Adoption Poster Child™

They sat on the cream and floral plushy sofa and matching loveseat. Others pulled out the dining room chairs into the room, making a circle with chairs and bodies. Many of the grown-ups had coffee but I, as the only non-adult in the room, had a glass of water which I nervously rotated around in my hands. All eyes focused on me. The questions came slowly, at first. How did I like being adopted? What would I tell others about my experience? Did I have any advice for people who want to adopt, or any words of wisdom to share? My mother was sitting just to my left, and I looked at her. She nodded gently, and I took a deep breath. And began to speak.

My first official "job" as an Adoption Poster Child™ occurred when I was sixteen years old, in the living room of an adoptive family and fellow church members. I can barely remember being asked to come speak to this group and I was beyond terrified; but my mom thought it might be nice for "us" to share with others about our experiences. So after church that Sunday, I sat with several adoptive parents of younger kids and answered questions about how I felt about being adopted.

It was the beginning of what I’ve become today. An Adoption Poster Child™.

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Philadelphia Inquirer: “Chinese adoptees coming together”

Chinese adoptees coming together

By Jeff Gammage
Inquirer Staff Writer

For years, as American parents toted their adopted Chinese daughters to dragon fairs and New Year’s banquets, they wondered: Will these girls eventually try to band together on their own? And if so, when?

The answers: yes, and now.

For the last few months, a 29-year-old Southern California adoptee named Jennifer Jue-Steuck has traveled the world, forging connections to create the first organization run by and for Chinese adoptees, nearly 62,000 of whom have come to the United States over the last 15 years.

Quote

"Coming to consciousness about one’s racial identity and/or race privilege as white is not, then, by any means the same as transforming it."

— Ruth Frankenberg, from Names We Call Nome: Autobiography on Racial Identity

City Pages: “The Adoption Scam”

This is an article written in a local news magazine. This adoption agency has been in the news a lot in our area. Because this is such a long feature story, I’m linking the rest of the story here

Reaching Arms International claimed to specialize in placing European orphans. But prospective parents say they’ve been left heartbroken.

The Adoption Scam

STORY BY BETH HAWKINS

PHOTOS BY KRIS DRAKE

Chad and Julia Sandstrom had two biological children of their own, but they wanted to adopt a third. Julia was drawn to the idea because her father was adopted, while Chad thought it was a good way to avoid contributing to the overpopulation problem.

Unlike many adoptive parents who have their hearts set on an infant, the Sandstroms wanted an older orphan. "I wanted to give a child a family," says Julia Sandstrom.

After family friends played host to an orphan visiting from Russia, the couple knew their time had come. In January 2005, they went to a party hosted by the local adoption agency their friends had used. Located in New Hope, Reaching Arms International specialized in placing Eastern European children. The Sandstroms came away impressed by the passion of RAI’s founder, Nila Hilton, who had dedicated her life to working with orphans. . .

Two weeks before the Sandstroms were supposed to go to Armenia, their caseworker called and said she’d left the agency. Julia couldn’t get Hilton on the phone, so she drove to Reaching Arms. The building had been put up for sale.

"It looked like they were ready to cut and run," she says. "We were left high and dry."

For more of this story, click here

Remind me not to ask “Dear Kelly” for advice

Contra Costa Times

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Q:
I am adopted. I’m Asian and the rest of my family is Caucasian. I have
never felt that my family loves me any less. Other kids and sometimes
even adults make insensitive comments, however, and I don’t know how to
react. They say things such as, "You must be adopted." Why do they feel
the need to tell me something that I already know? Or, "What happened
to your ‘real parents?’" I don’t know what happened to my natural
parents, but my "real parents" are the ones I have lived with all my
life.

I don’t know how to respond. I have a very American-sounding
name, and they ask how that can be my name when I don’t "look"
American. I have a sister and we are close and get along great. Kids
often say we’re not "real sisters." I’m sick and tired of these
questions and comments. What is the best way to deal with this? —
Thank you.

A: The best way to deal with it is to accept the fact that people can
be insensitive and you can’t let it drag you down. Just because someone
says something stupid doesn’t mean you should get upset and take it
personally. People will say things that appear rude and inconsiderate.
That’s just part of life.

Speak confidently when you talk about your family. You are absolutely
correct that your parents and sister are your real family. You should
have no problem clearly stating this to people. If some folks have a
hard time "getting it," than it’s their problem. State what you
believe, let it go and move on.

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The Sun: “Gay flamingos’ adoption joy”

Gay flamingos’ adoption joy

A PAIR of gay flamingos have finally become proud foster parents after taking an abandoned chick under their wings.

Carlos and Fernando had been so desperate to have chicks that they had resorted to stealing eggs to fulfil their unlikely dream of a starting a family at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.

But their egg-sitting and hatching skills impressed staff so much that when one of the Greater Flamingo nests was abandoned last week, they were considered the number one choice to "adopt" the chick.

The unhatched egg was whisked off to an incubator where it was warmed up and monitored.

Not invited to the “cool kids” party

My family lives in a neighborhood in the city that is very diverse; many of our neighbors are Hispanic Latino, Somali and African American. Our kids go to a public school that has a Montessori core curriculum and because of that there is less diversity in the school as there is represented in my neighborhood; the school has become a magnet for liberal, white hippie parents who want to enroll their kids in a Montessori school.

Two weeks ago, I found out that one of my co-workers also has kids at this school, and her son is the same age and grade as my son. She asked me if I knew about the “Mom’s Night Out.”

This past year, it seems that several women decided it would be fun to host a “Mom’s Night Out” for mothers whose kids attend our school. It is an appetizer and cocktail potluck hosted at different mother’s homes. The next “Mom’s Night Out” was scheduled for the same evening as the school’s spring choir concert. Since I hadn’t heard of the event, my co-worker said she’d send me the on-line invitation and put me on the e-mail list.

So the morning of choir concert, my husband and I show up 15 minutes early. Greeting us is Mary, a parent volunteer and, I find out, the host of the “Mom’s Night Out.” I know this factoid because after giving every parent a program for the concert, she asks the women if they are a mom and if the answer is yes, hands her a printed invitation for the “Mom’s Night Out” and explains that it’s being hosted at her home that night.

Every woman except me, that is.

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JoongAng Daily: “Adoptee sifts through a stolen past”

May 02, 2007
Lily Schur/Kim Jang-mee

At the age of 3, Lily Schur was kidnapped from her parents and adopted away to the United States.

Now 22, Lily is a brightly smiling young woman with a positive outlook on aspects of her past that are just beyond the reach of her memory.

Having been adopted by a white American family, she first returned to the Korean Peninsula at age 13 as part of an adoptee program. “There was that feeling that I’d been here before,” said Lily, whose Korean name is Kim Jang-mee. “Even to this day, I’m not sure if it’s a real memory.”

Adoptive Parents – Be our Ally

Being an Ally

This blog began in the spring of 2006 when I was finishing up my MSW degree and discovered a group of transracial adoptee bloggers. I wanted to connect with these bloggers who were writing about their experiences that so closely matched my own experiences growing up as a child adopted from Korea to a White, Midwestern family. When I first began blogging, I noticed that several of my fellow adoptee bloggers had to move their blogs (or password protect them) due to
harassment by adoptive parents. While I believe
that people should be able to express different opinions here, I ask that everyone does so *respectfully* and *with manners.*

I am not here to denigrate adoptive parents, or to make adoptive parents feel bad about adopting. I am not your personal TRA pez-dispenser, here to educate you, give you
parenting advice or a “how-to” list.

This blog was not written for adoptive parents.
I write to share my experiences and my thoughts for my TRA friends and those who are our allies.

Therefore, I ask that if you visit this blog you respect everyone
else who visits too. I ask you to read these posts with an open mind. I
ask you to suspend judgment about us.

Do not assume that if I write
about some hard truths that I, as an adult Korean American adoptee, has experienced that I must be (in any order):

ANGRY – BITTER – RESENTFUL –
HAVE A BAD RELATIONSHIP WITH MY ADOPTIVE PARENTS – HATE MY ADOPTIVE
PARENTS – AM PSYCHOLOGICALLY DAMAGED – UNGRATEFUL
or HAD ABUSIVE ADOPTIVE PARENTS

 – or any other such assumption. If you want to argue and debate my
truths, how are you going to respond to your own child’s future
experiences when and if they are brought to your attention? Are you going to invalidate their feelings and experiences
too?

As you read through this blog, please keep the following suggestions in mind. I wrote this checklist for adoptive parents, siblings, friends and those who are in relationships with transracial adoptees.

Behaviors & Attitudes of Allies to Transracially Adopted Persons

Ways to be an ally

  • Interrupt offensive jokes. Even if they aren’t about your
    child’s racial or ethnic group, if you stay quiet you are “showing”
    your child it’s okay to make fun of people of color
  • Educate yourself and support the social justice issues and causes
    of the racial and ethnic community your child belongs to, both in the
    US and from the country of origin
  • Read books/articles/view films by adult transracial adoptees
  • Interact and find support from other adoptive parent allies and likewise support other allies.
  • Don’t judge others experiences, especially if they seem negative.
    Seek to understand their experiences. Don’t dismiss experiences of
    racism.
  • Acknowledge the powers and privileges bestowed upon you based on
    your social group membership. Understand your privileges as a white
    person and as a parent, and help others understand their own privileges.
  • Utilize your power to bring about social change that benefits all
    people, especially those underprivileged from your child’s community.
  • Seek to understand all the different forms of oppression – gender, racial, class, GLBTQ, etc.
  • Notice the numerous intersections between different forms of oppression.   
  • Let your actions speak louder than your words. Participate in your
    child’s racial/ethnic community because you value the diversity, not
    just for your child.
  • Don’t make your child be the “bridge” for you
  • Don’t expect external rewards for your work as an ally – feel good and be proud about the work you do.
  • Don’t expect your child’s racial or ethnic community to welcome you
    just because you want to participate, and especially if you want them
    to be invested in your child. You need to be invested in their lives as
    well.
  • Walk your talk.
  • Know there are different ways of doing and seeing everything.
  • Be comfortable with criticism and feedback. Accept that others may stereotype you
  • Don’t buy into stereotypes. Try to acknowledge your own prejudices
    and baggage. Take ownership in your own conscious and/or unconscious
    participation in oppression. Use examples that don’t exclude a
    particular group’s experience.
  • Don’t get stuck feeling guilty for the oppression of the past. Know
    that the past is not your fault, but the present and future are your
    responsibility.
  • Demonstrate your ally role through your actions rather than trying to convince others of it through your words.
  • Don’t expect someone else to represent an entire social group,
    especially just because you are parenting one from their community.
  • Remember to speak only from your own experience, and do not assume your child speaks for his or her entire racial/ethnic group.
  • Don’t assume to know what support others want and what’s best for them.
  • Recognize that no one form of oppression is more significant than another – there is no hierarchy of oppressions.
  • Accept that none of us are experts in diversity.

I believe there is no way to lay out the path for every family’s
journey in some prescribed way. Each one of us is a unique and creative
individual who has some damn hard work to do in their lives to get to
where they need to be. Who am I to tell you how to do that?

The reason I share is to encourage those in power to review and reassess their strategies,
so that future generations of transracially- and internationally-
adopted children have a safe and secure sense of themselves in an
increasingly diverse and global world.

***[from Barnes, L., & Ederer, J. (2000, April). From agents to allies: Active citizenship in our multicultural communities. Workshop Presentation at the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Conference, Washington, DC.]

Materials adapted from: Ederer, Jeff & Barnes, Lori: Allies for Social Justice. http://www.wesleyan.edu/reslife/asj/, ACPA 2000

http://www.unh.edu/residential-life/diversity/attitudes.htm