Adoptees face a long list of questions as they grow up, not only who their parents were and why they were put up for adoption in the first place, but who they would have been had they not.
Nelson DeWitt, born in El Salvador, adopted in Honduras and raised in the United States, has gotten more answers than he bargained for. DeWitt, who is making a documentary about his experience, learned that he is one of the hundreds of now-adult children who went missing during the civil war in El Salvador, which lasted from 1980 to 1992.
Many of these children wound up adopted after they were torn away from their families by soldiers, who sometimes kept them, other times funneled them into the lucrative adoption industry. DeWitt, who was raised by his adoptive parents in the Boston area, learned that he was one of these children after receiving a phone call from a long-lost family member. He learned that his birth parents were both revolutionary operatives in El Salvador. After his mother found herself hunted for by authorities, she fled with him to Honduras. She was likely killed soon afterward; by age two, he had been adopted out of a Honduran orphanage, en route to the U.S.
Archive for October, 2011
I’ve been following this series over the last week and applaud NPR’s initiative to go beyond the usual fluff pieces.
Nearly 700 Native American children in South Dakota are being removed from their homes every year, sometimes under questionable circumstances. An NPR News investigation has found that the state is largely failing to place them according to the law. The vast majority of native kids in foster care in South Dakota are in nonnative homes or group homes, according to an NPR analysis of state records.
Years ago, thousands of Native American children were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to boarding schools, where the motto of the schools’ founder was “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” Children lost touch with their culture, traditions and families. Many suffered horrible abuse, leaving entire generations missing from the one place whose future depended on them — their tribes.
In 1978, Congress tried to put a stop to it. They passed the Indian Child Welfare Act, which says except in the rarest circumstances, Native American children must be placed with their relatives or tribes. It also says states must do everything it can to keep native families together.
But 32 states are failing to abide by the act in one way or another, and, an NPR investigation has found, nowhere is that more apparent than in South Dakota.
“Cousins are disappearing; family members are disappearing,” said Peter Lengkeek, a Crow Creek Tribal Council member. “It’s kidnapping. That’s how we see it.”
November is National Adoption Awareness Month. The basic history of the month is that it started as a state-based initiative to raise awareness about the issues surrounding children waiting in foster care. It was given its own official month by President Clinton and since then has become everything from an all out celebration of adoption to an opportunity for all things adoption to be advertised and promoted.
If you remember from last year, I have a problem with this. Read my blog throughout this November and you’ll hear more about why.
Not that we shouldn’t make our voices heard the other 11 months out of the year, but I feel especially motivated for the reasons our Declassified Adoptee mentions in her post. I’ve been a terrible blogger this year, but will try to pick it up again for the month of November.
Jane speaks with Kevin via skype.
Topics covered: Language of Blood, Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea (TRACK), Adoptee Solidarity Korea (ASK), Convention On the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), Hague Adoption Convention, Korea Central Adoption Resources (KCARE), Eastern Social Welfare Society (ESWS), Social Welfare Society, Inc. (SWS), Holt International, Dillon International, Korean family search, unwarranted post adoption fees charged by Korean and US adoption agencies, new adoption and single parent support legislation in Korea, First Worldwide Adoptee Online Auction.
Listen to the podcast on their website.
It has emerged that following discussions between the Irish and Vietnamese authorities, Vietnam is preparing to ratify the Hague Convention on inter-country Adoption.
But I have to wonder if it will make a difference where it really matters. Think happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts.
Some Facts About Unwed Mothers in Korea
- Contrary to public perception, 3 in 4 unwed mothers are aged 25 and over and have completed high school or spent some time in college. Their children comprise a mere 1-2 percent of South Korea’s annual live births.
- Maternity facilities operated by adoption agencies have a 37% child-rearing rate compared to 82% for non-agency run facilities. Because most maternity facilities receive government subsidies and are therefore semi-private, they have the authority to refuse or to discontinue services to mothers who are deemed “too troublesome.”
- Although 89% of Korea’s children who are placed for adoption come from unwed mothers, more and more unwed mothers are choosing to rear their children according to recent studies.
The mothers and volunteers of the Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network (KUMFA) need your support to raise $7,000 to keep HEATER open. Please consider sending a monetary gift at the $25, $50, $100, $250, $500, or $1,000 level.
The mothers, volunteers, and friends involved with KUMFA, the efforts of which was featured in the New York Times a few years ago, advocate for the rights of unwed pregnant women, unwed mothers and their children in Korea. KUMFA’s goal is to enable Korean women to have sufficient resources and support to keep their babies if they choose, and thrive in Korean society, rather than feel compelled to place their children for adoption.
As a part of its efforts, KUMFA opened HEATER, a facility that provides care for mothers who keep their children. Each year the facility houses and feeds 24 mothers and their children. Two mothers and their children stay at HEATER for two months at a time. It is a unique place in that, unlike other facilities in Korea, HEATER accepts mothers who are older and/or have children. Some of the children need medical attention.
The mothers, volunteers, and friends of KUMFA need your support to keep HEATER open in 2012. The operating costs for HEATER is $7,000, which covers rent, utilities, food and supplies. KUMFA currently doesn’t have $7,000 in its 2012 budget and so HEATER may have to close its doors if the mothers, volunteers, and friends of the organization are not able to raise the money.
Please consider offering your support to keep HEATER open by donating at the $25, $50, $100, $250, $500, or $1,000 level. Giving is easy. You can PayPal your gift to KUMFA’s e-mail (email@example.com) or PayPal your gift to KUMFA/HEATER volunteer Shannon Heit’s e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The mothers, volunteers, and friends of KUMFA are very thankful for your consideration, and hope that you’ll join them as partners in their efforts to sustain and improve HEATER so that they can best serve Korean mothers and children.
Questions? Please contact the following individuals:
Shannon Heit, KUMFA Volunteer, email@example.com
Dr. Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Ost-Vollmers/Land of Gazillion Adoptees, email@example.com
Or anyone who knows of an adoptee from Laos.
From Bryan Thao Worra at On the Other Side of the Eye
A big thanks to everyone who’s been so supportive and helpful in our efforts to find other Lao American adoptees across the US. In the space of a few days we’ve already located and made contact with an additional four others.
From the initial stories I’ve heard so far, most of us were adopted between 1971 to 1975, with a few exceptions in the 1980s in the US. Most of those I’ve found went on to careers in medical fields such as nursing or else spent some time in the military or in the non-profit sector. Only a few of us were able to successfully find our birth parents.
I’m pretty certain there are a few adopted before 1971 but I can’t confirm that just quite yet. Some people who contacted me suggested there are over 40 of us who’ve been adopted by Americans. I personally think the number might be lower, but it will be interesting to see over time.
One of these days, we might all have to go back to Laos or at least have a convening here in the U.S. But thanks again to everyone who’s been helping in the search!
So, as always: If you know a Laotian American adoptee, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.