“Rescuing” Children

05 Feb

I’ve read my own adoption papers many times–not just the papers the orphanage gave, but the papers that my parents have of their evaluation. I know it in detail, have read on the adoption process and tried my best to educate myself beyond that of the adoptee, but of adoption too. I know that some adoptees do and others don’t. But looking and facing adoption, the process, was also a way of looking at myself.

My brother’s and my papers stamp us with a serial number, a guardian and talk about why we were relinquished by appa, time frames, and all of the things we did. Such as eating habits, how capable we were of going to the bathroom, what we wanted most, our personalities, and ironically how well we functioned as Koreans in a Korean society. The serial number I think stands out the most. That case number is the same number I’ve seen on holocaust victims’ wrists.

The papers talk about how miserable we were. In the photo of myself I look so brave holding my younger brother’s hand. I would not cry. I will put on a brave face. I will be there for him. He’s the only lifeline I have left. When he’s not there I look so lost and miserable. But he’s the only thing I have and in that moment my mask is gone.

My brother was featured in a calendar too, about to cry–though this is contradictory to what the papers say. They say I protected him. I always cried. I was the one that held things in. I took care of him. I took care of him–not because no one else could, but it was my duty as an older sister. He was my mask.

The papers from my parents emphasize how happy the children will be to live in this luxury. Tabulating cars, financial report, how many classes they took, dates, signatures, times, consent forms, psychological reports, how the psychological reports went. The three cars really stuck out to me. Two people, three cars. My mom said they sold the third car before we arrived. These papers say to me that the case workers were looking for a place of luxury with stable parents–in another words a paradise of sorts. The numbers don’t stick out, just how long it took. My mom talked of the classes, but I know from that look on her face that they were not enough. Perhaps they weren’t truthful. She says they taught basics of Korean culture and some basic language skills. “Wash your hands.”

We were being rescued the papers say. We were miserable weren’t we?

On Jane Jeong Trenka’s blog she posted two videos. The advertisement from Holt which doesn’t look much different from sponsor a child and one from a passing student that filmed what he could. They are so starkly contrasting that I do wonder which is truth. How many of these children get to speak?

I often thought that I was being rescued, because that’s what reading all of that cold information without input from the child will do. The papers talk about me, around me and have words from Appa. However I recently realized that they are about me, but not from me. I wonder what that girl would say if she could say anything. Sometimes I can’t even remember enough to guess.

I don’t think I am ungrateful for being adopted. I was given something that not all the words in the world can describe. But I think the reason people adopt is fundamentally deeper than rescuing a child. There is something that moves them. Even if the initial reason is to “rescue” them there is something that they don’t have in words that they want to do for the child they are adopting–it doesn’t matter if it’s international or not. Adoptees also adopt as well, and I doubt they have such notions that they are rescuing a child from a cruel world and intentions.

But that reason has to be individual, even if it’s spoon fed. I think the reason comes down to the same reason. Why did they want to become a parent at all? Perhaps the reason is there.

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