“We chose you,” my mommy always says to me. To me that means from a store, because when you go to the store you look at the rows of dolls and you choose. A thought comes to me now, a frightening thought that makes sense as I sit alone: I could also be returned to the store. I could be exchanged for a better girl, someone who thinks better and doesn’t say hurtful things. No, I don’t want to be returned. I want to stay here, because I love my family, and because if two mothers gave me away, certainly no one would ever, ever want me again. Then I would have to live in the store forever. (from The Language of Blood, by Jane Jeong Trenka, p 23)
Once I remember Mom talking how lucky she and Dad had been in getting us, because there were a few couples ahead of them in line to adopt. In some brilliant fantasy, I saw all these couples standing in a row while I looked them over, picking from their number who I would adopt as my parents. (from “Bulgogi,” by Ellwyn Kauffman, in Seeds from a Silent Tree, p49)
In my brilliant fantasy, I wonder what adoption-related children’s books would look like if the majority of the authors, illustrators, agents, editors, and publishers were adopted persons themselves. I wonder what the world would look like if non-white mothers were valued and respected and supported in decisions to keep their children, if fathers were held accountable, if governments had more oversight and compassion and vision, if potential parents in the west did not so desire children from the east.
And yet the frightening nightmare continues, persists, haunts, as the majority of children sent away from Korea for adoption are from single mothers, as birth fathers still do not suffer the shame and stigma that birth mothers do, as the government works at a snail’s pace to institute change, as potential parents in the west feed the demand for children from the east.