Transracial Adoption from one black girl’s perspective

Archive for October, 2006

Vote for me & Help me get a Scholarship!

Ive been selected as one top 10 finalists for the The Blogging Scholarship!  (Cheese!) I totally need your support in the next 5 days - come vote for me! Winners will be annouced Nov 6th and its $5000.00!!! I SO need this!

- It will only take a few clicks! so VOTE HERE!!!

- You can only vote once from your IP address

- If you have time – please leave a comment about me and my work on the voting page so folks see your support!

- Please tell your friends to support!

- You will go to heaven (or afterlife place of choice) for your love a grad student

- Here are the other contestant blogs . Some amazing work. All of us are different and everyone is strong.

Ya’ll know I’m in grad school, tryin to finish up my work, trying to balance all of the work I do – writing, theatre production, research, speaking, workshops, all my multi-media projects, teaching and support of my students! I could SO use this funding to assist me this semester!! I’m broke and always at the end of semesters its a struggle to pay bills, eat and get simple things like toilet paper!!!

Thanks for voting for me!!!

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If you care – Here’s what I wrote for my application:

I began “A Birth Project” over a year ago with specific goals. As it reads on my blog, “This blog began with a two-pronged focus: One – my personal search for my birth parents and Two – as a place to consider my experiences as a Black girl adopted by white parents, or ‘my life as a TRA’”  (transracial adoptee).

I had no idea that my writing would connect me with a powerful group of transracial adoptees, adoption activists, scholars and performers. This connection became central to how the blog evolved. I post and comment on current news stories, post my own struggles continuing to let the world see my own search and reunion process as I find ‘parts of me’ that I never knew existed.

The most profound impact the blog/blogosphere has had on me is first, I have found support from an online community of transracial adoptees from all races and cultural backgrounds. Women and men from across the globe have written me personal, painful emails, thanking me for being vocal about my experiences and have given me love for saying things they always felt, but either were afraid to speak or could not articulate. Second, I was inspired to create an international non-profit organization “Adult Adoptees of the African Diaspora”. AAAD brings together adult adoptees of African descent across the globe and provide support, research and outreach for this widespread population. We hope our voices add to the strong voices of Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese transracial and international adoptees. Many TRA’s are isolated, the only person of color for miles, forced to struggle against uneducated assumptions about skin color or culture. This organization provides comfort and strength to a TRA who may be alone in her or his town. I hope my blog continues to do the same.


Stone

 

her thighs

sore with memory

shift back and forth as she walks

uphill toward the train

she is all tears and fog

left alone to soon

captured by ten years of

photographs transformed to

what now looks like regret

 

her body has been an earthquake shift

tectonic plates sliding out of place

revealing hidden earth, graves and bodies

 

she walks crooked

asphalt under her cracked now

like the day she is about to encounter

loss stinging her cheeks

like the fog in the air

 

she is demented metal

sidewalk trash fury

on the side of skyscrapers

ill-fitting and torn

 

the train is coming

breeze sucking air from tunnels

she stands spine tall to keep her

chest from caving in

hollow from giving voice

to echoes, ghosts

and orange desire.


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Haiku for Layla

this feels like school time

she grumbled but took a pen

beauty and stars came out


Madonna Madness

(sigh)

Here’s an article about Mr. Banda, the baby’s father. I cant even respond to this yet. More soon.


My First Review! Yay!

Check out my first review in the Berkeley Daily Planet!

I think one of the interesting things about my solo show is the title. “Ungrateful Daughter” seems to be a sharp-edged title in the way that it grabs people’s attention – what does she mean? I think that most of my reasonings for choosing this title are connected to the discourses that surround adoption and loyalty to family. In most popular cultural imaginations of the way that adoptees should be responding to adoption is indeed either a “one or the other” response. So many of us adult adoptees have talked about our resistence to this “grateful/successful” vs. “ungrateful/failure” binary already that I wont go into it again here, but this dialouge is really what this title attempts to speak to, the complexity of this experience.

In this review, Kassof mentions me being “disenchanted” – its an interesting word. I dont know if I even was “enchanted” with being adopted or being the only black person in a white world. I think another word might be ‘critical’, which is something I think many white parents are unprepared for when their child grows up to understand the world in a particular way, and begin to respond to them in a particular way because of this understanding.

Overall – Its cool to get a review. I love that she was willing to take the chance to come to the show. I like that she was disturbed. That means I did something right. Cool. 

I want to thank my director, my workshop mates, my friends, countrymen… and my TRA familia. lol…. you like me.. you really like me! 

:)  


They Just Dont Know

but imma tell them.

I’m on my way out the house to the airport to pick up my homeboy comin in from IL for the American Studies Conference. Im late already, but my mailbox is full. My copy of “Outsiders Within” has arrived. Im so excited I put down my bag and right on the porch, open the copy and read the dedication. Its to me. To you. To us.

I am in tears on my front porch so overwhelmed I cant stop them. This is why I write. Why I speak, why I perform. Im so tired of someone telling me who and what I am.

thank you. thank you. thank you.

(P.S.  I expect updates from all of you at the conference in NY!!! Im sending love and I wanted to come, but was already committed to ASA Conference!) 


“un-adoption”?

This article can be found here.

US parents try to ‘unadopt’ son

An American couple are reportedly trying to “unadopt” their 16-year-old son, saying the state did not tell them of his disturbing history of abuse.

According to the Washington Post, Helen and James Briggs adopted the boy six years ago, after Mrs Briggs – a foster mother – fell in love with him.

But in 2003 the boy, who cannot be named, sexually abused a six-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl. Mrs Briggs said it was only then that she discovered his troubled past. The newspaper said confidential files revealed that the boy’s biological parents, who were alcohol and drug addicts, had physically abused him to the extent that his brain stem was damaged – hindering his ability to gauge the passage of time. The files also suggested that he had been sexually abused.

The boy had been in and out of five foster homes since he was 16 months old, in psychiatric institutions seven times and diagnosed as possibly psychotically bipolar. Mrs Briggs said she had not been told any of those details before she adopted him. “They just told me he was hyperactive,” she told the Washington Post. Under Virginia policy, caseworkers must provide the full facts about a child to adoptive parents. State child welfare officials have not commented on the case, due to confidentiality. But the newspaper claims some caseworkers do not believe that Mrs Briggs was uninformed.

A Fairfax County court has allowed Mrs Briggs to relinquish custody of the boy, but she is still bound to pay $427 a month in child support and cover the court costs when a judge makes a decision on his future. Mrs Briggs, 57, could have filed a “wrongful adoption” lawsuit within two years of discovering the boy’s true history, but failed to. She had wanted to bring the boy home after his sex offender treatment, following the case in 2003. But then psychologists labelled him a sexual predator, meaning she would have to give up being a foster parent, which she sees as her livelihood, and would no longer be able to allow her three grandchildren in the house or keep a young girl she had fostered from birth.

Mrs Briggs decided to dissolve the adoption, which requires the consent of the boy, who is now back in foster care. But so far he has refused. She is said to be asking politicians to help her find a way out.

“At first blush, you think ‘What, you’re trying to give up your kid?’”, Virginia politician David Albo told the Washington Post. “Then you find out this lady has received awards for all the foster work she’s done. And that she never would have adopted the boy and put other children in danger if she had had the information that was withheld from her.”

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hmmmm. those kids with that bad blood. send that kid back.


Im so cool!

Hey ya’ll. I got my first publicity “stuffs” in the East Bay Express, our weekly rag. Yay! I’m excited and uhhhh.. grateful all at once. Thank you all for your love and support. You inspire me to keep moving forward! and hey – come see the show on the 18th and if you cant make that – come see the Circus this week!

Article

 

my director.. he’s such a smart ass.

and gee – I cant wait until I get some reviews of the show . . . (ahem!)


Oh and there is just one more thing….

I realize I’ve posted 3 times today. But thanks to Racialious (deep breath) I found this article right here. Our favorite culture vulture has jumped on the celebrity accessory bandwagon.

I’m done being a TRA activist. I officially quit.

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UPDATE: Thanks to DAWN below - Not that I trust ANY publicist as far as I can throw them – but they are denying she adopted. Hmmm. we’ll see in about 3 months when the baby is caught in a photo op. I’m not holding my breath.


Things My Black Friends dont know

Let me start off my saying – this is NOT an opportunity for all the AP’s or other well-meaning white folks who read my blog to give commentary about “those black folks” or to talk about whether or not my friends are ‘real friends’. If anything what I want you to get from this post is about what the distance from black culture does to TRA’s, and I simply need to express that at times people are insensitive to adoptee pain.

I just came from reading one of my homegirl Ji-in’s blog entries, and as I was sitting and reading, nodding my head vigorously, laughing about the 2 pairs of Birkenstocks I owned my damn self, and thinking about my own cultural ‘discrepencies’. (ok so what -I hate chitlins, I know every song to Annie, The Sound of Music, and My Fair Lady,  and - and… so what if I owned every freakin Amy Grant album from “Amy” the debut album in 1977  until about 1986 when I officially stopped believing the church had something to offer me. )

While I was reading over her entry, it came to my attention that I was having a recent flashback (of like 2 weeks ago) to two conversations that happened within one day of each other, and during the time they happened, I was like, what the hell is going on?

and I promptly put them out of my mind.

I was in the kitchen both times, (which at this moment makes me also remember a blog entry I’ve been meaning to do about black women, adoption and food) and both times, I was cooking something.  The first, I was making some soup, and one person who is very, very close friend of mine said something about the way I was collecting things to put in the soup. There were some leftovers from something else in the fridge, something that had NOTHING to do with the kind of soup I was making and this person said we could just add that stuff to the soup. I was like, ummmm, first of all, ewwww and also hell no because those left overs should have been thrown away 2 days ago, so my bad for leaving them in there. My friend looked at me and said, “As my daddy used to say, was you raised by black folks or white folks?” and laughed. Now I know what the laughter is, and culturally, I know that she meant that black folks dont throw away good food (but neither do poor white folks..but thats another entry) – but the comment first, rendered me speechless and second, hurt me so deeply that I could only stay silent.

what are you tryin to say?

The second incident, was also centered around cooking, and also with someone who is very close to me. I cant remember the circumstances in the same way that I could with the first incident, but they said, “well, thats because my momma is black“. the first thing that came to my mind. . .

what the hell is going on?

Both of these comments came within like a 2day period. I was so hurt that I said nothing. I wont next time, it just totally caught me off guard. Lisa, you’re being too sensitive. am I?

So, what are you tryin to say? I’m not black? I can’t cook? My momma cant cook? You wont eat my food because my momma cant cook? or because my momma’s white I cant cook? but my birthdaddy’s black so doesnt that count?

fuck you. and take your ass out of my kitchen. and dont talk about my momma.


2 More Upcoming Shows! Yay!

Yay! If you missed it – I’ve got two more upcoming performances of “Ungrateful Daughter”.  If you’ve seen the show – please tell other folks and send me some comments, questions or raves :) about what you saw!

and i actually have an assignment for you peoples. Those of you that have seen the show – do you think that a 9 year old could handle the content, if their parents were involved in discussions of race? I’ve always said that High School age young men and women could handle it, but I’ve never consdiered any younger. I mean, there is only one place where I curse, and otherwise its just full of layers. What do you all think? 

Wednesday October 18 – 8pm (doors 7:30) and

Thursday October 19 – 8pm (doors 7:30)

with “The Secret Circus” at the new Berkeley Marsh Theatre.

Tickets are $10-22 sliding scale. (students w ID $5)

 The Marsh Theatre at Berkeley is located at:
2120 Allston Way Berkeley (at Shattuck) in the Gaia Arts Center. (2 blocks from Downtown Berkeley BART). For more info about the circus – Go to our MySpace Page 

The Secret Circus is also a show I’m co-producing – whoa!!! So if you came ANY of the weeks that this show is running – your presence would be much appreciated! Check out the calendar on myspace!!


Ack – “Forever Family”?

Thanks to Roosh for this article on the front page of the SF Chronicle.

Somebody get these guys a flyer to come see my show,  and add a few books to that list of things you need for a baby. Good Jezuz.

This article does nothing to further a conversation about the complexity of transracial adoption. It is simply one more article that does nothing but celebrate the good whiteness of these parents who are doing ‘gods work’ saving these black children from the hell of whatever lives they would have had in the system.

My comments are mostly about the writer of the article. If she would have done even a little bit of research – in fact, even reading that wack article from the NYTimes that was on the front page a few weeks ago she could have gotten at least SOME perspective about the difficulty of inter-race relationships – particularly ones that are so wrought with family dynamics. It’s so difficult to talk about race with people who are so intimately tied to you, because you are extra sensitive. How can a young child be expected to divulge to a parent that they are embarrassed that their parents are white? And are they even being given the space to say that out loud without the danger of being told they are ‘ungrateful’ or having their loyalty to their parents questioned?

 

Fernandez gives us nothing about these questions or how these parents are attempting to deal with these difficulties.

 

Why the hell does she keep saying “children of color”? ALL of these young men are black! They aren’t a diverse mixture of races – they are all African descent.

Am I mistaken or in the 6th ‘paragraph’ – does it say, “Dogged by years of racial bigotry and sexual discrimination” ? . . . tha hell? huh? I get that this couple may have been harassed for living out as a queer couple, but I’m confused about the racial bigotry they supposedly have been ‘dogged’ by. Fernandez doesn’t even expand on this – because I think it’s a freakin typo, because both these men are white. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong. The one section where race is discussed in this article is where Fernandez talks to Jill Jacobs, and Carol Griffin the social worker who facilitated the adoptions of the boys. Jacobs dismisses the “outcry from the African American community” and Fernandez does nothing to discuss the other intricacies of why same-race adoptions are so difficult. Fernandez also says in one breath that race doesn’t matter (or is it sexual orientation?) yet reveals what Griffin discussed with Stewart and White:

For Griffin, placing the boys with Stewart and White was not an issue for her or her department. “What we discussed was how they were going to talk through the issues with the kids: You are white, they are kids of color, and you are gay. Adoptive parents tend to become color-blind. They don’t see race when they see their children. But everybody else does.” 

and that’s it. Fernandez moves on – ummmm. . . so what was Stewart and White’s response to this? Nothing? and was this seriously the ONLY conversation about race that was had? oh man…. My list for Gregory Stewart and Stillman White:

any additions that I forgot my friends?


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