Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I am American. I have been raised with a worldview that, while it varies from person to person, has many commonalities with other Americans. Our nation from it's conception has been all about personal freedoms and liberties. We learn this from the time we are young children. Our country is all about the individual. And no matter what ethnicity a person is, if you are raised here, in a family that has its roots here, you grow up within that worldview and with that worldview. Our personal beliefs color this worldview to a point.
Our American or Western Worldview is VERY different from the Eastern Worldview. In most Asian countries, and in Korea specifically, the Worldview is about the family. It is based on Confusion beliefs. Everything is looked in terms of how it will impact/affect the FAMILY, not the individual. This is very hard for those of us with a Western Worldview to understand. It seems to us a violation of human rights. The individual has rights, as we see it, while the Eastern Worldview says no, it is about the impact of the individual's choices on the family.
This difference in Worldviews is, in my opinion, why there are so many babies who need homes in Korea right now. The Confusion belief system still runs strong. The Worldview is different. In Korea a young, unwed woman having a child affects the family. Her choices about keeping/raising her child versus placing it for adoption are seen as a family affair. From our Western perspective this is wrong, it should be about the rights of the mother, not her whole family and what they think.
This way of thinking is slowly beginning to change. Slowly. There is no way to take a belief system that has been held for thousands of years and expect to change it overnight. I commend the adoptees who are in Korea now working to make this change, but they are there with a Western/American Worldview. They are bringing the ideas of individual rights with them and are struggling to understand the notions of Confusion belief, of Korean Worldview.
It is hard to look at a belief system that seems so very wrong to us and accept that it is considered right by another group of people. And to keep in mind, as we work for change, that we cannot just impose our own Worldview and expect another group of people to accept it as right.
I wrestle with this - I want to see change, but at what point are we ethnocentric and imposing our own Worldview? How do we help make change in a way that is effective and at the same time respectful?
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
But, even with the difficulties and our very slow progress, it is so worth it. When we return to Korea in July we can talk to Halmoni about what color things are, we'll count for her and name animals, foods and body parts. :-) We should also be able to tell her if we're hungry or full, ask for a bathroom and greet people. I can tell the kids, "Let's go, hurry up!" (가자! 빨리!). Well, we still have a long way to go. For my kids, it is a matter of feeling that they belong. When we were on the subway in Seoul back in April there were times it was very obvious that people near us were talking about us. Both kids said they wanted to learn Korean so they could know what was being said about them! More importantly, knowing Korean will allow my children to return to Korea if they choose and be able to communicate, to fit in a little more easily. For my son (and hopefully someday for my daughter) it means being able to communicate with his Korean family without a translator.
So, we will continue to plug away. We are very thankful to our Korean friend who teaches us, and to so many members of our local Korean community who let us practice our skills when we see them. I am thankful for the encouragement and pride the Korean community has shown my children when they use the little Korean they have.
한국어 공부 시간! (Time to study Korean! - I think).
Sunday, November 1, 2009
The other big change in Korea in relation to adoption is the increase in domestic adoption versus international adoption. I think this is great, but I am worried about the children. I hope that Korea is putting social education in place to help those children be accepted in society. Traditionally, adopted children were not afforded the same legal rights as birth children. And the social stigmas have been awful. I wonder if domestically adopted children will be accepted into families of the people they wish to marry. I hope that the social workers are following up on the adoptees - I'm concerned that the monthly stipend, help with housing and additional health benefits will encourage some people to adopt for the benefits and that these people might not treat an adopted child in the same way they would a birth child.
I am also encouraged to see that there is a group working to help single mothers have rights and help so that they can keep their children. The social stigmas related to unwed pregnancy are ridiculous. The way these women, and their children, are viewed is so wrong.
Soo.. how do you change a centuries old culture? How do you get people of that culture to understand the need for human rights when the rights are at odds with long held beliefs? I think that getting the laws and programs into place must come first, but then how do you help these same people (adoptees, birth mothers) be accepted by society? I hope it is possible. I know that there is a good chance my children will live in Korea at some point - whether they choose to make it their permanent home, or live there for a short term, I want them to be treated with respect, to be able to marry whomever they choose without the rejection of the society that created the social situation which lead to their need to be adopted.
Friday, October 9, 2009
I think I will contact InKAS and see if J can help us find a school that would let the kids attend for part of the day in exchange for my helping with English classes (a private school, I figure).
Much to think about...
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Queen Seon Duk is historical. The costumes are amazing. I have looked up information on it and the historical accuracy isn't authentic, but the story is good.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
This really hit home for me when we escorted home SeungJu from Korea to the US. He was known by this name for 9 months. It is a part of who he is. It is who he was to us... and when we handed him over to his family they called him by his American name and it felt strange to me. I did the same thing, so I am not judging. I don't know if they kept his Korean name or not (I hope so). But this experience really made me realize the importance of keeping a child's Korean name... it is a real part of who they are, it acknowledges that their lives began before me, in another place. I know this is important to many Koreans as well. My daughter's foster mother kept saying her Korean name over and over and asking, "You know who you are?" My son's Halmoni was very happy that my son knew he used his Korean name and that he could write his name in Korean (I'm not sure she even knows what his American name is).
So.... if you are in the process of adopting I encourage you to keep your child's Korean name as part of his/her legal name. It helps to recognize that this child had a life in Korea prior to coming to the US. It helps your child keep a part of him/herself, I think, that is sometimes lost.
I'm curious what others think.... please post.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
This is the write up I did for Wide Horizons for Children's website.
“How was your trip to
My husband and I have two children adopted from
Our children have responded to their adoption stories in very different ways. Our son, Brady, is proud to be Korean. He talks about being Korean, adopted and his feelings about his birth family all the time. Our daughter, Marcy, is much more reserved and will only talk briefly about her adoption before changing the subject. This trip helped both of them. Our son saw the land that he is so proud to call his own. Our daughter finally opened up about her feelings of abandonment and loss and shared with us what she could not before. She saw so many beautiful people who look much like her, and who called her pretty (she has wanted to be blond with curly hair since she was four).
We spent our first week in
Two days were spent at Eastern and Holt meeting foster mothers and seeing babies. Both agencies were wonderful at facilitating these meetings, giving the children gifts and a Korean lunch. We had created a small photo album for each of our kids at an online photo store showing the kids through the years. This was a very helpful conversation piece, and the foster mothers truly seemed to enjoy a glimpse at the kids’ lives.
Holt arranged for a volunteer translator to take us to the hospital where our daughter was born. The staff there was so kind. They gave us a tour of the hospital and showed us the nursery where our daughter spent the first few days of her life. This was incredible for all of us.
After many e-mails Eastern finally agreed to help us search for our son’s birth mother. When we left for
One thing we learned on this trip is the increased importance and need of financial support for the adoption agencies. With
While traveling around
The second week of our trip we used a travel agency to visit Jinju, Gyeongju and Busan. All offered us so many wonderful things to see and do.
We ended our trip in the way we had dreamed of – escorting a baby home to his family in the
On the other end of our long flight we had the honor of presenting a son to his family. Our children were able to see their joy and get a glimpse of what it was like when they arrived home. My husband and I recalled our own joyous “airplane days” and shared in the family’s happiness.
If you are thinking of going to
This past April we went to Korea for the first time. It was life changing. I wrote about that, and will post that in a separate blog, along with some pictures of our trip. It has only refueled my desire to do more for my children, to help them be Korean.
So, it is my hope that by getting my thoughts out here, I might find other parents like my husband and I. Parents who fully embrace their children's "Korean-ness", who are striving to find ways to help their children incorporate it into their view of themselves.