Biggest loser trainer is biggest loser about adoption

From the Huffington Post:

Jillian Michaels: I won't ruin my body with pregnancy

'Biggest Loser' trainer Jillian Michaels has a hard little body and she plans to keep it that way. Michaels, 36, tells Women's Health she is unwilling to become pregnant because of the way it would change her body.

"I'm going to adopt. I can't handle doing that to my body," she told
the magazine. "Also, when you rescue something, it's like rescuing a
part of yourself."

Read the article here.

I’m tired of adoptive parent confessionals

Several folks have sent me links about the Slate article, "I did not love my adopted child" and the companion piece on NPR.

I hadn't written about it here because frankly sometimes it just seems too much. And because I'm trying to finish writing 3 research papers! 🙂

But I finally had to take the time to at least jot down a few thoughts:

  • I give her a few points because at least to some degree she recognizes that the typical "happy-happy-joy-joy" adoption narrative serves to hurt everyone involved who does NOT experience a smooth transition, a good "fit" between adoptive parent and child, post-adoption depression on the part of adoptive parents, post-adoption grieving on the part of the child and all the ways in which adoption is nothing less than this perfect way to "grow a family"
  • The author does clearly state what I think a lot of us have said in the past – prospective adoptive parents often think they're more prepared for the difficulties of adopting than they really are. It's easy, I think, for prospective adoptive parents to think, "not me, not my child."
  • To some degree I can even appreciate the "there- but-for-[fill in saving grace here]-go-I" sentiment, which I think all of us who claim to have an ounce of compassion often say

But –

  • I truly hope that the author is using a pseudonym. For the child's sake. I can't even imagine some day that child g00gling her adoptive mother's name some day and finding this article in which her mom confesses to not loving her
  • Is it not completely clear in this article that the child was TRAUMATIZED by being adopted? Being adopted as a toddler (3 years old in this case, which I really relate to because I was the same age when I was adopted) is considered by many to be one of the WORST times a child can be adopted. 
  • There seems to be a total lack of empathy for what the child went through being pulled from her foster parents to a strange white family in a strange country where EVERYTHING – language, food, sleeping, parenting, noise, environment, people – was different.

In general this was another adoptive parent's "I did it to help other adoptive parents" self-confessional, a la Tedaldi, but it once again attempts to elicit sympathy for just how hard it is for adoptive parents who have to struggle with pathologically ill-behaved adoptive children (or in other words, kids who did not live up to the adoptive parent's expectations of being so happy to attach to a new caregiver -  i.e. them). For parents who claim this is about the best interest of the child, whose interest is truly valued in these articles?

Where is the acknowledgment of the adoptee's perspective? Why do these articles merely continue to pathologize adopted children without really recognizing the trauma of the adoption experience itself? Lots of attention seems to be spent on the pre-adoption trauma – the triple bad boys of pre-adoption experiences (abandonment, institutional life, pre-abandonment abuse or neglect). What about the trauma of ripping a child away from the only people this child knew and placing them in a foreign country? What would Dell'Antonia have wanted for her biological son if he had to have been taken away from her and sent to China to an adoptive family who wanted to "grow their family?" Would she have recognized the trauma her son would have felt in that scenario? My guess is yes. My guess is she never recognized that the fact her adopted child was so attached to her foster parents was in many ways a good thing – it meant her daughter had the capacity to love someone. My guess is that it didn't really matter. It was more about her daughter's lack of attachment to her. Which is ridiculous, right? I mean, you don't expect to go on a first date with someone and immediately fall in love. Why would you expect that from a child?

Consumer warning labels

Over the past several days, of course like everyone else, I have been catching news stories here and there about the 7-year old Russian adoptee who was sent packing back to Russia after his adoptive mom decided she couldn't handle parenting the child after a few months. This morning I happened to see both CBS's morning show and NBC's Today show segments.

What gets me is how much of a "consumer reports" story this has become. This story seems to have become about

  1. Was it right for an adoptive mother to send the child back by himself (not even as much was it right to return the child and dissolve the adoption)?
  2. Are Russian adoptees "more damaged" than other adoptees?
  3. How can prospective adoptive parents be good consumers and lessen the likelihood of getting a child with RAD or other psychological problems,
  4. Is Russia going to stop the market of children for adoption? and
  5. What about the poor parents in the process of adopting who now may either lose the opportunity to adopt "their" child or may be in limbo for a long time?

In addition to some news reporter standing outside of Torry Ann Hansen's house, the news show host often interviews some "expert" (always an adoptive parent or some psychologist or social worker who claims to know something about adoption – but there is NEVER an adult adoptee) like on the Today show when Matt Lauer interviewed an adoptive mom who wrote a book about Russian adoptions. She said the usual things, blah blah blah. Matt Lauer's questions seemed to be eerily similar to stories about consumer recalls – and both Matt and the adoptive parent "expert" dismissed that adoption "returns" happen, in a fairly nonchalant way. Like, yeah, it happens. Moving on, 'are Russian kids more f-ed up than other kids?' Matt wanted to know.

Why are no mainstream media outlets asking how this is going to affect the child in question? Why have no media outlets asked an adult person who was adopted internationally and "disrupted?" 

ADOPTEES HAVE FEELINGS! Plus, guess what? Some of us are experts in adoption disruptions. Want to know what it feels like to be an adoptee who was kicked out by their adoptive parents? There actually are a lot who could answer that question for you.

We are not packages to be sent back because we didn't come according to standardized factory specifications. Maybe we should start putting consumer warning labels on children:

Warning: Hand made. Each one is different, therefore no two will be alike. Actual product may differ from the one shown in advertisement. NO RETURNS.

Korean looks, American eyes: Korean American adoptees, race, culture and nation by Kim Park Nelson

My dear friend and amazing scholar, Kim Park Nelson, just gave me permission to post the link to her dissertation, Korean looks, American eyes: Korean American adoptees, race, culture and nation.


This project positions Korean adoptees as transnational citizens at
intersections within race relations in the United States, as emblems of
international geopolitical relationships between the United States and
South Korea, and as empowered actors, organizing to take control of
racial and cultural discourses about Korean adoption. I make
connections between transnational exchanges, American race relations,
and Asian American experiences. I argue that though the contradictory
experience of Korean adoptees, at once inside and outside bounded
racial and national categories of "Asian," "White," "Korean," and
"American," the limits of these categories may be explored and
critiqued. In understanding Korean adoptees as transnational subjects,
single-axis racial and national identity are challenged, where
individuals have access to membership and/or face exclusion in more
than one political or cultural nation. In addition, this work
demonstrates the effects of American political and cultural imperialism
both abroad and domestically, by elucidating how the acts of
empire-building nations are mapped onto individuals though the
regulation of immigration and family formation. My methods are
interdisciplinary, drawing from traditions that include ethnography,
primary historical sources, and literature. My dissertation work uses
Korean adoptees' own life stories that I have collected and recorded in
three locations: 1) Minnesota, home to the largest concentration of
Korean adoptees in the U.S.; 2) the Pacific Northwest, home to the many
of the "first wave" of the oldest living Korean adoptees now in their
40s and 50s; and, 3) Seoul, Korea, home to hundreds of adult Korean
adoptees who have traveled back to South Korea to live and work. In
addition, I use Korean adoptee published narratives, archive materials
documenting the early history of transnational adoption, and secondary
sources in sociology, social work, psychology and cultural studies to
uncover the many layers of national, racial and cultural belonging and
significance for and of Korean adoptees.

A pdf of the dissertation is available through the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy. Link is here.