My husband and I are both Caucasian and in the process of adopting an infant from Korea. We live in an area that has a fairly high Korean population and are very close to a "Korea Town." While we know we cannot ourselves be examples of Korean culture for our future son or daughter, we hope to encourage exposure to what Korean culture that we do have in our community. As a Korean, how to you think Koreans in our community will react to our trans-cultural adoption? Is there anything we can do to prepare ourselves or appear as less of an oddity to Koreans in our area?
Bless your heart for adopting a child. May only good things happen to your family. If advice from a single guy who has never has a child (that he knows of) counts for anything, the Korean thinks the critical point in raising a minority child, adopted or otherwise, is to make sure the child feels comfortable in her skin. Don’t let the child wish that she were something she is not. In this vein, your living around a lot of Koreans means a lot – it allows your child to see that she is not abnormal in some way because she looks different.
The Korean would also recommend for any prospective adoptive parents to read two things. First, Relative Choices, New York Times blog on adoption, for thoughtful discussions on this topic. Second, Transracial Abductees, for a picture of adoptions gone terribly wrong. Raising a child is difficult in and of itself; when it implicates race relations, well, the Korean can only wish you best of luck.
Korean people’s attitude towards adoption of Korean children is somewhat conflicted. On one hand, they deplore the fact that Korea at one point was the leading baby-exporting country in the world. There are over 100,000 adopted Koreans in the U.S., which makes them roughly 10 percent of Korean American population. (More statistics about international adoption is available here.) Korean people, by and large, feel ashamed that they are unable to take care of “their own”. As an outgrowth of this sentiment, there have been sporadic and mostly unsuccessful campaigns in Korea that urged people to adopt more, or prohibit international adoption in order to compel Korea to take care of its own children.
On the other hand, Koreans’ attitude toward Americans who adopt Korean children is largely positive. Korean American newspapers often run a prototypical story of an American couple who adopted a large number of Korean children, and such stories unfailingly speak in glowing terms of the American couple’s love for their children and Korean culture. (Here is an example -- the article is in Korean.) It appears that while Korean people are generally not happy that they are unable to take care of their own orphans, they are grateful for the people who in fact do.
So MTBTAK, the Korean thinks you do not have to worry about the way Korean people would react to you and your child. In fact, in most cases, the Korean would think that Koreans around you would appreciate the fact that you are letting your child preserve his/her heritage in some form. Again, bless your heart, and best of luck.
Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at firstname.lastname@example.org.