Excerpts from “Diasporic Articulations and the Transformative Power of Haunting”

Note: This is a collection of excerpts from “Diasporic Articulations and the Transformative Power of Haunting: Returning Adoptees’ Solidarity Movement with Unwed Mothers in Korea,” a thesis researched and written from 2011-2013 to fulfill graduation requirements for an M.A. in Anthropology at Hanyang University, Seoul, South Korea.~ Shannon Heit When I was young, I was often aware of a feeling that I could sense but could not articulate. I envisioned this feeling as a black hole, a void, an abyss – that which exists in its very absence, that which becomes significant because it was missing, or, as Avery Gordon...

Excerpts from ‘It Wasn’t Love,’ Literary Nonfiction by Jessica Sun Lee

I petted Maggie downstairs in the playroom today for what must’ve been hours. The light from the windows shone down onto us in the dark room. He looked up to me as if to squint, thank you for loving me, as I’d stroke him from the top of his head down to the end of his fluffy tail. It feels almost ritualistic petting the cats this way. We get into a rhythm of petting and purring and it slowly fills the empty space. Maybe it’s the movement, our ritual, that reveals that I feel more like them than my brothers...

Declined

A few months ago, I was approached by a local journalist interested in learning more about my adoption story. I agreed to meet the journalist, without having any expectations. I simply thought the journalist wanted to hear my opinion on international adoption, but I was mistaken. The project proposed was something I had never imagined: documenting my search and possible reunion with my birth family in Ethiopia. Up until very recently, I thought searching would be futile, given the incredibly small amount of potentially flawed information I have (I have to say that it’s mainly my anger at this injustice...

Dear Mom

Dear Mom, I know times were different when I was adopted. People didn’t think it should be made into a big deal—which ended up making it a bigger deal than necessary. I don’t remember being told I was adopted. It was something I always knew. I still like that part of my story. It was the beginning of forming my identity in the world. Since my brother is also adopted, it seemed to be the norm in our house. You’ve told me that experts said not to worry. You felt that we were yours; we would feel that you were...

Contemplations on Being Ugly*

“You could be a model for Benetton,” J.S. said — this being a time when Benetton was putting people we all considered to be highly unattractive on their posters. This being after she had “assigned” future modeling gigs with Gap, Banana Republic, Vogue and Seventeen magazines to everyone else on her private “my dad’s a lawyer” party bus for us junior high-schoolers. This being a moment when J.S. had just listed the magazines and stores that we all considered to be the crème de la crème of beauty (after all, we were 13 or 14 years old) and throwing me...

Created Family

I’m lost. Well, not lost really, but disjointed. Tragedy can do that. It can take you and throw you against a wall so hard and with such force that when you come to, you are not aware of which direction you’re facing or which direction is up. And, the disorientation continues. So, really, you try to scramble for anything that feels familiar, safe, like home. I’m trying to scramble now and realized the level of my disorientation only when Kevin asked for the article and I hadn’t produced one. I’ve re-written it several times and am still unable to produce...

Connecting with Ethiopian-French Adoptees Through Les Adoptés d’Éthiopie

Since my entry into the adoptee world, thanks to my fellow Ethiopian adoptee and good friend Aselefech Evans, I’ve been wanting to connect with more Ethiopian adoptees. In fact, Aselefech and I often discuss the absence of Ethiopian adoptees in adoptee circles. My initial thought was that most Ethiopian adoptees are probably much younger than us since adoption from Ethiopia became more popular toward the end of the 90s and early 2000s, which might help explain why there is less participation in adoptee advocacy. However, a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a French-speaking Ethiopian adoptee Facebook group with over...

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,...