Addressing Specific Questions

19 Feb

This is for handling those outside of the Triad. Again, you have no obligation to answer these questions.

Who are (your/their) real parents?
I usually answer, “Both” or “Which ones?” But for adoptive parents this won’t work.
I like the answer in that case, “I am their parent. They have parents in Korea too.” Skip the real. A quick person will realize you didn’t use the word real, thus there is something wrong with the word.

Note: that in Korean the word “real” is used in addressing biology in day to day, not just adoption. (This is unlike English… where the issue doesn’t come up often.)
ex. Such as “This is my biological brother,” would be said in translation to Korean and retranslation to English as “This is my real brother”. Dictionaries are not good that way). You can redirect this also by asking the birth parents to use “miguk”_title_ (Eomma, appa, gajok) and “hanguk”_title_ (Eomma, appa, gajok) in Korean. So don’t be insulted by this. I also use “Appa” for my birth father and “Eomma” for my birth mother. This allows me to use “Dad” and “Mom” without having to deal with AAL (Appropriate Adoption Language) issues.

Do You Know Korean?
I usually answer this one honestly, because it’s not that harmful. And then go into the lack of language programs shortly.

For adoptive parents… I really encourage you to have your child to be able to answer yes at some point. Statistically according to a GOA’L survey, children don’t know Korean as children. And then when they become teenagers they reject all Korean culture and language–which doesn’t happen to the average Korean. So this must be a function of adoption where they haven’t learned pride in themselves and found the balance needed to function. Then in adulthood, they regret not having it at all, where more adoptees identify themselves as Korean American, but unable to connect to their birth culture. This is not to say to cram it down their throats, but I think being able to encourage it and give them that culture they are missing will help in the long run. I also think an adoptive parent should also be able to answer yes at some point as well. You don’t know what your child is going to ask. You get more access to more things when you know another language. Plus you adopted a country and culture with that child. As you feel an obligation to teach your child your culture, you should be able to do the same for theirs. That’s actively teach. Oh, and many younger children go through language rejection in their early years if they are older. This is because the language is often tied to negative memories. We often store many memories with words. But making the suggestion won’t hurt. Also try to surround them with real Korean once in a while. (or their birth language, whatever it is). The stuff in school isn’t the same. The best programs are directed towards Korean Americans rather than adoptees which tend to teach the “foreigner” Korean. (i.e. only differential Korean.)

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