By Jane Jeong Trenka
Jane Jeong Trenka was adopted from Korea to Minnesota in 1972. She is author of the memoirs "The Language of Blood" and "Fugitive Visions," and coeditor of the anthology "Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption." She is studying for a master's degree in public policy at Seoul National University and is president of TRACK (Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea).
Hey, kids in foster care. You might be wondering why Americans are raising a stink about Russia banning adoptions while you are still waiting for a family. You might feel like no one wants you.
And why wouldn't you feel that way?
There are 58,000 of you living in institutions, 104,236 eligible for adoption and 400,540 in foster care. But I can recommend some ways to make yourself as precious and loveable as one of those Russian orphans. Take some tips from an international adoptee! Here's how:
1. Be young. You have no value if you are older than 5. I know — you're 12. But maybe people won't notice if you act young. They'll think you're big for your age. If you expect to be adopted as a preteen, forget it. At that point, all you are is a looming college tuition bill.
2. Be white. That's what the Russians had going for them. But if you can't do that, you can at least not ask to be adopted into a family that speaks Spanish or Laotian or whatever it is you used to speak at home. Language classes are once a week, and culture camp is once a year. Don't confuse tourism with real life. Got it?
3. Be alone. Nobody wants a band of kids that is already a family unit. They are trying to integrate you into them, not be integrated into you. So why are you telling people you have not just one — but two or three siblings? Say goodbye to them and send the youngest ones off to fend for themselves. They probably won't even remember you later. Maybe you can find them in adulthood through Facebook if you're sentimental.
4. Be an orphan. Do you really expect to be adopted you if want to maintain ties with your birth family? People fear your mother showing up at their front door. That is why they like to adopt kids from as far away as possible! "I am a poor orphan. I am a poor orphan." That is your new mantra, and do stop talking about your mother. Not only should you obliterate your memory, but you should also ask your social worker to burn any records that suggest you may have difficulty making adults feel loved and needed in exchange for a home.
Adoption is not about what you want. It's about what adopters want. Get it straight, kids!