We’re “Quirky Food Fusion”

I’m trying not to be cynical about Kimchi and Calamari, by Rose Kent. Kent’s Korean adopted children and biracial-Korean children inspired this story.

Kimchi and calamari is a quirky food fusion — and exactly how
fourteen-year-old Joseph Calderaro feels about himself. Why wouldn’t an
adopted Korean drummer feel like a combo platter given (1) his face in
the mirror and (2) his proud Italian family? Now Joseph has to write an
ancestry essay for school. But all he knows is that his birth family
put his diapered butt on a plane to the USA.

What Joseph does leads to a catastrophe messier than a table of
shattered dishes — and self-discovery that he never could have

Adult adoptees . . . I’m waiting to read YOUR children’s books about the tra experience . . .

Girl beaten for “looking Chinese”


One of the things I found interesting about this article and the news surrounding it is that is has not really focused much on the hate crime aspect of this incident. There is a lot of emphasis on the lack of the bus driver and other witnesses involvement — but this girl was targeted because she looked "Chinese" and that was the impetus for the assault.

Maybe others have read accounts that discuss the racial implications of this attack, but so far I have not. And I don’t want to be melodramatic, but it is just another reminder that Asian Americans are also subject to race crimes.


Interview on Asia Pacific Forum

Last night I was interviewed by Chitra Aiyer, host of Asia Pacific Forum on WBAI 99.5 in New York. From their web site:

Blogging Transracial Adoption

What is the connection between experiments conducted by psychologist
Harry Harlow on monkeys and attachment in the 1950s and the
contemporary experience of transracial adoption? To answer this and
more, we turn to JAE RAN KIM, social worker, teacher, writer,
transracial adoptee and author of the popular blog, Harlow’s Monkey:
Experiencing the Social Experiment of Transracial and Transnational

I’m way towards the end, after Leah Sicat, Jesse Lokahi Heiwa and Ishle Park. You can find it linked from the APF website or you can link from here.

Rage against the machine


It’s a precarious position for anyone who tries to be an agent of change within any institution. It can be difficult to balance the needs between individual people and systems that were created to help and instead have become so bureaucratic that it is a wonder anyone is helped at all.

When I was in graduate school for social work, we were often told that social reform and social justice were as important to the profession as the ability to empathize and help. Truthfully, however, the field of social work is quite polarized.

I would say the majority of the people in the field (and most of them are women) came into the program because they wanted to "help people"  (I could go into a whole separate post about how women are valued in our society and why that created an over-representation of women in the "helping professions" because that deserves an investigation as well. But I’ll leave that for another day).

Many of my colleagues spoke passionately about how their personal spiritual beliefs "called them" to the field.Well, I have no argument with that because in a way I also feel "called" to my work, though not by a sense of spiritual duty. My "calling" if you can call it that, was based on many goals;  first, I did not want to participate in a profession that was based on the production, marketing or selling of consumable goods. Secondly, I wanted to try to be an agent of change within the field and represent as a voice not included in the existing framework (as both a person of color and as an adoptee). Third, I strongly felt I could contribute to critiquing and challenging the current paradigms of practice and research.

I think "helping people" is a nice goal too. And I believe that it is very important. But in my view, having only a tight focus on "helping people" is limiting. We can "empower" people to change their lives on a singlular basis and I believe that is all well and good. But without looking at the rest of what is happening in the forest, we might be encouraging people to try and work within an overall system that is set up to fail them and send ’em right back to your doorstep.

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Angry Adoptee

Recently a friend of mine discovered that her colleague is an adoptive parent and is currently in process waiting for their second daughter from China. He had seen my film clip at the Race exhibit, due to their work, and knowing we were friends asked if I’d provide some resources. He was referred to Outsiders Within and after reading the introduction, he told my friend, "They are some angry adoptees."

This is nothing new; many of us who speak up about adoption as differing from the "sparkles and sunshine" are often called "angry." It has been my experience lately that anything that is critical is mistaken for angry. I’ve been called an angry adoptee many times. And what I think is humorous about that label is I’m far from being "angry." Critical, yes. Unsentimental? Absolutely.

I proudly consider myself to be critical but to me, critical and angry are two different things. Anger, according to the American Heritage dictionary, is "a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility," while critical is defined as "a critical review or commentary; a critical discussion of a specified topic."

One can be angry and critical, for sure. But being one doesn’t necessarily equate that one is both. I’ve known many people who are critical about a certain issue but not angry, just as I’ve known plenty of people who are angry but not critical. And sometimes you do find people who are both.

Calling people who dare to critique something that has long been presented in one way – no matter what that issue is – as angry is an easy cop-out. It’s the lazy person’s way of dismissing what might be very valid moral, ethical or social problems with an institution, practice or policy.

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