Deborah Douglas responds to the NYT article about Korean adoptee identity

From the Huffington Post

The Asian-adoptee identity crisis reported in Monday's New York Times might finally lend credence to what black social workers have been saying all along: Ethnic and racial identity matters.

In 1972, the National Association of Black Social Workers issued a
statement emphasizing the importance of keeping black families intact
by encouraging black-on-black adoptions. Many took this stance to be
anti-white, racist rhetoric, insisting that all children need is love
to survive childhood healthy and intact.

So now we know — at least from an Asian-adoptee point of view.

You can read the article here.

What do you think folks? Is she right?

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

4 thoughts

  1. I am a Mexican-American mother to three Ethiopian children. I know what it’s like to be a minority in this country but I also know what it’s like to go through an identity crisis. I was raised by my biological family (albeit not my mother herself) and as a child I denied my own culture to fit in at school. I had a preconceived notion of what it meant to be of Mexican decent and I wanted nothing to do with it. It wasn’t until I was an older teenager that I recognized that I could be who I was ethnically and not be ashamed. That said, my family has always practiced our cultural traditions with me, spoke two languages in our house, and never (EVER) gave me the impression that our heritage was something to be ashamed of. Ironically I did NOT grow up in an all-white area. In fact, I grew up in Gary, Indiana which was then and is now predominantly black.
    That said, I think that most non-minority parents are completely unaware of the damage they are doing by ignoring racial differences in their families. Some parents now are more culturally sensitive to their children than they were in the 70s, but they are still ignorant to the racism that exists in this country. That blindness will be the problem as the child grows up. Love is important, incredibly important, but so is loving your child with an awareness of how the real world operates.
    I’m Mexican-American, my husband is Caucasian and our children are very obviously Ethiopian. People stare at us all the time. It would be completely foolish to think that my children (now 6, 8 and 11) don’t notice that. In my opinion, this is where most of the damage is done. Ignoring something that we don’t want to acknowledge while putting the burden of that on our children.

  2. I consider it as important as any other aspect of raising my Korean children. Even if I have to push them to see the face in the mirror, I do.
    I accept that it is likely impossible for me to prevent their own identity crises, but I throw everything I have into it anyway.
    They do show signs of pride and awareness, so I am hopeful for them.
    In the abstract, it is a very painful lesson to learn the hard way. I thought I understood diversity because that was what I knew as a child. But I had to let go of all of those assumptions.
    I am just thankful that I can accept that while remaining committed to them. As I let go of my perspective, I never know exactly where I will land.

  3. I don’t think adoption should be limited to same ethnicity. But I do wish that there was some way to better screen families for understanding about racism. Our country isn’t colorblind and adoptive parents who think it is, I believe, do so to the determent of their kids.
    As Causians, my husband and I had a basic understanding about race. But since our Korean-born son came home three years ago, that understanding has grown immensely. The first time it seemed our son was treated differently on the playground (at 18 months old), I began educating myself to gain a better understanding of race and racism. But I’ve learned that I seem to be in the minority both in our IRL world and in the greater adoption community we’re a part of. Our friends, church, and family all seem to think we’re making something out of nothing when it comes to race. We’ve been told to just love him and it will all be good. In fact, we’ve had some friendships end and we’ve changed churches because of the attitudes we’ve encountered.
    I know I’m not Asian and can’t teach my son first-hand what it means to be Asian or experience racism. But I believe I can still parent him and help him on his journey as long as I’m willing to educate myself, acknowledge his needs, put myself in situations where I’m in the racial minority (including living in a racially diverse area where my son isn’t the only Asian around), and have friends who reflect our son’s ethnicity and can mentor him.
    The attitude of many adoptive parents seems to be that it’s the child’s responsibility to adapt to everything. I feel that we made the decision to adopt, and by doing so we now need to step-up and be the parents he needs us to be, no matter how hard it is sometimes.

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