Jane Jeong Trenka on the foreign-adoption double standard
Jane Jeong Trenka: The foreign-adoption double standard
The process has improved in America, but not overseas.
Jane Jeong Trenka
Published: July 19, 2007
SEOUL, South Korea - Many thanks to Gail Rosenblum for calling attention to the lives of American women who were forced to surrender their children for adoption between 1945 and the early 1970s.
However, her article ("They never forgot," July 8) did not mention the lives of the quarter-million foreign women who have been forced to surrender their children in subsequent decades.
In reaction to the perceived lack of adoptable children in the United States following the "baby scoop," Americans have looked to foreign countries. Currently, about 20,000 children from countries such as China, Russia, Guatemala and South Korea are brought to the United States each year to be adopted. Very few are true orphans.
I found it particularly telling that a representative of Children's Home Society and Family Services, a St. Paul agency that performed 777 international adoptions last year, was quoted as saying that today the agency is "night-and-day different in how we understand adoption and how we understand families." There seems to be a glaring double standard between how adoption agencies now understand the human rights of American families and how they understand those of foreign families.
The current situation of single mothers being forced to surrender their children in South Korea almost exactly mirrors the situation in the United States a generation ago. Yet despite our understanding that separating American mothers from their children was a "conspiracy of silence," the broader American society views doing exactly the same thing to foreign mothers as "humanitarian."
I hope that articles such as Rosenblum's contribute to giving a human face not only to American mothers, but also to the foreign mothers of international adoptees. They are all mothers with human rights, and they all deserve to be treated as such.
Jane Jeong Trenka, internationally adopted to Minnesota from South Korea, is a writer living in Seoul.