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Dear Children’s Home Society and Family Services

Last November, I went to Korea and searched for my Korean family with the G.O.A’L. First Trip Home program. Before I left, I had my chain jerked a few times by my American adoption agency, Children’s Home Society and Family Services (CHSFS) and my Korean agency Eastern Social Welfare Society regarding my Korean family search. You can listen to the podcast about the situation here >>

Now, that I’ve taken time to process the whole experience, I have this message to CHSFS.

Dear Children’s Home Society and Family Services,

My brief engagement with your post-adoption services in November 2011 was one of the most frustrating and disappointing experiences in my adoption experience to-date. I really wanted my belief that adoption agency policies and procedures were not adoptee-centered to be dispelled via my contact with your post-adoption services department. However, that belief was only confirmed by the communication that transpired between the post-adoption social worker and myself. To be clear, the messages I received were not malicious or hostile, but they were subtly dismissive, confusing, and frustrating at a time when I felt very vulnerable. I do not believe that CHSFS was deliberately trying to create a negative environment or punish me as an individual. But, as a person who has seen adoptee-centered support in action, I can only conclude the following:

CHSFS has not taken advantage of the vast adoptee/adoption support resources in their own backyard. Minnesota is the land of a gazillion adoptees and the land of several non-agency adoption focused organizations who have developed and provide adoptee-centered services. Perhaps you have heard of AdoptSource, AK Connection, Adoptees Have Answers, etc.? That you have not partnered with any of your neighbor organizations suggests to me that you do not recognize the quality of work that is being performed right next door.

CHSFS has not listened to its growing population of adult adoptees about their experiences and needs. If adoptee experiences and feedback were taken into account by CHSFS and incorporated into practices and policies, I would be not writing this letter. And, adoptees who come to you for services you purport to provide would not feel disempowered, frustrated, hopeless, or angry.

CHSFS doesn’t really want to help adult adoptees. Your agency has access a plethora of adult adoptee adoption professionals, adoption researchers, and adoption-focused organizations that could make your agency a leader among agencies and, yet, you remain in the status quo.

Please, please, please prove my conclusions to be wrong. I don’t want to just dish out criticism, this isn’t just venting – I want to be proven wrong. I want the experience of the next adoptee who contacts CHSFS for services to negate the awful experience I had. The only thing I want to conclude about your agency in the future is that you “get it” and that your are putting your knowledge into action through partnerships, policies, and practices.


Keum Mee

2 Comments on Dear Children’s Home Society and Family Services

  1. Chad Rancher // May 22, 2012 at 10:06 am // Reply

    I listened to the podcast this AM, and I find myself neither shocked nor horrified by the very dismissive, deceitful way in which the post-adoption agency staffer replied to you upon learning of your upcoming return to your homeland. It is typical adoption indu$try pablum. They really didn’t want you (or any other adoptees) to make the trip and possibly reconnect with your first/natural/bio family. Why not? They fear that you will uncover the truth about the ruthless, coercive and even criminal actions that the thugs (and I do mean thugs) in the industry engaged in to separate you from your natural mother in the first place. The industry is driven by greed, money, power and a lot of “we know what’s best for you, now go away and be grateful for the life “we” arranged for you and that your afamily paid good money for!!”
    Imagine if, for a moment, the staffer had written, “How great that you are able to make this trip to your place of birth, and possibly reunite with your natural mother, father, siblings, and extended family. I hope you’ll have wonderful experiences and will find answers to some of the questions nearly all adoptees want and need to have answered. Be open to this new and wonderful adventure. I hope you will share this part of your life journey with us (at the agency) when you return.” Those simple words might have brought you some measure of comfort and reassurance and might have made things a lot easier for you. Instead the agency wanted to minimize your own very personal life experience by telling you that “you weren’t ready and it would be months of their precious (and costly) counseling that would get you ready!!” Yikes, what a bunch of “know-it-all” phoneys. I have been through (and am still in) reunion, and, yes, it is challenging and painful at times, but oh, so very, very worth it. Like nothing anyone could ever imagine. It changes everything to finally learn the truth.
    Keum, please keep peeling back the layers of this onion…

  2. Love this post — this is the letter I should have written to The Children’s Home Society in New Jersey after I used its post-adoption services (My letter to the agency was a a bit angrier). Working with the personnel at my agency, I did feel “disempowered, frustrated, hopeless and angry.” In fact, working with them is what transformed me into an adoptee rights advocate ten years ago. For another view of patronizing agency attitudes, see my post Why I Oppose Confidential Intermediaries at Family Ties: Great letter!

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