Land of Gazillion Adoptees: What do you do and what’s up with the awesome new website?
Christy NaMee Eriksen: By day I do media work for Sealaska Heritage Institute, a local Native nonprofit. By night and weekend I try to keep up my spoken word habit – writing, teaching, and organizing community events. I’ve been co-organizing and co-hosting a monthly poetry slam & open mic for almost two years now, and it’s recently evolved into a nonprofit committed to “diversity, community, and empowering voice.”
The website – I’ve been living on rough drafts for years now, and I really want to hunker down and revise that stack of scribbles. The website is a fresh front to keep me accountable to that goal, and also a place to document projects and refer folks who are interested in having me facilitate a workshop. I feel so grown up!
LGA: I love your poem “What would Harry Holt do?” What were you thinking about when you wrote it?
Christy: I was mostly thinking about all the ironies in the adoption story – Christianity and big business, 200,000 Korean mothers each keeping the same secret, adoptive parents returning a child, adoptees reuniting with their birthparent, holding them as they weep. The adoption industry has invested a lot in a single narrative that doesn’t tell my story, or the story of many of my peers, so I wanted to juxtapose the “father of adoption” and the reality of our experiences.
LGA: You have some strong Minnesota connections. How long did you live here? Are MN adoptees f-ing cool?
Christy: I lived in MN for five years and YES I met many kick-ass, incredible adoptees who are doing groundbreaking work in terms of art, research, and organizing our community. They’re pushing themselves,and they’re pushing the public to create serious social change. I am hella proud of my people for the work that is being done – from the adoptee in her bedroom writing her experience in a diary, to the adoptee in Korea organizing Single Mothers’ Day and advocating for policy reform. Both are brave examples of adoptees finding their voice despite displacement. Our diaspora faces a lot of challenges, but I am empowered by the strength and courage of my peers! I’m blessed to witness and be a part of this movement. Gratitude.
“What Would Harry Holt Do?”
Everyone knows what Harry Holt would do
as a businessman
who wanted to be a hero
as a father
who wanted more
as a Christian
Well I wanna know
what would Harry Holt do if he knew about all the good Korean Adoptee Christians
that are hookin up all over this town.
What would Harry Holt do
if Buddhist Black people started to adopt in thousands?
or if suburban White babies were being left at Lunds and Byerlys.
What would Harry Holt do if all the adoptees knew a song and the song was how much is that baby in the window? And at night we could look through our story on the bookshelf, see the letters, see the bills, see how much it cost our parents to buy us.
What would Harry Holt do.
What would Harry Holt do if Holt Korea has to shut down general operations in the summer just to handle the influx of adoptees, the migration of Koreans from all these continents back to the land they were taken from, looking for their roots, looking for their mothers, looking for their
What would Harry Holt do if our birth mothers wanted to write us a letter but they didn’t know what Korean name the orphanage gave us or they didn’t how to spell the American name they heard about or they didn’t know how to write roman letters. How would they start. How would he start
to tell them.
What would Harry Holt do if all the Korean mothers started to cry one night, beginning at sunset and ending at sunrise, in the corner of each of their homes, in the quiet of each of their secrets, under the floors of the floors of the floors of their stories. And the tears were so many that they began to flow into the streets of Seoul. Of Pusan. Of Dae Gu. And the country woke up to a new river that everyone saw but no one talked about. That sparkled like wishing stars but filled everyone with sadness.
What would Harry Holt do what would Harry Holt do
if a Korean mother and a Korean daughter could only understand each other
if a White Mormon missionary from Utah translated.
What would Harry Holt do when the only thing adoptees can really call their own from Korea is their Korean name tattooed on their body somewhere and they can’t even read it.
What would Harry Holt do if Korea made a new reality tv show
still about Korean adoptee reunions
but this time all the adoptees are reunited with him.
What would Harry Holt do with the stress of 200,000 questions! What would Harry Holt do with the results of a customer service survey! What would Harry Holt do if we started to write our own research. What would Harry Holt do with all the prayers
young adoptees whisper to Harry Holt’s god. With all the wishes burnt on birthday candles, all the letters sent to Santa, asking, requesting, begging for whiter skin or bigger eyes or a less flat face or to be Megan Nelson or Camille Jarvis or Heidi Farrington who’s a little chubby but everyone still likes her that’d be alright
what would Harry Holt do about
when money turns to shame and an Iowan man beats his four Korean adopted children to death with a baseball bat
what would Harry Holt do about
when things change and a child loses their shine
when a Dutch couple visits Korea, picks up a daughter and returns her to the orphanage 7 years later.
What would Harry Holt do about
when adoptees are saving their allowance for a surgery to cut a fold in their eyelids
when they’re only dating colorblind white men who have a thing for Asians
when they’re holding their own grown mother in their arms as she breaks
what would Harry Holt do about love when their families don’t wanna hear about it anymore don’t want hear about it anymore you were never our Korean child you were just our child!
What would Harry Holt do
and what would Harry Holt do
to save us?