Transracial Adoption from one black girl’s perspective

Mixed Race

Recent Mentions: Jet and Theater Bay Area

As I’m still coming off the glow and gearing up for the madness that is ensuing from my acceptance into the NYC International Fringe Festival, I’m happy to say I’ve gotten a couple mentions in mags lately that I wanted to share. I was mentioned in this months edition of THEATER BAY AREA MAGAZINE, in an article by the lovely and talented solo master, Sara Felder. The article “Juggling the Truth” explores solo performance, truth telling and autobiographical writing for the stage. Here is a LINK to the whole interview online.

I was also just recently mention in Jet Magazine. I’m totally excited about this because Jet Magazine is one of the oldest Black magazines still in circulation. Its a brief mention, but yay!!


NYC Premiere! Yay! I got IN!!

I’m thrilled to announce that my play “Ungrateful Daughter: One Black Girls story of being adopted into a white family…that aren’t celebrities” will have its NYC Premiere at the 2012 NYC International Fringe Festival in August!! I got in!!! YEEEEEEE! NYC here I come!


I will be posting fundraising, production updates, and the specific show dates as soon as I get all that information!

HUGE HUGE thank you again to ALL of my donors, both individual, organizational and foundations! Huge thank you to the adoptee community who has has my back from the beginning. I could NEVER have gotten this far without your support. Lets DO this!!


“Altar of Unknown” in River, Blood Corn: A Literary Journal

I’m thrilled that I’m featured in the January 2012 issue of River, Blood Corn: A Literary Journal!

I’ve been thinking so much about the incredible resilience of adoptees and fostered people. We move through our lives with so many things that are ‘lost’ or ‘missing’ or ‘absent’. I put those words in parentheticals because the words themselves don’t actually articulate well what it means to have these complete ‘unknowns’ drawn on pieces of our lives. Its not like I feel this ‘loss’ or ‘absence’ in a way that makes me sit around and bitch about it, I feel this loss in a deep, way that expresses itself as longing for something, or sometimes as loneliness, or sometimes as fear, sadness, grief. It is always there, like the impact of skin color or the death of a parent. Sometimes it overwhelms me and other times it is the barest register when someone asks, “where were you born?”. I am thinking about resilience because I think about how heavy this load can become sometimes. This article speaks to a way of reconciliation for my spirit, a way I hold on to accepting, healing and being with these longings.


Oct 6, 7 & 8 – 8pm Berkeley, CA

Please come!!! BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW!

also – are you on my email list? Read my most recent update!


Fall Enters In

Its been a long, cold and busy busy summer. I just came back from visiting my parents in WA state and it was warmer up there than it has been in the Bay Area all spring and summer! I just hope we don’t skip what is usually a warm fall for us and head straight into the rainy winter season.

I’m in full, unabashed production and promotion mode for the October 6, 7 & 8th shows of “Ungrateful Daughter: One Black girl’s story of being adopted into a White family… that aren’t celebrities” at La Pena Cultural Center here in Berkeley. I’m thrilled that for the first time, other than excerpts of the show, I’ll be performing the entire piece for my East Bay family. I also have a history of producing work at La Pena, so I’m doubly excited that they believed in my work enough to commission and fund the piece to help me get it up.

There’s gonna be stage, light and sound design – yeeee! I’m continuing my collaboration with local activist and visual artist Isaac Ontiveros for the further development of the multi-media aspects of the show and also with the talented dancer/movement artist Colleen “Coke” Nakamoto on choreography. There so much more, but ultimately, I just hope you all come out and check the full, finished piece. I hope this will be one of the final iterations before I do a full run in 2012 and head to festivals around the globe. Please let people know and buy your tickets here!!

What else is up? Well, its that time of year when AFAAD is in full swing planning mode for the Fourth Annual Gathering, November 11,12 &13th this year at the 2100 Building in Seattle, WA! For all of my supporters, all of you parents of black, brown and multiracial children, we continue to develop this organization for your child! and we continue to do this as an all volunteer board. Please spread the word to any Black/Multiracial/African/Caribbean – adoptee of African descent over 18 that you know and tell them to join us in Seattle!! Here is the Call for Sessions, so people can submit panel or discussion ideas and also so potential participants can understand the depth of the weekend! Finally, here is the full information about this year’s Gathering. Don’t forget, if you know any families or organizations in Seattle that support adoptive families and foster care alumni – let them know about our Education Event that is open to EVERYONE on Saturday night, November 12th!

In addition to spreading the word – WE NEED YOUR FUNDING SUPPORT!! Please, please DONATE TO THE FOURTH ANNUAL GATHERING! The only way we are able to continue our work is through generous donations from people like you. We need at least $15,000.00 to cover basic expenses, and what is especially important for this year, to cover special guest speaker travel, hotel and honorarium fees, to keep our Public Education event low cost and accessible to everyone in the adoption triad, and to provide scholarships to at least two Foster Care Alumni who otherwise would be unable to make it to join us and have access to the network and the activist space of the weekend. We have 28 days! Please help us spread the word.

Crazy busy my friends. School has started, teaching, students, academic work as well as balancing my creative work. You know how artists do. I have two or three other creative projects in the works and all I will say about that is one is adoption related and the rest, thankfully, are not! In academia, we call it “racial fatigue”, I think we adoptee writers, activists, scholars need to come up with the right phrase for us. “Adoption fatigue”? I don’t know. I’ve been thinking a lot about how much my personal life is part of my professional life, and its great, but its also very tiring. I look forward to the weekend of the AFAAD Gathering where we will spend time talking together about being and adoptee or foster care alumni and being a professional and ensuring we are engaging in ‘self-care’, so we don’t burn out.

What seems contrary to what I just wrote, (ha!) I recently noticed that my subscribers to the blog have increased. I’m so excited about this – welcome to the blog. I look forward to engaging in conversation with you and answering questions! I’m here as a resource for parents as well as for my fellow adopted folks.

Finally, I have a special gift for the first 10 people who donate $50.00 or more to the AFAAD Gathering Campaign! I’ve recently finished a writing project that I want to share with folks who support AFAAD, its a secret, so you will be privileged to it before anyone! Donate, and I will get it to you in the mail asap!!


so what you sayin is

to the Japanese man
at the bar who asked me
if I knew that Filipinos
are the Black people
of Asia

so
Im a nigger nigger?

—–
#AfroPina


New Publication, Purpose, Planning

Happy New Year!

I’m thrilled to share that three of my poems, “Applique”, “Opposite of Fence” and “From the Tree” have been published in the new anthology:
Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out
(edited by Adebe De Rango-Adem and Andrea Thompson – Inanna Publications). The Anthology was released Dec. 2010. Pick up a copy!

This year my word of the year is “Purpose”. I got the tradition of “word of the year” from my good friend and AFAAD Board member, Lisa Walker. I have never been a person who made new years resolutions, so when Walker shared with me her 20 year tradition of choosing a word to focus on and make part of your intentional life, it hit me in a way that I knew this was a fitting tradition for me. This will be my third year ‘working my words’. Last year, my word of the year was “Determination”. It was and always is simply amazing the ways the word of the year emerges in my emotional, spiritual, physical and work lives. It seemed like the year was all about testing my ‘mettle’, and seeing if I had the courage and strength to be determined, to determine my future. It hit me especially hard at the end of the year, when it seemed like my writing deadlines were not going to be met. I’m now here in 2011, with my new word and whats funny is that I dont really let go of “Determination”, its with me and informs my daily thinking now. This year, Im am considering my Purpose, considering being purposeful in my choices, actions, goals, and the things I set energy & intention upon. I can’t wait to see how this plays out! Here’s to you as you enter your year of goals and intention. You can DO it!

Of course, I’m also still working on the final development stage of “Ungrateful Daughter”. Right now this is what is scheduled, but there is much, much more coming to the stage soon with a FULL run to look forward to in October!! This also means that of course, I’m booking now for Spring through Winter 2011 (Women’s History Month? Black History Month?) for poetry readings, solo performances, writing, poetry and adoption and adoptee support workshops, writing and performance coaching at your conference, school, non-profit, etc.! For a press kit and info about all the things I offer, email me directly.

Upcoming Appearances

Sunday May 8th, 2 performances, 2pm and 8pm

As part of the “See Mom, I Didn’t Forget” showcase for Mother’s Day 2011
BUY TICKETS HERE!

Sunday June 26th, 7pm
As part of Solo Sundays in SF.
BUY TICKETS HERE!! (coming).

If you didnt get a chance to read my End of the year UPDATE email, check it out here! Lookin forward to seein you all out this year!


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!


“Ungrateful Daughter” Press! Yeee!

I’m thrilled to be performing the full length version of “Ungrateful Daughter” this coming Thursday April 8th and in two weeks Thursday April 22nd at 8pm at StageWerx Theater in SF. This is the first leg of me getting it out there as a full piece in development. I can’t wait to hear what people have to say.

I’m super excited, I’ve been getting some press for it already, check it:

OMG! a whole page! (I rode my bike to go check it out)

Oakland Local — “Lisa Marie Rollins’ “Ungrateful Daughter” explores facets of transracial adoption”
by Irene Nexica
and
East Bay Express — “Asian Girl With a Secret” “Lisa Marie Rollins grew up thinking she was part Asian, part white, and part Latina. The truth was different.”
By Rachel Swan

Both of these articles came out today, and whats so interesting to me about them is the way that they are as wide as can possibly be in how they approach the story. Anyone who knows me knows that I (and most adult adoptees who have been doing this work for a while) am WAY past using “just” my own personal story to talk about the trauma and social justice work that must be done around adoption, people in foster care and for adoptees themselves. But its always amazing to me that no matter what, some journalists continue to focus on the fact that ‘back in the day’ adoptive parents had it all wrong and that today, adoptive parents have it all right because they’ve taken a few anti-racism classes or they are still, just concerned about providing a good home for the children. and whats wrong with that?

In Swan’s article, there is NO mention of my work that in global in nature and that it VERY much connects to the people who are adopting right this minute, and that Haiti and Ethiopia are on my radar when I’m writing creatively and doing social justice work. There is a mention of AFAAD, but only in a cursory way, saying I support adoptees who are looking to search. Okaaayyy… thats one thing I do, but its like one thing out of 50 that AFAAD focuses on. I get it, you cant do everything, and I am thankful for the press around my show, for real, but I also continue to be frustrated that the amazing press comes at the cost of my overall message about gender, race and the global politics of adoption.

And don’t get me started on the exotification of me as a mixed race girl in the Bay, and the title. Anyone who also knows me.. knows that I identify as BLACK/ Afropina and that I have deep, deep resistance to ‘mixed race’ identity politics that continue to claim transracial adoption as part of ‘their’ issues. WTH with the “Asian” in the title?”. No No. I get it, its about readers buying into the article and its the EBX, not Mother Jones. But hey, maybe I’ll get a date out of it. sweet!

The article itself is actually well written, strong in its emotionality and I’ve gotten LOTS of my friend commenting and emailing me who were very moved by the way that it was written. Overall, I like it. But to be clear, my critique is about the ways that media, writers and notably white adoptive parents continue to ignore the interests of adult adoptees, and actually many times fear that adult adoptee perspective.

Nexica’s article is brief, but certainly I appreciate the ways in which she attends to the context of our current moment and really understands that my story has implications beyond just some black girl whining about racist moments in her childhood.

just sayin.

Come to my show or please please – donate to the development so I can bring a fully realized piece to your city!!


Black Women and Asian Men

I support love in all its forms! Check this new film. My people.

 For more information on the film -  www. akirashiphopshop.com

For a conversation about ‘dating in or outside the race’ or ‘race- fetish’ dating – check this conversation over at Racialicous.


AFAAD Film Event Fundraiser

Shameless plug for AFAAD Fundraiser! Please Support!

AFAAD has teamed up with the The African /African Diaspora Film Society in Oakland, CA to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of “Struggle for Identity: Issues in Transracial Adoption”. Struggle is the first documentary film to feature the perspectives of Black and Asian adoptees who grew up in white families. The film also includes a new addition – a look back from 10 years later. (This event is also supported by Pact, An Adoption Alliance)

Our post-film discussion will include a panel of Adult Adoptees from the African Diaspora and include members of the audience who are Korean and Chinese transracial adoptees. This conversation will not explore the debate over transracial adoption, but push past whether or not its ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but will argue for an understanding of adoption’s role in the politics of a global racism and examine the need to reform the social welfare system and the welfare systems connection to the prison systems.

This event is also the first fundraiser for AFAAD. We really need your support for a basic start up budget. We need a P.O box, we need a web site, we need a database and a mailing budget to get the word out about the organization! If you can donate any of these or any other services to us – please contact us. Every dollar counts! Your donation is tax-deductible. For more information on our needs – please visit our website below.

Please join us!

Sunday August 5th, 2007
2pm
Parkway Speakeasy Theater
1834 Park Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94606
$5.00

AND

September 13, 2007 at 7pm is our first official AFAAD dinner. If you are an adult adoptee of African/ Black/ Mixed descent, and you live in the Bay Area and can get to us – we invite you to come and join us! For information please contact afaad_info@gmail.com or join the AFAAD email list — afaad@yahoogroups.com

http://afaad.wordpress.com
TRA Represent!


Black/ Mixed Girl Hair Report

Ahhh black girl hair. I’m experimenting with my hair products.

Again.

I’ve been really happy with and loyal to Aveda’s Be Curly for the past three or four years since I cut my dreadlocks, but I happened on a product called Mixed Chicks, that I decided  to try. I’m trying it mostly to support the company, but to see how it may work for me. Be Curly is gonna be hard to beat tho.

As we’ve discussed before, Black women/ black girls hair is a big deal. So if you are ignoring the biological difference here in hair – its time for corrective action. My suggestions here will work for hair that is fine, but with medium tight curls. Many times this hair texture comes from having a mixed race background. These suggestions will probably not be useful for coarse hair with very tight curls. (Although I can make some suggestions here too cause I twist my friends dreadlocks and my men friends short twists).

I have LOTS of hair, very thick and it gets tangled and starts forming Locks after about a week of not combing/brushing. I dont wash my hair everyday – only once a week or every few days if I HAVE to because of kickboxing. It is important to not over wash black hair because the natural oils keep it healthy, no matter what the texture. I dont even get my hair wet everyday – only if my curls are getting frizzy. I only comb my hair about once a week, when I am in the shower, with conditioner on.

After I get out the shower, I usually squeeze my hair out and then just “scrunch” it with a towel and then wrap my hair in the towel to get out excess water. There are two processes I usually do after that. First, if I have just combed my hair, my curls are usually not ‘defined’ and so sometimes I wear braids/twists/ or pony tail buns for a day. If I choose to do the braids/twists/ buns I usually just douse my hair in almond oil or this amazing Organics Olive Oil stuffs. Then after a day or two, I wash my hair – dont comb it!! – and then just ‘scrunch’ in about two big globs of Be Curly, and let my hair air dry and voila!

Ive also just discovered the Organics Hair Mayo.  Damn that stuff works good. But its like a deep conditioner. Only do that once every few weeks or so.

So I’m gonna try Mixed Chicks. I’ll let you know how it goes!

UPDATE:  


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