When we arrive in Sweden we have to give up our Korean identity … it is assumed that there are no special problems, emotional or psychological costs being a non-white adoptee in a white adoptive family and living in a predominantly white surrounding. Consequently, assimilation becomes the ideal as the adoptee is stripped of name, language, religion and culture ….I have the feeling that we are “stranded” here in the West … The question is not: Am I a Swede or a Korean? The question is: How can I survive as a marginalized East Asian in Sweden? We will never be considered as Swedes, and we cannot return to Korea.
There is anger too about the distorted pattern of relationships for East Asians living in the West:
The stereotyped sex roles are disastrous for us East Asians. The feminization and infantilization hitting both sexes, have direct consequences in our daily lives. East Asian men are desexualized … East Asian women are on the other hand hyper-sexualized …
Asian-Americans have the highest ratio of interracial relations. It is no surprise that this concerns Asian women, not Asian men. In some generations and ethnic groups as many as 80 percent of the Asian-American women have left their own community for white men. The consequence is that every generation produces a bachelor society among Asian men, and a huge number of Amerasian children.
Whites’ views on us East Asians have been taken for granted especially among us adoptees. The men feel ugly, while the women feel “special” … The men remain bachelors, while the women marry white men … being married to a white man is honestly speaking a one-way ticket into the white society.
Hubinette believes his own discontent is not uncommon among intercountry adoptees and produces research to back his claims. For instance, 61% of ethnic Swedes are either married or cohabitant, but only 28% of intercountry adoptees. 5% of ethnic Swedish women sometimes use illicit drugs, compared to 24% of adoptee women. Female intercountry adoptees in Sweden are more likely to suicide, the odds ratio being a considerable 4.5.
What can be done? The feminist parents of one adoptive child made special efforts to connect her to her country of birth:
Traveling all over with our daughter, we tried to soak up the very essence of her birth country. While she had the strong, stunning features of the people in the countryside, we wore the neon signs of tourists. We know a lot about her birth country. We have books, music, pictures and mementos, but we know not how to give her the deep, deep love of her birth country that can come so naturally to native people.
What I find interesting about this quote is that the child’s parents, as a matter of conscience, felt the need to provide their adopted child with a love of her country of birth. Would they have had the same concern for a biological child? Would they have recognised the same need to be connected to an ancestral place, people and culture?
Liberalism tells us that ethnicity, as an unchosen “accident of birth”, shouldn’t matter and that it should be something we are blind to. In some contexts this might be true, but it leads to a denial of important aspects of the human experience, particularly those concerning human identity, attachment and forms of “connectedness”.
The fact that ethnicity is something we don’t choose doesn’t make it insignificant in our lives.