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Kat Turner Eviscerates Land of Gazillion Adoptees

I absolutely believe that we adoptees should not shy away from challenging one another.  The process keeps us sharp, honest, and better informants.  So, I was pleased to see an adoptee who calls him/herself “Adoptees who sees shades of gray” write the following in response to “I’m a dick: Part 1”:

Hmmm…I am left with this quote from Jae Ran Kim-from her blog post awhile back on Harlow’s Monkey about an agency trying to solicit adoptees in support of inter-country adoption and ways in which the adoption community pits adoptees vs. adoptees…”Positioning adoptees against each other in order to sway public opinion is exploitative.  It is reinforcing a polemic battle, of which there has to be a winner or a loser.  Why must we continue to look at things in binary ways?  It also reduces the human experience into opposing paradigms of either/or when in actuality, our experiences are more like waves on the ocean; sometimes moving forward and sometimes receding, but forever changing.”  In my humble opinion, the mean spiritedness in which you wrote this post against another adoptee makes you no different.  I understand what you are  trying to say, but there are a lot of other more mature ways you could have handled this.  Adoption is complex and frankly, I am getting tired of the black/white, all/nothing view some in the community are taking on this issue.  I don’t always agree with all in the community, but I try to respect everyone’s desire in trying to advocate for children in ways they feel is best.  And it is from a position of respect, that we can disagree and discuss.

Additionally, I was pleased to see the following note (completely unedited) from Kat Turner, who was featured a few weeks ago.  Contrary to my over the top title for this post, Kat doesn’t come close to eviscerating anything.  As always, she’s diplomatic.


Naive as it may sound, I was surprised when I first met KADs who had a negative adoption experience (abusive homes, etc.) As I got more involved in the KAD community I’ve become much wiser (or so I’d like to think). But one thing I take issue with is it seems so many associate all negative issues in their life with being adopted.

Who your parents are—biological or adoptive—is pretty much the luck of the draw. Why else did I end up in Iowa and not France—ha! Seriously, there are no guarantees either way. For every adoptee with a negative experience there are thousands of kids growing up in their bio families in an equally negative situation.

International adoption began out of need. Pioneers like the Holts never intended to start an agency, they just wanted to help a few abandoned children from the Korean War. Harry Holt was a rather wealthy man back in the day and they turned their fancy house into a nursery when they brought those first eight Amerasian kids home from a country that shunned them. He literally died trying to help more kids. For the full story I suggest you read the book Seed From the East by Bertha Holt and Bring My Kids From Afar (I think this is the title of the journal Bertha kept during those first years). You may not agree with their belief system, but there is no way you can come away thinking their motives were anything but trying to be humane and stop the suffering.

I never had a negative experience with an adoption agency until we were forming the RCAA, but even so I do not see CHSFS as the boogie man. Frustrated as I was, I do understand there is bound to be a lot of legal red tape. I’ve heard my fair share of negative stories about any number of adoption agencies (Holt included). One of the most positive things an agency has done is when Holt first voted in two adoptees as chair and vice chair of their board several years back and then a couple years ago made that chair president of Holt (Kim Brown). It wasn’t without a lot of controversy. Remember the RCAA wanted to bridge that gap between adoptees and agencies, social workers and adoptive parents—Holt has done that big time! Even so, I wouldn’t begin to presume that will resolve all the various issues dealing with adoption, but it’s a step in the right direction of letting adoptees have a real voice in the process.

I don’t know what your history is with Susan Cox, I don’t know anything about the legislation you noted, but there are always two sides to every story and if everyone judged me on what they hear from some people their feelings towards me won’t be as generous as if they hear about me from others. While I don’t know Susan well, I consider her a friend and I have a lot of respect for her tireless efforts on behalf of international adoptees and especially KADs. Doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with everything she does, but I believe her motivations come from her own perspective as an adoptee and her experiences working with and for adoptees. You will find as many if not more people who have good things to say about her as those who don’t—again it’s a matter of perspective.

For every adoptee who feels stripped of their birth parents, culture and country, you will probably find a hundred who could care less and don’t see it as being cheated. Does that make one right and the other wrong? There’s that perspective again—and we are all entitled to our own feelings—based on our individual experiences. If you think about it, every first generation in America weren’t given the choice of whether to leave their home country—the generation before made that decision. Personally I think it’s a shame Americans haven’t kept up with more traditions and knowledge of where they come from. But me choosing not to eat Kimchee should be no stranger than my German descendant siblings not wanting to eat Sauer Braten, should it?

The one other thing I take issue with is the glamorization of what life would’ve been like had we grown up in Korea and the notion that all our bio parents are blameless in giving us up. Playing “what-if” isn’t gonna change anything and if we let it consume us, we’ll miss out on what we can be in our current situation. I’ve also heard my fair share of KAD stories that raise more than an eyebrow. “I lost you in the market and the next thing I know you were shipped off to America”. “I just put you in the orphanage for awhile, and when I came back two years later to get you, you weren’t there, but I did not tell them they could adopt you out”. Adoption is a shameful thing in Korea so no one wants to admit they did it willingly.

Lest you think I’m all pro adoption, I should let you know I too have concerns about the ramifications of international adoption in the 21st century and the impact it has on everyone involved. I screened a documentary in the making in NYC a couple of years back about a couple of families who were adopting girls from China. It made me sick to watch the adoption process a young Chinese girl went through and the lack of understanding by EVERYONE involved (adoptive parents, agency workers, etc.). It was made by either a Korean or Chinese American (not adopted) and there were a total of four KAD women screening it. None of us walked away feeling good about it, and the film maker was surprised at our reaction. It ended with the girl being fully assimilated into her new American culture (happily ever after?), but having watched what she went through to get there, we KADs knew more than likely some day she will question her identity and what she lost or gave up along the way.

All this is to say I don’t have any answers, but I think sometimes in the international adoption community we are too quick to judge others based on our individual perspective. I only wish it was as simple as one person being right…

3 Comments on Kat Turner Eviscerates Land of Gazillion Adoptees

  1. Fascinating. Especially so since I was told my birthmother was, perhaps, a Korean who a service man married following the Korean war — this despite my adoptive parents having actually met her face-to-face.

    It is not so much being ‘adopted’ that is at issue as it is identity, and particularly how one is constructed by the socio-cultural environment in which they are raised. My adoptive father, now 93, recently put matters into perspective for me: “It used to be, ‘Kill the Indian to save the man’. ” However well-intentioned he and my adoptive mother may have been, they did not live through being beaten up, spat on, called epithets, or being told where to go — in my case, “Get back on the reservation.”

    As an ex-cop and now an attorney, I am well aware of various child welfare issues. I can only say that ,y life (to date) could have been much worse or much better…I will never know, but I really could have used a sound explanation for what I experienced.

    • Hi Brent, thank you so much for taking the time respond to this post. Your story is very interesting. Would you be willing to share it? I’ll e-mail you in case you don’t get my reply – Kevin Ost-Vollmers/Land of Gazillion Adoptees

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  1. “However well-intentioned he and my adoptive mother may have been, they did not live through being beaten up, spat on, called epithets, or being told where to go — in my case, ‘Get back on the reservation.’”: My Conversation With

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