Transracial Adoption from one black girl’s perspective

I’m on CNN with Don Lemon!

Yesterday morning I got a call from CNN to participate in a panel commenting on transracial adoption, race and of course, Sandra Bullock. As a rule, I stay out of conversations that center around celebrities or that would seem to be looking at or critiquing one person’s life personally. However, they ensured me I wouldn’t be commenting about her directly, but was asked to come on as a scholar to comment on the overall climate in the web/ blogisphere. Supposedly everyone is all a ‘twitter’ and blogs are blowing up with comments from everyone who has something to say about her adoption of a black child. I had no idea people would care so much and also chose not to even really read anything around it, do you know why?

For many of us scholars who are adoptees / fostercare alumni, the questions that are raised by SB adoption, and that were asked in this interview / panel were the same questions people have been asking over and over since transracial adoption became more of a public issue politically and racially during the 50’s when the Korean War adoptions began and the 1970’s when the Vietnamese Baby Lifts happened. So for us, So Sandra Bullock is like one tiny bump in a long history of black and brown children being adopted by white families. The issues remain the same except now we have moved to a place where we aren’t only concerned with domestic adoption but with the connections between child exploitation, paper orphaning, continued resistance to family preservation, devaluation of families of color and the entire economic market of children of color that continues to exploit unwed mothers who if they had the economic means, societal approval and support, would otherwise keep their children.

So regarding Sandra, its not really about her or her choices. Its unfortunate they have to be all over the media, but for us, its about an entire history and continue replication of a specific narrative around adoption and race and one that usually never includes adult adoptee researchers. So first, I have to hand it to CNN for taking the leap on putting someone, specifically an adoptee, who is a researcher and scholar on adoption issues who actually knows what they are talking about on their programming.

So. . . back to me. :) Personally, the whole day was super surreal, but I had a great time. I had my first ‘superstar’ moment when CNN ‘sent a car’ to pick me up. I actually found this incredibly important because everything happened so quickly, I really needed the time from my house to the studio in SF to go over notes, focus and stop giggling with excitement with my other AFAAD board member, Lisa Walker, who went with me for moral and technical support.

Talk back:

First, I couldn’t see either Don or Wendy in while I was set up in the satellite room, so I had no idea what Wendy looked like. I don’t have cable, so I don’t even watch CNN, so I had no sense of what they were putting on screen while any of us were talking. Overall, I’m pleased with how it went down, I was nervous but it felt great when I was done. yay!

For the most part, I will let the video speak for itself. My only overall comment is that I think its incredibly important for us to recognize the distinctions between mixed race biological children who are raised by a white parent and transracially adopted children of color raised in white families. As much as adoptive parents want to act like race doesn’t matter, sometimes they want to forget that adoption matters just as much.

Certainly for the mixed race person or adoptee, issues of struggling with the whiteness of your parent, the privilege of your parent who doesn’t want to recognize you as a person of color is similar. But what people forget is how the negotiation of two family histories is always part of the adoptee history, whether or not that adoptee acknowledges it or not or has the support from their family to explore issues what it might be like to think about a connection to a birth family and how that connection changes the parent – child relationship. (its not a good or bad change, its just a shift thats important to recognize.) In other words, a mixed race person with a white mother IS connected to that mother in a way where they can see their origins, their heritage, their family history as DIRECTLY connected to them. In a TRA family where the parent or parents are white, that connection is NOT there. Its there because of shared memories, its there because of a shared history since the adoptive relationship began, but not because the adoptee can look at the family and say, oh, i look like Aunt Edna, my nose is my mothers, I look like my brother, or I understand how great grandpa came over on the Mayflower and that’s a part of me. For and adoptee, that part is missing. There is no mirror of recognition in the faces of our families, or a history that spans back generation. Imagine how powerful it was for me to find out after 40 years that on the Filipino side of my family my grandfather came from the Philippines to work in the fields in Hawaii, and how amazing it was to find out that on my Black side of the family had a few active Black Panthers. Two tiny details that have given a kind of grounding to place my feet in. I am from somewhere.

Finally, I’m concerned about Ms. Walsh’s comment regarding her and her daughters being a ‘welcome racial curiosity’. Its this kind of language that forces me to remind parents of children of color that what is cool for you, is certainly NOT always cool for your kids. You may get off walking down the street with your beautiful exotic mixed race kid, who gets stares and comments. But how exactly do you think your child feels about being on display, about being stared at, about having people think that you dont really belong to your family. This is where the connection between mixed race children and adoptees DOES cross. Its not either or. Try to hold both at the same time folks.

Please comment and share. I’d love to get your thoughts on Don, Wendy and I. Lets talk folks!

What a great day. oh and to my OAKLAND folks. dudes, I’m SOOORRRY okay? I was looking at the reflection of myself in the screen with the picture of the GG Bridge behind me and SF just came out, I love and REP Oakland folks!! lol!

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63 responses

  1. Great job, Lisa. You are a stronger person than me. You handled yourself expertly… I’m sorry. I meant to say, MZ. ROLLINS! :-)

    May 9, 2010 at 11:39 am

  2. Thanks! I was waiting for him to say, “Ms. Rollins, why do you think the black community is so angry about this?” and I was all ready to be like, “why do people always want to know why black people are angry? Isn’t racism and slavery enough?” lol.

    May 9, 2010 at 11:44 am

  3. Gah, I CAN NOT STAND when white people say adoptions are color-blind!

    LM, you were great! I wish there was more time on the show to really discuss this. I think Don Lemon was uninformed, pulling out the “white family/foster care” dichotomy, dismissing your point about moving beyond more than two options!

    Also, this whole weird discussion about how the younger people today aren’t racist – what b.s. They should go to my neighborhood and talk to the kids at my daughter’s high school. Race STILL matters! The kids today STILL are dealing with racism!

    May 9, 2010 at 11:51 am

  4. Yeah JR, I was wondering about those stats they pulled up. Do you know anything about them?

    and yes! I was like.. um really? We dont even want to THINK about a world where adoption isn’t the only answer? But, post show I heard from a little producer bird that Lemon must have liked me because its supposedly unusual for him to not give Wendy the last word. heee.

    and that discussion about how people over 40 are the only people who should be thinking about race. Um, what WORLD does Ms. Walsh live in? I just saw danger and red flags everywhere for her daughters around her ability to support them around race and their mixed blackness. I’d love to have a consult with her on a personal level, just to support her children.

    May 9, 2010 at 12:07 pm

  5. I know…and when she mentioned the “racial curiosity” thing, I almost wanted to jump into the tv. WTF – what about saying that black/biracial children being on display does NOT harken back to at best a circus freak metaphor but even more, to slavery?!?

    May 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm

  6. The racial curiosity thing just made me so angry. It reminded me of Saarjtie Baartman all over again and enrages me. Sigh.

    May 9, 2010 at 12:13 pm

  7. rox

    Lisa MArie, I have to confess the second I started watching this I was filled with rage, they did NOT just put you up against the rich white woman who loved raising mixed race kids and it’s been good FOR HER????

    OMG Lisa Marie you are SO AWESOME for doing this. So awesome.

    You handled yourself so damn well.

    You rock

    May 9, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    • Thanks Rox!! Totally appreciate the love. It was a little crazy when I actually saw who they put my up against.

      May 12, 2010 at 8:13 am

  8. c

    Dr. Walsh referred to her child as ‘it’ at one point.

    The thing is, if this nation was not racist at its core, then all the points Don was trying to make would have had a greater affect on me. I think you did very well, Ms. Rollins. You made your points intelligently and calmly.

    The thing that got to me though is the fact that Doctor Walsh was trying to- I don’t know, “break it down” or something- when you have actually lived a type of childhood like she knew more than you. Her stance implied to me a typical white codescending attitude. She has children of color so she knows how it will ultimately affect children in similar situations.

    When I hear the term colorblind I already know where the person is. It is their privelege to not acknowledge me.

    May 9, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    • C –

      I heard that too! and I totally agree with you about the ways in which coloblindness denies the experiences of people of color. Its a nice idea, but not realistic. Thanks for stoppin by!!

      May 12, 2010 at 8:15 am

  9. Lisa Kelly

    Ms. Rollins,

    You were amazing! Like JaeRan, I also wish there had been more time and the discussion could have moved to deeper territory than white family vs. foster care and “isn’t love enough?”

    And the comment they showed! It doesn’t even get at the heart of the issue and is just offensive.

    I am glad that you were asked to weigh in on this discussion, however, and that transracial adoption experts have a voice on panels like this. And I’m glad you’re that voice!

    I’m so proud to know you.

    May 9, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    • all my friends are comedy with your ‘ms rollins’! lol! LMK – thanks for the love.

      May 12, 2010 at 8:16 am

  10. Mara

    We’ve been chatting about your CNN appearance on AAAFC. I think you did an absolutely MARVELOUS job against those two rainbow farters!!!!

    You rock, Lisa!!!! Thank you for taking a stand for us adoptees and the incredible social dismissal of our ethnicities and heritages!!!!

    May 9, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    • oooo. I havent been to AAAFC in a long time to comment! I should come out of hiding over there. thanks for rollin thru Mara

      May 12, 2010 at 8:17 am

  11. Congratulations Lisa. The stories on Bullock have been so parent-centric, the whole ‘mine, mine, mine dolly’ complex and so much about how the child assisted Bullock to recover from her cheating husband. High parent-focused therapy speak. High commodification of child. And ‘colour-blind’ approaches are simply White privilege. So proud you have a voice on big TV show like CNN.

    It is always good to see an informed expert who is also a transracial adoptee speaking on the topic of transracial adoptions. Can you imagine if the media did stories on Women’s Rights and only interviewed men, not women? That’s the confounding imbalance of how stories on transracial adoption (and transnational adoptions too for that matter) have been for the most part. Your voice is thoroughly important by itself, but also for a community of POC usually buried in the shadows of White commenters, scholars and adoptive parents (who also fall in to the other two categories). Hope you get more air time!

    May 9, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    • Indigo, thanks for stoppin by to comment. I always want to know what my colleagues who are scholars are thinking. It was such an intense experience, but not unlike many Ive had over and over when I’m working with adoptive and potential adoptive parents. and yes, I do it not even for just me. Its for all of us.

      May 12, 2010 at 8:18 am

  12. Angel Murakami

    I never engage in conversations like this because it’s futile and likely to piss me off. I am really tired of the question, “Would you rather a child be left in an orphanage or be adopted into a loving home?” Not everyone who adopts does so because they truly want to love a child as if the child is his/her/their own, to truly nurture, love unconditionally. Many people use this guise for adopting when in reality they’re trying to tame some other beast in them. I think I can count on one hand the number of adoptees who grew up in a good home with loving parents. The majority of adoptees I come into contact with were either psychologically, physically, or sexually abused, or a combination of them all.

    Speaking for myself, yes, I would have rather eventually been sent to an orphanage in Korea than to be adopted by the person who adopted me, and I was even adopted by a Korean. My mom thought a baby would fix HER problems, when it only made things worse for her and made my life miserable. I still pay the price because I work my ass off daily to adjust my attitudes and emotions so that I don’t pass negative things to my children. My problems are not their burdens. I will do whatever it takes to make sure it is never their burden. But it’s draining emotionally and mentally. Periodically, I break down because I feel like I can’t keep doing this, always being vigilante, fighting the inner turmoil. My brain is always going, never rests.

    So in my opinion that question about orphanage versus loving home can be shoved where the sun doesn’t shine.

    May 9, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    • Angel, one of the realities about speaking and teaching in adoption and from a critical perspective is that we get asked that question OVER and OVER. lol! I’m now at a place where I actually know how to answer it and how to engage without getting upset. (unless its a day when I dont want to engage at ALL). Its much like the ‘what are you’ question for mixed raced bodies. over and over, our entires lives. somedays I explain, somedays I just say, “Black” and walk away.

      May 12, 2010 at 8:21 am

  13. Marie-Claude

    Not surprisingly, you were GREAT! You are such a powerful role model for our kids and a reminder of the work to be done for us parents.

    I wish her bi-racial daughters had been on the show instead of the white mom. Maybe they could have shared how much “youth don’t see race now”.

    May 9, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    • Hey my friend! Marie-Claude, i hope you are well. thank you so much for the love. and yes, I’d love to hear what her children have to say. Maybe one day we will get to hear it.

      May 12, 2010 at 8:22 am

  14. unsignedmasterpiece

    Thank you for posting this. I was hoping to get to see it. You did very well, kept your cool. Ms Walsh was ticking me off too. As was the host. About adoption generally and about transracial adoption.

    Am I correct in understanding that Walsh’s kids’ father is black? Doesn’t that put them in a slightly different position? How can she extrapolate from her own personal experience? It isn’t the same.

    May 9, 2010 at 3:25 pm

  15. Josh B

    Never heard of you before, however, it is quite apparent from the self-centered tone of your blog that you need to hear this: you do not hold on to a grudge, a grudge holds on to you.

    The imperfections of the adoption system have little to do with race (income levels are what gen X & Y’ers go by) and every day that passes it becomes even less racial. Get over it… you’re living in the past.

    May 9, 2010 at 4:15 pm

  16. Bruce P.

    Lisa Marie you were great.

    I’m not exactly sure what Josh is referring to and why he feels “that you need to hear this” (speaking of self-centeredness) but by any measure race still matters. I know Lisa Marie and she is one of the most forward thinking and loving people I’ve EVER met.

    May 9, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    • Bruce, thanks for this support and love. AND for comin to check out the clip and see the work I do outside our solo performance class. get him Bruce! :)

      May 12, 2010 at 8:23 am

  17. Mara

    Lisa is NOT self-centered Josh. How dare you come on her blog and talk down to her.

    The adoption system in America that is a 5 BILLION dollar a year industry that profits from the sale and redistribution of children is so flawed and disfunctional and the people that are sold are the ones who PAY.

    Take your high and mighty attitude back to the AP camp where you came from. YOU have no idea of what you’re talking about.

    May 9, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    • Josh B

      I didn’t know that 5 billion dollars had anything to do with race. Having worked at several U.S. embassies, including Moscow, I understand that nothing but well to do people can even think about playing that game internationally. I’m sure that is a domestic issues as well. What a shitty industry it is indeed. What does this have to do with race?

      Is it ok if they’re the same race, but of a different culture? Is it ok if the child is of ____ or more races? Or the parents are of ____ or more races? What are these racial rules?

      I should have articulated my concern differently. I have no qualms with this woman. She is dedicated to helping children in ways most will never know. I can see how working in this industry in Oakland, a largely black & white segregated city, would affect one’s priority of issues.

      race clouds the real issue:

      there are children who do not have parents or families and we as a HUMAN RACE are failing to take care of them. Miserably. We’ll even go overseas to get children who look more like us instead of going to the other side of the tracks.

      Lisa, I apologize for my comments. I should have processed my feelings a bit more before speaking. I’m learning.

      May 9, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    • Josh B

      what is an AP camp? I’ve been there before? I’m a ‘white’ guy who grew up in Sacramento, served my country protecting diplomats for 5 years, currently run a hip hop record label and teach under privileged children financial responsibility for fun. That is my camp.

      If I spoke my opinion to the tea party, would they send me back to AP camp too?

      May 9, 2010 at 11:04 pm

  18. Hey sis,

    As always you were fantastic. Thank you for mentioning the situation with Haitian Adoption in the Midwest. I think you asserted your points well. You should have had more of an opportunity to speak and I am not just saying that because I am a friend.

    I’ve got to admit that I was a bit angry with way the segment was all set up by the producers, and with Lemon. For example, I don’t know why the producers took so much time to show pictures of Wendy Walsh with the biracial kids. It should have been more balanced. Why not have pics of you as well with the work that you do with the kids at the summer camp (obviously they are under 40 years of age!) and with adults. If this was your decision to not have images, I think that’s great. But that means they should not have shown images period.

    I also did feel that the conversation was too dichotomized. There was not a clear distinction being made between biracial children and transracial adoption. And I wasn’t sure what Lemon was saying about African Americans and race. And yes, Ms. Walsh, Obama is biracial but he identifies as black, and does so for a reason (political, culture, or whatever other reason…). If the biracial, mixed raced group gets upset because he marks black on the census, then that’s a problem too.

    So, no, I don’t by the notion that we are beyond race (postracial society?) and I do believe that geography/place/space plays a large part in how we think about race, as you mentioned. And sometimes the places where you think race shouldn’t be an issue tend to be consumed by it, just in different and much more hidden ways. Sometimes not so hidden at all. Believe me! I’ve lived in a lot of places from the East Coast to the West Coast.

    I think you did an outstanding job, Lisa. And I am proud of you for holding your own. I know how much energy you had to use to keep your professional composure (LOL).

    May 9, 2010 at 5:11 pm

  19. MISS ROLLINS, YOU HANDLED THE BIZNIZ!!!! WHAT?!?!?!

    was so proud to see you up there, speakin the truth. and mad props to you for remaining eloquent while an armada of red flags were having a freakin parade. i will say though, i am glad that CNN called you, this was great.

    When are you moving back to Oakland hon? we miss you ;)

    xoxo
    richard

    May 9, 2010 at 5:20 pm

  20. Lisa, I happened to be turning CNN on just as you came on, and I didn’t even need to look at your name I knew it was.

    You were GREAT. Though it was really hard for me to keep from yelling at the TV. I need to work on my lack of patience for people who choose to let facts go right over their heads.

    But you were awesome and I loved seeing you on CNN! :)

    May 9, 2010 at 5:30 pm

  21. Sue G-R

    I can hardly stand to listen and in fact am commenting, as I listen, to blow off the rapidly rising steam. The interviewer asked such leading biased questions and pontificated way too much. A welcome curiosity? Oh yeah, my kids love that shit.

    But so glad to know that when everyone who is now over 40 dies, racism will be gone.

    Lisa you did great! I am in awe of how you stayed on point.

    May 9, 2010 at 7:18 pm

  22. James

    I found this blog by Googling you after I saw on CNN.com the video of your CNN appearance.

    I am the father of an adopted son who is not the same ethnic background as me. I am white, as is my wife. Our son is biracial — though I think most people would think of him as African American based on his appearance.

    We worry about the whole racial identity thing. But I also thin we handle it pretty well. Our family lives in Detroit in a mixed-race, but mostly black neighborhood — in the same house my wife an I bought long before we knew we’d be adopting trans-racially. Our son attends a charter school in the city which has — based on my observation — a student body that is 99% African American, but a real ethnic mix of teachers. Our son’s main teacher this year is Asian (interestingly, a trans-racial adoptee herself), while his reading teacher if African American. Last year, his main teacher was white.

    We really are working hard to model a lifestyle of racial harmony — while also not trying to hide the realities of racial disharmony in America. We talk honestly about racism and do our best to explain it to him (he’s 8). But we try not to dwell too heavily on that stuff. That’s because our son is not a “project.” He is not an experiment in cross-racial family relations. He is our son. He is a kid. So, most of our time is spent just being a family — in an environment that is intentionally diverse and inclusive.

    I will always be grateful for the fact that our first bi-racial president — a guy who identifies himself mainly as African American — was elected at a time when my son was first coming to realize and deal with his ethnic heritage. It’s not the reason I voted for Obama. But wow… President Obama really has had a strongly positive impact on our son.

    May 9, 2010 at 8:02 pm

  23. Helloo!!!

    I finally saw the video. I don’t have a lot to add to what everyone else has said but I guess I should add that my boyfriend, who isn’t “into” adoption and was watching with me while surfing Amazon, was surprised and indignant about the stupid things they were saying to you. So even to a more general public, you were the voice of reason and they did not come off well.

    May 9, 2010 at 9:07 pm

  24. Lisa Marie, you did a great job counteracting some very ignorant, naive questions and comments… glad that you were called upon as an expert.

    May 10, 2010 at 5:07 am

  25. Hooray, Lisa! I’m so proud of you. Very articulate. It’s amazing the resistance Lemon and Walsh both gave your side of the argument, but you held your own! I can’t stand the woman’s “exoticizing” her children like that…”a welcome racial curiosity”–WHAT?! Anyway, from one TRA to another: awesome job.

    Can I link to this post from my blog?

    Heart!

    Libby

    May 10, 2010 at 8:09 am

    • heyyyy! yes of course link to this! I’m getting ready to also post an ‘aftermath’ post. lol. Its been interesting the kinds of reactions I’ve been getting. yes, I’m still surprised at her ‘welcome racial curiosity’ comment. sigh.

      May 12, 2010 at 8:25 am

  26. Susanna

    Hey Lisa Marie!
    I’ve just come across you blog, and watched the CNN video. I think you did an incredible job! It felt a little as though you weren’t given as much of a chance to speak, which is unfortune, but not suprising. I think within the culture of adoption (irrespective of race)it is the adoptee’s story that is usually the least heard and least understood. I am an adoptee, half white and half moroccan, and while now most people can’t tell I have middle eastern descent, when I was a child I was very dark and looked NOTHING like my adoptive family. I grew up in a very affluent, very white suburban American city. I remember strangers asking questions when I was young,and staring, when I was out with my family.I was called various names at achool. It heavily contributed to the underlying sense of loneliness, confusion, difference and missing identity I already had as an adoptee. I always felt like I never fit anywhere, stuck out like a sore thumb, including with the family that ‘chose’ me. I am blessed to have an amazing loving relationship with my adoptive parents, who are really incredibly people, but I put that down to all of us being incredibly analytical, open people, and thier willingness to talk about and acknowledge the issues I’ve had. A lot of adoptive families are unfortunetly not as willing to discuss these things. I think physical appearance/race/cultural background in relation to adoption is incredibly underestimated, and unfortunely there just isn’t enough informed knowledge about these issues by the majority of people, and most importantly people who are adopting children of different backgrounds. I believe that a lot of people adopting in this situation probably do have good intentions, but a level of awareness of how important these issues can be to adoptees is severly lacking. The feeling that genreally came from Wendy, was “if it doesn’t matter to me, it won’t matter to anyone else or my child” is one of ignorance, and is yet another example of the system of adoption and the triangle of adoption (birth family, adoptive family and adoptive child) only considering the feelings/stories/issues of the first two, while saying the adoptive child should only shut up and be grateful. It’s sad. But I think you’re doing an incredbile job making others aware of these issues, and I will be following your blog now that I have discovered it, thank you!

    May 10, 2010 at 8:28 am

    • Susanna, thanks so much for stopping by and for commenting. your perspective is such a great addition to the things I’ve said and just to even hear your personal story is powerful to me. and yes, I’m still trying to figure out why people think that NOT talking about things makes it ‘ok. I’m a huge fan of working through pain and tension through truth and clarity.

      May 12, 2010 at 8:28 am

  27. amiekim

    That newscaster is more of an oreo than any transracial adoptee I’ve ever met. Grr. And I wanted to slap that stupid white colorblind woman. It seemed as if the whole segment was set up to support the side of pro-transracial adoptions.

    But, LMR, you did a great job articulating and representing your views! Congratulations!

    May 10, 2010 at 12:46 pm

  28. starr britt

    Yes! You goooo Lisa! And yes! “it”s Mz. Rollins!”

    May 10, 2010 at 1:07 pm

  29. Mariama

    Lisa Marie!

    I am so proud to call you my friend and I am so inspired by the work you do for the TRA community. You held your own and that “welcome racial curiosity” shit made me so mad too. Thank you for helping to start a much needed conversation on CNN.

    May 10, 2010 at 1:28 pm

  30. Attica

    Thank you so much for clarifying the real issues and the real context!
    I have so many things to say in response to the show, and to the comments above, but I’ll keep it brief.
    When I was younger, the thought of white parents adopting children of color, especially Black children, really concerned me but I also made the assumption that all other alternatives had been exhausted. I therefore felt that a white adoptive home was “better than nothing.” As I got older, I realized that most of the time, all the effort and money went into removing the children from any alternative, either directly or “indirectly.” This is not to be glossed over, and any responsible white adoptive parent should be aware of the driving factors and involved in addressing them as an ally.
    And while we do have much in common as Americans, the heritage and culture of the adoptee is of such importance that it would be wrong to deprive and disconnect them.
    It’s yet another reflection of white privilege that in this *still* highly racialized country, some white people (adoptive or not) will see no issue with adoption of children of color, but would likely be quite disturbed to see people of color adopting white children. (We have to leave Michael Jackson out of this because most of the people, of all ethnicities, who were disturbed based it on HIM, not on him being Black.) If the situation was flipped, what importance would white America give to culture and heritage if we saw people of color adopting white children at the same rates (celebrities included)? I bet there’d be no confusion then!
    And how much would one have to blot from recent memory to pretend that racism is not with the youth? (Like the recent high-profile racist college parties.)
    Lisa, I want to see you on Oprah talking about this issue! Did you see when Tom Cruise was on a couple of years ago, and Oprah asked him if he ever talked with his son about being a Black male in America? Tom Cruise proudly proclaimed, “Nope! We talk about being human!”
    You really did a great job with composure and staying on point! I was a bit shocked at several moments when both Don and Wendy were talking, but you handled it all professionally — as an expert!

    May 10, 2010 at 2:42 pm

  31. Stuart

    Well done. I applaud you for your composure. It seems you were set up to be the angry black person and you handled yourself well.

    May 10, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    • Thanks S. It was definitely a position that I’m uncomfortable with as someone who doesnt really believe in ‘either / or’ binaries. It was a crazy place to be with such a complex issue. thanks for stoppin by!

      May 12, 2010 at 8:30 am

  32. Lisa Marie, Miss Rollins (good for you for saying that!) ,

    I’ve known of you for a while via Kamau.

    Just wanted to let you know I think you handled yourself beautifully in a tricky situation and I think you made points that will make a real difference in the lives of kids out there.

    Keep up the great work and media appearances. You have important things to say and know that even if you don’t feel your immediate audience of the 2 peeps you’re talking to are feeling you, there are a lot more out there who are.

    thanks,
    heather

    May 12, 2010 at 7:11 am

    • Hey Heather, thanks so much for stoppin by! I hope if you are in the Bay you can come to the show!! let me know and I’ll get you some discount tix.

      thanks for the support around appearances. Its been a challenge as I’ve been getting both hate and love mail. lol!

      May 12, 2010 at 8:32 am

  33. Aimee

    Amazing, Ms. Rollins! :-) One of my students is doing a paper on transracial adoption and I’ll pass this link along. You handled yourself well, and repeated a message, which I think got across.

    May 12, 2010 at 9:05 am

    • Nile Malloy

      Beautiful and superb stance! You did a marvelous job in this debate and I hope to see more of it. You also got in the issue of Haiti adoptees as well which is current and real. Thanks for representing the black race. Just teasing, but thanks for challenging this color blind rhetoric while millions of Americans are still being feed watching the following stuff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rElMVoZ-vQ&feature=related.

      May 12, 2010 at 10:02 am

  34. You did a great job of making your points and keeping them relevant to the discussion even when the discussion started taking a different direction.

    There was something that you said at the end that really struck a chord with me, which I have not heard verbalized much – that a white parent’s failure to incorporate POC adults into the white parent’s life indicates a level of discomfort with POC and sends a message to your child of Color.

    I am a White parent of a Black child who I adopted and I have felt that these get-togethers where TRA kids and their parents hang out are such a cop-out for the majority of parents who count these as exposing their kids to other Black people, or who think that their kid absorbs the “consciousness of the Black community” by osmosis through the alleged “diversity” of their neighborhood or, better yet, just the school that their kid attends.

    I appreciate all your work and knowledge and putting yourself out there to make points that are important but so many don’t want to hear.

    May 12, 2010 at 4:35 pm

  35. I agree with Lisa S. I think what you said on CNN was important and accurate and I hope it gave some viewers pause.

    I am a white father of a black child adopted from Ethiopia. Since before I brought my child to America I have immersed myself in books and literature on Ethiopian, African and African-American history, trans-racial adoption and the subject of race relations in American. The most important thing I’ve learned from blogs like yours and others is that I need to what I can to prepare my child for the realities of growing up in a racist society.

    It starts with taking a hard look at my own issues with race (and I believe EVERY white person has some issues they need to address.) Secondly, it’s essential for my child to have black role-models and mentors. I believe the work I’m doing to get out of my comfort zone is deeply important but I also realize that there is something I can never offer my child. That is, a genuine experience of growing up black in America.

    May 13, 2010 at 9:30 am

  36. JKD

    Fabulous, LM!!!

    May 15, 2010 at 8:51 am

  37. I’ve been a long-time lurker on your blog and was thrilled to see that it was you on CNN. I agree with others that you did a fabulous job, and I’m sorry that CNN felt that there needed to be an “other side” (although, I guess if her job was to represent the completely ridiculous, blindered-by-privilege POV, then that lady did a good job).

    And what was that first line? “You get what you get when you say you’ll take whatever” Whatever? WHATEVER? Gawd in heaven.

    May 17, 2010 at 9:15 am

  38. Also, for you and others here, we’re having a conversation about this episode over at Love Isn’t Enough (http://loveisntenough.com). Please join us. We would love to have a more nuanced and thoughtful discussion than the one on CNN, and I would really like to include the voices of adoptees in the conversation.

    May 17, 2010 at 9:30 am

  39. one point that i have not read in the comments is her referral the adopting families as “these wealthy, progressive, liberal people”..
    i get a little baffled when people are always assuming that only the “wealthy” families are adopting.. how about the normal, everyday, middle class people like us? and the “progressive” part also speaks volumes to what she believes is the intent of most white parents adopting black children.. i mean, she really believes that it is more of an act of charity/saving a child than the actual forming of a family.
    we, and i hope and pray that most other families, are adopting our child, completing our family. it is that complex and that simple. our intent is pure and our journey will be ever-evolving, i am certain. we have learned so much from reading your blog and others, as well as books. it will definitely be an on-going process because it is quite a responsibility to be a parent, and that’s without the transracial or adoptee part! :)
    thanks for the blog and for the always great insight!!

    May 18, 2010 at 8:49 pm

  40. Rita

    In addition to what everyone else has said – and yes you were brilliant, and I didn’t realize until I saw your comment on LIE that you are the “Birth Project” person *squee!* – what really irks me is how they frame the issue in terms of “Is TRA wrong?” As if the issues of TRA are a monolith that can be reduced to such a simple question. It would make a world of difference if it was instead phrased as “What are the particular issues in TRA?” Get everyone on the same side, asking how we do it badly and how can it be done better, rather than setting up this bogus dichotomy.

    People need to be asking the right questions.

    May 19, 2010 at 10:06 am

  41. We also need to challenge these so called “expert” doctors who too often appear on news shows giving their personal opinions as opposed to any research or data based knowledge. Anyone can give their opinion about something but if you are an expert and that opinion is not coming from a broader place outside of you own personal experience, then what you have to say as an “expert” becomes useless.

    I am a psychologist and I would have attacked Walsh all about her comments about “colorblindness” ecetera. She had absolutely no data to support that and even her comments about her personal experience didn’t support that idea.

    Please keep trying to balance this out for people. I think you are doing wonderful work.

    May 19, 2010 at 11:06 am

  42. krw

    Lisa,
    I didn’t read all of the comments so maybe someone has said this: the commentator seems to forget that children never want to be the odd one out, the only one of something, because it opens them up to (usually) unwanted attention. Getting beyond the black vs white culture argument, we always want to see/befreind at least one person who looks like us. All one has to do is talk to kids who are the only AA kid in their class at school. Been there, thank God I had a loving family to go home to and didn’t have to face that at home as well. If parents aren’t conscious of this their kids can have a lonely experience. The same thing happens if you are the only AA in a work setting. You may have to work harder to fit in or just to feel like you fit in.

    I also thought the racism will be gone soon comment was just stupid. I’m in my early 30s and grew up w/ plenty of people whose parents taught them otherwise.

    May 31, 2010 at 10:44 pm

  43. Paisley

    Lisa, I not only keep coming back to your blogsite, I’ve encouraged others to do so–and to get tickets to your show! You did an EXCELLENT job on CNN inspite of remarks both Mr. Lemon and Ms. Walsh made that were clearly out in left field. For instance, Ms. Walsh implying racial views are different for the 39 and under culture–bull, somebody needs to point her in the direction of colorblind reality–or has she not heard the news: “39 and under children have parents that are 40 and up–Racism is indeed alive.”

    See you Friday-June 4th!

    June 2, 2010 at 6:16 pm

  44. I am so glad I found this site as I try to articulate my problems with the current drive to adopt Haitian children. Thank you.

    June 3, 2010 at 11:42 am

  45. Jennifer

    I just came across this website and watched your interview on CNN for the first time. On one level I am not surprised that you are an adoptee because you actually “get it”. On another level, I am shocked because you were so composed and articulate. As an adoptee, I cannot keep my voice steady while discussing these issues because I become way too emotional.

    October 3, 2010 at 1:46 pm

  46. Jennifer

    Also,

    I am still a little confused as to what expertise Ms. Walsh brought to the discussion. Certainly there are key distinctions to be made between bi-racial children growing up with their biological parents as compared to adopted African-American children being raised by white adoptive parents.

    And even if the comparison was appropriate, wouldn’t it have made sense to interview a bi-racial child as opposed to that child’s parent?

    October 3, 2010 at 6:17 pm

  47. Clearly, I am coming to this discussion late. I recently watched the CNN clip and was completely appalled with so many of the statements made by Ms. Walsh particularly the “40 and under” issue and the notion that it is possible to be “color-blind.” Or that her kids would actually like being a “curiosity.” You did a wonderful job!

    I’m a white parent with a daughter whom we adopted from Ethiopia. Your thoughts, critiques and honest insights are so valuable to me as a parent and human being. Thanks for sharing!

    February 4, 2011 at 7:59 am

  48. Great job, Lisa. I can’t imagine how triggering that interview must have been. It would’ve have been for me atleast! Ugh.

    September 30, 2011 at 10:36 am

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