Black family adopts White child

I'm supposed to be taking a break so I can finish all my final projects and wouldn't you know there are all kinds of adoption-related things going on in the world! It figures!!


Photo courtesy of Mark Riding

From Newsweek – What Adopting a White Girl Taught a Black Family About Race in the Obama Era

As a black father and adopted white daughter, Mark Riding and Katie
O'Dea-Smith are a sight at best surprising, and at worst so perplexing
that people feel compelled to respond. Like the time at a Pocono
Mountains flea market when Riding scolded Katie, attracting so many
sharp glares that he and his wife, Terri, 37, and also
African-American, thought "we might be lynched." And the time when
well-intentioned shoppers followed Mark and Katie out of the mall to
make sure she wasn't being kidnapped. Or when would-be heroes come up
to Katie in the cereal aisle and ask, "Are you OK?"—even though Terri
is standing right there.

But after a half-decade of rude comments and revealing faux pas—like
the time his school's guidance counselor called Katie a "foster child"
in her presence—he now fights the ignorance with a question of his own:
why didn't a white family step up to take Katie?


This weekend was an international adoption triple-feature for me.

1. First, while killing time at a bookstore, I found this new memoir about a Taiwanese-adoptee. Lucky Girl is written by Mei Ling Hopgood.I bought the book, because…well, I want to support all adoptee-produced narratives. Although I have to say, my inclination is to hate it because of the title. I just feel like it sets up the story in a very specific way. Although who knows, it could be ironic or sarcastic -  but after reading the first two chapters, it is clear the title reflects the author's assessment of her experience.Adoptive parents are going to love this book and say all kinds of wonderful things about it because it is not an "angry adoptee" book. Here is a trailer for the book. And here is her website.

What I disliked were reviews of her book like this one:

"Refreshingly resistant to the 'primal wound' theories of old,
Mei-Ling Hopgood navigates the parallel terrains of her identity not
out of a need to heal or fill a void
, but driven by a journalist's
quest for the truth
. She withstands the pressure and confusion of
multiple loyalties, connections, and destinies with humor, sensitivity,
and great candor, and in exploring her two worlds, comes to understand
them both, and herself, more fully." – Sarah Saffian, author of Ithaka: A Daughter's Memoir of Being Found

Yeah. Because that primal wound stuff is "old" and stale.

2. Then, I saw a movie preview for Gigantic, about a single man who is adopting from China. In the story synopsis it states,

Unfulfilled by his work he spends a good portion of his day pursuing his goal of someday adopting a baby from China.

Official movie site here. See the trailer here.

3. And then this morning was this article in my local paper. 

South Korea at the Mall of America

Interview with John Raible

John Raible has an incredible series of thought-provoking posts. You can read them at the links below:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

John is one of my favorite peoples. He's been a shining example for me. I remember the first time I saw "Struggle for Identity" and I was blown away by the way he seemed to articulate so much of my own feelings and thoughts about adoption. If you don't have the chance to see Struggle for Identity, you can still benefit from his blog. Go read it!!

Radio show on international adoption

From Chicago Public Radio. Just the synopsis suggests to me that I already know the direction of this piece, even without hearing it yet.

Madonna with adoptive son David from Malawi.

offers the opportunity for something wonderful. Children who need good
homes find loving parents. The process of an international adoption
multiplies the challenges in achieving the goal of a happy family.
Today, on Worldview we’ll talk about efforts to make international adoptions a safe and healthy process for every one involved.


adoptions seem fairly common. Everyone knows someone who has done it.
Then there are the constant stories in media about celebrities involved
in international adoption. Madonna’s recently rejected adoption in Malawi is just the latest chapter and controversy. A judge rejected her adoption in part because he was worried in it would encourage trafficking.

To hear the story, click here.


Dr. John Raible has a great post, Same Story, Different Decade on his blog. Read it.

John writes,

In the three decades since I went through my own tumultuous
adolescence, we have learned enough about race and the persistence of
racism, that we should be able to anticipate, if not predict outright,
how this young man’s white classmates and neighbors will respond to his
presence in their otherwise all-white social environment. In short, we
know that racism persists, and that there are steps we can (and must)
take to protect and support children of color who live in these
hostile, unwelcoming environments where miseducated whiteness is the
norm. We also have learned enough about adoption and its lifelong
consequences to be in a position to better prepare families like his
for the questions, concerns, and predictable developmental milestones
experienced by many adoptees.

Yet, even with all this compiled research and information about race
and adoption, parents still have not received the message. Too many
families still think it is acceptable in 2009 to raise children of
color in oppressive white environments as the only brown person for
miles around. How many more panels must we sit through where adopted
teens tell their heart-wrenching stories before agencies will stop
approving the social isolation of adoptees of color? How many more
adoptees must sit on panels to share with audiences their stories of
single-handedly integrating their otherwise all-white communities? Far
too many transracial adoptees still are forced to endure racial and
cultural isolation. To read the rest click here.

I agree wholeheartedly with his post. Things should be changing. Social workers think they've done a better job.

Unfortunately, the only way we'll know for sure is when the children of today are the adults of tomorrow.

What will their stories be?


Hollywood disses Asians yet again*

Here's a fairly typical night at the Harlow Monkey household. My daughter was asking about whether the Pokemon character Jynx was a caricature of "blackface" and so we were talking about blackface and yellowface in the movies and television. Then my daughter showed me this YouTube video – check it out!!

I've got to say, not only is this guy charming, but I like what he has to say.

And yeah, we're cute, I can't deny that!

*Otherwise known as the Asians-Can't-Sell-A-Movie-So-We-Cast-A-White-Actor-In-An-Asian-Role, ala the movie "21"