Posts Tagged ‘Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute’

Korea to end most adoptions to the U.S. as of July 2012

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Today, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute posted an article, dated June 30, 2011, from the Korea Times, New law said to restrict adoption by foreigners.

From July next year, foreigners will be restricted from adopting a Korean child, unless the government fails to find his or her foster family here. Under the Special Law on Adoption and its Procedures passed the National Assembly Wednesday, the government will be responsible for reducing the number of babies and children adopted by parents abroad. It will also be required to draw up measures necessary to make them remain in the care of a Korean family. The law will take effect one year after promulgation, which is expected to take place within two weeks.

“It puts the top priority on the welfare of adopted children,” said Rep. Choi Young-hee, a lawmaker of the main opposition Democratic Party who proposed the bill.  She argued that those adopted abroad are more vulnerable to identity crisis and abuses by foster parents.


Government statistics show that of 8,590 abandoned babies and children in need of care last year, only 1,462 were adopted domestically while 1,013 were taken home by foreigners. The number of adopted children by foreigners has seen a decrease in the past few years since the government reduced the quota for overseas adoptions since 2007. The number of children adopted abroad was 1,888 in 2006, but it nose dived to 1,264 in 2007, 1,250 in 2008 and 1,125 in 2009, according to the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs.

For opponents of intercountry adoption, who view the system as profoundly broken and beyond fixing, this announcement will be heralded with satisfaction. My hope is that permanent loving homes will be found in Korea for the remaining 6,115 “abandoned babies and children in need of care last year” who were not adopted, and the children of the future who will likely join their ranks.


My son and the NPR program on transracial adoption

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

If you’re reading this blog for the first time, you should know that I’m a white adoptive mother to two children born in Guatemala. My daughter, Olivia, is almost 9; my son, Mateo, is 6. Olivia is indigenous Maya; Mateo is what Guatemalans call “Ladino,” meaning his heritage is Hispanic. Each has brown skin; one darker, one lighter. Our family discusses skin color often; see two previous blog posts, Peach and Brown.

On Friday afternoon, as he climbed into the car after school, Mateo asked me “Can brown people marry white people?”

“Of course they can,” I said. “You can marry someone with any skin color.” I skipped my usual speech about marriage, which includes a requirement for love, college graduation, money in the bank, maturity, self-awareness, etc. etc. This conversation was about something else.

I continued, “Did someone say you couldn’t, because you’re brown?”  Mateo nodded, looking miserable. I paused and took a deep breath. “Another kid? Or a grown-up?”

“Another kid,” Mateo said. (And here I will disguise the child’s identity.) “X.” 

Why am I writing to tell you about this? Because I want you to know that, yes, even here in Marin County, Northern California, which considers itself one of the most enlightened, educated places on earth, another kid said those words to my 6-year-old son. And I’m guessing X didn’t make it up out of thin air. He must have heard it from an adult.

On May 11, NPR ran a great “All Things Considered” program that really resonated for me:  The Parenting Dilemmas of Transracial Adoption. Here’s an excerpt from the NPR website:

Today, approximately 40 percent of adoptions in America are transracial — and that number is growing. In decades past, many American parents of transracial adoptions simply rejected racial categories, raising their children as though racial distinctions didn’t matter.

“Social workers used to tell parents, ‘You just raise your child as though you gave birth to her,’ ” Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, tells NPR’s Neal Conan… Pertman’s organization has conducted extensive research on transracial adoption in America. He says turning a blind eye to race wasn’t good for anybody. “We don’t live in a colorblind society,” he says.

University of Chicago professor Gina Samuels — who is multiracial and was raised by a white family — has also researched the experiences of children of color who were raised by Caucasian parents. She tells Conan that parents who take a colorblind approach to raising their children often do so with the best of intentions.

“[It] reflects maybe how they hope the world will be someday,” Samuels says. “But oftentimes what this ends up doing is having children [meet] the world — the real world — unprepared.”

On Friday, my son Mateo came up against the “real world” referred to by Professor Samuels. And please let me assure you, this wasn’t the first time. I’m glad Mateo trusts me enough to talk about it.


Adoption as punchline

Monday, November 29th, 2010

On November 8, I received an email from Bob Stevens of Massachusetts, telling me about a television ad that he found offensive.  Bob wrote: “I learned of your book and website in my research to raise awareness about adoption and bullying. Perhaps you might join my effort to enlighten our corporate citizen, Sony, about adoption.”

He went on to tell me about a Sony ad for Playstation3 that features a father taunting his daughter with this line: “You’re adopted!”  Bob noted: “In this age of enlightenment, Sony Entertainment still feels that adoption is fair game for bullies.” He asked me to join him in celebrating National Adoption Awareness Month by “helping Sony Corp. to be aware of the devastating repercussions of their insult.”

One way I could do that was by writing an editorial, which I did. “Adoption is not a line for a gag” appeared in the November 29, 2010 edition of the Marin Independent Journal in the “Marin Voice” section. Click here to read the article, or read it pasted below.

Bob also suggested writing to complain to Jack Tretton, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America. I sent a short email outlining why I found the commercial offensive, and you can too. Mr. Tretton’s email address is

Finally, here’s the link to the ad, posted on YouTube with 95,000 views and counting. After watching it, you may be inspired to act in some small way to raise sensitivity about adoption.

Thank you for caring. Here’s my article.

Marin Voices: Adoption is not a line for a gag
By Jessica O’Dwyer

PICTURE the scene: You’re at home watching Kung Fu Panda on the FX Channel with a group of teenagers, when a commercial comes on for Sony’s Playstation 3.

The product advertised promises to improve your golf game. The camera focuses on a middle-aged mom practicing her swing, then zooms in for a close-up of her father’s face. To break his daughter’s concentration, the dad taunts her by saying, “You’re adopted!”

According to my friend who was there, the teens watching Kung Fu Panda saw the commercial and reacted with stunned silence.

Why? Because, like 1.5 million other children in this country–2 percent of all U.S. children–each one of the teens was adopted.

As an adoptive mother to two children myself, I am acutely aware of how sharply and deeply thoughtless comments about adoption can cut. No matter how loved a child is, or how well-adjusted, a cruel and thoughtless remark pierces to the core of their very being.

There’s a reason the writers of the Sony ad chose that particular line of dialogue. They knew it would hurt. Too often, the tone and delivery of the word “adopted” implies “less than,” “inferior,” and “unwanted.” The subtext is crystal clear.

Much like skin color, religion, size and shape, adoption is something most children did not choose for themselves. It is a state of being that is immutable.

Even when wonderful, adoption is not simple, and it’s not easy. Volumes have been written on the subject, with titles such as “The Primal Wound,” “Silent Tears” and “Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self.”

 In my house, on most days, there is nothing facile about adoption.

Yes, there is love and joy, but for my daughter and son, and, by extension, for my husband and me, there is also pain and loss, identity struggles and unanswered questions. That’s not even factoring in the complicated emotions of our children’s birth families.

Why is adoption considered fair game for mockery?

Two recent films — Orphan and Pauly Shore Adopted — demonstrate how popular culture treats the subject. Both films give viewers permission to make fun of kids who are adopted.

I try to imagine a movie that makes equivalent fun of essential elements of myself, one that crudely mocks my religion or skin color. Legions of viewers would stand beside me and protest.

Indeed, laws and potential lawsuits protect us from such “entertainment.” Making fun of adoption is equally wrong.

I, for one, am taking a stand and saying, “Enough.”

According to a study by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, some 60 percent of Americans report a personal connection to adoption, either knowing someone who has been adopted, adopting a child, or relinquishing a child for adoption. Does Sony Corp.’s Playstation division only employ people belonging to the other 40 percent?

How can an entire company be so insensitive to the facts of adoption in this country? Adoptive families are here to stay. We are your neighbors and coworkers, your colleagues and friends. We have feelings, too.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month.

According to a recent survey released by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the Adoption Institute, in America today, more than 134,000 children wait in foster care for adoptive homes. Worldwide, some 163 million children live without families. Instead of making jokes about kids who are adopted, shouldn’t we focus our efforts on finding ways to help the 163 million orphans who are not?

The words “You’re adopted” are far too serious to serve as mere punch line.


Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute issues research study on post-adoption services

Monday, October 25th, 2010

A few months ago, the story about the American adoptive mother who put her Russian-born son on an airplane with a note saying she was effectively “sending him back,” made international headlines. The story outraged many, who wondered whether the woman would have made a similar decision with a biological son. 

In response to this story and others like it, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute issued a research study titled “Keeping The Promise: The Critical Need for Post-Adoption Services to Enable Children and Families to Succeed.” (The Evan B. Donaldson Institute is the policy- and opinion-making leader in adoption in the United States.)

The study acknowledges the real and undoubtedly heartbreaking challenges faced by some adoptive families, at the same time it underlines the critical need for hope and for help. I, for one, applaud the Institute for focusing its attention on post-placement adoption services.

You can read the entire report here. Below is a short summary.

“The report stresses that the vast majority of adopted children function normally — and their parents are highly satisfied with their families. But it also points out that just over the past 15 years, nearly a million boys and girls were adopted by Americans from foster care in our country and from orphanages abroad, and the majority of U.S. adoptions continue to be of those types (by far, mostly from state child welfare systems).”

“‘What it means is that these children live with the emotional, psychological and developmental consequences of having been abused, neglected or institutionalized before they were adopted,’ said Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman. ‘The good news is that most of them, and their families, are doing just fine; the bad news is that the ones who need help too often aren’t getting it.’”