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poetry Return to Sender

Southern California poet Julayne Elle explores the injustices of a US law involving the adoption of children from foreign countries who remain exposed to deportation.

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Return to Sender

By Julayne Elle

*Since 1953, Korea has sent over 150,000 children to the USA via inter-country adoption. Due to a loophole in the Child Citizenship Act, there are numerous inter-country adoptees living without US citizenship. Some have been deported to their country of origin.
Korea exported me to America

Before I could speak my name.
Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes
Better Life, education

Forever family bruises
denied me US citizenship.
Homeless, absent high school degree
starvation shoplifts
military time served
America’s Promised Prison Land

Deported back to Korea
Incheon Airport lobby
solitary confinement persists
no Welcome sign
not even a환영합니다

family reunions surround me
mother’s bouquet
embraces graduated daughter

No arms encircle my ghost body.

Korean streets handcuff
my life sentence
birthland homesickness
leftover kimchi barely sustains
midnight Han River bridges
protect my frozen soul
brain resists foreign language
throat chokes syllables
language is life

Let me survive.
My lifeless sentence.

Julayne Elle is a 1.X generation adopted Asian American poet, artivist, writer, producer and occasional blogger. Writing is a source of liberation and healing for her. Julayne was a Community Literature Initiative Scholar and was accepted to Las Dos Brujas Writers' Workshop.  Her poems have been published in Cultural Weekly and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Calendar and Cultural Guide. She has spoken on adoption at symposiums and universities in Korea and the US.  She is a member of the Adoptee Rights Campaign working to pass the Adoptee Citizenship Act to ensure all inter-country adoptees have US citizenship. Her first book of poetry Not My White Savior will be available Spring 2018.