Adoption Stories from Adopted the Movie - A Feature Film by Barb Lee

August 22, 2007

Daddy and I

Filed under: Adoptees,Adoption,Chinese Adoption — Catherine @ 4:05 pm

Both Harlow’s Monkey and Racialicious have recently posted about Daddy and I, a photo exhibit by O. Zhang. In it, adopted Chinese girls pose with their white adoptive fathers. The series has generated much publicity, mostly centered around the uncomfortable feeling many have gotten looking at the photos. Some of the photos depict the young girls, often in traditional Chinese dress, in vaguely inappropriate positions with their fathers.

 

Daddy_20_26_20I_18.png
 
 

Why do these pictures make us so uneasy? If it were white adopted children with their white daughters, would we feel so uncomfortable? Or are these fathers in inappropriate positions with their daughters, regardless of race?

Furthermore, what is the artist’s role in all of this? In his director’s statement, Zhang poses the question "as the girls grow up, will they remain innocent adoptees under the tutelage of their Western patriarchs?" Did he position the fathers and daughters in deliberate situations to symbolize this question?

If art is meant to generate discussion, then this exhibit surely has accomplished its goal.


August 17, 2007

She Looks Just Like Me

The following post comes from a new blog written by Deborah Capone, adoptive mother and founder of As Simple As That, an organization dedicated to providing products and resources for multiracial and multicultural families. Here, Deb writes about how her daughter–born in China– reacted to receiving a doll that looked just like her. The following has been reprinted by permission of the author.

If I ever doubted the importance of ethnic and racial role models for children of color the events in my household yesterday was enough to change my mind forever!

I ordered my daughter-remember the girl born in China-a Karito Kids doll named Wan Ling. First of all the doll is simply beautiful and quite authentically Chinese. Secondly, the company donates a portion from the sale of each doll to a charity that kids choose and can follow. But enough about me! The real story is my daughter’s reaction.

My girl has never been much for dolls. When pushed she did get an American Girl Doll (Kaya, the American Eskimo) and she will pull her out occassionally, but she was way more interested in the horse that Kaya came with, so I was not anticipating that she would flip over Ling.

And flip she did. When she opened the package, she gasped and said, "she looks just like me." She turned the doll over, looked at her again and began kissing her making her comfortable in her new ‘home’. She made Ling a bed, got pillows for her, changed her into pajamas. Ling even ate dinner with us last night. Shockingly, my daughter cleared out her beloved stuffed animals in her closet to make an apartment for Ling. All the while, my daughter kept looking at her and telling me how beautiful she was and how much Ling looked like her. My daughter played with that doll more in one night than she has played with any combination of dolls in seven years.

She just couldn’t get over that this doll looked like her. It really was amazing to see the reaction she had to this doll-and to reinforce how much children do need authentic-looking toys and books in their lives. The ‘look-alikes’ resonate with them and validates their images of themselves and other people of color.

Of course, that is not all of the story. When we were reading Ling’s story, my cerebral daughter noted that they were very much alike, they both loved pandas and zoos. However, when my daughter read that Ling had just relocated with her family from Chengdu to Shanghai she started to cry! Why? Because the doll and her story reminded my daughter of her life in China-one that is shrouded in mystery. She missed China. When Ling expressed her feelings of loss when her family moved, my daughter went back in time and space to a place that she can only imagine.

My daughter-while incredibly attuned to the sense of loss she feels for her birthparents and country of origin-has never quite had the same kind of reaction. It was as if Ling’s sadness somehow gave her permission to explore her own loss at a different level.

Wow, what a doll.

The importance of images of all kinds of people, places and things can not be downplayed for any children. Your children may not have the visceral reaction that my daughter did, but they will see a kid, with real issues and feeling and realize that they are more alike than different. Coupled with an authentic images and your attention to using ‘people-first’ and non-biased language, your children get a real lesson in diversity without the emotion that sometimes accompanies discussion of diversity, bias, and racism.

So, it is some doll. But without you subtly or not so subtly encouraging your children to look at the world from different points of view it might as well sit on the shelf.

Look around your home today and see what images-decor, toys, books, etc-are displayed and what isn’t displayed. Then see if you are willing to do something about it. I know that I am constantly looking for ways to make diversity part of our lives rather than something we ‘do’. Frankly, it is easier that way.

With respect
Deb


Do Parents Love Adopted Children Differently than Biological Children?

Don’t miss this week’s New York Magazine feature on transracial adoption. The author, Emily Nussbaum, centers the piece around a central question:

Celebrity blended families have become a cultural flash point, revealing a broad anxiety: Do parents really love adopted children differently than their own offspring?"

In her interviews with several families with both adopted and biological children, Nussbaum uncovers many layers of adoption and shows the struggle parents face when trying to determine whether their children’s behavior is a reflection of adoption, race, sibling rivalry, or age. These families are quite candid in explaining their reasons for adopting, their reactions to meeting their adoptive children’s biological family members, and their struggles upon returning to the U.S. with their children.

Nussbaum draws her own conclusion that our culture might be too obsessed with genetic explanations for our children’s behavior ("He has your eyes." Or, "She gets her stubbornness from me.")

In a country that has gone mildly bonkers for sociobiological
explanations, adoptive parents may be the last holdouts. It’s not that
they don’t believe that anything is genetic; they do. But they take
seriously the idea that that stuff is not the be-all and end-all,
because they need to in order to love children from such different
sources."

She ends with this quote from the mother a four-year-old son (biological) and one-year-old daughter (adopted from Ethiopia):

My husband is six foot seven, highly educated, intelligent, athletic… With Huck, for three years, I was expecting him to be those things. And then I brought home Tana, and I have no expectations. And I realize the injustice I’m doing to my biological child. It’s just very freeing—to find that I’m so excited to see who these two little people are going to be. Because it made me realize, I have no idea. And before, I thought I kind of knew who Huck was going to be! I don’t have that feeling anymore. Because Tana taught me that."

 


August 8, 2007

Petition: Adoptee Birth Records

Filed under: Adoption,adoption news — Tags: , — Catherine @ 1:16 pm

A current draft of adoption guidelines in India has many in the adoption community concerned.  One of the most troubling proposed practices deals with access to original birth records. As they’re written now, the guidelines state that in the case of abandoned children, the authorities cannot issue a birth certificate until the child is adopted so that the adoptive parents’ names appear on the certificate.

Adoptee rights advocates have composed a petition to India’s Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) asking for the following changes to adoption guidelines:

  • That adoptees be provided with original birth certificates with the names of their biological parents.
  • The right for adoptees to access birth files and adoption records, even if they were born to unwed mothers.
  • The establishment of independent post adoption services.

 
Click here if you would like to sign the petition and let us know your thoughts on the issue by posting a comment to our blog.