Reflections of the past year


Happy New Year to all my readers. I hope you and yours are healthy, safe and with the ones you love today.

I’m feeling very reflective of this past year. So much has happened in my own personal life and much of that is due to this blog and all the faithful (and new) readers.

I started this blog in March of 2006 as a way to write regularly about the issues I’m interested in, and to have a community with other adoptee bloggers I’d been reading regularly. What a gift it has been to find a group of blogging friends, adoptees who I share so much with and who have graciously shared their lives with me. I thank them all: Ji In, Soon Young, Sume, Sarah, MeeHee, HW, Jaye, Lisa, Susan and Paula. And I want to thank all the other adoptee bloggers out there who do what you do – continue to ask important questions, share your lives with all of us. It helps us all to have your voices there, your voices matter – they matter so very much. Thanks to all the domestic adoptee bloggers whom I regularly read (though I don’t comment much) and the first mother and adoptive parent blogs too. I have learned so much from all of them and their experiences have informed my views in numerous ways.

From the beginning I knew that adoptive parents were reading and although they were not the audience to whom I was initially writing, they became the most vocal in the comment box. And so I changed and reconfigured Harlow’s Monkey. I took out some of the more personal content. I began writing with a more analytic tone and became less conversational. I added more links to news articles. I became, in some ways, much more critical.

There are many times these past few months that I have considered closing the blog. It’s not for the same reasons I considered closing it before – people have been pretty well-behaved around these parts. I have pretty much accepted that adoptive parents are now the majority of my readers – I had always hoped it would be an adoptee readership. I have struggled at times with how to continue on. Do I try and be more friendly in my tone in order to have more acceptance among certain "groups?" Or do I eliminate all personal commentary and just link to articles and research about adoption without interjecting my own take on things? How do I balance all the things I want to write, while trying to keep in mind all the different places my readers are at in their own lives?

I guess the answer to all these things is, I don’t know.

I strive to learn more about all the different aspects of adoption through as many channels as possible. There are some who think that blogs by adult adoptees are myopic and naval-gazing and serve no purpose than to whine or pontificate about a single subject as if there were nothing else in our lives. But I hope that the readers of Harlow’s Monkey understands that for many of us bloggers, we have full lives outside of the blog world – just as you readers do. It’s just that most of us don’t have a community of friends or family members we can talk to about adoption. We began writing to share our experiences with each other. So it’s frustrating when commenters/readers assume that all of our concerns begin and end with adoption.

I think a lot about why I chose to have this blog be only about adoption and child welfare. One of the criticisms I’ve heard about my blog is that it’s kind of cold and clinical. That I’m not sharing enough of myself, or that I’m not open to more dialogs about the issues I bring up. And that is a valid critique. I don’t share all that much on this blog. In some ways that has been a liability because people may think I’m cold or rigid or inflexible. Some people (ie The New York Times, and other media) have solicited around adoptee bloggers but only want those with dramatic, personal experiences or stories to share – or want emotional posts, not educational or policy/political posts.

But I don’t think that everyone has the right to know everything about my personal life. And I try not to share too much about my adoptive parents, for many reasons. I think their experiences are theirs to have and to share at their own discretion, not mine. Also, I don’t want adoptive parents taking a microscope to my parents and making all kinds of assumptions about them. How they did this, or didn’t do that, and how some readers (current adoptive parents) are going to be so different.

I also want to state that my experiences growing up in a family with the adoptive parents I have informs, but does not dictate, my thoughts and feelings about adoption today. I do not "work out" any issues I might have with my parents through the passive-aggressive mode of a blog. My work and my research greatly affects the content I choose to blog about.

I guess we’ll just see where this blog goes as 2008 comes.

If everything goes well, 2008 will bring big changes around these parts. This will be the year I turn 40, the year I’ll have a child enter high school, the year (fingers crossed) I begin a doctoral program.

If I have half the blessings of 2007, I’ll be one happy girl.

I just want to end by giving a big thanks to everyone who has emailed me privately, to share your thoughts about the blog or about some of the issues I’ve raised, or to share a news story you thought others would be interested in.

Happy New Years!

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

12 thoughts

  1. I’m a frequent reader and, as you may know, one of the adoptive parents not your original audience. But I credit your blog, above all others, with being the education I needed and wanted about adoption. My thinking on adoption has evolved so much since I started reading this blog, both your current and past entries. I send other APs here all the time.
    You are a great writer. You also have an incredible perspective as an adult TRA and social worker who works with adoption. I don’t fault you at all for not sharing more about your personal life, and I certainly don’t think this blog would be better if you held back your opinions. On the contrary: your nuanced discussion of issues is the reason I keep reading.
    And I don’t think you have no life outside of adoption (but who cares if I did think that, right?). And, wow, I would be really bummed if you stopped writing.
    I think yours is easily one of the top adoption-related blogs in the blogosphere. Yeah, sometimes APs new to thinking about adoption stumble here and make ignorant comments which you handle with grace and seeming patience. I’d probably get sick of it if I were you. Actually, I’m sure I would, as I get kinda irritated by APs and I am one. And while I value the news articles you link, I value even more your insights.
    So, in summary: Happy New Year, thank you!!, and please don’t go away. And happy 40th, whenever it is.

  2. Well, apparently I’m not done gushing.
    I thought about it some more, and I realized this: you have made me a better parents to my kids. Not your job or your responsibility or your intent, but something for which I am profoundly grateful. So thank you for that.

  3. I too am an adoptive parent..well, just a parent I guess….and I love reading your blog. You give great insight into things and I am always interested in the articles you post. To me it isn’t important if you share your personal life or blog is nothing but fluff and pics of my cutie but that is my blog..this is yours. I say do what you want. I hope you keep it going but also understand if you don’t.
    Have a wonderful 2008….40 is easy~ I am turning 42 in January : ) Good luck on that doctorate exciting

  4. Thanks for being a voice I don’t often get to hear. I am not an adoptee, nor an adopter. I live in a community where almost everyone is white as am I. I have grandchildren, one of whom is a TRA. You help me face facts that are often complex, disturbing, and unknown to me previously. I was (am) naive about racial issues as I have only know white privilege. I hope that I will be more open to listening to my granddaughter because I have heard your voice. I may not have been your intended audience but you have many readers who deeply appreciate what you share with us, whether it is your personal experiences or resources you bring to our attention. May you have a Happy New Year filled with both personal and professional success.

  5. Happy New Year and thanks for your blog.
    As a commenter and AP I can honestly say I believe you should aim for the audience you want, not the audience you get. I for one would be happy to be a reader and not a commenter if that is a better role.
    As for myself, I want a conversation. And with everyone that is affected by these issues, not one or the other. And I know that blog comments are not a very good place to have that.
    Thanks for your insight and your professional knowledge as well. They have informed my opinions and perspective more than I could ever say.
    My children will benefit from this.

  6. Sigh. It looks most of us who are commenting are indeed adoptive parents.
    That said, it wouldn’t bother me if you limited comments to your ideal audience–other adoptees. I’m trying to learn from you, not the other way around (notwithstanding a comment of mine last month about what sorts of adoptive families should be recruited for older children).
    While I like so much about your blog, the most intriguing entries, such as “Survivor Guilt” have been your personal thoughts and feelings as an adoptee, rather than analysis.

  7. Rest assured that there are plenty of your fellow adoptees reading you and supporting you and (like the apparently respectful adoptive parents here) learning from you. Sending you good wishes for the blog, all the good things outside of this blog, and for a great year ahead.

  8. I hope you continue your blog, and understand if you don’t. I don’t comment, but always read it for the perspective I can gain as a human services professional and as a family member and friend who relates to TRAs frequently, as well as children of color who are not adopted. I applaud you for keeping your APs’ privacy, and agree it is their story to tell. I agree with previous posters, your voice and your ability to write is what keeps me reading! I wish you the very, very best in 2008!

  9. I agree with Lee.
    Discovering your blog was single-handedly one of the most validating and life-affirming experiences I’ve ever had as a TRA. Your voice, your truths – along with the other TRAs who you’ve mentioned in this post – acted as the impetus for me to find the courage to claim my own personal truths as an adoptee. No doubt this blog has reached out to other adoptees as well.
    Happy New Year, Jae Ran. Wishing you all good things to come in 2008!

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