Friday, October 27, 2006


Jae Ran of Harlow's Monkey is a wonderful, informative blogger whose thoughts on race and adoption I have found very enlightening. She mentioned the following terribly unfortunate fact in one of her posts this week:

There are still adoptive parents out there who believe that racism
doesn’t exist. There are adoptive parents who believe that when we adoptees talk
about our experiencs of racism we are just “whining” or attention-seeking.

Elsewhere this week, I participated in a discussion that centered around an article written by a transracial adoptee about his experiences growing up in his adoptive family and their culture. I would love to spend some time focusing on some of the issues that have been brought to adoptive parents' attention time and again, through the powerful spoken and written truths of adoptees, but for now I am going to basically vent about how the adoptive parents' discussion proceeded after reading the article. There is heavy, careful censorship in most areas that APs congregate on-line to discuss "issues" - or the quick threat of censorship as soon as a view is expressed that might 'hurt' someone (an AP - not an adoptee, of course) and I find that so stifling and just plain wrong. So I thought I would use my own space to replay the discussion a bit.

Early up was an AP responder who disagreed that our country is a racist society. Also wondered if perhaps our children of Asian heritage might not face the same issues as a black/African American TRA (the author of the article), since the historical racial stereotypes and problems of the two groups are so different. (My translation: Our kids are white enough to pass through life without too much trouble, so we don't need to concern ourselves too much with figuring out how to help our children face racism). Score one for those in denial.

Next up was someone who thought that the author had some 'major issues', not the least of which was the fact that part of the black heritage he has chosen to embrace includes racism against whites. Of course this particular commenter has also met black people who were racist towards ALL whites. Score one for the 'reverse racism' battle cry....

Next - Well, this guy (author) is a big, fat racist, of course! AND a crybaby!! He can move to a place called 'Victimland' and the world will be a better place.

Then a repeat-offender who had to bring to our attention the fact that there are People of Color in high positions of authority in this country - and even went on to name a few! So, well, of course that proves what great strides we are making.

An adoptee tried to interject that she could really identify with the experiences of the article's author.

Next up - a reminder (from an AP) that not all adoptees feel the way the author does.

Shortly thereafter, the threat of having the discussion locked down by a moderator. Yay. Oh, and of course, that was proposed NOT as a reaction to all the racist crap that I've mentioned above. That didn't need to be said until after the adoptee had tried to speak.

Repeat offender who reminded us all, with a fabulous misuse of the term 'racists', that all racists aren't white. Anyone at all can be 'racist'.

Then the discussion started to dwindle into whether or not it is okay for APs to say we are 'color blind' (because of course most people don't mean that they don't 'see' a person's color...they mean something different).


I can't even really wrap my brain around each different person's perspective enough to be of any assistance in helping people see things differently - but I do know that I'm sooo tired of not being able to have any discussion, to learn, to find common ground and help one another, that I fear we APs, collectively, will be stuck here forever. EVERY discussion is stifled or detracted from by people who - I don't even know - live in fear that their family structures, their love for their children, will somehow be invalidated by acknowledging and really 'seeing' racism in this country and admitting the difficulties inherent in living the life of a TRA?? I think fear has much to bear on this situation.

To me, what will eventually 'invalidate' TR adoptive families, is the fact that white people have chosen to bring children of color into their homes and then proceed to raise them without trying to understand their hurts, fears, issues, feelings, opinions, and without doing anything to help prepare them for what life doles out in this racist society. As (mostly) white folks, we can't give our transracially-adopted children all the skills and understanding they will need. But to deny their experiences is the worst trespass, in my opinion.

Jae Ran also rejoiced this past week,

We are no longer going to be relegated to the “adoptee panels” and the “personal
essays” in the adoption field. We are now what I term the Authors of our own
stories, the Teachers, the Experts.

I'm not a much of a crier, but that brought tears to my eyes when I read it. White APs, social workers, the general population, are *not* the expert voices in International Adoption - adoptees themselves are the Experts. Their voices speak the truth, and I beg my fellow APs to listen.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Holiday announcement for (white, particularly) APs:

Traditional dress items from our children's heritage(s) are NOT appropriate Halloween costumes.

Some of these parenting decisions really are no-brainers...I'm amazed/appalled/embarrassed-to-the-core that a question of having one's child dress in hanbok for Halloween is even up for discussion. I wouldn't be angry except for the 'excuses' people come up with to try and justify their decision, such as, "it's a chance to educate...". Yes, In My Very Humble Opinion, it's a chance to tell the rest of the world how completely stupid and clueless white adoptive parents can be about anything and everything related to our children's birth culture. There's no 'educating' about hanbok during Halloween; only the chance to draw attention to your exotic little Korean girl or boy.

Each of us, when we decided to become parents of transracially adopted children, took on the responsibility to educate ourselves about their birth cultures and to really think about what this means for our families. In certain situations, it means that we parents don't have the 'authority' to decide to do certain things for or with them - and dressing them in hanbok for Halloween is something that a white AP does not have the authority or the 'right' to do. If Korean/Korean American parents think it is appropriate for their children - well, if nothing else, they are 'qualified' to make that decision. If (some) Koreans in Korea (such as your child's foster parents) think it is "cute" (even though they might not be telling you the truth when they say that, out of respect/politeness), that is still different.

This is a perfect example of the type of misappropriation that was addressed in the book Beyond Good Intentions. Sometimes it's a fine line. Other times, there will (should) be alarm bells and red flags and people screaming, "nooooo!" that will give us little clues about how we should proceed.

Please....for ALL of us....just don't do it (the Halloween thing). Do read the book.