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Archive for October, 2008

Remnants

One of the odder moments of life with my dad was watching movies with him about the Vietnam War.   One of these movies was Casualties of War with Michael J. Fox and Sean Penn.  It wasn’t intentional but just happened to be on the television that night.  So there we both were watching a movie about a war crime committed by American soldiers against a young Vietnamese girl.

At the point in the movie where Michael J. Fox’s character tried to help the young teenager, she began pleading with him.  She was speaking in Vietnamese.  There were no subtitles but none were needed to convey her pain and fear.   I remember turning to my dad and saying, “Dad, do you know what she’s saying?”

“She’s saying, ‘I can’t believe Americans would do something like this,’” he replied flatly.

I didn’t believe for a second that my dad understood that much Vietnamese.  Her pleas continue on for a couple of minutes or so which I thought much too long to be summed up so easily.  However, I let the subject drop.  I later wondered why Dad hadn’t simply said he didn’t know.  Was he expressing his own thoughts instead?

At the time I was 19 or 20, supposedly older and wiser, but I think it was the first time I’d consciously questioned my adoptive father’s perspective of the war in Vietnam.  Or maybe it wasn’t.  I started remembering things from my childhood.  My mind flashed back to when I was still in elementary school.  I’d asked my dad who’d won the Vietnam war.  “We did, ” he’d answered. Later on, I remember wondering why Vietnam was a Communist country if America had “won” the war.

Just like with everything regarding my dad and Vietnam, I can only guess at why he twisted history the way he did.  His tendency to spin events doesn’t do a lot of his credibility in my eyes, but some part of me still wishes to understand him and the war that changed both our lives.

I’ve often wondered where the compartmentalization of me began and ended in his head.  While we were watching the movie, did he try to completely separate me from the young girl in the film?  Did he try to “forget” that I was Vietnamese and see me as simply his daughter?  Or did my Vietnamese face glare out at him forcing him to associate me with her.  Did he realize that I was seeing his face among the soldiers in the film and wondering about his time in Vietnam?

It’s amusing when people I talk to about my Dad insinuate that I’m naive about the war.  I understand it and human beings better than many of them think.  Of course, I don’t know everything and wouldn’t even bother to pretend I’m always right.  I do, however, know enough to understand that everyone has their own interpretation depending on who they are, what they have invested and how deeply they look.

Ever the late bloomer, I’m behind and have tons of catching up to do.  That’s what I tell people who question my seeming obsession with the past.  Others were allowed to mourn their losses, build their memorials and come to grips with the war in Vietnam, but I wasn’t suppose to think about it.  At least not beyond what I was told to think.  I guess in many ways,  I’m just doing what other people did only much later after the fact.

In our own way, my dad and I are remnants of the war, pieces scattered like so much shrapnel.  He has come to terms with it in his own way.  Hopefully, he’s beginning to understand that his way wasn’t working for me.  The Vietnam War has always been a sensitive subject between us.  These days, I’m not sure if it’s due to his discomfort, mine or both, but we’ve never really talked about it.  We seem to be repeating an old scenario where I’m digging up bones and trying to reassemble them into skeletons that he’d like nothing more than to forget.

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Via Inter-Country Adoptee Support Network (ICASN)

Are you my Mother?

SBS Series Seeks Intercountry Adoptee Participants

Our Sydney-based production company, Becker Entertainment, is currently making 3 x one-hour documentaries for SBS Television about inter-country adoption.

We are looking for someone who feels a profound need to try and find out more about themselves and who struggles on some level with their sense of identity as a result of their adoption. They may or may not have had a happy adoptive experience. They may or may not have encountered racism.

We will cover the travel costs for our candidate to fly back to their birth country and stay for approximately a week to ten days while they re-visit the orphanage they once lived in, experience the sights and sounds of their country of origin and search for their birth mother.

We are interested in accompanying someone on their journey back to Korea, India, Thailand, China or Africa. We already have two other participants (and their family members) returning to Romania and Sri Lanka.

Although we would prefer to follow someone who has never been back to their country of birth, we would also like to hear from people who have already been back to their country of birth but who have yet to meet their birth mother. The participant must live in Australia and have spent their childhood here.

Our production schedule kicks off next February and we expect to film between February and May 2009 but we are looking for candidates now!

Some candidates may already have located their birth mother’s whereabouts and made initial contact but have not met her yet. Others may go on a journey that does not lead them to their birth mother but perhaps uncovers siblings they never knew they had. Some searches may prove successful, others unsuccessful, despite the full dossier of information that our candidate has gathered together.

We are also keen to film our candidate prior to the trip so that we can get to know them and find out why the journey is so crucial.  The adoptee will tell their own story and take us on their journey. Our stance is non-judgemental and we are aiming to present the personal, political, social and psychological issues that inter-country adoption raises for all concerned.

We will film our participant as he/she embarks on their search and we want to give as honest as account as possible of the complex emotions that come up, whether the individual finds their birth family or not.  If they do, we would like to be able to film the birth family, although we understand that this will need to be negotiated with the family or birth mother and we certainly wouldn’t film them without their permission.

Part of the brief of our series is to explore the wider issues around inter-country adoption too so, for example, the way Korea views unmarried mothers and the attitudes towards returning adoptees is of interest to us too.

We will also be interviewing our participant’s adoptive family to find out how the adoption process was for them and to get a greater sense of our participant’s background so its important that members of the adoptive family are supportive of the documentary too and willing to participate in it.

If you’d like to find out more for yourself or if you know someone who you think might be interested, please give me a call or drop me an email and we can talk further.

Contact : Dominique Pile
Becker Entertainment
Direct Line : (61) 2 84251127
Switch: : (61) 2 9438 3377
Email : dominiquep[at]beckers.com.au

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Searching…

Where has the time gone?  It was almost a year ago that I received an email from a television show that offered to help search for my supposed Vietnamese foster mother.  The application requires a large amount of personal information.  I start to fill it out, then stop, start filling it out again, then stop again.  My mind seems trapped in the risk/benefit analysis of giving up my privacy to complete strangers and the slim chance of finding a woman who isn’t even my mother.

During my interview with John Safran, he brought up the subject of privacy rights vs. birth searches.  I wish I’d had the presence of mind to convey the thoughts I’d expressed in an earlier conversation with a fellow adoptee.   Some people seem to focus on the privacy of parents over the need for an adoptee to know, but there’s more to it than that.  Many adoptees have to give up their privacy in order to even begin a search.  Many of us have to trust complete strangers with information of which we’re usually very protective.  We become ripe for exploitation.  Then there’s that devastating disappointment when nothing is found.

Thinking about it makes me want to scream at woman considering giving up their babies to stop.  Do they understand the vulnerable position in which they place us?  Did they ever consider it?   I’m sure many were convinced they were doing what was best for themselves and their babies.    Maybe they were in some situations, but it doesn’t feel like it from where I’m standing now.

Part of me dreads another disappointment.  I’ve so far sent out two inquiries.  One ran into a dead end.  The other never got back to me, not even to tell they were still looking or to say they’d found nothing.

So I waffle back and forth, filling out the form a little each day as I continue to weigh the costs against the potential benefits.  I know I’ll eventually send it.  How can I not?

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Temporary Shutdown

Just a heads-up that in a couple of days, I’ll be shutting down Ethnically Incorrect Daughter for about a week or so in order to do some major reconstruction.  If all goes well, we’ll be back up and running by the first week of November.  I say “we” because Ethnically Incorrect Daughter will be gaining a son.  The author of Borrowed Notes, Kevin Minh Allen will be joining me as a co-contributor.  Two heads are better than one, especially if they’re on the same page. I guess that just naturally carried over into merging blogs.

So unless we get hung up on blog decor, we should be back up soon!

Update:

Well, that wasn’t as complicated as I’d expected.  We’re back!

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Project in Development:

An adoptee organized event held in association with Adopted
Vietnamese International, East Meets West and the Intercountry
Adoptee Support Network in Australia.  Other expressions of interest
of support and sponsorship welcome.

This Australia-wide event is to be held on Saturday, 29 May in 2009
in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney to celebrate
‘International Day of the Adoptee’.

Event format:

This will be a half-day event in Australia run by a volunteer
committee made up of trans-cultural adoptes. It aims to present a
selection of short films about trans-cultural (and trans-racial)
adoptee experiences, and will also feature a panel session featuring
adoptees and special guests who are adoption educators, authors,
artists and researchers.  The event will be held around the country.
The event will also produce a publication of film maker and speaker
biographies, film reviews, interviews and list of adoption resources.

Call for:

Short films or performance pieces by adoptees (from Australia or
elsewhere). Preferred duration no longer than 10 minutes and made
available on DVD format x 5. Viewing format is Australia-pacific
region settings. Longer pieces may be considered depending on final
program. Film makers are asked to donate and give written permission
(form will be supplied before screening) for the event organizers to
screen their works free of cost. This is an excellent opportunity to
promote your work and share your message with Australian audiences.
Preferred delivery date is December 2008.

We also welcome volunteers who assist with interviewing film makers,
identifying sponsorship opportunities, proposal writing and also at
the actual events.

Contact person: Indigo Willing
C/- School of Social Science
University of Queensland,
St Lucia Campus, QLD 4101
Email: i.willing@uq.edu.au
Mobile: 0403 168 490

Film Committee: Sofie Bi (VIC), Lynelle Beveridge (NSW), Sue Bylund
(WA), Saran Chamberlain (SA), Anna Davison (QLD), Dominic Golding
(VIC), Hee Ra Heaser (NSW), Pia Meehan (WA), Ilan ‘Taiwan’ (QLD),
Indigo Willing (QLD).

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Via G.O.A.’L

October 20, 2008

HONG KONG – A Korean girl called Jade who was adopted by a high-ranking Dutch diplomat in Korea in 2000 and then abandoned six years later in Hong Kong has found a new family.

The nine-year-old has been adopted by an expatriate family in Hong Kong and currently lives a normal life, an official at the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department said Saturday.

For reasons of privacy, further details about the adoptive parents cannot be disclosed, the official added.

Jade was adopted in January 2000 when she was four months old by Dutch diplomat Raymond Poeteray and his wife, who were stationed in Korea.

But the Poeterays gave up custody of the child in September 2006 when the diplomat was serving in Hong Kong.

The diplomat’s wife thought she was infertile when the couple adopted the Korean girl in 2000, Hong Kong officials reported, but she got pregnant after the family moved to Hong Kong in 2004. They now have two children of their own.

Jade has been in the custody of the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department for the past two years and attended a local elementary school. She can speak English and Cantonese, but no Korean.

When Jade’s case was made public two years ago, numerous families in Hong Kong volunteered to care for her. However, no progress was made, partly because of the strict qualification process for fostering children in Hong Kong as well as the complexity of the case.

Since the Poeterays hadn’t applied for Dutch citizenship for Jade and she had no formal residence status in Hong Kong, the child was virtually stateless until the recent adoption.

Meanwhile, Mother’s Choice, an adoption organization in Hong Kong, announced it will hold a special event to encourage adoption in Hong Kong.

By Choi Hyung-kyu JoongAng Ilbo [spark0320@joongang.co.kr]

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