SEOUL ROOTS

“Adoptees” we are not who they think we are

If my Korean mother is too afraid to meet my sister and me, I will know that her fear has nothing to do with us (or our worth) but provoked by her fears of rejection, and even (possible) life-long shame, and self-inflicted blame. After investigating the industry for as long as I have, and reading some of the horror stories of mothers who have lost children to adoption caused by the influence of so-called “loving” religious authorities and the oppression (under the guise of God’s love) that comes with the pressure to “do the righteous thing,” and risk of punishment for deciding to keep one’s child, I can understand that living under this suppression is lifelong and even terrifying—especially for women who become pregnant at a young age in such an evangelical culture.  Suddenly, giving life is not the miracle it was meant to be (according to nature), but a sin that causes problems for all involved. (Pregnancy even in this day and age is terrifying enough—but to add the belief that anything associated with it is “bad” and “sinful” and could risk a lifetime in hell creates further self-doubt in one’s abilities!)

I’ve even heard some mothers report being instructed by facilitators, pastors, and adoptive parents that they could be jailed if they requested back their babies. So I can understand the potential fear and guilty dread that might be associated with the reunion of one’s relinquished infant and the pain of being rejected as an adult adoptee. After living in a religious community, I would not be surprised if she feared a reunion.     

The biggest fear for some adoptees is that we will find our biological family and they will reject us. One adoptee had mentioned that he wrote a heartfelt letter to his mother, even showing photos of his wife and children, and in response he received a letter from the birth family’s lawyer, making the statement that they didn’t want contact. This rejection immediately crushed him, but it also made him realize that he cannot depend on others to be happy. (We must be our own best superheroes.)

Adoption History 101: An Orphan’s Research

As a transracially adopted person, I was given the impression by the adoptive community, influences, and upbringing, that my Asian ethnicity was inferior and inadequate compared to the dominant religious teachings of the adoptive community, so I did not start my search until the age of 25. Instead of allowing for children to be with their people, religious training has served as a replacement for one’s own family, as if someone else’s religion is worth more than one’s ethnic culture of birth. The guilt that a child might feel when curious about one’s own ethnicity can prompt additional turmoil. Teaching children that their origin and their roots are evil or somehow bad reduces their self-esteem into adulthood. As a consequence, some of us adopted people are forced to recover from additional burdens.

Janine Myung Ja
The rEvolutionary “Adoptee” Collective

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“Adoptees” we’re not who they think we are ebook available now.