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Adoption Blog: The Perfect Blend

Is the Baby We’re Waiting to Adopt from Korea Living in a War Zone?

The increased tensions between North and South Korea since the two exchanged artillery fire on Yeonpyeong Island have played out in a continuous, cable-cycle loop on the television, on the Internet, and in my mind. Even Thanksgiving, my favorite day of the year, did little to curb the intensity of my increasing obsession with the politics of the Korean peninsula. Going online to check my e-mail has been an excuse to search the Web for editorials. A coffee date with a dear friend turned into an internal battle over whether to veer over to the Asian studies bookshelves to pick up some light reading on pre- and post-Korean War history.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m pretty internationally aware. I know, generally speaking, what’s going on in the world. I read the newspaper—well, online anyway. I dabble in talk radio. Overall, I’m a pretty informed about national and international news. 

But it’s rarely this personal. Never has an international issue so deeply affected my family. In just two days, we will have been waiting for a referral for adopting an infant from Korea for six months. Our adoption agency, Spence-Chapin, tells us that the expected wait, as of now, is six to eight months. We are on the brink of a referral, but now a referral means something else. It means having a baby, with a face and a name, who lives in a potential war zone.

I don’t know what it feels like for the families whose Korean-born sons and daughters are already at home with them, but I can’t imagine that the connection to the country from which your child comes fades over time. This is an incredible thing about international adoption, I’m beginning to see. It makes transnational families—international citizens—of so many of us. The idea of a global community is a reality for transnational families, whether they’re formed by adoption or otherwise, just as race is an issue that is hammered out at the kitchen table in multiracial and multicultural families as we, as a nation, deal with it in the social sphere.

Yet there’s also a certain helplessness that my husband, Jeremiah, and I face. I don’t feel at all empowered by our location on the cusp of transnationality. I feel scared for my baby.

For us, every report about Seoul serves as a reminder that our child is there, amidst the fears and protests, right at the epicenter of so many threats. And so now I want peace, not in the abstract, but for him: the boy who lives right in the middle of it all.

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I know what you’re going through. The terrorist bombings in Mumbai happened less than a month before we were to travel to India to pick up Manu. Other than heightened security everywhere, it did not interfere with our plans, nor did we have any second thoughts about personally traveling to meet our son.

I wouldn’t worry too much, Korea has been in a constant state of flux for decades now, and it will probably remain that way for a while.

By Jeff on Monday, December 13, 2010 at 7:21 pm.

My son will be there before spring.  I spent a few days holding my breath.  If something did happen, he might go sooner rather than later.  That’s not a very comforting thought.  But as Jeff said, tensions come and go.  War is not a foregone conclusion.  I don’t like it when my son is in a war zone, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that it does no good to worry about things that are as of now only one possibility among many.  I’ll help you wish for peace, though.

By Jeanne on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 5:44 am.

The Koreas are in armistice, still at war, it never ended. We were in Seoul in April as they raised the Cheonan from its deep sea death. We rode the subway and watched the in car monitors replay over and over where the haz mat suits were located and what to do in case of biological terrorism. S. Korea lives under a constant threat from N. Korea. Although tensions are escalating, it is important for N. Americans to understand that this is nothing new for Koreans. N. Korea is flexing some muscle gearing up for a regime change, but S. Korea has no intension of “going to war”, they have too much to lose. Your son is safe, as we too worked with SWS and Spence-Chapin, I know your stress but also know he is well taken care of.

By LizLee on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 4:40 am.

Thanks for your support, everyone.  Liz, I know that you’re totally right.  It’s difficult to remember that when the stakes suddenly feel so high for my family—and, particularly, when the American media seems to chomp at the bit regarding any tension between North and South Korea—but your reminder really puts things into perspective.

By Meghan on Tuesday, January 04, 2011 at 3:00 pm.

You are very welcome…listen to Namyi, if she says all is well, it is. If she becomes alarmed, then worry. Until then, make plans and GET EXCITED for your trip!

By LizLee on Tuesday, January 04, 2011 at 7:32 pm.

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