I’m hosting a space for those adoptees (or allies) who wanted to respond to the New York Times series, "Relative Choices" but were censored. Unfortunately, I did not save my comment, as I assumed it would be published. Note to self: Next time when dealing with any traditional paper with a history of squelching adult adoptee voices, save EVERYthing.
Basically, here is what I mentioned: That despite the "humor" and "glibness" of TJ’s piece, I found it insensitive. I mentioned that dismissing the real feelings and opinions of transracial adoptees as a choice comparable to being a vegetarian was demeaning. I also sent a shout out to her daughter, stating that the more than 140,000 Asian adoptees in the US would be there for her some day and welcome her. Then, I sealed my fate. I stated that using the term "Mongolian" to describe Asian features went out of fashion the year her book was published (yes, that was perhaps what the NYT calls "mean" and fyi, that date is 1989. I know my late 80’s pop culture and I remember what a big deal her book was back then too.)
So Monday night, around 9 pm. I see that a new post is up on the Relative Choices blog. Not even 5 minutes after I’d sent my response, several friends online are talking about this piece. Three of us have sent responses. You know what happened next – none of them made it on line.
I’d offered to post the other responses here. These folks are actually smart enough to save their work.
First up, is Sarah. This is the comment she sent:
“Well, you know, if you were still in China you would be working in a factory for 14 hours a day with only limited bathroom breaks!”
This is the type of emotional blackmail that so many transnational adoptees have to deal with, and it is the source of a lot of pain and guilt. Parents who make this kind of statement do two things: 1) reinforce the “savior” myth by showing how bad & dirty the Third World is and how lucky the adoptee is to not live there and 2) guilt the adoptee into being “grateful” for being adopted.
Another thing that transnational and transracial adoptees often have to deal with is being perpetually characterized and dismissed as petulant adolescents, forever “bitter” and “complaining” as this blogger characterizes a recent anthology by some “Midwestern Asian Adoptees.” Being critical of our experiences as adoptees and also being critical of the systems that make up adoption does not necessarily mean that one hates one’s parents. There is tremendous loss (as well as gain) in any adoption, and acknowledging this loss does not mean that all of these adult adoptees resent their adoptive parents. Many of us wonder about our biological parents–who even though we may not have met them (or may never meet them), are very much real in that they exist, or at one time existed, on this planet.
But Sarah took it one step further. She writes a really wonderful post here. Many of the sentiments in this letter to "Willow" were similar to the ones I outlined in my comment (only Sarah was a lot nicer). My favorite part is this:
So yes, Willow, I agree with your mother in that I do think you should write everything down. Girl, write all of this shit down. So not only can you tell your therapist (there is no shame in therapy!!!), you can tell the other adult adoptees that I hope you will one day meet. Because there are a lot of us. In fact, there is a global community of us. We are out there (even though by reading the NYT one wouldn’t think so), and we have voices, and we support one another. And we would support you. The whole “biological” vs. “real” competition is a farce. Our birth mothers were and are real. I wrote that they were real because they existed on the planet—and I meant to also add that they’re real because they exist in our hearts. And no matter what kind of sarcastic trumpeting your adoptive mother writes about how she is so for real, it’s ok for you to know that our first mothers loved us, too. My Korean mother died six months before my first trip back to Seoul. But I know–I KNOW–that she loved me. Our first mothers loved us, and it’s ok for us to love them back. It has absolutely nothing to do with the love you have for your adoptive mom. It doesn’t make that love any less, even if she worries it will. Because it is different, and being an adopted child is different than not being an adopted child.
So write it all down, because it’s not about holding onto grudges, it’s about processing. Catharsis. We can laugh together at the misplaced humor, at the bullshit. Because this is some bullshit. And you can one day forgive (or not forgive) your mother, as I have come to terms with and forgiven my parents, for their unintentional ignorance, and be happy in yourself and your life as a whole person.
But I do not forget. Forgive, yes. Forget, no. Because if we forget, then we are silenced.
Can’t wait to hear what you have to say one day, Willow.
And next, is Shannon Gibney’s piece.