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

December 3, 2007

New York Times’ Relative Choices Blog

If you haven’t heard about it yet, the New York Times has recently started a new blog called “Relative Choices: Adoption and the American Family”, which features pieces by people whose lives have been affected by adoption in various ways. The authors include: Dr. Jane Aronson, founder and medical director of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation, as well as a mother of an internationally adopted child; Hollee McGinnis, policy director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and a Korean adoptee; Lynn Lauber, a birth mother and author; and Huong Sutliff and Adam Wolfington, who are teenagers and transracial adoptees.

The articles have been as widely varied as the authors. Topics have ranged from adoptive parents’ stories about traveling to meet their children and how adoptive parents react to questions posed by others about their children, to adoptees’ memories of first meeting their adoptive parents and helping the next generation of transracial adoptees.


September 10, 2007

How to Be an Anti-Racist Parent

Filed under: Adjustment Issues,Adoptees,Adoption,Racism,Transracial Adopters — Catherine @ 6:24 pm

Carmen Van Kerckhove, co-founder and president of the anti-racism training company New Demographic, writes for two of our favorite blogs, Racialicious and Anti-Racist Parent. Today, she sent us these five tips for parents. We think it’s a must-read. Be sure to visit Anti-Racist Parent to download the free 11-page e-booklet "How to Be an Anti-Racist Parent: Real-Life Parents Share Real-Life Tips." And, don’t miss today’s post on helping teachers understand adoption.

The following is reprinted with Carmen’s permission:

You don’t use racial slurs. You teach your child to treat everyone equally. You expose your family to diverse cultures. That’s enough to make sure your children don’t grow up to be racists, right?

Not necessarily.

Most people think that racism is all about white hoods, burning crosses, and racial slurs. But racism is also about linking physical and intellectual abilities to racial differences. If you think about racism in this way, the truth is that all of us hold racist beliefs.

Here are 5 tips to keep in mind:

1. Your children will face racism, so prepare them for it.
It’s not unusual for children to hear their peers using racial slurs as early on as the first grade, even in the most diverse and open-minded communities. Don’t assume that racism is a non-issue for your family.

2. Don’t be colorblind.
"Everyone is the same to me. I don’t even see color!" Being colorblind is not possible and it should not be your goal. As NAACP Chairman Julian Bond says, colorblindness means being "blind to the consequences of being the wrong color in America today."

3. Make conversations about racism relaxed and frequent.
Don’t wait for A Very Special Moment to talk about race. Conversations about race should be as normal and casual in your family as discussions about "American Idol." In fact, "American Idol" can be a good starting point to talk about how people of color are portrayed in the media!

4. Lead by example.
Actions speak louder than words. If you tell your children they should accept everyone, regardless of race, but you only socialize with people from one race, what message do you think your child will absorb?

5. Never stop dismantling your own racist beliefs.
You can’t lead by example if you don’t work on yourself. Realize that you’re not going to wake up one morning and be rid of all your racist beliefs. There are no shortcuts to becoming anti-racist. Be aware of your own biases and privileges, and never stop working to overcome them.


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."

 


July 27, 2007

NPR Series on Adoption in America

Don’t miss NPR’s four-part series, Adoption in America, that looks at the way adoption has affected four different families:

An adopted child changes a family forever.

That’s what we’ll hear from conversations this week on Morning Edition
about adoption in America. Four families and adoptees have learned that
it’s not just family photos that change — but entire family trees,
family traditions and family stories that are altered by an adopted
child’s own story. We’ve asked them to reflect on their experiences
with adoption, and share the stories that define who they have become.

The series looks at transracial, international and domestic adoption, addressing the complications that can arise in terms of race and identity, and what happens when adolescent adoptees feel as if they’ve been abducted from their birth families and countries.

 


June 21, 2007

Survey for Australian Korean Adoptees

Filed under: Adoptees,Racism,Transracial Adopters — Catherine @ 9:54 am

A doctoral student at the University of New England in Australia is looking for Korean adoptees living in Australia to fill out a quick, 10-minute survey on racial discrimination in Australia. If you’re interested in taking the survey, click here.