of Washington (AAAW)

Washington state adoptees are privileged to have an amazing local resource and support community through the Asian Adult Adoptees of Washington (AAAW). Unlike many other adoption support groups that usually separate according to ethnicity, AAAW opens its doors to Asian and Pacific Islander adoptees of any kind. Founded in 1996, AAAW seeks to provide a place for camaraderie between adult adoptees through cultural programs, events, and a soon-to-be-launched youth mentoring program. The latter will be the first adoptee mentoring program in Washington state, pairing kids between the ages of 8 and 18 with a cluster of adult adoptees. The program...

Jeff Leinaweaver

Jeff Leinaweaver is a professional storyteller, so it makes total sense that when he told me his personal adoptee story, I was interested from the get-go. Originally born in Colombia, South America, Jeff was adopted in the 1960s by an American man who himself was adopted. Imagine being an adoptee in an era when international adoption was hardly a hot topic, and being raised by an adoptee. Altogether, it was a positive experience that Jeff was grateful for, but at the same time, he recalls his youth as being a time when he often felt like the “only aardvark at...