Root causes for adoptions…
Could it be that we really don’t want to know the root causes? Do we know the root causes a person is rendered unacceptable in a society? You can’t have an “in” group without an “out” group – can you? Are we all on the same page that family preservation is THE top priority? Actually, can we believe it is about family at all? Which family are we preserving and is there truly a right heirarchy of the kinds of families that matter? Is that even OUR real top priority?
Whenever I hear adoptees speak, it’s not so much that they didn’t want a family. In fact, all they seem to want to talk about is their family: the relationships within, the want for their family to be different, the want for acknowledgement by a family, to redefine the concept of family, to claim a family for themselves. What trumps one family over another? Who is to say that preserving my birth family would make me any more happy, secure, less angry, less anxious. If I stayed with my birthmother, I am not so sure I would have looked at my life in terms of, “well, I may be poor, uneducated, but at least I wasn’t adopted!” That feels awkward. I can’t even say it outloud.
So here is a sacrilegious thought that keeps pervading my head. If the bond that binds between mother and child is so great, then why is being in reunion near impossible for some? At what point can we actually stop and say that our birthparents were at fault in all of this too? Not victims, but actual participants in perpetuating a faulty, non-child centered system? There is the tale of the fourth, fifth, sixth child of a family being chosen to be given up. And also the tale of extended family members posing as the birth parents to place their niece/nephew for adoption. These are not the one rare exception, but time and time again, the same story. Not in the adoption papers, but from the adoptees who have searched and reunited with their birth family. How do we make sense of that situation in the broader context of whether adoptions should continue or not?
There was a time when I was obsessed with reading about the plight of the Korean comfort women. Upwards of 200,000 women were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during 1930s-1945. True Stories of the Korean Comfort Women edited by Keith Howard effected me deeply. This book published the actual translations of the testimonies of the women who were forced into this slavery. Adoption was in there as many of these women returned to Korea shunned by society and cast away from their families. They became mothers through adoption and comforters of a different kind to children who were also cast away. They found family and redefined it. What a powerful message it was for me to know that the urge to mother was so great.
In reading these testimonies, I was struck by the way Koreans treated other Koreans. It was after all the common thread that put many of these girls into such torturous situations. It was a Korean face that enticed them into a bus or truck with promises of work and money. It was Korean faces that cajoled them into believing that they made the right choice to go. Everything about these testimonies is anger worthy, but the idea that these innocent children (yes, these women were children) were used by their fellow brethren makes me angry the most. And for a minute, I think about that in adoption too. There is plenty of fingerpointing to go around…but one could also be directed to our immediate flesh and blood. In my mind, they were supposed to stand firm in their belief that family is all that matters. Not always true.
Here in lies the quagmire for me. I can neither undo my past, nor predict my future. And yet, I live and form ideas based on my past in order to change my future. I can not ever know if I was not supposed to be adopted and yet here I am.