Holiday Links

1. Paula at Heart, Mind and Seoul has a fantastic post that turns the tables on adoption adjustment and bonding. Instead of asking why the children aren’t "fitting in" with their adoptive parents, Paula writes,

"Yes, people may argue that both stories are extreme cases and that they certainly aren’t reflective of most adoptions – especially international adoption.  But in reading each story, I couldn’t help but identify a common theme that I gleaned throughout both tragedies, particularly in the case of the Poeterays.  It’s an overarching theme that within contains several notions that are alluded to and present in several of the adoption stories that I personally know of and/or have read about.  It’s a mentality that I believe is much more pervasive than people would like to acknowledge in adoption and a belief that I feel is indicative of why in many adoptions, adoptees are set up to fail well before they even join their new families.  It is the notion that there is a certain set of criteria that an adopted child must achieve in order to be worthy of being characterized as a "good" adopted kid.  The notion that if an adopted child does not meet or exceed an adoptive parent’s preconceived expectations of who they want or need that child to be, that somehow the adoptee is at fault, even if partially. The notion that suggests that the adoptee must bear the burden of having to prove him or herself to others by exhibiting certain behaviors or risk being called difficult, hard to manage, temperamental, obstinate, maladjusted or worse.  Simply put, the notion that the adoptee is the one who is deficient and lacking and ultimately the one to blame when things don’t turn out as others expected them to.

In the past year since I started blogging, I have read literally hundreds of narratives from the adoptive parent point of view.  And you know, never once have I come across an adoptive parent who has said, "Why can’t we just try and be more like our child?" Instead, often times what I hear and read about are the perceived failures of the adoptee simply because he or she isn’t more like the adoptive parents or the rest of the family. The failure to adapt.  The failure to adjust.  The failure to comply and conform to the degree which is expected.  The failure to just fit in already.  The failure to exhibit the characteristics and personality traits that others so desperately want to see reflected back to them. The failure to successfully acclimate, both emotionally and physically, to the myriad of implicit and explicit expectations set forth by the adoptive parents."

Read the rest of this excellent post. It was hard for me to choose a few excerpts because I felt they were all so poignant and right on!

2. If you haven’t read Sumeia William’s essay, "Well Adjusted" then head there right now. It’s one of the essays that seems to have been taken from the unspoken swirling thoughts in my mind, written so beautifully that I felt she was writing about my life when she writes,

"Technically, I was a “functioning” adult — a stay-at-home-mom who cooked, cleaned, took care of her children like most of my friends. I wasn’t prone to depression though there were times when I would go deep into thought. I laughed and cried, felt joy and anger like most people I knew. The difference was that I had a dirty little secret. I was actually thinking about my adoption and its effects on me."

3. Professor Rich Lee has this fascinating post about international adoption trends in 2007.

4. The holidays are chock full of movies about orphans and adoptees. Elf, about a trans-"species" adopted human, will be on my list but I’ll skip The Family Holiday, in which Full House alum Dave Coulier plays a hustler who "hires two orphaned runaways and an unwitting nanny to pose as an instant family" in order to receive $10 million. Kind of on the same note, I saw "Juno" on Friday night and I will share some thoughts in a later post.

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

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