Thoughts: Long-term Effects of Child Separation at the Border

The detainment, imprisonment, and separation of families at the border are not the first time the United States has participated in such acts. Our nation is founded on the premises of family separation and relocation that have affected millions of people of color both in the United States and across the globe. As you may have seen, there are already several articles that have pointed this information out and spoken to the extreme trauma, harm, and evil that is being done to these children. There are no processes in place to reunite the children with their parents, and the United States is just not prepared to humanely take care of the thousands of children that are flooding the Department of Children and Families.

While Trump has decided to sign an executive order to end child separation, it still gives me pause for the children that are still being affected by this policy, especially those who cannot speak for themselves. As an adoptee, as a person who was separated from their birth mother, and as a person who was institutionalized for the majority of their first year of life, this pains me like no other. The harmful effects lead to so much more than people can fathom, even for those that are adopted into homes that love them.

Unfortunately, there is a high probability that they will not. While there are orgnaizations that are working towards reuniting families, resources can only go so far. Without help, finding parents for a child is nearly impossible. Many of these children are unfamiliar with the intricate bureaucratic systems of the dependency system in the United States or speak English. Many of them will get trapped in a system that is already failing our most vulnerable youth.

As someone who has researched and learned more about the Foster Care System over the past five years in the United States, this is an issue that is far, far more damaging than is currently being reported. I do not claim to be an expert, nor do I have “credentials” that would assert me as such, but I do have knowledge that I think is highly applicable to what is occurring now.

Many children that enter the dependency system, especially older children, do not get adopted. Instead, they bounce around from place to place until they age out of the system altogether, ultimately funneling the youth, primarily youth of color and LGBTQ+ identified youth, to prison. The United State already has a pandemic of mass incarceration. They are placed in a system that is overcrowded, underfunded, and ultimately destined to fail. Even though the vast majority of youth in care wish to attend higher education, only 55% enroll in programs, and only 8% of students complete their programs due to barriers of financial support, housing stability, and more.

The worst part is, the violence does not end here. The cycle of foster care and violence can affect a family for generations. However, some non-profits and communities have been able to work with youth and young adults to disrupt these systems and have positive results. However, this is not enough. We need more people, institutions, and local governments.

 

What can you do to help?

1. Call your representatives. Demand change in immigration policy that protects children and families. Keep calling. Once a day. Once a week. Just keep calling. Get your friends and families to call.
2. While adoption can be positive, your first step should be to advocate for family preservation. No family should be separated because of circumstances outside of their control.
3. Donate your time and money to organizations that focus on assisting youth throughout their time in foster care, age out of foster care, and are no longer supported by the government through services. The support should not end once the foster care alumni reach an arbitrary number. A non-profit like, Educate Tomorrow focusing on a continuum of care.
4. Educate yourself on the inequity that that affects low-income communities and communities of color.
5. Make your own damn list of how to be more involved.

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Change in the Huff Post

So, I’m not going to pretend that I’m the reason why the Huff Post has added Asian Voices to their navigation bar, but I’ll still pretend that it still had some factor when I submitted my pitch to them and proceeded to get rejected.

I’m just happy that it exists now. Huff Post, will you please consider accepting some of my other articles, or nah?

Some News

I woke up Monday morning with an email notification from my Nurse reviewing my Peace Corps application. What I thought was going to be information in regards to my TB spot test because I had uploaded it to the wrong file. While the first message confirmed about the test and that it was no longer a concern to worry about, the second message informed me that I was no longer able to serve in the Peace Corps. I closed my eyes and my laptop and breathed in deeply. Eric was there, and he looked at me and stopped what he was doing and immediately asked me what was wrong. I gave him my laptop, my password, and he read the message and covered his mouth.

I was unable to serve and had to withdraw my invitation due to my inability to pass the medical clearance. Due to recent physical diagnosis and previous mental diagnosis, I would need to spend the next year stabilizing both before I could apply again. My heart is broken. While I had my reservations about the Peace Corps as a neocolonial form of power and domination, it does do less harm than other forms of capitalistic ventures. I wanted to go to China, and I wanted to go with a lifelong dream of joining the Peace Corps.

I don’t think that anyone can prepare you to adjust to this kind of new reality. The closeness of being accepted, but suddenly due to certain genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and lack of access to health care throughout the majority of your life, to not have it anymore, hurts. I’d like to joke and say I still have my health, but even that has come into a bit of a question for me. To some extent, I feel like a failure. To another, I feel like a liar. Neither is true, at least this is what my doctors, and mother, and friends tell me.

I’m bad at processing my feelings, at least I’m bad at letting them exist in their primal state. I like to add other facts and statistics and bring in other world events and phenomena. Sitting with my feelings is hard and complicated and messy and something I’ve avoided my entire life, but maybe a list will help. So, here it goes.

1. I am sad
2. I am disappointed
3. I blame myself
4. I blame my shitty genetics from my biological parents whom I will probably never meet
5. I feel guilty for blaming things that they cannot control
6. I blame the working class environment growing up
7. I feel guilty for not being grateful enough for what I had
8. Capitalism sucks
9. I am scared. I have never had to wait longer than a few weeks to a month in limbo. I get anxious, and the unknown terrifies me
10. I am not resentful. I know that what has happened is not in control. I understand the desire for stability in volunteers, and I understand the necessity of stability to live.
11. Ya girl’s looking for a job, so please hire me.
12. I’m just sad. There’s no other feeling left to say.

I worry a lot

I worry about a lot of things, but mostly I worry about making my opinions public to the world. There is a part of me that comes up with so many stories I want to write and the opinions I have about certain things, but there is a deeply rooted concern about publishing those ideas online. On the one hand, I desperately want to talk to people about these topics and ideas, but on the other, I also don’t want to be crushed by public scrutiny. I know, I’m not perfect. No one is. Everyone is problematic, and as long as I grow and learn from mistakes and acknowledge them, it doesn’t seem like enough. I’m a huge advocate for learning about new things through dialogue and conversations, yet I’m really terrified of putting mine out into the universe. It’s easier to do it in person, but everything always seems so one-sided on the internet. There are obviously going to be trolls, assholes, and everything else. On a rational level, it’s easy to know that it doesn’t matter what strangers say to you, but it never truly changes how I feel. I just hope that one day, I’ll become think-skinned enough follow-through.

It’s been a hot minute.

It’s been close to a month since I’ve posted, but I promise I’ll be back! Maybe. Readjusting back to American life was odd and I miss S. Korea like crazy. I miss the convenience of public transport, convenience stores, endless skin care stores, street food, blending in, friends, trying new things. I forgot to post about a lot of my experiences, like eating live octopus and going to language exchange meetups. But, I think that’s okay. I’m realizing that I don’t need to document everything I do on social media to know that I’ve done those things.

Political Rant

So, because I’m in S. Korea, I haven’t been keeping up with the news as much as I probably should. In fact, my mom was telling me about how N. Korea set off another missile, but since no one around me reacted, it just didn’t get on my radar. Otherwise, a lot of the news I have been getting has been off of my Facebook, so my only question is,  why am I seeing more news about Trump’s misspelled Tweet than the bombing in Kabul? Like, I get it… he’s the president, but like why is this news? Why does this show up more often than the reports that Trump may back out of the Paris climate agreement?

I understand that the rise of Trump has allowed for the rise of hate speech and all of these other things, but is a misspelled word really worth something to jab at? Like, Trump does plenty of other things that we could criticize, but we choose to criticize him because of a tweet? Like???? I just don’t understand. In case you didn’t know, below are some links so that anyone who stumbles across this post can read some of the things that are going on beyond a tweet.

 

https://www.vox.com/2017/5/31/15719386/trump-paris-climate-agreement-moral-failure

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/05/31/asia/kabul-explosion-hits-diplomatic-area/

If anything could get weirder

For the past two weeks, never could I have predicted that I would go to a funeral. Never would I have predicted that I would try to explain the differences between gender and sexuality to someone at a funeral. Yet, here I am posting about another experience that I would have never predicted: somehow I stumbled upon the American K-Pop group attempting to make it big in South Korea.

Trying to get out of the negative headspace that I have been in for the past few days, I decided that I needed to leave my apartment and go for a walk. I went to Cheonggyecheon stream to walk around and just think. I didn’t exactly realize how long it is (it’s like almost 5K one way), so I walked and kept walking. When I eventually got tired of walking, I left through one of the side steps that are available, and I had no idea where I was. I continued walking, and then I heard a concert that was going on, and curious as I was, decided to go look. Turns out, it was EXP Edition. It’s essentially a K-pop group created by a Korean MFA student at Columbia to explore and push boundaries on the ideas of masculinity and transnational pop culture. Of course, people are pissed that this group exists. This is mainly because a K-Pop group can spend years training before they can even be considered ready to perform and represent their country on the world pop stage. Some argue that this is a form of cultural appropriation, while others would say it’s more of a cultural exchange. Which, to add more complexity Kpop has been criticized for appropriating black American culture pretty often.

There were Koreans and non-Koreans in the crowd, some of which seemed very enthused that this group was performing. To my surprise, they spoke to the audience in Korean, but not to my surprise, they weren’t particularly good at it. Of course, I’m not exactly one to talk about whose Korean is good or not, but it feels… weird. While doing many of my interviews and reading past research, Korean adoptees are often harassed and berated by Koreans for not knowing Korean. Of course, I can’t really compare the two experiences because they’re completely different from one another, aside from the fact that both adoptees and this group cross international borders, nevertheless, it still feels weird? I don’t really know. I still can’t believe that I just randomly walked by them. I still can’t believe that they exist? The universe is so strange sometimes, but seeing this Kpop group actually shifted my thoughts from the negative spiral it was going down to just amusement.

My life is a spectacle

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to my blog, travel journal, brain dump, and general inner workings of my mind. I have always wanted to start a blog, but for a multitude of reasons never did. Now that I’m older, although not much wiser, I feel a lot more comfortable in expressing myself and would like a general outlet to dump all of my thoughts. You may be reading this and think, well why don’t have I have a journal? I do, but it’s more for a stream of thought process. This website is intended to push me as a writer and thinker about myself and my positionality in the world. Follow me on my adventures and non-adventures if you want and watch me struggle through life as the picture below demonstrates wonderfully (Thank you, Sally, for the photo).

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I can’t exactly remember how I got in this position, but I do remember struggling to get up from it.