I am still here. The me that has been walking around though has been panicking and rather hysterical contemplating this fateful decision to say yes to presenting a speech in front of the South Korean President. The Korean translation has been nothing short of hell to work through and any sort of confidence I might have about my Korean abilities has gone out the window long ago. Alas, how foolish to think that I would give up that chance of a lifetime to say exactly how I feel about the status of adoptions from Korea.
Here is what I have prepared. I know there is so much more that could be said. Believe me, though, getting this said will be quite interesting. I have 3 minutes. Already I was encouraged to change it to ameliorate some of my thoughts. After going through a couple of optional drafts, I realized that my words were getting diluted and deleted. My words of change and options were removed to ask for more Korean language classes and cultural education. Not one to pander to anything political, I have decided to keep my words just as is. I am grateful for the translation and my amazing Mother -In-Law who has sat with me and helped me convey with feeling the characters on the page. Over the last six hours together, we had our first real conversation about the work I do and the status of adoption. It was exhilerating to change a person’s perspective. The perfect way to do it, I believe, one person at a time.
So, here goes:
Hello and thank you so much for allowing me to come today to express my thoughts of on behalf of the Korean adoptee community.I was adopted from Orphans’ Home of Korea in 1976.I was 6 years old.I went back to OHK after graduating from college to volunteer for one year. In 1994, I met my birthmother who had searched for me for 21 years.I work as a social worker and therapist for children who are adopted.
Mr. President, what can I say to you that you have not already heard?I know there are many adoptees living in Korea who want to stop international adoption.I know there are thousands of adoptees in America who are suffering to understand their identity.We have stories of great success and great pain, but in our hearts, most of us seek acceptance and pride from our motherland.We are almost 250,000 worldwide and 10% of the Korean American community here in the United States.
Growing up, I often heard Koreans tell me, we are all one family, one Korea.I want to believe this to be true.So, I ask you to think about how we, as a family, will protect, educate and empower ALL of our children, in America, Europe and Korea so they may all be proud Korean people.
Tonight, I think about my two children who will grow up in America. How will I teach them to be proud of their heritage?I think about all the children who are adopted who are so proud of being Korean and American and call both countries their home.As a mother, it is my job to teach, protect and encourage.As the leader of South Korea, I know you will think about the welfare of ALL your citizens within and outside of your borders. It is my hope you will consider aid to single mothers so they can parent their children, support for programs that provide scholarships for children who are the head of their household, encourage campaigns for more Koreans to adopt in Korea and abroad, and consider all the thousands of children who still need to belong to a family and not grow up as orphans. I hope you will look at every change as a step to improving the lives of your people and not just react from the pressure of shame.I hope you will include us, international adoptees as part of that change.Let Korea lead as a nation that treats each person as part of a global international family.
FInally, I am not alone here tonight. (I will ask all the adoptees to stand up and represent with me)…
Thank you very much.