Adopteephobia

What if I am not missing a person, place, or thing? Rather, I am denied the words that are shaping my life. The absence of these words is no less heartbreaking than the loss of my first family, culture, and language. However, these words can interrupt, resist, and heal the undeniable sickness of adoption trauma. Therefore, in an effort to stop missing that which cannot be replaced, I am calling out ADOPTEEPHOBIA. ADOPTEEPHOBIA [uh-dop-tee-foh-bee-uh] (n.) The irrational fear and hatred of adoptees. Origin: White supremacy, patriarchy, class subordination, disability injustice, Christian hegemony. ADOPTEEPHOBIA [uh-dop-tee-foh-bee-uh] (n.) The pervasive, restrictive, and deadly...

Adoptees on the Power, Peril and Promise of Ongoing Reunion, Part II of III

Ji In Lugtu: On the Artificiality of First Meeting, The Immense Challenge of Translating Opposite Emotional Realities, The Myth of Closure We begin this second installment with Ji In Lugtu, a 37-year-old writer, editor and mom living in the Seattle area. Lugtu’s reunion with her birth family happened in 2002 during her first trip back to Korea. I was twenty-six at the time and going through a lot of identity stuff. I was out on my own working. It was a time when I was just getting a feel for where I wanted to go in my career and in...

Acknowledgements, Preface, & Chapter 1

Hank Aaron’s Daughter: Acknowledgements, Preface, & Chapter 1 Cover by Christopher Harrison Acknowledgements So many people and communities have supported the evolution and development of this project, and I am deeply indebted to each and every one of them. Thank you to all my readers, whose candor and encouragement kept me going even when I was sure all the narrative threads would not come together: Karen Hausdoerffer, Christopher Cross, Kenna Cottman, Tayari Jones, Dana Johnson, Tony Ardizzone, Sarah Park Dahlen, Elaine Kim, Kathy Solomon, Evelyn Fazio, the first commercial editor who really “got” the story, believed in its potential, and...

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...