My good friend Sun Yung Shin wrote a lovely piece for Paper Tiger’s April 2009 Korea feature. Although we’ve had this conversation many times, for the first time I’ve actually seen in print her thoughts about writing a children’s book about adoption as an adoptee:

As an adoptee author, I very much want to write a children’s book about an adoptee protagonist in which she or he struggles with the facts and nature of her or his adoption. It’s a topic – or network of topics – that does not lend itself to simple plotlines or, for me, at least, happy endings. Adoption is a not an issue that the adoptee can “solve.” There are sub-issues that can be better and more directly addressed by the adoptee him/herself – ways that the he/she can take charge and transform situations, to some degree. However, as parents are the main purchasers of books, it follows that most adoptive parents don’t want to read a book that focuses on the grief of the adoptee, the grief of the birth parent, the imbalance of power and resources that is often the case between birth parent(s) and adoptive parents – especially in the case of transnational adoptions, and often in the case of transracial adoptions.

Most children’s books about adoption that I have read focus on the choice of the adoptive mother, and how the adoptee and the adoptive parents are “meant to be together,” which implies that the child and the birth family are not meant to be together. This logic, while soothing to adoptive families and to the child as a young one, grows thin and problematic as the child moves into adulthood.

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