Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A second adoption

Barely a day goes by that I don't ponder the same question Thirdmom asked in her recent Open Mike: Should TRAs be only children? In my family's situation, the question is modified - should a transracial adoptee be the only adopted child in the family (and thus the only person of a certain race in the family)?

This is something I've struggled with ever since leaving Korea with our son. That experience changed me so completely; there isn't much that is the same in the world after one finds one's self in the position of being the mother of an absolutely precious child who was lost by another mother. Actually, I shouldn't describe that experience so passively, for part of the angst/sorrow/even remorse, sometimes, is that I actively positioned myself to be able to have this experience. It isn't simply a circumstance in which I woke up one day and 'found myself' (and an aside that I feel I must always include: I'm by no means saying that I'm the one who stands to suffer as a result of my involvement in adoption, nor that the emotions I struggle with as I process thoughts about adoption are anything at all in comparison to what a first mother or an adoptee may feel along the way. Again, I'm only sharing my experience, which is the only perspective I know for sure).

Anyway, I have so many opposing thoughts about ever adopting again. When we started this process, we had many misconceptions about adoption (unbeknownst to us at the time) - why it was necessary, why pregnant women choose adoption, whether it was an altruistic thing to do, the specifics about how adoptions are handled and how pregnant women are counseled about relinquishment...the list goes on. At the time, I thought we had the answers we needed in order to proceed with good intentions. Along the way, I've been enlightened a bit by those who have experienced a different aspect of adoption than I. And their experiences have really given me pause to think about whether or not there is a 'right' reason to choose to adopt, and how living with an adoptive relinquishment or growing up as an adoptee can be amongst the most difficult - even the most painful - experiences people can face in life.

With those things in mind, I continually ask myself, how can I be a support, an ally if you will, to those who are affected much differently by adoption than I am - how can I be part of changes that make adoption unnecessary or rarely necessary - when I'm willing to be on the happy end of another (second) adoption? Isn't that an inherent contradiction in thought? I could limit the possibility of ever adoption again to the 'perfect circumstance' (which would be one in which there appeared to be a need for it, in the truest sense of the word) - but right off the bat, I know I'll never be able to guarantee that with a second international adoption - just like I don't know if it was truly necessary for my son to be separated from his Korean mother. I have no real idea how Korean women are counseled about single motherhood or unplanned pregnancies - although I highly suspect that the 'counseling' is not anything of the sort that would make me comfortable that I'd be entering into a completely ethical adoption.

So far, two strikes down. I know (through the voices of others who have shared) that adoption (relinquishment) and growing up as a TRA can be painful experiences, and I know that it is not possible for me to be able to assess whether any potential international adoption is ethical.

What's left in my mind -which is probably the only argument which might convince me to adopt another child - is this idea that my son should not grow up being the only Korean (KA/KAD) in this family. I don't doubt the testimony of those who believe it is extremely important not to be 'alone' in the family as the only transracial adoptee. I have very much believed through my own ponderings on the idea, that it would be extremely beneficial. But it doesn't negate or make irrelevant my other concerns - it means that my family will (ultimately) benefit from the misfortune of yet another Korean woman. It means that another Korean child will grow up with the struggles of living in *my* family, as opposed to the possibility of turning tides and more acceptance of single mothers in Korea - in which case that child could stay with his own mother. Or, given time, enough domestic adoption in Korea that the child could be adopted by extended family or an unrelated Korean family. Somehow I feel as if my just being here, being ready and willing to adopt again (for my son's sake, of course) is helping to feed the system of few rights for pregnant women and children - and is keeping the adoption biz churning.

And lastly (for now, anyway) - what to tell this imaginary second (adopted) child? I hate to put it this way, but with adoption #1 we almost have the excuse of ignorance and inexperience (I know ignorance is not an excuse...it's just that I've heard so many experiences from others since becoming an adoptive parent - there's virtually no way I *couldn't* have been somewhat ignorant prior to becoming one - heck, I still feel dumb as a box of rocks on many of these matters) - but what is the 'excuse' for child #2? Darling, we know how difficult it is to grow up in a family where your parents are white and don't understand your struggles and we understand that it would have been much better if you could have stayed with just about any other family in Korea, and we're very sad that your Korean mother will be living the rest of her life without you....but we just loved your big brother so much that we wanted him to have someone else to struggle along side him and so we adopted you...(?)

Starting with the basic assumption that an adoptive parent would primarily want to adopt a second child because they truly want to add another child to the family and because they are committed to the hard work of being a good adoptive parent - is it then 'okay', given all the other reservations I've mentioned above, to proceed with a second adoption for the (secondary) purpose of not having adopted child #1 be 'alone' in the family? I've put this into words the best I can right now, and have no answers.

And a mini-confession: We are currently expecting child #3 (by birth). I'll admit, as great as the news of changes in Korean adoption is for the future of families, I panicked this summer when the announcements were made, and immediately started making plans to pursue a second adoption. In the midst of that decision-making process, I had to admit just how concerned I am about ever adopting again, and ultimately decided that we could not be rushed or scared into making an adoption decision, in light of our contradicting thoughts about it. So, as it stands now, my son is set to have two caucasian siblings as of next spring. Of course my emotions tell me how wonderful it would be if our family was eventually completed with a Korean sibling (brother) for our children - our son, especially - but my conscience must be clear on this and my heart in the right place. So this is the route we've taken, and I'm comforable for the time being, with some time to think through future possibilities.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Baby Buzz-Cut

Both of my kids have hair 'issues'.

My daughter (4) had hardly any of it for about 18-24 months of her life and when more started to grow in, it stayed very fine, fly-away and medium blonde. Then it morphed into this arrangement of being relatively straight on the top and curly towards the bottom - kind of a Bozo-the-clown effect. It's never grown more than an inch lower than her ear, regardless of how often it is trimmed or not trimmed. I see most of her little friends with beautiful long, thick hair or cute short-style cuts and I tell you it pains me to see what we have going over here in the hair department (yeah, I'm being a little dramatic!). Anyway, hers looks ratty with very little effort.

My son (2) has great hair - straight as can be; gorgeous black. The problem with him is not his hair - its that people don't cut it properly. They tell me they're gonna use the clippers, which is apparently much easier than a scissor cut - and then I know what it's ultimately going to end-up looking like: Buzz cut. Yeah, that style is undoubtedly easy, low-maintenance and cool (for summer months) - - but when it grows out just a little he looks like a fuzzy duckling. I'm just not really a fan - it's not the cutest, most flattering look for a little boy, in my mind. Bangs are another issue - too short and they stick out like a visor. Too long and it just looks cheesy (and is VERY difficult to cut them straight). Where are all the people who know how to do a regular ol' cute little boy cut (tapered around the ears and neckline) with bangs that aren't completely blunt-cut? Or some kind of a messy-topped crew-cut? That would look so cute on him!

I'm just stressing about this because we have a family wedding coming up (soon!) and both kiddos are in the wedding...of course I want them to look fantastic. They'll be stunningly gorgeous no matter what, but superb haircuts to go with all the other formality would be great! So I'm off on a mission this week...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Small step forward...

Thinking of some friends in the adoption community today. This is great news, this report. Of course the study and the report itself are but a small step in the grand scheme of adoption reform, but I hope any and every member of society will be compelled to ponder how we can continue to move forward.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Enough group hugs, already

A couple of years ago (prior to knowing anything about the sweet baby who would become my son), I posted my dismay - even anger, perhaps - on an agency discussion forum regarding the rule that Korean women who had relinquished their children for international adoption (or the biological families of those children) could make a request to parent ("change their minds") up to the point that the children had left Korea. At that time, I couldn't fathom that we, theoretically, could stretch our budget to its limit to be able to travel to Korea and might leave without "our" baby.

In retrospect, I'm surprised at one or two of the responses to that discussion forum 'vent' of mine: a couple of adoptive moms actually spoke up and basically said, yeah, that's the rule, and so what? Shouldn't a mom be able to decide to parent her child before the adoption is final if it is in any way possible? After my public humiliation wore off, I had to admit how correct they were. By the time we were actually in Korea to meet our son, I was secretly hoping with everything I had, that he would be one of the lucky ones whose family would have found the encouragement or the resources to 'change their minds'. I was mentally prepared to leave without him, knowing that it would truly be what was best for him - being able to stay with his parents or extended family as opposed to the life that I would offer.

The fact that I posted my self-absorbed concerns publicly (and the fact that I had those thoughts at all) is one of those experiences that can only be told while hanging one's head in shame. I wonder will I ever be able to overcome the regret I feel for going into the adoption process so blindly - so unaware of its effects on others. But I wanted to expose my thoughts here simply to highlight the response of the one or two adoptive moms who took enough offense to my self-absorption to tell me the truth - and that's something that is really lacking when we adoptive parents speak to each other about what we've learned about adoption. We're more likely to give pats on the back and ((((hugsssss!)))) to each other or to blindly share each other's frustration whenever something doesn't seem to be going our way. We commonly and conveniently forget that we aren't owed anything, including anyone else's child, we let fears and form our opinions and use sentimentalism to justify our actions, and we can be quick with attempts to discredit those who have first-hand experiences and concerns to share about international adoption.

I'm thankful for the people (adoptees and first parents, primarily, but also a few adoptive parents) who have been strong enough not to mince words when talking about adoption. Hugs are nice, but they don't help us learn or grow and they don't change reality for those who are experiencing the effects of adoption.