Sunday, 2 March 2014

Internationally adopted adult series: Janine Vance (of the Vance Twins)

Where were you adopted from? How old were you when you were adopted? Did you have any other birth siblings?  What was the adoptive family set up like?  How many other children were in the family and were you the only nonwhite child in that family?

My twin sister and I were six months old when we were adopted from Seoul, South Korea by what is considered now to be the pioneering and most ethical international adoption agency. In 1972, they had placed us into separate foster homes until they matched us with a couple in the US, particularly in a small emerging city in Washington State.

Our adoptive parents were the all-American dedicated Christian family. We grew to love them—in fact, we thought they were a perfect couple--like typical young children do of their parents. Today, my 83 year old adoptive father is my closest friend. My adoptive mother passed away from cancer in 1997. When they adopted my twin and me, they already had two sons, ages six and four.

Did you live in a diverse community? Go to a diverse school?  Struggles with identity?

Despite growing up in a small community, I actually didn’t get hit with racism as a child like other intercountry adopted people have, but I do remember being given disgusted looks that suggested I, an Asian minority, had no right to be in the U.S.. There were a few minor incidences here and there, like the time while walking to school a group of elementary school children pulled back their eyes, stuck out their middle fingers at my sister and me, and yelled “chinks, go back to China!” (The funny thing is that I wondered to myself, “where? Where are the chinks?” I fully identified myself as “White American.”) But we did not experience overt bullying, such as pushing, shoving or violence. Also, it is funny to note, that after my trip to Korea, my adoptive father still thought of me as his Caucasian daughter—it took a few arguments to convince him that I’m actually Asian.

The “racism” I deal with as an adult is just an overall assumption made against me based on my ethnicity mostly while I’m in public helping my adoptive father in such places as the grocery stores, parks or restaurants.  People might assume that I am my adoptive father’s nursing assistant or worse, his mail-order bride. I might get scowled at, pointed out, or asked intruding questions by disapproving spectators, and there have been plenty of disapproving looks as if I’m trying to take advantage of a nice elderly man. In fact, one quite disturbed and curious man marched up to me and asked my (a) father and me how long we had been married. It’s one of the hazards of being a female transracial Asian-born American-bred adoptee. As tiny tots, people used to adore my father when he cared for my sister and me. In contrast, the sight of me, as an adult, taking care of him triggers some disgusted looks toward me. In fact, it really is not uncommon for people to stand in the middle of a grocery store aisle in order to stare at me while I help my eighty-three year old adoptive father buy his groceries. But I’ve learned to ignore the looks.

Are you in reunion with your birth/first family?

While at the 2004 Korean adoptee gathering, my sister and I requested for our files. We were told they were in Oregon. Once back in the states we were told our files were in Korea, the same office we had originally asked in. Then back in Korea in 2007, we were given a few more (nonhelpful) papers. 
I waited seven years after my adoptive mother passed away before deciding to search for my Korean family. Some adoptees have the audacity to wonder about their biological family as young children. (I didn’t think I had that right back then.) I fully believed with all my being that I was an orphan, therefore the thought of a Korean family hadn’t even occurred to me until the age of 32 when I attended the Korean Adoptee Gathering and watched as Korean adoptees all around me were reuniting with their families. The curiosity for one’s biological family might happen while we are teenagers or not until we are much older. Up until very recently, I gave more consideration to the adoption facilitators than for my own birth rights—because at the time I didn’t know that I even had rights!



What are the losses for you for being internationally adopted? And the gains?

Because of my adoption, I have lost my Korean family and the Korean community that comes with it. I also lost a beautiful and peaceful philosophy that used to be a part of Korean culture. Most people might think this loss is not a big deal--especially due to an overall aversion against all of Korea in the minds of those in my adoptive community. However, I’m the type of person who believes every society is made up of individuals and I’ve always had an interest in humanity, therefore I find value in my ethnicity despite being severed and segregated from it.

The gains of adoption have to do with the fact that, as an adopted person, I am a beneficiary. On the surface, it appears as if I have only gained. Pro-adoption workers place value on the materialistic (and sometimes the religious) things that an adoptive family can give to a child as if things can replace family. Many presume that the “poor” mothers are incapable of giving their child “real” love. I appreciate all of my adoptive parents’ attempts to provide a decent home, but they assumed that a religious education was their only responsibility and that it was enough at the time. I will always appreciate their efforts. However, based on experience, I know now that owning more things does not fulfill adults or children. My adoptive mother was a hoarder. I grew up in an unfinished 4000 square foot (cold!) house that was crammed pack full of possessions, which crowded us out. My adoptive father owned thirteen vehicles, including Cadillac Limousines. This did not mean they knew how to love us more than our Korean parents could have. Like typical children, I ignored our adoptive parents’ flaws, and accept them for who they were. I accept the past, but this does not mean I am for adoption any longer--especially after learning how children have been and still are manipulated and unethically obtained for adoption and how much money is involved depending upon the child’s race.

Do you think international adoption should ever happen, rarely happen or never happen? And why?

Before there was international adoption in South Korea, there was peace. There was no fight for the rights to gain children between stakeholders. There was no cause for demand. There was no profit made for each child moved overseas.

I dislike the rhetoric adoption facilitators use—especially the saying “every child has a right to a family.” That one bothers me the most. What about the right to the family we were born into? Why do strangers have the right to take that away? Adopted people don’t want “a” family, we should be given a right to know and be cared for by our own biological families—and if mother is gone, we should at least have the right to know our father, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents are. As a child’s right advocate, I do not see adoption as “Child Protection” like adoption facilitators claim it as, but rather a violation on the child’s natural born right to know and be cared for by our parents, which is not only given divinely but also recognized by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

After having listened to adopted people for almost a decade and looking at the history as well as the global scale of it, I believe that the roots of the practice is built on lies, ignorance, manipulation, and outright deception, which can be considered child trafficking. Far too many inexperienced parents have been exploited and not presented with the long-term ramifications against the family unit that adoption causes. It’s taken me years to get to this point in my life—even after years of researching, collecting and listening to hundreds and thousands of stories and being tossed into the trenches myself—I didn’t ever consider myself to be “anti-adoption.” Adoption has become so glorified that if one part of it is questioned, you will be labeled anti-adoption and dismissed, ignored or even attacked. After scrutinizing all parts of it, I now disapprove of the practice. There are too many risks involved—risks that can last a lifetime and never be corrected.

What advice would you give to people considering international adoption?

The adoptee community is changing rapidly. What is acceptable now might not be ten or eighteen years later. Personally, I don’t recommend adopting at this time. I foresee the community demanding an inquiry and accountability against governments. Scrutinize the application form prior to signing. Don’t write the check until you have a clear understanding. There are some organizations that will start you off with small asking amounts but eventually ask for more, they might send you a different child than the one you originally wanted, or give you a disabled child and before you know it, you owe them $60,000. Watch out for some-sort of discreet silence clause intended to prevent you from speaking out or seeking justice if something unforeseen happens or if the adoption agency fails you.

When my sister and I started the Adoption Truth and Transparency Worldwide Network Facebook Group, we had no idea that there were so many parents (of adoption loss) who needed to speak out against the practice. We started the group because we wanted to hear the real voices of mothers (and fathers) who had lost their children to adoption rather than base our assumptions about them by agency hearsay. As you know, the voices can appear radical at times, but I see it as a much needed space even though it’s controversial for those who have mainly heard of the “positive adoption language” led by adoption facilitators and their followers.

Do you think that there should be certain stipulations on what kind of family should be allowed?

I believe that temporary or permanent guardianship is a better option for children and is more in line with Children’s Rights. This would allow the child to keep his true identity and to maintain a relationship with his or her biological ties and birth culture. This way, if the “match” is not made in heaven, both parties have the option to “divorce.” As it is now, “matched” families are obliged to continue the dysfunctional relationship created by some random social worker or agency employee. Because I co-owned and operated an adult family home (for people with disabilities) here in the states, I also believe that group homes are a valid solution.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), countries are not required to send their children out for adoption if it is not part of that country’s culture. (I was very fortunate to have this explained to me by Roelie Post and Arun Dohle of Against Child Trafficking. This is something I instinctively felt but didn’t know I had a right to believe while I was studying Bertha Holt’s memoir.)

When you read Bertha’s memoir, her husband Harry (they were a farming couple, first cousins and set up the child welfare program in S. Korea) and his cohorts, entered S. Korea zealously believing they were “God’s appointed people” who were providing “child protection” for the Korean people—despite the fact that they were also ceorcing the Korean mothers and the Easterners did not understand that adoption meant, “a clean break and forever,” as said in Bertha Holt’s memoir. The Holt legacy has built a sanctioned system that now Korean born adult adopted people are trying to reform. I think we should kick out the adoption lobbyists, follow the UNCRC and allow/trust S. Korea to take care of their own children.

Intercountry Adoption does not solve a country’s problems, it actually adds to the problems and places additional burdens upon children. 

What would you like to see happen more in the communities/politically so that children don’t have to be internationally adopted from overseas.

I like the idea of children being brought up in villages and small communities. I’d like to see more community building. I have noticed that the consequences of my adoption have been passed down to my children. They, too, have been isolated from their Korean heritage and family lineage, unable to communicate with Koreans and even if we do find our Korean family, we would need an interpreter to communicate. A potential relationship would be superficial at best and take time to develop. Despite my acceptance for my own uninformed status, it’s disheartening to see my daughters deprived of their Korean grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, and unable to have deep understanding and connection with other Koreans.

Have you given birth yourself? If it is not too personal what impact has this had on you and how has it affected how you view your story?

My husband, who left home (his parents, family and Vietnam) at the age of 14, has always been fiercely independent and resourceful. We are a very progressive couple. Our attitude towards parenting has been completely non-traditional compared to the training I received while young. We believe that parents need to earn respect, not automatically receive it. We’ve earned respect by being able to see our daughters for who they really are instead of trying to force our will and our beliefs onto them, which in the end only causes rifts and feelings of suffocation. We let them decide for themselves their philosophy but we have also discovered that they instinctively emulate our attitude and actions. The way we taught them was to try to be our own best self. The mantra my husband would suggest to them while they were growing up was, “Know Your Rights,” and my mantra was: “Treat people the way they want to be treated.”

In 1992, when I first learned of my pregnancy, I was scared and was made to feel ashamed by the religious community I had been raised in. I left that community and learned how to be a parent by just taking action--and not thinking nor judging my status as a young mother. We just did it by believing in our capabilities every day until one day--before we knew what had happened in 2010--our oldest was graduating as valedictorian of her senior class. And our younger daughter, now in college, found her passion for photography and videography. Our daughters are now 21 and 18.

How do you cope with transitions, loss, rejection, acceptance?

While my girls were growing up, I transformed my formal living room into a sanctuary and have spent the last fifteen years living in isolation in what I call a meditation sabbatical so that I could concentrate on reading and writing. My passion has always been studying world religions, reading true life stories of varying cultures and philosophies. During this time, I shed many layers of who I was perceived by others in order to look deep within myself, and as a consequence, I found strength in my S.E.L.F. (Sacred Energy Life Force). I like to help other adult adopted people and parents of loss to shed some of the layers in their own lives, which is the reason I started an online wellness center called Sky Sanctuary via my Vance Twins website. I like to ask, “what if God is all of us?” I enjoy meditating and tuning into the silence within and around me.
Just this past year, I’ve been compiling an anthology called Adoptionland: From Orphans to Activists, which has helped me come full circle. After reading diverse stories from (domestic and intercountry) adoptees, I realize that we are all connected. We may be from different countries, but we can all identify with each other’s experiences one way or another. The biggest theme in the collective—and this may seem clichĂ© to those of us who have lived adoption—is that we are constantly living between two worlds never really belonging to either one. I trust the path I am on because I know that we’re all in this together. To me, knowing that I am part of a larger like-minded community is liberating. Through activism, I believe the adoption community will heal itself.   

For more information  http://www.vancetwins.com 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Disruption

In social work anywhere in the world you never get a 100% success rate.  In all the resettlements "Reunite" has done, only one placement has disrupted - twin girls. I was absolutely devastated about this and it took me a long time to get over it.  I felt very guilty that maybe I didn't do enough/did too much/wasn't wise in my decision process etc and there was so much  guilt on my part surrounding the break down of this placement.

With all the families we work with, we get very close to them.  When you are fighting the system to get their children back, you get very close to these families and quickly.


Even though this placement broke down in August 2012 after five months, we followed the girls to their new childrens home.  We took responsibility for the placement and for the break down and have been  working with the social work team in this new home for a solution ever since. We have tried working with a few family members for the last few years  but it just doesn't look like we can resettle them to anyone else in the family.  So we then took their case to the Alternative Care Panel last December and were advised (after we proved that no family member was prepared to parent them) to try to find a local family to foster or adopt them instead.

Please pray for wisdom in this case, please pray that we able to find their father again or their mother, please pray for a miracle to happen.  If you live in Uganda and are interesting in fostering these girls - then please do get in touch and I can connect you to the social work department of the home where they are currently staying.   Thanks!


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Coming to America!

I (Keren) will be coming to America at the end of April to attend a wedding in Austin.  I am hoping to visit friends in Chicago before hand (approx. April 25th -May 1st) and in Atlanta afterwards (approx. May 8th-12th).


If anybody in Chicago, Austin or Atlanta would like me to share at their church/university/business about the work of Reunite, "orphan" care, ethical adoption and being an advocate for the poor then please do get in touch at reuniteuganda@gmail.com . I would love to hear from you.

Monday, 24 February 2014

He meant everything he said

Over two and a half years ago I was working in a baby home in Kampala helping to resettle the children in their care.  We were successful and managed in a short space of time to get 7 children home.  We were also in the middle of working with  other families when we had the rug pulled from under us and we were no longer allowed to work there anymore.  I was heartbroken and really grieved the fact that these families and their children wouldn't get the chance to go home, that I would never get to find out what had finally happened to them and also hugely concerned that some of these children might be re-labeled "orphans" and get internationally adopted.

One of the families that we were working with at the time was a single father who had twin girls in the baby home.  Like a lot of single parents he had struggled to make ends meet and a work colleague of his had suggested that he admitted his daughters to the baby home temporarily while he got himself back on his feet.  But getting back on his feet never happened.


His daughters were very evidently being impacted by life in an "orphanage" and we were very keen to get them resettled as soon as possible.



Anyway, imagine my joy when I received a phone call off him a few days ago to tell me that even though we weren't working there,  he had still taken his children home for good.   He really HAD been serious and he really HAD meant everything he had said to us at the time.  Also, the people in charge of this baby home had told him that he had to take them out and quickly, with very little notice, with no preparation or long term plans on how he would cope financially!  We have seen this approach a lot, that if children are no longer viewed as "orphans" because family are obviously on the scene, it makes them more difficult to internationally adopt out so often the family are shown the door quickly.

Anyway, thank God, he has been doing so well looking after them and the twin girls we met today were healthy, happy and evidently very contented to be with their father - such a contrast to 2.5 years ago.  It was such a pleasure to spend the morning with them and hear about how life has treated them over the last few years.




Reunite can now put this family on our programme  (maybe 2.5 years late but at least we can work with them now) working towards economic empowerment. A regular, sustainable income is key to a successful resettlement.  We are also exploring options on how he can get his children into school .  If you want to help and to donate to  this family  please contact us here


Saturday, 22 February 2014

A few snapshots of what we have been up to recently.

We have been incredibly busy recently and  we haven't had much time to share whats been going on.  Here are a few snapshots of what we have been up to.

We were asked by an American family to help them in an emergency situation. They had been referred a child who had been called an "orphan" to adopt but then had discovered whilst in Uganda to adopt her that she had trafficked and her family desperately wanted her back.  We helped the US family walk through this very complex situation and were able to resettle this little girl just before Christmas.

We have been  involved with this Ugandan family ever since, visiting them regularly at home in their village and looking at ways we can help them.  This little girl is doing exceptionally well now and her family are so happy to have her back.  The American family have been incredibly supportive and donated funds to help this resettlement to take place and for the follow up visits . The American family have been incredibly brave and did what many wouldn't -  they let the little girl go home. They want to help this family, so we are currently assessing the best way for them to do that.



Reunite has also taken on an investigation case of a Ugandan child who was internationally adopted 3 years ago. The  adoptive family wanted to see if the story they had been previously be given could be confirmed and also to see if any of the birth family could be found.  We are still in the middle of this investigation, but have been able to so far, both confirm and discard some of the information from the file which has been helpful for the family.  This is the first time we have done this kind of investigation.


We are also happy to have been involved in the fostering of these two lovely girls who I first met in 2005.  We are so excited to be working with this Ugandan family who are joining other families who are pioneering fostering as a solution for some children  in Uganda. 


If you would like to support Reunite please get in touch!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Our largest Reunited family

The Uganda academic year begins at the end of January/beginning of  February and ends at the end of November.  So the children on the Reunite project are all about to return to school.  Generally we don't pay for school fees, unless there is an emergency or if the international family who were going to originally adopt the child decide they want to pay for the childs education. In some cases however we do make an exception and help towards the fees especially if the family can't afford it and I would like to share a little about a case that falls into this camp.

We resettled J back home in July 2011.  At the time she was one of seven daughters and her mother had tragically died in child birth.  When we traced Js family (which wasn't hard at all - the fathers name and mobile number were in the file) we discovered that he had since remarried and his second wife had just had a new baby - a boy to join all those girls! The father had apparently been visiting the baby home regularly with some of his other daughters on the weekends but it had never been noted in the file and nobody chose to tell me any differently.  I had thought J was an orphan/abandoned baby along.  When we were doing our investigation and pre-resettlement assessment, the step mother had been VERY open to J being resettled with them.  When I asked her how she viewed J, she said with a smile "She is my daughter". We felt very confident about the reunification and as expected the placement has been  very successful and the step mother has proved herself to be a very competent and loving mother.

Here is a photograph of the family in July 2011, when they were one of the families chosen to feature in the Governments "Children belong in Families not Orphanages" campaign.



Fast forward to January 2014 and the father and step mother now have 7 daughters from the fathers first marriage, 1 son and 1 daughter from their second marriage and now the oldest daughter has had her first child and so they are looking after their first Grandchild too.

Here is a recent photograph of them now.


In Uganda you have to pay for school fees if you want a half decent education.  In this family the fathers wages are only enough to pay for one of his oldest daughters education and that is all!  Along with a grant from "Families for Children" we helped  the step mother to set up a salon business last year.  But until it gets properly established, there is not enough profit to be able to pay for all the school fees of their children.  We regularly have conversations with the parents about their family size.  They are a devout Catholic family and as expected they have strong views on birth control. They have however been very receptive to hearing ideas how to control their family size and they have reassured us that they have no desire to add to their family.

This term Reunite has decided to help raise the funds for the seven school aged children. We need to raise money for their  fees (see below), school shoes and bag, their school uniforms and then various extras.

Here are photographs and costs for each child.  If you or anybody you know wishes to help towards their funds, thank you so much - we would LOVE to hear from you and share how you can help.






J is 18 years old - S3
Annual School fees - 1,380,000 ugx
337 pounds/ 558 dollars/408 euros









S is 1S is 16 years old - S2
Annual School fees - 1,380,000 ugx
337 pounds/558 dollars/ 408 euros







R is 11 years old - P4
Annual School fees - 570,000 ugx
139 pounds/230 dollars/168 euros












C is 10 years old - P4
Annual School fees - 570,000 ugx
139 pounds/230 dollars/168 euros







P is 8 years old - P3
Annual School fees - 570,000 ugx
139 pounds/230 dollars/168 euros








J is 4 years old - Middle Class
Annual School fees - 570,000 ugx
139 pounds/230 dollars/168 euros











J is 3 year old - Baby class
Annual School fees - 540,000 ugx
132 pounds/218 dollars/160 euros








Here are the other two children from the family who aren't old enough to be in school yet.


If anybody would like to contribute towards this families education, then we would LOVE to hear from you. Every pound, dollar, euro etc will make a huge difference in this families life.

If you are interested in supporting this family then please click here for details on how to help!















Sunday, 26 January 2014

"Adopt a Village"

Today Jesca and I went to meet the LC (Local Council Leader) who we have been working with for nearly 3 years.


Due to previous discussions about the needs of his village, the LC  had called a meeting for leading business men and women from the village to meet us and to hear our ideas and for us to hear about the needs in their village. In true Ugandan style, the meeting started late - but only by 2.5 hours and overall we found it to be a very productive meeting!


Jesca and I  began by explaining to the small group gathered there why we had decided to try a pilot project called "Adopt a Village" in their particular village. We had resettled two children back to their Grandmother and father to this village in July 2011. Also a few months ago it had also been flagged up that this village had also been targeted by child traffickers when a vulnerable mother and her three children had been offered the "opportunity" of international adoption to the US.  We therefore decided there was a urgent need in this village for widespread education about international adoption, child trafficking and child protection to protect all the children and their families from potential exploitation.

We wondered if it would be useful to the village if we employed a part time social worker to be based there for a dual purpose. To potentially work on preventative measures to stop children entering the orphanage system in the first place and also to prevent children from being trafficked into the system for the purpose of international adoption.  We also wondered if it would be helpful for the village community to have access to an adult literacy and numeracy course because being illiterate makes you even more vulnerable to having your children taken away from you and from being taken advantage of.  We also wondered if it would be helpful to set up some economic empowerment projects to continue to not only empower the family who are already on our Reunited programme but also to put other vulnerable parents/legal guardians on  who would be flagged up to us for participation by the LC (local council) , the Probation services and/or by the local child protection police officer so that they could have the opportunity to work their own way out of poverty. The parents/Grandparents there shared how appreciated they were of the fact that our pilot project was going to be an inclusive project including the adults as well as the children and not an exclusive project only focusing on the children which in essence would separate and discarded the significant adults in the childrens lives.

As our very own Jesca Akello Otai says  -

"The family have to be the first mechanism for child protection mechanism within the community.  By leaving out the family we are essentially leaving out our best chances of  a successful outcome"


We worked with the most charming and humorous translator we have had the pleasure of working with in Uganda so far.  When I shared a little bit about my background with them all about how I used to be a professional singer, as sharp as a knife, the interpreter asked me to sing them all a song!  The fact that this gentleman is successful AND blind is even more impressive in the fact that  he has made such a success of his life in a country that doesn't always give equal opportunity to people with a special need or a disability.  It was genuinely a pleasure to work with him.



Here are some photographs of all the people who were present  at the meeting yesterday.  The LC will chat with them all over the next week to see what they thought about the issues we discussed and he will them arrange another meeting for us to talk again.


We are really looking forward to seeing how our pilot project -  "Adopt a Village" develops.


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Alternative Care Workshop video

We are really please to share an amazing video made for the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development about the ten Alternative Care Workshops that took place across Uganda. It is really exciting how some of the orphanage staff who came have been challenged about the children in their care and have started to embrace resettlement and other local family solutions for children.  Thank you to Sunrise (USAID) for facilitating the workshops, Unicef for supporting the development of the training, all of the Technical Support Organisations and of course the Government of Uganda for being committed to regulating and closing orphanages and for promoting family-based care. The movement is truly underway.

Friday, 17 January 2014

International Adoptive parents needed for crucial research project

My friend JaeRan Kim who was adopted from Korea to the US is doing a significant and crucial piece of research. She is needing some more participants. Please consider helping out if you meet the criteria and/or spread the request across your social media networks. We need more research done in the international field, so let us try and support those who pursue it. Thank you!

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Are you an adoptive parent of an internationally adopted child between 6-21 years old with a disability? Has the child lived - either temporarily or permanently - in a group home, residential treatment center, foster care, long-term hospital treatment program, or another adoptive family?

I am seeking to interview adoptive parents about their experiences for a study on international adopted children with disabilities and the impact of their disability on their placement stability. The purpose of this study is to inform adoption practices and improve adoption supports for families that adopted children with disabilities.




I am looking    for    participants    for    an    adoption    study  I am currently undertaking. This    study    has    been    approved    by    the    University    of    Minnesota    Institutional    Review    Board    #1301P26761       
   
Are you  an  adoptive parent of an internationally adopted  child between 6-21  years old with a disability?  
 


Has the child lived either temporarily or permanently in a group home, residential treatment center, foster    care or another adoptive family?           

Adopting a child with disabilities can be both challenging and rewarding.  Parents who have adopted children from outside the United  States with  mental  health  and intellectual/developmental disabilities  sometimes    struggle  to  find  appropriate  pre-adoption  education  and/or  post-adoption  support to  help them manage the challenges of  parenting a  child with a disability.            

The purpose of  this study is  to inform adoption practices and  improve  adoption supports  for families that  adopted  children  with  disabilities.        

What is involved?

I  am  asking adoptive parents in  the United States  for  about   60  to  90  minutes of  their  time to    interview them about their  experiences.  Interviews  may  be conducted  in-person or through video    conferencing.  Participation  is  voluntary  and  your information  will  be  protected  and confidential.    Your participation  in  this  study  will  never  be disclosed.            

Who? 

Adoptive parents  whose  internationally adopted child is  currently  between  6   and  21  years  of  age  
 
Has  a    disability (including  physical,  developmental and  mental  health)    

Is  currently or  has  in  the  past,   been  placed  in  any  of  the following  (other  than  for  respite  or a    72-hour  hold) - shelter,  foster  care,  residential  treatment center,  group  home,  hospital  treatment   center,  with  another  caregiver    (in    legal    or    informal    transfer  of  custody), with  another    adoptive  family  after  a  dissolution  of   the  adoption.  

To  participate  in  this    study,   or  to  find  out  more  information  about  this  study,  please  contact    JaeRan  Kim  at   or  visit  my  website  at  http://www.jaerankimresearch.wordpress.com.   

Thank you very much for your time.  I really appreciate your help.

JaeRan Kim


Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Do you want to support Reunite?

As you begin thinking about goals for 2014, please would you consider making a one time or continual donation to Reunite?  We urgently need donations to be able to continue with our work here in Uganda.

Some of our goals for 2014 are:-

·         Becoming an NGO in our own right in Uganda (We are currently a programme within Alternative Care Initiatives – an umbrella NGO for programmes resettlement and alternative care programmes)

·         Sponsoring our workers – A full-time Country Director (in Uganda and the US), Creative Director, Social Workers, Economic Empowerment Officers and an accountant/administrator

·         Setting up an office space with a small cafĂ© and gift shop

·         Buying a Reunite Vehicle

·        Working on our pilot project “Adopt a whole village” where we  will work alongside the LC1 to assist a village to become more self-sustainable and improve child protection by placing a full time social worker to work in the village.  Prevention is better than cure!

·         Expanding Reunites economic empowerment projects from hair salons, coal and second hand clothes into animal husbandry – chickens, goats and pigs. 


·         Doing more education and advocacy on the ground in Uganda and in the US about the trafficking of children for international adoption and the children who are being held captive in orphanages throughout Uganda.
For more information on how to donate please contact -

In the USA - Darby Layne Priest at darby.reunite@gmail.com

In the UK - Alan Kiff who runs the “Replace Campaign”  alan.kiff@replace-campaign.org ("Reunite" partners with them, so please ensure they know the donation is for Reunite in Uganda)

Thank you so much for your love, support and prayers – our work would be impossible without you.


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

It's beginining to look a lot like Christmas!

From all our staff in Uganda and America, we wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and joy filled New Year.

Thank you for all the different ways you have supported us throughout the last year.  We couldn't have done it all without you:)









Thursday, 12 December 2013

You know you are feeling at home in Uganda when.......

 You know you are feeling at home in Uganda when - 

Seeing someone speeding towards you in the wrong lane seems completely normal

You find yourself pointing with your lips and saying "yes" by raising both eyebrows.

You can masterfully employ a variety of "Eh!" and "Eh eh!" noises to convey a range of meanings.

You start referring to people as "this one" or "that one".

You willingly drive into oncoming traffic just to avoid the potholes.

You can speak Uganglish so well that - you talk with a Ugandan accent; use words like 'shocked,' 'fearing,' 'extend,' 'balance,' ''somehow,' 'even me,' and 'can you imagine' and 'are you sure?' far too often.

You know the load shedding schedule by heart.

When you come back from being out of the country and conversations go as: "you have been lost!!" and you respond: "I have been found!  "How is there?" and you respond "there is fine!” "You have gone fat!!!" and you are lost for words because you  forgot that being fat is a desired look!

You emphasize how you like something and they say: "Are you sure?"

Someone calls out your name and your reply is: "I am the one!"

You end the conversation with "ok please".

You ask for someone, and you know the answer "He's within" means everything from "He's within the building" to "He's within the city" or even "He's within the country".

You start sentences with 'As for me, I ….'

You get 'Am Fine' as a reply to your 'hi'.

Clothes becomes a two-syllable word. Clo - thes.

You know the man asking for Lose actually refers to Rose, and you try not to laugh when some people say “loundabout” instead of roundabout.

Your handshakes last an entire conversation

Your home does not have an address.

People walk into your house and you say "You are all most welcome!"


You think "eh" in a high pitch tone is the correct way to respond when a boda drivers price suggestion is too high.

You start calling people "My dear" and say "sorry, sorry" when someone hurts themselves or "Bambi"!

(this was edited and added to from an anonymous writer on a fb group in Uganda)

The rest is history!

Earlier this year I met Darby.  It was quite incredible how God made our paths meet.  Darby had been living in Korea for a year and had met a Ugandan there who told her she should visit Uganda.  She took her advice and thankfully met me!  The rest is as they say history!  You can read more about it here in an interview I did with her.


I feel so blessed by the team that God is building for Reunite and I am so glad that Darby is at the helm in the US.  Here is a quick update from her.


Hello from Austin, TX!  Just a quick update about what’s going on here… since my return to the US last February, we have had two very successful online fundraisers for efforts in the US and in Uganda.  We have gathered a Board of Directors, received our Certificate of Formation from the state of Texas, gotten a postal address, a bank account, a Paypal account, business cards, a Facebook page, taken Reunite to the streets of Austin during a huge music festival—Austin City Limits, and we have applied to the federal government for 501c3 designation (the government shutdown did not speed this process along!).  A website is purchased and in the works, and once we get our 501c3, we’ll start going after some grants.  

I was in Uganda this time last year, and I can't believe all that's come from my time there--so humbled and grateful to be a part of this work.



Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Never lose hope - one day at a time

We had a wonderful day on Monday visiting the baby twins who we resettled back in August with their beautiful mother.  She was given a grant by Families for Children (a part of the Viva Network) so was able to set up a salon in her home town in Eastern Uganda.  Since then she has also taken out a bank loan to expand her business which she is repaying back week by week - the lady is definitely a savvy business woman!

Here they all are in April when we took them back to the village for the day to meet the extended family - you can read about that visit HERE.

 And here they are now!


Here she is proudly standing in front of her new Hair Salon.


and here she is talking to our social worker and getting advice on various issues.


If you would like to support his lovely young mum and her daughters we are looking for donations to expand her business even more in 2014.  If you would like to help them directly then please mention "The Double Blessing" when you contact our US office so that we can make sure that your gift goes directly to her and her daughters.

Thank you so much for you interest and support in our work.