When I saw the cover of the New York Times Magazine Section I winced. I wondered if the article written by Maggie Jones, entitled, “Why a Generation of Adoptees is Returning to South Korea” would frustrate me as so many adoption related articles do.
It’s been a while since I read something that didn’t sensationalize adoption. I’ve worked in the field since 1999. I’ve read hundreds of articles, read many books, seen many documentaries, talked with dozens of children and adults who were adopted and hundreds of parents. I’ve attended workshops, lectures, meetings, classes, etc. And yet after all this time, I still have a lot to learn. That’s why I read this article and I’m glad that I did.
The author, Maggie Jones, is an adoptive parent. Her article was thoughtful, engaging and informative. Although she didn’t adopt from Korea, she adopted one daughter domestically (she is of Japanese and African descent) and her other daughter was born in Guatemala. Despite this, the research that Jones did is applicable to anyone interested in adoption.
“My husband and I are of a generation that is supposedly savvier and better educated about raising adopted children. We have done some of the “right things”: traveled with our kids back to Guatemala and to Japan (where my older daughter’s birth mother lives). We’ve advocated for open adoptions (with mixed success) so our daughters would have access to their records and contact with their families. Our daughters’ friends and their school are diverse. And my husband and I try not to shy away from talking about the complexities of adoption and race.
Still, my daughters don’t see themselves reflected in my and my husband’s faces. They will confront racism in their lives, which neither my husband nor I ever have. My children are happy and deeply attached to us. But while the predominant narrative of adoption focuses on what is gained, each adoption also entails loss for both the child and her biological family. It’s a loss I can’t fully know and one I can never entirely heal.”
That last sentence encompasses everything that I believe about addition. I appreciate the honestly with which Jones describes her experiences and the fact that adoption is an emotionally complicated process. There is so much work that adoptive parents need to do and Jones seems aware of her responsibilities. I admire her honesty and thorough research. I’m so glad that I read her piece.
If you have any questions about this article or about adoption in general, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to contact me.