Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cora and Mercy

Over the last two weeks I have closely followed the blogs/facebook posts of the first group of adoptive families to take custody of their South Korean children this year. Within this group were two of my friends, both meeting their five year-old daughters for the first time. The girls were best friends while in the orphanage together and their adoptive families plan to work hard to sustain that bond.

Their daughters do not fit the typical profile of a child born in South Korea and joined through adoption to a family in the US. The girls are of an age typically considered "unadoptable" in the South Korean adoption landscape; they have special needs and they have lived most of their lives in an institution. This contrasts with the majority of children adopted from Korea, who tend to be toddler-aged (2 and under) and who mostly live with foster families.

And the girls are beautiful. And wonderful. And sweet. And struggling to adjust to their new realities.

One girl now lives with a Korean-American adoptive family, and one now lives with a caucasian family. Both girls have older siblings in their new families. One family speaks Korean at home and one family does not.

Please meet Cora.
Please meet Mercy.

I am reading about their adjustment to life in their new families with great interest. Mercy's mom writes about the benefits and unexpected challenges of speaking Korean with her new daughter. Cora's mom writes about how Cora used her older brothers as a bridge to trust-building with her new parents.

Both women write about the grieving their daughters have exhibited. Grieving their former lives in an orphanage, grieving for their caretakers, grieving the routines of life in a group home.

I am thankful for the upfront and honest accounts of their transitions to family life.

As a new prospective adoptive parent I made an elaborate matrix of what did/did not constitute an "ethical" adoption. In my mind I conflated "ethical" with "painless" and as part of that scenario I was quick to dismiss the possibility that a child raised in an institutional setting would feel anything but relief at being placed with a family. I would like to think I have evolved and grown from that naive perspective, and reading about Mercy and Cora's grief has certainly helped me to continue to grow my awareness of the grief and losses inherent in adoption.