A few days ago I linked to an opinion piece by Mike Seate, a columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune. Seate’s essay, "Adopting Asian kids becoming latest fad" has unleashed a lot of uproar in some parts, and it was only after some readers to this blog directed me to the comments that I got wind of the controversy this piece created.
Only, instead of being outraged at Seate or his opinion piece, I am disappointed by some of the adoptive parents who commented.
I agree wholeheartedly with Papa2Hapa and Ann, who commented on my original link to the piece, that this seemed like more of a dig on Hollywood, who has certainly made adopting Asian children seem like an accessory. It was also a questioning of why people aren’t adopting Black children in the U.S.
I’ve made the exact same statements or questions on my blog, many times. I wrote a review about "Then She Found Me" and had a very similar critique as Seate. I have also questioned many, many times the justifications that are given for why people chose to adopt internationally from Asian countries versus Black children in the U.S. Many adoptees I know would agree with Seate. On one list-serve I’m on, some of the adoptees thought it was hilarious. In terms of the the idea of Asian adoptees being a "luxury" item, I know that a common thing for us adult adoptees is to talk about how much we "cost." Of course, not every adoptee would agree, but many of the opinions I hear/read from adoptive parents are as insensitive to me as Seate’s comments are to adoptive parents.
So, I wonder if it was Seate’s tone in writing, or that he is neither an adoptive parent, social worker or adoptee, that is causing so much vitriol from the adoptive parent community.
Because truthfully, I find some of the comments aimed towards Seate and his opinions more problematic and personally hateful than anything Seate expressed in his sarcastic and snarky essay. And, as a Black man, I think he has the right to wonder why so many adoptive parents go overseas to adopt Asians than adopt Black children in the foster care system. Seate might not know (or at least, does not seem to reference or indicate in his piece that he knows) all the complex reasons for this – but he is entitled to his opinion. God knows I hear opinions about adoption every day that disturbs me.
Contrary to some commenters, I definitely don’t see how Seate "doesn’t approve of your family’s skin color." No where in the opinion piece did I see anything that suggested Seate is suggesting only same-race adoptions. Seate’s "rice paddy" reference was ignorant and off-putting to be sure. But that doesn’t mean Seate is against transracial adoptions. But, I don’t see his piece as journalism, but an opinion. Much like the opinions I express here on the blog, including some opinions that I have received lots of heat for expressing.
And p.s. Just because one does not have children, does not mean that one can’t have a solid, researched, informed opinion about something. And, just because one has children doesn’t mean you have a magical, omnipotent understanding of the issue. Somehow, adoptive parents who adopt transracially often seem to use the "until you’ve parented, you’ll never know . . . " yet at the same time, think that they can know what their transracially adopted child will know or experience. These might be some of the same adoptive parents who tell me, "My child won’t experience this or that" and I respond back, "Really? Unless you’ve been transracially adopted, then you’ll never know . . ." (I say this because many of my TRA friends have been told, "you’ll understand when you become a parent yourself" as if their entire lifetime of experiences AS a TRA aren’t enough).
Seate may be flip and sarcastic, but I wonder if there is a grain of truth in his words that is causing such defensiveness by so many adoptive parents. I mean, don’t you think we should all be behind his main point – that Hollywood is portraying Asian adoption as a trendy option, and that it’s distasteful to do so? Can’t we agree with Seate when he writes,
But for some reason, even Hollywood is marketing Asian babies as somehow superior and more desirable.
When was the last time you saw the adoption of a Black or Latino child in a glamorous Hollywood movie?
Yeah, me either.