I was wondering what you have done/plan to do to expose Munchkin to his culture of origin and other cultures in general?
I am taking the lead from my husband, T, on this issue. He is Japanese American and grew up in an almost exclusively Caucasian area. So, he has some good perspective on this issue. He believes we should give lots of opportunities for Munchkin to learn about Korea, Japan, and Ireland (my background). But that if Munchkin is not interested, then we should not force it.
Also, fortunately, we live in the racially diverse San Francisco Bay Area. I work in a company that is 60% Asian. Fully half of the adults in our social circle are Asian. Of the 7 or 8 couples we hang out with on a regular basis, two are Korean couples with boys just a little older than Munchkin. So, we've already been to a few Baek-Il (100 day) and Tol (1 year birthday) celebrations, so hopefully our friends will coach us through these milestones.
In short, I hope Munchkin will not feel out of place because of his race, at least in his hometown. I have no doubt, though, that he will encounter racism in his life, and I hope that T and I are able to equip him with the strength to deal with it.
Will we have any contact with Munchkin's birth parents?
We asked for contact in our homestudy, but I think the reality is that H01t Korea really does not "get" the open adoption concept. Their default policies and assumptions is that everyone wants a super-closed adoption. I think a Korean birth mother would have to REALLY, REALLY fight for an open adoption. We were unable to fight for this contact because his birth parents were out of the picture for over 2 months prior to our receiving a referral, and frankly, we did not want to start a conflict with H01t Korea while we were still in-process.
H01t Korea (which, just to clarify, is NOT Holt International, our US-based agency) is so "closed" oriented that they don't even want us to contact his foster family. They tried to prevent us from exchanging our real names or other contact information. Apparently, it is against their policy for us to have direct contact. They do not know, however, that the foster family slipped us their email address inside one of the gifts they gave us.
I am debating whether to contact the foster family directly or not. I'd love to send them links to all the online photo albums of Munchkin, something that would be impossible to do in the one "approved" form of communication with the foster family -- the paper letter, forwarded by the agency, with no attachments, no CDs, no supplemental material. Since we are planning to adopt again with H01t, I am thinking we should not risk violating their policies.
I worry about the very angry Korean adult adoptees and the way they
feel about their adoptions. Have you read any of that? How do you feel
about it? Has it made any changes in how you expect to parent your son?
I have indeed read the words of angry Korean adoptees. In fact, I am good friends with a formerly angry Korean adoptee. One thing that makes me less worried is that he and my husband have bonded over their parallel childhood experiences, since both grew up as one of few Asians in primarily Caucasian areas. And those experiences are the ones that made my friend so angry. In short, our friend concluded that he was angry because he grew up as a rare minority and lived with a family that essentially denied the existence of the racism he experienced, not because of adoption per se.
Now, I know that my friend might not be typical. And that other Korean adoptees are angry about other pieces of the adoption experience. But still, his "former" anger gives me hope. I hope that growing up in a very racially diverse area with an Asian parent and plenty of Koreans in our social circle will help Munchkin grow up without those experiences.
That's not to say that Munchkin won't one day be angry at us and the world. He most certainly will be one day, as all adolescents are. I will not be surprised if he blames his adolescent angst on his adoption, not realizing that if he were not adopted he'd find something else to blame.
The fact is, Munchkin needed parents as much as we needed a child. Korea's culture and societal attitudes made it impossible for Munchkin's birth mother to raise him herself. We had nothing to do with the formation of those attitudes. In fact, nothing would make me prouder than if Munchkin one day returned to Korea and worked to eliminate the entrenched sexism in that culture that prevents women from from holding decent-paying jobs or making their own decisions about their own children.
Furthermore, one of the reasons
we adopted internationally instead of domestically is that a woman
would not feel coerced to relinquish her child to us because she was
trying to help us or please us. We wanted the relinquishment decision
to be done before we even came on the scene. I simply could not live with myself if I thought that somehow I had any part in forcing a mother to part with a child she wanted to parent.
Where did you hear about first moms being holy rollers?
Honestly, I cannot remember where I heard that. Someone told it to me and I have no idea if it is true or not. But it does make some sense to me. I think that when confronted with an unwanted pregnancy, women who are religious are more likely to go through with the pregnancy and place the child for adoption instead of having an abortion.