Transracial Adoption from one black girl’s perspective

Archive for November, 2007

AFAAD Bay Area Drinks and Dinner Dec 7th

Adopted and Fostered Adults of the African Diaspora – AFAAD dinner.

Its time for another AFAAD Bay Area dinner! If you are an adult adoptee or foster alum from the Diaspora, we hope you will join us!  We had such a great time last time, this time we plan to chill a bit, then eat dinner and make a night of it! So, even if its just about getting together and being in one another’s space, I hope you roll through. For many of us – it will be the FIRST time we’ve been in a room with this many other black adoptees. Wow.

Please bring other adoptees and foster alum that you know!!

DINNER and Drink Details –

Friday December 7th
Drinks 7-8pm
Dinner and Chillin 8 – on
Oakland, CA (Restaurant Details to be announced over our email list)

PLEASE RSVP!!

To join AFAAD email list:
groups.yahoo.com/group/afaad


Butterfly Kiss

for my dad

On girl scout good night

my nose, brown and small

rubs warm against my fathers

crooked and strong.

this nose kiss between us

smells like army green sleeping bags

patient redwood fires and

burnt marshmallow chocolate

breath steaming the air visible.

we ignore the other fathers and daughters

lean in, share eyelashes

catch and tangle them together.

he completes our ritual

brushes my cheek with his silken lash

feels like a misguided spider

rushing across my arm

delicious tickle.

I am safe

as we drift to sleep

under these meteor showers.


Racist M/Paternalism at its Best

Ahhh the NYTimes. So much for responsible journalism. I had so much hope when I read sis Sume’s beautiful piece Reclaiming Ownership of My History.

Then – BAM! There’s just so much irresponsible journalism to choose from nowadays its actually becoming too easy to spot the well meaning white liberal who continues to think they know better than those irritating people of color who are actually experts in the field. As many of you know, this month the NYT’s has a series going on adoption called Relative Choices. Ignoring the easy blast at the cheesy title, I have to take aim (along with other AD’s) at this week’s columnist, Tama Janowitz. Here is one choice excerpt:

A girlfriend who is now on the waiting list for a child from Ethiopia says that the talk of her adoption group is a recently published book in which many Midwestern Asian adoptees now entering their 30s and 40s complain bitterly about being treated as if they did not come from a different cultural background. They feel that this treatment was an attempt to blot out their differences, and because of this, they resent their adoptive parents.

So in a way it is kind of nice to know as a parent of a child, biological or otherwise – whatever you do is going to be wrong. Like I say to Willow: “Well, you know, if you were still in China you would be working in a factory for 14 hours a day with only limited bathroom breaks!”

And she says — as has been said by children since time immemorial — “So what, I don’t care. I would rather do that than be here anyway.”

Ummm. Say what? Did this mother of a Chinese girl seriously just use the “you would just be oppressed in your own country and since I know for sure that your life is better because you are with me because I am your mother” argument? Seriously? Did she really in such a joking manner make a mockery of those folks who are working under the conditions of economic slavery imposed by the U.S. that actually admits that the black, brown and yellow folks they utilize as a labor force don’t deserve basic human rights? And does she forget that ‘those folks’ are her daughters people? Does she really expect us to take the step of comparing refusing to get your child a dog at their demanding whim to a white parent refusing to acknowledge how race plays a major factor in the healthy identity of a TRA child? Oh Hell NO.

Ok, wait.. wait.. I thought most folks understood how m/paternalism plays a huge factor in discourses of colonialism and white privilege, but clearly folks need me to spell this shit out. Does anyone remember how manifest destiny or just general white supremacist rhetoric historically has a place in the circumstances of transracial/international adoption or is it just me? Paternalism: refers usually to an attitude or a policy stemming from the hierarchic pattern of a family based on patriarchy, that is, there is a figurehead (the father, pater in Latin) that makes decisions on behalf of others (the “children”) for their own good, even if this is contrary to their wishes. So just in case we’ve forgotten boys and girls, paternalism is also responsible for slavery, for colonialism, for going into those ‘savage’ countries and ‘saving’ those ignorant natives from themselves, because clearly they don’t understand that I know whats best for them. I’m their mother after all! Motherhood is the most important thing and since I am the mother, what I say goes! So what if I have to beat, rape and shame your Indian-ness out of you! As long as you understand that you are safer and will have more opportunities in my world than you would have ever had in your world. Your own religion? Pshaw! Your savage people worship a pantheon of gods and goddesses – we know there’s only one true God! Your ancestral connection? Oh that old thing? Wait.. did you know they left you in an orphanage? I mean, you would be over there just languishing away if I hadn’t found it in the goodness of my heart to answer the call to become your mother. You are SO much better off here. I mean, at least I let you have a Game Boy because you don’t need those pesky birth relatives hanging around like domestic adoptees.

Let me note here that as an Adoption Educator, I completely understand her point about wrestling with the crazy dynamics of an adolescent screaming at you, “you’re not my real mother!” in the context of parenting. AP’s have to deal with the guilt that comes along with punishing a child at this moment – and the very painful implications for how your child views you at the moment of vocal impact. Yes, you still have to be a responsible parent and handle your business and not get sidetracked by a demanding child. But what comes along with this responsibility? Is there a responsibility to not be racist in my responses to my adopted child of color?

TRA Jeopardy question: The ability to put my needs and wants over that of my child’s without regard for the racist implications.

Answer: What is – the ultimate white privilege, Alex.

Tama. Tama. Tama. You should know better. (Shouldnt you?) Your complete dismissal of adult adoptees who are working to share knowledge with other adoptees and with parents to hopefully change these relationships for the better is inexcusable.

But oh.. I forget.. your child is different. Because you say so. Because you know that for your child – race wont really matter. Love is enough. . . and I’m just an angry, bitter TRA in my 30′s and 40′s.

Careful Tama, you’re startin to sound like the ‘charity workers’ in Chad.

Additional Note: Please also be sure to read Harlow’s Monkey’s critique of this NYT’s article, and note that responses from adoptees and parents alike have been denied/ censored posting in the comments section!!!!

Update: 8:59pm. A group of Adoptees are looking for other folks (adoptees, adoptive parent allies) who have attempted to post on the NYT’s article and have also been censored. Please send me a note or post here. We’re working on a collective response to this censorship.

Update: Nov 14 12:17pm Its become more and more clear that the NYT’s has indeed censored the responses to this article. I just want to provide some links to voices who have also responded. I’m posting some more adoptive parent ally responses too. It aint just us who are upset!
Twice The Rice

readingwritingliving

resist racism

According to Addie

Heart, Mind and Seoul

Racialicious

Sun Yung Shin

Outside In…And Back Again


Asian Adoptee Event in Berkeley

“ASIAN ADOPTION/ASIAN AMERICAN IDENTITY”
a colloquium
Sunday November 11, 3-5:30 p.m.
at the UC Berkeley Art Museum

Museum Theater
2621 Durant Avenue (between Bowditch and College Ave.) Berkeley Free with museum admission Reception following

What are the identity issues facing adoptees from Asia? How do they experience being Asian American? How have they expressed their experience creatively? These and other questions about Asian American identity comprise the subject of this timely and multi-facetted program, presented in conjunction with the UC Berkeley Art Museum’s major fall exhibition

“One Way or Another: Asian American Art Now,” on view through Dec. 23.

The presenters represent Korean-American, Vietnamese-American, and Chinese-American perspectives. They will explore Asian American identity as it is experienced by young adult adoptees from Asia, as well as probing other issues related to adoptions from Asia. Scholars specializing in transnational adoption will be joined by a poet, a musician, and a filmmaker, all of whose work has been influenced by their personal experiences.

Sara Dorow, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Alberta, is the author of a book on transnational adoption from China, and a former social worker who specialized in adoption. She will discuss how Chinese adoptees in the US and Canada narrate intersections of race, kinship, and the spaces of “home,” and how they have become “poster children” for adoption.

Rebecca Hurdis, UC Berkeley PhD candidate, Korean adoptee, and author of a book on Korean adoption, will examine how ideologies about race are shaped and transmitted through family structures.

Derald Wing Sue, Professor of Psychology, Columbia University Teachers College, is co-founder of the Asian American Psychological Association. Bringing an important psychological perspective to the discussion, Dr. Sue will address the multiple dimensions of Asian American identity confronting adoptees from Asia.

Lee Herrick, poet and Professor of English, Fresno City College, will read from his new poetry collection “This Many Miles from Desire,” and discuss how notions of identity, time and ambiguity in his poetry relate to his adoption from Korea.

Jared Rehberg, New York based composer and musician, will perform “Waking Up American”, written to his Vietnamese birth parents, and “Scrapbook,” composed for a new generation of adoptees, and talk about the relation between his life and his music.

Deann Borshay Liem, filmmaker (“First Person Plural,” 2000), will present an excerpt from her new film-in-progress, which features interviews with Korean adoptees from all over the world, and discuss the political, social, and ethical dimensions of international adoption.

Catherine Ceniza Choy, Associate Professor of Asian American Studies, UC Berkeley, has published on adoption from Asia and social constructions of American childhood. She will introduce the program and provide historical context for it, as well as moderate the discussion.

Following the colloquium, the audience is cordially invited to a reception, which will offer the opportunity to talk further with the presenters.

This program is supported by UC Berkeley’s Consortium for the Arts, the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities, and the Asian American Studies Program, and co-sponsored by Asia Society Northern California.

For further information, please consult museum website bampfa.berkeley.edu, or call Director of Education Sherry Goodman at (510) 642-8344.


Reason #2673468 Adoption is a Social Justice & Human Rights Issue

Thanks to Roshi for this lead. and.. oooo just in time for National Adoption Month!

According to a BBC report, a group of ‘charity workers’ located in Chad were arrested on the tarmark of the airport with an airplane full of about 103 children. The group denies they planned to sell the children for adoption, instead claiming they were sending them to ‘host families’ at a nice price of 2,400 euros (US$3,450) each. The group also claimed the children were from Darfur, Sudan and they were rescuing them from their ‘war torn lives’. It turns out many of the children were from Chad and not without families.

More than 100 children are in the custody of Chadian social services after members of a non-governmental organisation who said they were “rescuing” them from Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region were arrested on their way to France.

Chadian authorities on 25 October arrested nine French citizens at the airport in the eastern town of Abéché as they were allegedly trying to take 103 children to Vatry International Airport, some 150km east of Paris, where 50 French families were reportedly waiting to take them in.

A Paris-based organisation, L’Arche de Zoé (Zoé’s Ark), had announced in a 28 April press release that it wanted to evacuate 10,000 orphans from Darfur, where armed conflict pitting government forces and allied militia against rebel groups has killed an estimated 200,000 people and displaced 2.2 million since 2003.

“We must act to save these children. Now! In a few months, they will be dead,” the organisation said in the statement.

Some media reported that the children – aged one to nine according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) – were orphaned and sick and being evacuated to receive health care. One humanitarian worker in Chad told IRIN some of the children had bandaged limbs.

But later UNHCR said the children were found to be in good health. The Chadian Minister of the Interior and Public Safety, Ahmat Mahamat Bachir, told media the children were not all orphans. Some of the children are believed to be Chadians, but UNHCR and other bodies have yet to complete verification of their origins.

My stomach hurts, but I’m not surprised. Just getting more and more angry and frustrated. I’m please that more and more potential parents are actually doing research on the country they are adopting from, doing interrogation on themselves, developing a realistic understanding of how language and culture actually change what adoption means from country to country. This article by Elizabeth Larson “Did I Steal My Daughter? The Tribulations of Global Adoption” really touched me. But lets be real – how many Ms. Larson’s are there?

Back to the abductions – the children reported have been crying and asking for their parents and families, and have reported being abducted.Is there a doubt as to why there is a relationship between international adoption and slavery? Is there any confusion as to why western culture is deemed paternalistic, egocentric and imperialist? When will we get past this notion that just because you think they would be better off means they actually will be? Has anyone thought of cultural difference? Why wont anyone talk about ownership? Why wont anyone talk about how whiteness, class and privilege all play into a persons ability to completely disregard the best interests of the child for their own interests? Why are the child’s best interests to get them out of Africa?

I have so much more to say and Im about to do a shameless plug which I try not to do to much on ABP. This kind of incident is so much why AFAAD is needed. Please support our development. We are going on our global campaign this month and need funds to help us do mailings! This is the kind of issue that AFAAD is incorporating into our political advocacy work. The fact that there are NO adult adoptee groups that focus on Africa, the Caribbean, Black America is crazy. We’re here.

Much like the way the domestic social welfare system here in the U.S. sets up failure for mothers who want their children back – these mothers are being coerced and these children are getting forcibly taken from their families!!

If I hear that bullshit line, “yeah, but would you rather have them langushing in orphanages?” one more time I’m gonna start sharpening my machete.


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