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Sunday, August 7, 2011

KAAN Conference - A Letter to an Adoption Nation

I attended the KAAN ( Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network) conference, held last weekend in Atlanta, Georgia. KAAN was founded by my dear friend, Chris Winston. I've heard about the conference for many years but I've never been able to attend. I am grateful I was finally able to participate in the conference.
The conference was amazing! I enjoyed sharing my new book All About Korea and what I know about how adoptees and their families can "Create Authentic Connections to the Korean Culture." But even more, I was honored to be able to get to know many wonderful adoptees, their parents and siblings. I found the experience to be educational, thought-provoking and moving.

Next year’s conference will be held in Albany N.Y. on July 27th-29th. You can learn more about KAAN and their annual conference at www.KAANet.org or an facebook at http://www.facebook.com/kaanet?sk=wall. Check it out!

The poem below was written by a very talented young man, Stephen Johnson. It tells of the complexity, power and potential surrounding adoption.  Stephen wrote the poem during the conference and we were fortunate that he was willing to share it with all conference attendees. It is well worth the read! 

Letter to an Adoption Nation

By Stephen Johnson

Let me begin
With all my adoptee friends here
I think its funny that we barely knew each other
But it feels like we have the same exact mother
Blood brothers, join hands
And support one another
Blood sisters, join hands
And hold up each other
Let’s start a revolution of love
Because we know what its like
To be lost in the night

So, all who are able
Lets join hands with others
Who have no mothers
Brothers who have no others
And those who live at the margins
Because we’ve been there too
Sittin on the side of hurt avenue

This one goes out to all those birthmothers
You’re not alone, even though stones get thrown
And you never feel known
Because of some militarized zone that you feel in your bones
You aren’t perfect
I know you’ve been wrong
But who hasn’t?
You are strong
A survivor of systems stacked against you
Structures in place to displace
The only face you can’t forget
And I know you remember

And to the adopted parents out there
I know we sound angry at times, and I’m sorry
Just don’t give up on us
Even though we fuss and never shut up
About taking your kids to culture camp
You need us
And we need you
To be allies in a world
That defiles and lies
I’m on your side

To all those real Koreans out there
It may be news to a few
But I’m a real Korean too
I love gimbap, dolsot bimbimbap
I’ve even worn a hanbok
But more than that
We’re family

We’re all family
We’ve all got pain the size of a peninsula
Sometimes we keep moving just to move
But please don’t give up.
Even though the ground is dry and the grass is dead
There’s hope on the other side

So let’s start a revolution
Breaking down barriers
Of injustice, oppression, dejection,
And all those ‘ism’s that divide like prisms
Racism, ageism, sexism, narcissism

Let’s join hands and show the world
What their dreams can look like
And if the world tells you that you’re too small
That we can’t make a difference
Trust me seven billion people CAN be wrong

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