getting what I ask for


Last month I was given a huge budget and told I could choose whatever teaching aids I thought I needed.   Pretty awesome:  large white boards for groups to DRAW on!  (since large paper is seemingly non-existent) many board games, a pen tablet so I can mark-up power point presentations and draw free-hand, a giant connex set that can be used for kinesthetic learning, and even a complete western dinner service for four – along with serving dishes, several beverage glasses, serving utensils, cloth napkins, and enough extra plates to mock up a six course meal.  (I figured maybe once in their lifetime the students will get to go to a fancy restaurant, and they should learn how to behave and eat continental)

I’d found last year, just before I came to Cheongpyeong, two amazing books for teaching speaking with and they have been absolute gold-mines.  I make up power points from the lessons and put my own spin on them, and they are actually improving the children’s speech noticeably.  I only use them on the high level first graders.  (My school is actually transitioning to an academic school from a technical school, and this is the first year.  So the 1st graders coming in are far ahead of the 2nd & 3rd grade students)

I’ve also found that short t.v. shows are the perfect length to be able to give a lesson AND a break that just also happens to be cultural exposure.  The kids are enjoying the first episode of “The Wonder Years.” right now.  To the entire school I am continuing to throw in my episodes of traveling through America.  We just hit Kentucky last week, where the kids got to see a jug band, clogging, learn about hillbilly stereotypes, moonshine, and the source of Appalachian folk songs.  As well as learn about poverty in America, the constant fight against corporate exploitation, and the horrible devastation of mountain-top removal.  In all of these video clips I’d assembled was a little bit of Korea.  I swear these are the same mountains sometimes, with the same people, sitting together cleaning vegetables, jawing and singing.  Not surprising since the topography is the same and that dictates a lot about what people can and can’t do.

Funny, I ran into a Korean speaking perfect English at one of those clubs over the weekend and it turned out she was a gyopo from North Carolina.  And then we were talking to each other in Southern  (as in below the Mason-Dixon but not deep south) accents, and she heard me and pinpointed my accent to Kentucky.  Ha ha ha!  They didn’t call my redneck town “Taylor-tucky” for nothing!  Listening to those videos brought it right back…It’s so weird this Korean can imitate hillbillies but not Koreans…

***********

For some reason (I think I was looking for something someone had commented on somewhere else) I had to look up girl4708 on google and it was disturbing.  It’s just disturbing to see how many adoptees and adoptive parents discount everything I have to say because I was abused.  So I just want to clarify for everyone that I was treated extremely well.  I was well fed, clothed, housed, and  had everything I asked for.  I never experienced violence or was even yelled at.  No.  I was loved.  I was loved TOO MUCH.  I was treated just as emotionally distant as the rest of my siblings (well, actually I was treated better than them) and was given all the same rights, privileges and disadvantages as all of my siblings, yet regarded differently and told it was the same.  And you know what?  The real “abuse” was not the molestation.  It was the manipulation.  Being told I was the same.  Being regarded differently.

I don’t doubt one bit that many adoptive parents love their adopted children just as much as their biological children.  But I think they are liars if they say they love them the same.  Because we are not and never can be the same.  This is something all of us adoptees know.  Being made to swallow that lie is manipulative.

In all aspects my adoption was just as privileged, just as ambiguous, just as socially challenging and just as successful and troubled as most any other adoptee’s adoption.  I just happened to get this extra complication.  Being assimilated without choice was one continuous manipulation.   Putting up with molestation was also without choice and one continuous manipulation.  They were parallel experiences.  Except the adoption came first, priming me for the second experience.  Figuring out the more obvious manipulation and power politics of my molester father helped me figure out the parallel manipulations of adoption.  So I don’t hate adoption just because I had a hellish childhood, (which I didn’t).  No.   I criticize international adoption because I can see clearly.  That analysis is a skill.  It takes practice.  I just have more practice is all.  And it’s just infuriating for all those rationalizing I-could-never-do-anything-self-serving-or-manipulative people to say that I am incapable of being able to do any deductive reasoning about adoption because I was abused.   (because of course abuse means you can not be like their adoptees)  So there they are, discounting everything I say.  Because that’s easier than admitting they are self-serving and manipulating.

Because even though she says not to discount  the value of her abused voice, I’m sure if she’d had a normal adoption she wouldn’t feel that way.

And then they admit that they hope their adopted children don’t think the same of them when they grow up.  At the same time they refuse to recognize the deceit they impose upon their children.

I had a typical adoption.  More similar to everyone else’s adoptions than anyone cares to believe.  Similar to Jane’s adoption.  Similar to every adoptee I talk to.  But these information-age latter day adopters don’t really care.  Their adoptions will be different.   And you know what?  They are probably right.  Because their little charges have parents who spend their lives on adoption bulletin boards getting ever more sophisticated about manipulating their adopted children into swallowing their adoption dogma.  They no longer tell their children, “Oh!  We just wanted to help/save a child who needed a family!”  (well, some still do…)  Now, they say.  We wanted a child and you needed a family so we thought we could help each other out.  (never mind that they already had a family and that the need was giving the families viable options to stay together – never mind that these AP’s would take any child, from practically anywhere)  Etc. etc.  They can ignore the growing body of evidence and narratives of adoptees because their wants are pure so any collateral damage is better than the alternative: the alternative of having ones own identity, own culture, own language.  Living with them is always better than than living there with them.  They even say they wish their mothers could keep them, but they couldn’t, so they might as well benefit from that awful situation.  Lies.  It seems the more we talk to AP’s about our experiences, we merely train the parents to be better manipulators.  But really, nothing changes:  the AP’s want what they want and they get everything they ask for.  And the children must swallow it.  And shut up.  The more sophisticated this debate gets, the less the children are able to discern the manipulation.

Also researching something else, I ran across the annoying Youtube series on Losiah’s adoption from Korea again.  Annoying because the parents are such privileged, shallow, immature twits.  Over 20,000 hits.  20,000 people who’d like to also be immature privileged twits with babies.  Then go to TRACK’s channel and the videos only have about 800 hits.  See what western-marginalized countries are up against?  See what family preservation is up against?  The pressure to exploit other countries for babies is shockingly disproportionate.  And Korea, btw, is the number 1 country in the world from which to get babies under 1 year old.  Still.  After 56 years in business.

***********

Bankrupt of ideas and games for my small discussion class, I decided to just do a generic survey.  I asked the students to brainstorm what they wouldn’t change about Korea, and what they thought needed changing.  Then, I asked them to fill out a third column explaining how they could fix the problems.  The first class had a huge list of things they loved about Korea – a few of them quite dogmatic (like Dokdo island) – and a small list of things they wanted changing.  In general, the answers on both sides were all pretty superficial:  I think their lower English level was impairing the level of conversation they could get to, but that doesn’t bother me – its more important they find ways to figure out how to express themselves, so the interested ones will reach for dictionaries, etc., and they managed to get to something substantive a couple of times.

The second class was just the opposite – everything was substantive and the two columns were about equal.  I was surprised and delighted to have Winnie add first adoption, then the lack of social services, and then unwed mothers to the mix.  (and I’ve never as yet spoken to any of the students about my views on any of that)  I’m guessing Winnie’s mom is super cool.  When filling in the third column, almost all their solutions meant higher taxes (which also totally surprised me) and their solution for this was to raise the taxes to the rich as well as raise the cost of cigarettes.  “I HATE rich people.” said one of the boys.  And the other students were finding words to use like, ostentatious. (except for Tiffany, who was practicing come-backs to being hit on,  like “In your dreams.” )

There is such a huge difference between where I am now and where I was last year.  I definitely prefer honest working folk to the miserably wanting to attain more crowd in the suburbs.

Tonight the census will come by to give me the English survey.  I hope adoptee is on the form.

***********

The census was shocking.  It only recorded nationality, not ethnicity.  Most of the questions were about buildings and infrastructure.  What a wasted opportunity.  I think I might have skewed the results a bit, as the census taker kept wanting me to call the kitchen a living room, even though there were a bedroom, a living room, and a dining room as options.

***********

Tonight I have to write a lesson plan for an open classroom. My co-teacher weakly hinted around how she wasn’t comfortable in an only supporting role.  I told her I was against doing things we don’t normally do, and that I had to answer questions afterward about my teaching philosophy.  She says she is required to speak and that she needs a script to follow.  Argh!  Anyway, I told her we could practice if she wanted to, but I didn’t let her turn this into a dog and pony show.

It’s just not okay to let the Korean school system proceed with unsustainable, showpiece lessons that don’t accomplish real learning.  She gave me a link to videos of other open classroom shows and I haven’t watched them, as I’ve seen my share of these charades already.  Edutainment might be appropriate for elementary classes, but it’s too late for these high school students.  We need to correct the wrong directions of the past methods and use real pedagogy used by EFL professionals the world over.

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10 thoughts on “getting what I ask for

  1. They discount everything you say because you were abused.

    If they find no explanation, such as abuse, they’ll find one.

    They discount what I say because I was adopted at older age; because I was adopted in the old times. Of course, the abuse became the only reason to discount me after I wrote about it.

    They discount everything we, adoptees, say, unless we say what they want to hear.

    Before 2007, they didn’t discount what I said because my views, opinion, thoughts and beliefs about adoption were those of my parents and of people around me. I’ve been told zillion times that I was lucky or that my parents were generous for adopting me, so the only thing I could say “I’m lucky”. I’ve been told I would have ended up prostitute, so the only thing I could feel was gratefulness. My thoughts were: I’m going to adopt to save an orphan like myself. My beliefs were: if everyone adopts one orphan, they would be no orphan in the world. And I got mad at people not adopting.

    In 2001, after a trip to my birth country, my views, opinions, thoughts and beliefs about my adoption and my adoption agency all changed. But I wasn’t discounted yet, because the beliefs of my parents that entered to my mind didn’t go away immediately.

    In 2007, I started making my own opinions. I discovered that the feelings I’ve been repressing were also the feelings shared by other adoptees who were adopted at younger age than me. I realized that for the half of money spent on my adoption, I could have lived comfortably with my original family. I realized that adoption was not the only option to “save” me from poverty. I discovered that my old belief “if everyone adopts one orphan, there would be no orphan in the world” was completly false. I learned from searching, that if everyone adopts one orphans, it will only create more orphans… At the end, I discovered that everything I say would be discounted.

  2. Myoung Sook!

    I was just weeping and saw your post and I feel like you’re here for me. And me, I brought the school’s laptop home to work on your manuscript and instead wrote this blog post and that lesson plan. I feel so unworthy.

    At midnight I had to work on the broadcast for tomorrow, and then got caught up in a movie that was concurrently playing on t.v. It was the movie version of Marguerite Dumas’ “The Lover.” And then the isolation hit me again. And the lost love. And the abandonment.

    And then you wrote. And I’m not so alone.

    I love you.

  3. Aww. I like Losiah’s family! (Which is not to imply that they’re not wacky…but no more so than anyone else who puts their whole life online.) I DO think it’s gross that Los being adopted is such a big part of Carlos’ blog which I probably wouldn’t take issue with if ALL their kids were obviously adopted. (Originally, I thought all their kids were adopted until I read otherwise because they all look so damn different. lol) I’m hoping that they’ll take some time out and get over the adoption story soon. (It’s been 3 years already.)

    I don’t think enough parents (of any type) take into consideration the fact that their children may have temperaments very different than their own. While one child may love the fact that they’re an internet celebrity and people all over the world know their birth/adoption story, other kids may find that sort of thing overbearing and invasive. (As I likely would if put in that position.) Parents of all types are defensive as hell but unfortunately, most adoptive parents have an additional wall of societally-approved ‘well-meaningness’ to fall back on when they can’t take the criticism.

  4. I’d disagree. The foster mom’s grief that they mention for a second was not sympathized with half as much as them feeling sorry for themselves for having to feel someone else’s feelings. quote, that was HARD! unquote. It left me with the feeling of someone swindling another person and feeling bad about it but not making amends and laughing all the way to the bank.

    Privilege. Disgusts me. And confounds me how nobody sees it because everyone wants to have it. So many gross privileged things fall out of that couple’s mouths. Ugly, self-serving things. And Losiah’s celebrity just adds to their narcissism. It’s all about them.

    Anyway, the point of mentioning them was the gross number of hits their privilege gets in comparison with people trying to preserve families.

  5. thanks god that there was no internet at the time of my adoption. I’m sure my mother would have used the internet to talk about the day she got me and the following days. Whenever women were talking about the birth of their children, my mother was talking about my arrival day and my first months with her. Whenever she was talking about my arrival day, she was like a star with the audience praising her and my father, telling her they were generous for adopting me. My mother replied modestly that no, they were selfish, they adopted me because they wanted a child. Her modest speech only brought more praises, her audience turned to me to tell me that my parents were really generous and that I was very lucky. I could feel my mother was thrilled to be a celebrity and my father was happy to be known as the generous man.
    This happened so much time during the three first years of my adoption, with the same audience and with different audiences, it was like someone was hitting a replay button. They hit the replay button from time to time the following years.
    I imagine Loasiah’s family doing the same thing than my parents if there was no internet and no youtube.

  6. Myoung Sook

    Ugh. I got that too. But I don’t think my mom would have been a blogger or on youtube. I would have had to do something exceptionally worthy first. For example, my daughter not getting a movie role was a major disappointment for my mom. Getting a screentest and callback with Disney was not good enough for her to be able to slam my aunt’s grand-daughter’s accomplishments. Such was the nature of my mom’s competitiveness. I think that’s about the time I gave up talking to her at all. I also think that’s why I lost my luster somewhere along the line. I didn’t turn into a concert pianist or child prodigy or anything of note. We grow less cute and less novel. I think that’s why so many adoptees are over-achievers, trying to keep that favor up. I’m so sick of hearing of adoptees being introduced as being on the cheerleading team, magna cum laude, etc., etc. We’re supposed to prove something. We’re supposed to be their successful experiment.

    T-hype

    Parents of all types are defensive as hell but unfortunately, most adoptive parents have an additional wall of societally-approved ‘well-meaningness’ to fall back on when they can’t take the criticism.

    I think that’s because most adoptive parents have a deep seated insecurity about themselves and why they had to / needed to / wanted to adopt in the first place. It manifests itself in all sorts of obnoxious ways.

  7. hmm. i apparently haven’t read/watched los’s family as much as much as you have… but from a cursory POV, i hadn’t taken much issue with them. the idea of them being narcissistic/self-serving isn’t entirely shocking because, well, what other kind of people blog about/make videos of themselves all day long? within that context, i suppose my mind is prepared to overlook a great deal of foolishness i’d find jarring on a face-to-face basis.

    and your point is TOTALLY valid. if people were to take the experiences/feelings of adoptees (however unpleasant or contradictory they might be) as seriously as those of the presently prevailing mantras the playing field would be far more level…

    also, i feel like your comment about insecurity is right on point.

  8. Nah, it sounds like you’ve had more stomach to watch them than I!

    Adoptees just have acutely sensitive meters/radar on this stuff – we have to because it escapes the rest of the world, but we have to live with it. It’s like slow poisoning over time…hard to detect by the casual observer, an educated suspicion for the subject.

    But again, they are hardly the worse-case examples – more, they are very typical.

    But we’ll never get equal time, because the privileged world is entitled to consume what they want, when they want, how they want (or rather look the other way about how things are sourced).

    But thanks!

    What would happen if every woman had a choice and real options and the whole world’s baby sources said, b.s. on you can parent better than me? b.s. that you deserve to parent more than me! b.s. that I have sinned against God and must be punished! b.s. that I should suffer! b.s. that I should hide in shame! b.s. that I am selfish if I want to keep my child! b.s. that your opportunities are better than this community! b.s. that families should be built by tearing families apart! b.s. that this is charity!

    What if women said no to the patriarchy and helped each other? What if privileged women stopped marginalizing poor women and women of color and stopped contributing to the perpetuation of the patriarchy so they could take their babies? What if men were forced to man-up across the globe? What if rich countries got their noses out of poor country’s wombs?

    And seriously, my idea before this last idea about cards with pregnant women’s rights on it is to distribute oral contraceptives from an ice cream truck. It should be part of post adolescent feminine hygiene until family planning commences, in my opinion.

    We have to envision a better world for women, and give them tools of empowerment.

    And adoption does the opposite. It dis-empowers. It strips. It sends women back to the patriarchy as corrected, compliant, subjugated servants. Adoption is an anti-feminist act. It is violence against women by women.

    Sorry. Got a little carried away there. Nothing I’m saying hasn’t been said already by other adoptees elsewhere and previously. It’s just really palpable for me after meeting the moms.

    Oh, and not preaching at you, T-hype – just a windbag off on a tangent!

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