Guest Columnist

From Jane’s Blog – a "guest" columnist’s experience of being adopted internationally.

When I was a baby, I was adopted internationally by a family that is
of a different culture than where I come from, and that is of a
different race than I am. But my adoptive parents help me keep in touch
with my roots.

For example, about once every couple of weeks we eat together at a
restaurant where they serve ethnic foods like bread and steak. When we
go to the restaurant, I can see Caucasian people who look like me. My
parents try to speak English to them so they can understand what we
want to eat. They cook food for us and bring it to our table.  I like
Caucasian people because they make good food. Bread is yummy. It is my
favorite food.

On weekends I go to culture school. There I learn various culture
like how to make bread. I can shake hands and eat with a fork and knife
and other traditional customs. I also learn about traditional holidays
of my birth country, like Halloween. I think Halloween is fun because
you can pretend to be someone you’re not.

We also learn to write the alphabet of our birth country, like A B C
D G P. I can say some phrases in my native language. For instance:
“Hi.”

“It’s nice meet you.”

“What country do you come?”

“I am student.”

“Byebye.”

I think my language skills will come in really handy if I visit my birth country someday.

My favorite part of cultural classes is the dancing. Dancing is fun
and it is traditional in my birth culture. We are learning the Square
Dance. I hope that if someday I go back to my birth country, I will be
accepted more because I can Square Dance.

I am a little worried, though, about going back to my birth country.
That’s because secretly, Caucasian grown-ups scare me. I think that is
bad to say and my parents would be sad if they knew I felt like that
because they want me to be bicultural. But I have never been alone with
Caucasian adults, and when I meet them in the restaurant, they talk to
me in a way I can’t understand. They talk really fast and they make all
these gestures. What is that.

I have some adopted friends who are Caucasian. I like hanging out
with them because they know how I feel. I have this one friend whose
dad says things like “cracker” in front of her, like if he gets mad at
the TV or they get bad service in the restaurant, and that makes her
sad. I’m sure glad I don’t have parents like that.

For the Halloween celebration at my culture school I’m going to
dress up in native Caucasian dress. I will probably wear my beautiful
Square Dance costume. I will probably get lots of traditional candy
that Caucasian people eat.

Next week we are having a big celebration to greet a new Caucasian
baby that is coming home to her adoptive family. I am sure glad that
she will have a forever family to love her now. All my friends who are
Caucasian have parents of the majority race. So when I meet real
Caucasian people or Caucasian kids who were raised by real Caucasian
people, I feel like, wow, I hope you’re not going to invite me to your
house because if you serve anything but bread and steak, I don’t know
what I’ll eat!!  (That’s because really, I only like bread and steak.
Most of the other food kind of grosses me out.)

I am interested in boys, but not Caucasian boys. I know some but
they are kind of wimpy and nerdy. I suppose not all of them are like
that, but when I get married, I think I’ll probably marry someone who’s
more like my dad, not a wimpy nerdy Caucasian guy. Maybe someday I will
also adopt a Caucasian baby from its country so it can have the
opportunity to grow up with a real family with a mom and dad. I think
every baby deserves that opportunity. I could give a baby a lot of love
and opportunities. I am proud to be part of my adoptive country! I am
happy to have a family who loves me!

“‘Choice’ explores reproductive decisions, and their ramifications”

San Francisco Chronicle: "’Choice’ explores reproductive decisions, and their ramifications"

True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood and Abortion

Edited by Karen E. Bender and Nina de Gramont

This collection could have been called the Book of Job, so relentlessly do these personal essays exhibit, actually, a lack of choice. In contrast to the title, virtually none of these women presents herself as actively making decisions; they’re all passive, with circumstances – usually harrowing ones – happening to them.

“Guatemalan president says he’s not trying to stop U.S. families from adopting babies”

Guatemalan president says he’s not trying to stop U.S. families from adopting babies

The Associated Press

GUATEMALA CITY: Guatemalan President Oscar Berger said Tuesday that his government is simply working to make adoptions more secure and not trying to interfere with U.S. families already in the process of adopting some 3,700 children from the Central American nation.

Mother Jones: “In Their Own Words “

In Their Own Words: Korean adoptees talk about finding their birthparents.

October 24, 2007

Since the end of World War II, over 100,000 Korean infants and children—approximately one out of twelve Korean Americans—have been adopted into American families. While there are no statistics documenting what percentage of them have been reunited with their birth families, it’s clear that the number is growing steadily. As the oldest and largest population of transnationally adopted people in the United States, their experiences of search and reunion shed light on what the future may hold for younger generations of adoptees from China, South America, and other parts of the world.

Mother Jones: “Did I Steal My Daughter?”

Ms. Larsen was at the Adoption Ethics and Accountability conference. Read the article in full provided at the link, but also read the comments. I thought they (the comments) were as interesting as the article itself. This has sure been a controversial piece. Ms. Larsen also wrote the article titled Asian Fusion (not by her choice, but by the editor of the publication) listed in my side links as Minnesota Monthly article.

I also recommend you read two other side pieces for this article. Playing by the rules and Weekend at Culture Camp.

Did I Steal My Daughter? The Tribulations of Global Adoption

News: The answers are never easy when you enter the labyrinth of global adoption.

November/December 2007 Issue

i first met my daughter in the lobby of the Westin Camino Real, the grandest hotel in Guatemala City. The night before, my husband Walter and I had soothed our nerves running on the treadmills in the fitness center, where a polite attendant handed us plush white towels and spritzed the equipment with a flowery disinfectant. Afterward I wrote a series of letters to our daughter. Because children adopted from overseas usually have little information about their history, parents are advised to document the trip as best they can, creating what is known as an "adoption story."

Reading the journal now, more than two years later, it feels so self-conscious. "We’ve been waiting so long to meet you—almost seven months!" the first entry reads. "Ever since you were seven days old and the agency emailed us your beautiful photos, we’ve wondered what you will be like. We fell in love with you that minute!" Gone is any sense of the surreal. Walter and I already had two biological sons; now we were jetting into a Third World country with the sole aim of leaving with one of its daughters. (Wanting a girl, we’d opted for the sure bet that adoption offers.) I mentioned, but didn’t dwell on, the brutal poverty outside our hotel windows, focusing instead on how my sons were looking forward to meeting their little sister.

There is one section of the journal, however, that jumps out from the boilerplate. "I feel so sad for the pain your birth mother must be in since she is not able to raise you," I wrote. "But I believe now that I am your ‘real’ mommy." Reading those words now sparks a flash of shame. Because even though my daughter was, as is required by U.S. immigration law, legally classified as an orphan, she had two Guatemalan parents who were very much alive.

I remember being comforted by the Guatemalan social worker’s report on the case; the baby’s mother, Beatriz,* had evidently made an informed choice to place her for adoption. Or at least that’s what I told myself.

The truth is that I didn’t know Beatriz. And I was secretly relieved this was so.

Read the rest of the article here.

Continue reading

“Race matters when adopting a child”

From Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Race matters when adopting a child

Transracial families face learning experience

By  JOHN IWASAKI

Sara Cole
Mike Kane / P-I
Sara Cole with adopted daughter Rosie Barnes-Cole, 4.

Four years ago, Sara Cole thought she was prepared to welcome a black infant into her family, dutifully reading books and articles on transracial adoptions that an adoption agency recommended.

Through the first three years of adopted daughter Rosie’s life, Cole busied herself with being a mom. The sociological effect of the adoption never seemed particularly relevant to the white woman.

Then about a year or so ago, Rosie started piping up. "That person looks like me. That person has curly hair like me," she would say when she saw other African-Americans.

"I thought this was a big deal," Cole said Tuesday as Rosie, 4, played on her lap in the living room of their Montlake home.

Continue reading

‘Increased Number of Unwed Mothers Raising the Child on their Own’

Thanks to Rick for sending this translated piece to me! He received it from Young Joo Kim, Assistant Program Officer, The Asia Foundation, Seoul.



Donga Ilbo, October 8th, 2007

Increased Number of Unwed Mothers Raising the Child on their Own’

According to Korea Women’s Development Institute(KWDI) the rate for single moms hoping to raise the child on their own increased up to 31.7% from 12.1% in 1998 and 5.8% in 1984. Ae Ran Won’s director Han Sangsoon says the number of mothers choosing to bring up over adoption has increased by more than 10 % during the past 5 years.

The decrease in the number of adoptees and single-parented children among these adoptees also shows the increase in the mothers’ efforts to bring up their own children. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare(MOHW), the number of adoptees both domestic and overseas is consistently going down, from 4,600 in 1990, 4,046 in 2000, 3,899 in 2004, and 3,562 in 2006. Among these adoptees the percentage of single-parented children has also gone down to 80% in 1990 to 60% after 2000.

“Mistaken Identity”

If you are a white adoptive parent of a non-white child, this could happen to them.

This is part of the experience a non-white person in America has to deal with.

Mistaken identity by resist racism

A few weeks back I read an interview with Robert Johnson, the
African American billionaire founder of BET. Johnson recounted a few
stories of mistaken identity, one in which he was mistaken for the
chauffeur of his own car.

I was thinking about this because I thought how often this type of
mistaken identity happens when white people see people of color.

A young African American guy I used to know had two occurrences of
mistaken identity in one week. He was washing his very expensive car at
his trendy condo building when management came out and told him that he
wasn’t allowed to do that. Turned out that they had a problem with
homeless people soliciting money for car washes (?). Condo owners, of
course, were allowed to use the facilities in the garage for that
purpose.

Then he was walking past a restaurant when a man jumped out of a car and handed him the keys.  He had been mistaken for a valet.

To me, this was a clear example of how race can blind some white
people to everything else. This guy clearly looked wealthy by my
standards. He was always extremely well-dressed, lived in a very
expensive neighborhood and drove a new sports car.

read the rest here.

A first

For the past two years, I’ve been volunteering for the YWCA "It’s Time To Talk About Race" forums, which include facilitating talking circle dialogs. This weekend we had our practice session for our Oct. 31st event.

In my circle of 10, besides me there was an adult adoptee (white) who has an adopted Black brother. And three adoptive parents of kids adopted transracially or transnationally. What are the odds that in a setting outside of my work and adoption activism there would be half of the members of a group affected directly by transracial adoption?

Each of these parents talked about how important it was for them, as white parents of kids of color, to look at white privilege and being part of an anti-racist community. And the participant whose brother was adopted transracially talked about how damaging it was to their whole family that race and racism was never talked about in their family.

I usually have negative experiences in these kinds of situations but I have to say I was so heartened by the honest and thoughtful comments these fellow circle members expressed.

I guess there’s always a first for everything.