The Role Of Paternity

The legacy of American militaristic adventures includes an American soldier who fathers a child with a national of another country. In the case of Korea, mixed-race children were considered as a blight upon the blood-line, unworthy of being Korean. According to the system of census taking that existed in the 1960s, in order to be entered into the family registry, the child had to be fathered by a Korean man.

Children born of foreign fathers were unable to be registered, and therefore ineligible for essential government services, such as education and medical care. From the beginning, the bureaucracy conspired to erase knowledge of them from existence.

Korean women were crucial to Korea’s struggling economy, bringing into the economy desperately needed U.S. dollars. Though prostitution was ostensibly illegal, the government not only tolerated but abetted it. U.S. military and Korean local and national government officials coordinated efforts to regulate prostitution and monitor sex workers for sexually transmitted diseases. Both countries saw the sex trade as vital to keeping the massive contingent of U.S. troops in the country contented, and these women’s presence was deemed essential to the national economy.

The government making a profit off of women’s bodies did not stop with the sex trade. When these women had babies, another business opportunity presented itself. Americans like Henry Holt and Pearl S. Buck offered to take these unwanted children away. It turned out that white couples in wealthy nations would pay money for them.

And how do the profiteers make the export of children morally palatable ? By reframing the narrative from that of poverty, prostitution and military adventurism into one of rescue and redemption. By extirpating the past, doctoring documents, and rebranding the children as orphans.

These Korean children were not orphans. They had a mother. And a father, too, though most of these men returned to America before their progeny were even born.

An article in The Korea Times describes the lies that one woman discovered were her adoption file. Her father father was not Caucasian but Mexican American and she had Native American and Latino roots. Her mother’s name was an alias, the Korean equivalent of Jane Doe.

I know somewhat how that feels. I knew that Georgia Tann did not always tell the truth about the children she was placing for adoption to the prospective adoptive parents and so it was easy for me to see where she fudged (thankfully, the actual facts had been preserved because she was not yet covering her tracks at the time).

So back to the Korean woman’s story. Decades after the first children were adopted out, the Korean court system is being forced to confront the many legal issues that have arisen due to dubious adoption practices. The country is forced to accept back adoptees who have been deported from their home countries because their adoptive parents neglected to naturalize them.

Unlike Korea’s other major exports, adoptees are human beings. Cars, phones and refrigerators do not wonder about their origins, but human beings have a deep, innate need to know from whence they come. Korean adoptees are returning to Korea to search for their family, learn about their culture and recover their identity in ever increasing numbers. They are demanding answers, reform, legal equality, and their basic human right to know our origins.

By declaring these children orphans, the Korean government sought to erase them from their national history. By these adoptees searching to know their roots, they are bringing the dark truths to light.

One could say that knowing from whence you came is the universal adoptee calling.

You can read this woman’s essay here – Rewriting The Adoption Narrative by Alice Stephens

When A Child Kills

Learning about these statistics fascinated me the way a car accident often fascinates us (in horror) as we pass by and are grateful we are safe.

Adoptees are 15 times more likely to commit parricide (kill one or both adoptive parents) than biologic children.  Of the 500 estimated serial killers in U.S. history, 16 percent were adopted as children, while adoptees represent only 2 or 3 percent of the general population.

Dr. David Kirschner has been an expert witness in 20 homicide cases in which the accused was adopted, usually as an infant, or in early childhood. In every case of these adoptees who killed, he found a remarkably similar pattern, including a history of sealed original birth records, a childhood of secrets and lies (re: birth parents and genetic history), frustrated, blocked searches for birth parents, and untreated, festering adoption issues of loss, rejection, abandonment, identity, and dissociated (split-off) rage.

This sub-group of adopted killers who he has seen consistently had a strikingly similar fantasy of the birth mother: That she was an all-giving, all-loving, nurturing, wonderful, perfect being. He had expected to find conscious anger/rage directed at a malevolent, rejecting bad mother – but instead there was this paradox of an idyllic birth-mother-fantasy image. The anger and rage toward birth parents was there – but deeply repressed, often dissociated and cut off from consciousness, and ultimately acted-out with violence toward the adoptive parents or others. In these extreme cases, the split, false, secret self described by many adoption experts, had evolved into a more malignant, clinical Dissociative Identity Disorder (aka Multiple Personality Disorder).

Adoption has long been neglected by mental health experts, as well as the criminal justice system, in the search for causes of eruptions of extreme violence.  Some adoptees believe that they have been conceived out of wedlock in the back seat of a car or by a prostitute.  One adoptee who has written about her search for answers was conceived in an act of rape.  Regardless of the sad circumstances that lead to a person’s birth and relinquishment – truth is always the best policy.  In the absence of truth (due to sealed adoption records and changes in identity details) an adoptee and even their children are left to make up stories to fill the gaps in real information.  I know that happened to me and within my own family.

Not every adoptee will suffer in the extreme this way but every adoptee deep inside has issues of abandonment and rejection.  For this reason, I do believe we have to find a better way to care of children who need a stable home with loving, caring parental figures.  No identity changes, no hidden familial truths.  Honesty is the best policy going forward.