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.

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

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