Guys, I thought about making this a funny post, but I have changed my mind because what I am about to talk about deserves the full weight and consideration of your time. I didn't want to disrespect this by being my typical smartass self. We'll get back to funny stories soon, I promise!
I kind of went on a little soap box diatribe last night on the main KAD (Korean Adoptee) page. I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about the ailments of the world and how I've either contributed to them, or tried to alleviate them. I think if I were to be brutally honest, I've done more to contribute to problems than to help solve them. Well, I guess old dogs can learn new tricks because it's time to spread some light onto an absolutely amazing cause.
It seems to me that the cause du jour gets some well-deserved attention and things get better for a short amount of time. And while it is wonderful that the generosity and compassion of people gets to be directed to a worthy cause, many of life's issues aren't solved in a day, week, or month. Many issues take years to address, if at all. With so many worthy causes out there, it's tough to decide where you direct your donations, time, energy. and to be honest, loyalty. I've been lucky enough to work with some very rewarding organizations in my life. St. Jude's, Operation Smile, and Therapet are the primary ones that stand out.
For most adoptees, adoption is the best thing that could have ever happened to them. On the other side of the coin are the children who never get the opportunity to find a family to join. I spent some time in an orphanage in Korea. That's where I broke my arm falling down two flights of stairs. Often, when I would hear stories about the trials and tribulations regarding adoption, my mind would wander back to all of the children who were left behind in the orphanages. I can't imagine the experience of spending your entire childhood in a place where you had to watch your friends get selected for a better life while you had to stay behind. I can't begin to imagine the emotional and psychological toll it takes to spend critical developmental years of your life in one of the most challenging environments possible. Many KAD's were adopted as infants and they have no cognitive experience being in state-run facilities. The fact that I was adopted at all somewhat defies the odds because most adoptive parents want babies. Humans aren't that different from dogs. Babies and puppies are where the action is. Six-year olds tend to be overlooked.
I spent a lot of time thinking about the plight of orphans, but because I didn't want to acknowledge my biological ethnic background, of course I did nothing about it. It is odd that life has a way of delivering to your doorstep the solution you were looking for, even if you yourself didn't know you were looking for it. Due to my unexpected trip back to Korea this past February, I am now much more active in the KAD community. I actually have Korean friends now! Not too long ago, I was down in Houston for a KAD dinner and I met a lovely woman by the name of Kimmi. Kimmi is the co-founder of a nonprofit called, “Love Beyond the Orphanage.” In the short time I spent with her at dinner and then at the following day's lunch, I peppered her with questions regarding what the mission of the organization is. The reason why I was so interested is because those poor children who are now adults could very easily be me.
What happens to a person when they age out of an orphanage? Where do they go "home" to during the holidays? Who writes them letters when they are serving their required service in the military? Who helps them go shopping for clothes? Many people are passionate about the plight of orphans, but just like a dog shelter, once the puppies get older, the interest fades a little. Why? Because there are always a new influx of puppies to love and dote on! And, there are always new children who come in that need attention as well. The former children are now deemed to be grown up and able to take care of themselves. I happen to believe that the most critical time for these young adults is the first few months outside the orphanage.
Kimmi's organization Love Beyond the Orphanage deals with assisting people for life afterward. It's an incredibly thoughtful mission centered around people who no longer get the sympathy from the public that children do. Kimmi was telling me just how little assistance these innocent people get from the government. Yes, they can go to college for free. What about housing? Food? Clothes? Well, they are on their own for that. So, many students end up dropping out. They can't afford to continue their studies. Many are borderline homeless, couch surfing from one kind friend to another. College in Korea is not like college in the US. The Greek scene in Korea is where students study Aristophanes and Euripides, not going to Lambda Chi's kegger.
If you can, please check out the website www.lovebeyondtheorphanage.org. This is a cause that deserves so much attention and resources. With so many ethnic Koreans here in the US, and so many adoptees who came from Korea, it is our moral duty to help the brothers and sisters who were left behind. They didn't vanish. They did their best and are currently doing their best to make the most of the bad hand they were dealt. Koreans aren't known for being generous to people who aren't their family members, or friends. Let's change that. Let's follow the lead of people like Kimmi and give these people a fighting chance to have the quality of lives that most of us have. Please help me support Love Beyond the Orphanage. Find out how you can best participate. And if you can, call your mother, or father, or sibling. Connect with them. Tell them you appreciate them because these orphans can't even do that.