Tag Archive | adoption

Even adoptees in good homes suffer the trauma of loss

Being an Asian adoptee in Norway, I did not have the lottery luck of ending up in a good home, which is a fact that has adversely shaped my life from childhood to present day. It has been suggested that, perhaps, if I had grown up with a better set of adoptive parents, I might have fared better and everything would have been all right. However, I’m convinced that many of the adoption-related issues that I struggle with today would still remain.

In the Washington Post article “Please don’t tell me I was lucky to be adopted“, Shaaren Pine, a trans-cultural adoptee from India, shares her experience of growing up in a white home in a white area in Massachusetts, USA, with adoptive parents who did a pretty good job of raising her. She also speaks of how she finds that her 7 year old daughter Ara expresses her mother’s adoption situation far better than she herself could.

“There she was, then 6, expressing her feelings about my adoption so clearly. She was able to acknowledge that like me, she, too, feels she has been cut off from her family, her culture and her story and that she is missing a part of who she is.

In my almost 40 years, I’ve only recently been able to talk about adoption honestly and openly. And it is incredibly difficult.”

Aside from the differences that I’m South Korean, not Indian, and that I grew up in what can only be described as a bad home, whereas she grew up in a good one, Shaaren’s story and the feelings and troubles she describes, to a large degree mirror my own.

“Unfortunately, there is no way to convince a non-adoptee that adoption is hard and that its effects continue into adulthood unless that person is willing to hear it. And in my experience, few have been.”

All in all, the article gives a look into the kinds of struggles that many adoptees have to deal with, emotionally and socially, and which follow them all through their lives. Even with good adoptive parents, all is not automatically well.

Click to read:

Please don’t tell me I was lucky to be adopted

An adoptee’s lifelong struggle to claim a world of her own

In the night

PTSD is a bitch. One hour of sleep, or perhaps if I am lucky I get two or three.

But sleep is not something I can take for granted, so the usual routine is to be up at late hours, make a cup of tea or hot chocolate and turn the computer on again, sit and take little sips of my mug and have another look at Facebook.

And think, is the world ever going to be a better place to be?

Is it better to join the majority of sheep, and go blissfully nowhere, or is it to be the lost sheep who suffers in silence, or to be the one that bugs them all with my thoughts and opinions, to be The One Who Annoys The World With Truth?

Well, I have always been the Black Sheep anyway, so nothing has really changed In Adoptionland either. So many times I feel I stand alone with my view of adoption.

But I know that we are millions out there who want changes, mothers and adoptees alike. And for that I am so happy, and I feel that there is hope for the future.

But here and now, with a mug in my hand, and my cat at my feet, here and now at least I feel loved for who and what I am. I am The One Who Spoils Her With Treats In The Night, and she does not mind at all.

She and I are a pair, a Grumpy Cat and a Grumpy Woman with PTSD, have found each other across the borders of race and species.

Namasté 🙂


“Unwanted”: Re-homing of Adoptees in USA

“Unwanted” is a documentary by 60 Minutes Australia, published on August 8th, 2016.

This short trailer (below) gives a brief glimpse into the practice of “re-homing” of adopted children, a way to rid yourself of an adopted child whom you do not want to care for or be responsible for anymore, “like getting rid of an old fridge on eBay”.

Adoption on its own is bad enough for starters, but it’s difficult to see how re-homing can be anything other than devastating to the adoptees — including but not limited to a brutal blow to their self esteem, and reinforcing existing abandonment issues, or creating new ones. The act of adoption is a lifelong responsibility to a human being whom you choose to take into your care, a human being with the same rights to be loved, respected, cared for and given a decent upbringing as any child that might have been born into that same family. There is no less parental responsibility for an adopted child, than for a child that is biologically yours. In fact you may well find that the responsibility is far greater, owing to the adopted child’s greater need for support due to baggage from their life before the adoption, or as a result of the adoption itself, or even as a result of growing up in a family they weren’t born into. And keep in mind that unlike the adoptive parents, the adoptees never had a choice in the matter, therefore the responsibility rests solely on the adoptive parents.

The existence of re-homing proves that many adopters consider their adopted children to be little more than pets, or even slaves, property that they can conveniently dispose of whenever they no longer feel motivated to keep up their end of the deal.

It is as grotesque as it is shameful.

From 60 Minutes Australia’s Facebook page:

Could you ever just give your child away?

Last night on #60Mins, Tara Brown exposed the US phenomenon of ‘re-homing’ – where parents decide they no longer want their adopted child, and simply advertise them online to lure prospective parents. There’s no court orders or vetting required, and these disposable children can be handed over to anyone. | WATCH the full episode: bit.ly/2aSZksm

Note: The full episode is only available in Australia.


Watch on Facebook

Please help support Against Child Trafficking (ACT)

Dear everybody.

The people at Against Child Trafficking (ACT) are in need of help. Running a non-profit organization is a costly venture, and they rely entirely on private funding. That means donations from people like you and me. Please, please consider helping them out, even if just a little. Every single dollar or euro helps.

Against Child Trafficking is an international non profit organisation, registered in the Netherlands. ACT’s main focus is the prevention of child trafficking for intercountry adoption. ACT advocates child rights based social policies that are in compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is the universal standard and the best safeguard against child trafficking.

When I Was Four

People tell me I look like a doll in this picture.

I must have been about four years old, sitting in my adoptive parents’ home, trying to be the good child that they wanted me to be, but never doing quite well enough to earn their approval. They didn’t hesitate to tell me how much I had cost them, so certainly they deserved something for their efforts?

If I was four, then this photo must have been taken in 1973. Meanwhile, in South Korea, my real father had been looking for me for three years, ever since he discovered that I was gone from the children’s home where he had placed me temporarily. Going from orphanage to orphanage, he followed dead trails and searched up one dead end after another. In another year he would himself be dead, and he’d never discover what had really happened to me, or where I had gone. I had no idea who he was, or that I was wanted somewhere else. We never saw each other again.

It was around this time that I first began to notice that I looked different from all the other children. Those around me mostly had blond hair and blue eyes. I was the only one who looked like me. So I asked my adoptive mother about it.

“Nonsense!” she’d always say. “You look just like everybody else. You’re no different at all. Now stop asking stupid questions, and leave me alone.”

But I kept looking at my own face in the mirror, at the differences that were clearly there, even though she said they were not, and I asked myself what was wrong with me.

Adoption Bonuses: The Money Behind the Madness

«DSS¹ and affiliates rewarded for breaking up families»

[ 1. Department of Social Services. ]

Read the original article by Nev Moore for Massachusetts News, May 5, 2000 here.

«The incentives for government child snatching are so good that I’m surprised we don’t have government agents breaking down people’s doors and just shooting the parents in the heads and grabbing the kids. But then, if you need more apples you don’t chop down your apple trees.»
— Nev Moore

An enlightening, eye-opening article describing the money game of adoption in the United States, how it’s possible to boost your income considerably by adopting any number of children, rewarding you social benefits above and beyond anything the original parents could have even dreamed of!

It boggles the mind, but it makes me wonder, how about if parents adopted their own natural children, in order to get enough benefits to make by and raise their children themselves? No, I’m pretty sure they’ve ironed out that specific loophole. Spending money on actually helping people help themselves is utterly out of the question. We can’t have that!

«What an interesting government policy when compared to the welfare program that the same child’s mother may have been on before losing her children, and in which she may not own anything, must prove that she has no money in the bank; no boats, real estate, stocks or bonds; and cannot even own a car that is safe to drive worth over $1000. This is all so she can collect $539 per month for herself and two children. The foster parent who gets her children gets $820 plus. We spit on the mother on welfare as a parasite who is bleeding the taxpayers, yet we hold the foster and adoptive parents [who are bleeding ten times as much from the taxpayers] up as saints. The adoptive and foster parents aren’t subjected to psychological evaluations, ink blot tests, MMPI’s, drug & alcohol evaluations, or urine screens as the parents are.»
— Nev Moore

It’s important to note, though, that this article is from May 2000, 14 years and several presidential terms ago. I have looked, but not found, so if anyone can provide pointers to information stating that these practices no longer exist, I would appreciate if you would leave a comment with updates to that effect.

A milestone: From blog to book

Those of you who have followed my blog may have noticed that there hasn’t been any activity for some time. The main reason for this is simply that I’ve been consumed by the project of turning my blog into a book. Though some of the chapters have been taken more or less verbatim from this blog, most of it is brand new. It’s been a long and laborous journey, but now at last I am finally there! The book was completed not long ago, and I finally feel ready to go public with it.

Cries of the Soul

I could not have made it without the help and support from my husband and our daughters, my husband’s family, and definitely not least the guidance and encouragement from my dear friend and mentor Joe Soll (who also wrote the introduction).

Big thanks to my friends all over the world, on Facebook and elsewhere, who have cheered me on while I was writing, and read my book after it was finished, and provided the positive feedback which has given me the confidence to also announce it here on my blog.

I am thrilled to see that in the few brief months that the book has been out, I have received four five-star reader reviews, and it also warms my heart that a number of authors have asked to include parts of both my book and my blog in books and other projects of their own.

If with this book I succeed in helping even just one adoptee, it will be totally worth the effort I put into it.

It’s available in paperback on www.amazon.com, and a Kindle version is in the works (to be announced here on the blog when it’s ready).

Cries of the Soul

The True Story of a Korean Adoptee’s Fight to Survive

by Khara Niné


In 1970, shortly after the death of her mother, and without the consent or even the knowledge of her father, a barely one year old girl is put up for foreign adoption in South Korea. She ends up in an adoptive family where she spends her childhood suffering neglect and abuse at the hands of her adoptive parents. “Cries of the Soul” tells a story rather different from the more common, picture-perfect fairy tales of the adoption industry. With her original childhood and natural family stolen from her, Khara Niné describes the harsh reality of coping and trying to fit into a family where she doesn’t belong, of grieving the loss of parents she can not even remember, and the emotional scars which she is still struggling to get to grips with more than forty years later.

“Beginning with the trauma of lying in the arms of her beloved Umma when she died, Khara takes the reader through her life’s journey with a colorful, flowing narrative, joyous in parts, yet mostly a soul wrenching description of one woman’s struggle to survive.” — Joe Soll, author of “Adoption Healing… a path to recovery”

amazon.com | amazon.ca | amazon.co.uk | amazon.de | amazon.es | amazon.it | amazon.fr



A majestic work, October 17, 2013 By Joseph M. Soll

“Cries of the Soul” is the most complete and compelling book I have ever read about the horrors of the separation of a child from her origins. Anna Freud’s statement that the horrors of war pale beside the loss of a mother is brought to reality by the gut wrenching writing of Jung Kyung Sook.

Beginning with the trauma of lying in the arms of her beloved Umma when she died, Kyung Sook takes the reader through her life’s journey with a colorful, flowing narrative, joyous in parts, yet mostly a soul wrenching description of one woman’s struggle to survive.

Those who face their demons are some of the strongest people on the face of the earth. Kyung Sook is one such person. Her story had to be told and she told it well. This book is a Must Read!” – Joe Soll, psychotherapist and author of Adoption Healing… a path to recovery.

A Must Read for Adoptive Parents, November 10, 2013 By Mary A. Coyle

This story was a tribute to Kyung Sook’s strength to live and prosper. I admire her determination to see beauty in the world around her, and her perseverance to keep going like when Kyung Sook describes the Christmas that she decorated the tree when no other family member would. The determination to choose to live when it may have been easier to take her own life. The way that Kyung Sook went on to create a family of her own in which her daughters grew up safe and happy. It is stories like hers that give parents like the me the education that we need to be better parents for our children whom we have adopted. We do listen. I know that there are not many of us, but we are out here and we do listen and learn. My own kids are growing into fine young adults. They have benefited from going to Culture Camps, cooking Korean food, and travelling to Korea (more than once) because we listened. Thank you for sharing your story.

cries of the soul, November 26 2013 By Jane hunt

This book is a wonderful read. The author covers so much about what an adoptee from korea may feel.
Her story of her family left to search for her is heartbreaking and her descriptions of fitting into a totally new culture where she is labeled an outsider is very sad.
She also manages to cover some of the corrupt side of international adoptions and is very courageous to tell her truth. She covers the spiritual side and the emotional side very well. It is a great read and an eye opener about how the adoption industry effects those in it’s grasp.

Real, raw, and heartfelt, December 30, 2013 By Nanci Dru

Cries of the Soul is an autobiography of the life of a Korean adoptee who grew up in Norway that is told in beautiful and haunting vignettes that are seamlessly woven together. Although the book may be of particular interest to adoptees, it is such a compelling book and written in such a lovely way that I recommend it for any reader (though not young children; although Khara Nine, nee Jung Kyung Sook, writes with the innocent voice of a child, it is a book for those mature enough to understand the painful and dark side of adoption). What I loved most about this book is the author’s voice. It is the voice of a girl who appreciates the innocence of climbing trees and her beloved stuffed animal. Her detail is spot on — I have never been to Norway but felt I was there alongside her with the beaches and fjords. Her descriptions of happy occasions are punctuated with the abuse she suffered at the hands of her adoptive parents, and these moments when the reader is suddenly swept from an idyllic situation to the reality of her abuse are jarring and suspenseful. Her writing is reminiscent of fairy tales, but real and without the happy ending. Interwoven with the stories of her childhood are her adult musings on finding her sisters, learning of her father’s death, and her own family in Norway. The book has all the lessons of a great psychology or self-help book but is told as an incredible life story. I highly recommend this thoughtful and thought-provoking work.

PTSD and being burned out

Many nights I have problems sleeping. At certain times of the year I get particularly restless in relation to the deaths of my natural parents. I have severe anxiety due to that loss, and the separation from my family. There are flashbacks in the form of dreams that come from deeply rooted memories. I’ve always been burdened with sadness and depression, having great difficulty concentrating in school and now with things in my adult life, inability to trust others, and a seemingly never ending feeling that my life isn’t ever going to be any better than this. I exist detached from other people, struggling with close physical contact, such as hugs, feeling uncomfortable in social settings, crowded places and queues, and feeling this emotional numbness whilst at the same time my heart seems hard and sore.

I’ve been told that if my PTSD is not treated, things will only continue to get worse. This is no good, so I do whatever I can do: seeking help, writing down my feelings in this blog, trying to help myself heal this way. I read every book I come across on the subject of adoption issues, and really, really try to do this because it’ll hopefully help me find the inner peace that I’m seeking.

The key word is abandonment, a feeling that keeps gnawing in the back of my head. Although I try not to think about it, it’s always there, this vague echo of an unfathomable loss at a young age, ringing with a series of countless traumatic experiences, and a frightened little girl’s efforts to try to adapt to it all.

I had a very abusive childhood, which has resulted in a complex PTSD, making every day of my life a test and a struggle, I’m exhausted by stressful situations, I don’t handle things as well as before, and my mood is turning all the time.

So now I’ve reached a point in life when I feel that I’m running on autopilot. I burned out my batteries when I was little, when I had to grow up fast and take on responsibilities that no child should have to. I annihilated myself just to try to please the world. To survive I became a quiet, easily manageable child who took care of things that my adoptive parents should have handled themselves, just to be accepted. I feel burned out, with no energy left, and some days I wonder how I’ll make it through the day. I feel very tired and sad, and often feel like crying all day, or lay in bed and just sleep to escape from the world. Even writing in my blog seems so hard at times. I never thought that working with my inner child would be so tough.

And it’s not easy being labeled for my mental condition either, but it’s better to know why my life is this way. It’s part of being true to myself, and has allowed me to make many important discoveries in this emotional Pandora’s Box of mine, since I’ve had all these symptoms for as long as I can remember, without knowing it was PTSD.

Much of my recent progress is thanks to a very special person who has helped me a great deal, the only one who has said “I’m proud of you,” which made me cry. And yet this person is a stranger, but also a friend who reached out for me in a Facebook group. How can I ever repay you? I wish to express the greatest gratitude from the bottom of my heart.

~ Khara

In memory of Appa

This post has been updated with new information. See the box at the bottom.

I wonder how the social worker at Holt could sleep at night in 1970, after sealing my destiny. He did his job and went home that day, exhausted from all of his work. How could he play God? When he wrote down lies in my journal, I’m sure that he followed rules. Holt must have had guidelines about what to write into the journals in order to make them seem real enough, just to make the work efficient in order to make money fast. They had to maintain the number of kids to be adopted at all times, and of course it was better to have as many as possible, and since the orphanage earned more on overseas adoption than in domestic adoption there was always an incentive to send kids abroad to make room for more.

I wonder if the workers at Holt Children Services feel the weight of their conscience when they know that they have falsified so many journals for so many adoptees worldwide. I’ve wondered many times whether the same social worker that received me in 1968, who sat in his office when my father came to bring me home again, some day in the early Seventies. He must have told my father the biggest lie ever, that he had to go and look for me at another orphanage in Korea even though he knew that I had been sent abroad. So my father began to search after me at many orphanages, all over Korea, a search whitch lasted for several years until he died in sorrow and despair. When he handed me over to the orphanage, he was not told that he would never see me again. If they had told him that, he would never have let them take me.

So here I am today, an angry and sad adoptee, wanting to tell the world that a huge injustice has been done to me, and to my Korean father who was desperate to get help for his children in need. This has also affected my oldest sister’s life, because she too searched for me for many years. She was still only a teenager when she started to search, after she promised our Father on his deathbed that she would continue his search after me, so that we sisters could be together. She too longed for me for so many years. She is my hero. Only after our reunion in 1986 she has had peace in her heart.

This was not the act of a father who wished to abandon me, but the opposite. He loved all of us children, but he needed help in a difficult time to make a better life for us all. It was only 16 years after the Korea war ended, and our mother died suddenly, so help was greatly needed. My story is not unique, but rather a typical sad event that this sentence fits perfectly: Adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It hurts so many, and affects so many aspects of our lives. Today we sisters have very little contact because of difficulty with language, difference in culture, and the fact that, although we are family by blood, we are also strangers to each other.

Adoption adversely affects everything in life. We lose our parents, most importantly our mother, which leaves deep emotional scars; the primal wound. But we also lose the life we were meant to have, our heritage and so much more. All I can do now is pick up little pieces here and there, in an attempt to reconstruct my story from the past.

As tragic as our story is, if conditions in Korea had been different back then, this would not have happened to us, my sisters and I. To put things right for the future, it will be necessary to change both the welfare system and the general attitude towards adoption, and hopefully with time the adoption business will end.

These days, most babies that go to adoption are from unmarried single mothers, where many of them have been pushed, bullied, threatened or tricked into giving up their newborn. Korea needs to move into the 21st Century and stop looking down on those women, remove the shame of being young, unmarried and pregnant, and a single mother.

Korea, my homeland, my heart cries for the way in which you regard people who don’t follow the masses. There’s even still racial discrimination. Get a grip, and please change for the better. I feel ashamed for the land where my heart belongs; the Land of Morning Calm, please earn your name once more, be tolerant and helpful instead of breaking apart mothers and their children through unnecessary adoption, messing up their lives forever.

Many of us who were adopted as very young are now grown up, we’re looking into our past and digging up our true history, and uncovering old sins of the adoption system as we do so. Hopefully the world will see us, and learn that the adoption industry is cruel and unloving, and that by adopting children, the new adoptive parents are supporting that industry. Today, many are working to end the adoption business, to rouse consciousness about the fates of adopted children. This is my only comfort when I think back at my first two years in Korea, and my abusive childhood here in Norway. I hope that it has not all been for nothing, that many will read this and help tell the world that we are too many who suffer the consequences of adoption.

I feel that my Appa would have been proud of me, if he had known that I am trying to change the world in this little way; to make it so that no more children will have to experience the ocean of tears and grief as we sisters did, and I still do. That no-one else will be separated for the rest of their lives.

My dear Appa: rest in peace. You probably died in 1976, when I was 8 years old here in Norway. If I had only known then that you had come to take me back home. I wonder if you would have recognized me; a very shy, frightened, sad little girl, carrying too many burdens on her shoulders. Would you have seen the sorrow in my eyes, would you have eased my pain, and would you have loved me as much as you did my other sisters? In my heart I know the answer, I will always treasure you.

~ Khara

Update: In the time since I wrote this post, I have found out that my father died in July of 1974, not 1976 as I previously thought, at which time I was five years old, not eight.

Plain, Honest Facts

Now and then I have to take a break from my adoption issues. I need to feel that I’m alive, happy and content, even though my life is like a roller-coaster ride.

There are days when I have lots of energy, I’ll be baking and doing the house work like a tornado. Then I can do what I love the most, to go fishing, find myself a nice place to relax, watch the waves, feel the warm sun and listen to to the ocean and the seagulls. Those are moment that I treasure, that I feel like I am one with nature, and feel really alive. To be there by myself, enjoy my tea and sandwich, maybe listen to music on my mobile. Sometimes others come to try their luck with the fishing, and we’ll have a chat about the weather or whatever springs to mind. But mostly it’s me and my thoughts, and I will think of my dreams for the future.

I really wish for a new place with a garden, where I can work with flowers of all kinds, from roses, marigold and daisies to Japanese lanterns, grow strawberries, rhubarb and herb plants, and have fruit trees with apples, pears, plums and cherries. And in one corner I want a big magnolia. I plan to have a bunny who can graze on dandelions and clovers, a little dog to follow me everywhere with its tail wagging, and my cat will be climbing the trees.

Other days I just have no energy to do anything at all. I just want to sleep and forget about my past. Those days are like dark tunnels, and I can’t see any light at the end. Even something as simple as taking a shower seems almost impossible, let alone doing housework, or facing other people.

I’m diagnosed with severe depression, as well as post traumatic stress disorder due both to being adopted and to having a difficult childhood. I’m prone to mood turns, and can go from cheerful to deep dark with little or no warning. I have this sore and unbearable empty feeling in my heart, which makes me restless and temperamental. If I was alone I would slam my fists on the walls and scream and howl with despair. I am so sad that my heart could break into thousand pieces over the painful past that keeps coming back to haunt me over and over. It’s more than 40 years since I came to Norway, and I still struggle with being adopted.

What did I inherit from my biological parents? My looks and personality, my sense of humour, compassion for others, some of the ways in which I see and do things. And what did my adoptive parents give me? Anger, hate, despair and depression.

It’s said that we are shaped by the environment in which we grow up. I’ve had to grow protective shields against the verbal and physical abuse during my childhood, shields that now lock me in and make it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to relate to people around me. I hope to peel this protective layer off again, like an orange, to allow the real me to emerge and take control of my own life; to be a person with lots of energy, spend time with friends and family, have barbecue evenings, cook and bake, talk with like-minded people about the big questions in life, from stars, planets and the Universe, to closer matters like adoption; to be myself, and know that I am good enough and appreciated for the person that I am.

It’s time for my inner child to come through, to shine and feel that she has accomplished what it takes to be free. Then she would be brave enough to say that “I can do anything, and I am good enough!”  Then her handcuffs would at last come off, and the smile on her face would shine like a million stars.

In Norway, foreign adoption is still seen as the old cliché, that it is a beautiful, generous and noble act, and that adoptees should be grateful for having been saved and given a good life here. Even in 2012, Norway is old-fashioned when it comes to adoption issues. We need raise consciousness about this, and learn from people like Nancy Verrier, Paul Sunderland, Joe Soll and others who know what kinds of issues foreign adoptees struggle with every day of their lives.

~ Khara