As you know, dear reader, earlier this month I presented with Rockstar Vietnamese adoptee Bert Ballard at the Joint Council Symposium in the great city of New York. Hopefully, Bert and I’ll have the time to talk about our overall experience/presentation in full via a podcast soon. In the meantime, I’d like to offer up some random thoughts.
1. The three/four staff members from the Department of State never mentioned adult adoptees or first parents, even when they used the term “adoption stakeholders” multiple times. So, ah, adoptees and first parents are not stakeholders?
2. Inside the symposium there were A LOT of white people. Outside there were people from all walks of life.
3. Hanging out with adoptees, progressive adoptive parents, first parents, adoption reform advocates, and old/new friends in NY is hell of a good time.
4. Nancy Fox of Americans for International Aid and Adoption (AAIA) likes white wine.
5. Nancy Fox of AAIA believes the adoptive parents who didn’t finalize their kids’ paperwork are the ones to blame for the adoptee deportation issue. I say she’s passing the buck because the onus is also with adoption agencies and the US state and federal governments.
6. Nancy Fox of AAIA, during a heated exchange with me, grabbed my chin and brought my face right up to hers. Seriously. My response? Lightly tapping her hand away, I said, “Don’t ever do that to me again. That’s the patronizing I mentioned to you earlier. I’m not one of your kids.” She apologized, and then went into how she has known adoptees like Susan Cox, Kathy Sacco, Joy Lieberthal, and Melanie Chung-Sherman since I was a child. Weird. If I recall, I’m in Kathy, Joy, and Melanie’s age bracket.
7. Nancy Fox of AAIA doesn’t support the recent South Korean adoption legislation. (Not surprising.) In reference to Tammy Ko Robinson, Tobias Hubinette, Kim Stoker, and Jane Trenka (the Korean adoptees who were a part of the passing of the legislation), Nancy proclaimed, “They have sentenced Korean kids to death in institutions! You have sentenced the Korean kids to death in institutions for supporting them!” I asked her if she has ever considered reaching out to Tammy, Tobias, Kim, and Jane. Her response? “That train has left a long time ago.” So, I guess working with the adoptees to support single parents in South Korea is out of the question for AAIA. That’s too bad. Supporting single parents in SK would fit the AAIA mission, don’t you think?
10. Only a few of the individuals who attended Bert’s and my presentation had seen Struggle For Identity.
11. Only a few of the individuals who attended Bert’s and my presentation had ever read/heard of Outsiders Within.
12. Bert Ballard nailed his portion of the presentation.
13. It was quite funny to hear someone say “He’s so nasty!” during my portion of the presentation.
14. The Children’s Home Society & Family Services (CHSFS) folks who attended Bert’s and my presentation were good sports (I kind of went after them) and engaging.
15. Most of the individuals who attended Bert’s and my presentation were quite engaging. Bert and I had very civil conversations with many of them afterwards. As for the Joint Council board members? I’m not sure. They didn’t attend Bert’s and my presentation.
16. David and Desiree Smolin, who presented after us, are Rockstars.
17. Dywatt Gant doesn’t realize that a PhD is an actual degree.
18. Nothing says “angry adoptees” like these two dudes.
19. Since you’ve read this far, here’s our powerpoint presentation.