Tag Archives: international adoption

New online magazine highlights Gazillion Voices of adult adoptees

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“There’s this story out there: ‘We started when we fell out of the plane. We were destined for our adoptive families, and that we are just like you — we are exceptional. We are not like the other poor, undocumented communities that we were born from. And I had questions about that, even as a 5-year-old.”

– Laura Kunder, on being adopted from Korea by a white American family

Gazillion Voices, a Minnesota-based online magazine which was scheduled to launch Monday, aims to change the traditional narrative of global adoptions, by injecting race into the discussion, according to a piece on Minnesota Public Radio (MPR). Created by Kevin Vollmers, who was born in South Korea and adopted by a Minnesota family at age 7, the new magazine is designed to give voice to adult adoptees in defiance of a traditional narrative that focuses most on adoptive families and the babies they bring home, ignoring “what becomes of those babies.”

Vollmer advocates preparing white families to raise children of color, saying:

“If you are going to place an African-American child in the middle of nowhere in northern Minnesota where they are going to be the ‘diversity,’ you best make sure there are resources available for those kids.”

Listen to the MPR report on Gazillion Voices.

Freaking out over Freakonomics

by guest contributor Jae Ran Kim, originally published at Harlow’s Monkey

I was dumbfounded to read Freakonomics author Steven D. Levitt’s response on his NYT blog to a reader’s question about the economic ramifications of international adoption (thanks to durgamom on resist racism for bringing this to my attention). I’ve commented on Levitt before in this post.

Q: What is your opinion on how international adoption affects the economy, race and class divisions, and the widening income gap within the U.S.? What do you think of the argument that children are “readily available for adoption” in the U.S., and, further, that adoption is marketed as a product with benefits?

A: I don’t think international adoption affects the economy in any meaningful way. We are talking about very small numbers of children being adopted from foreign countries into the U.S. each year – perhaps 20,000 children total, compared to the 3 million children born each year in the U.S. Adoption does, however, profoundly affect those families that adopt. My life has been completely changed because of the two daughters my wife and I adopted from China.

You’re right that some people in the U.S. really don’t like foreign adoption. Some have argued that it is a form of subtle racism, in that parents like me will go to China to adopt, but won’t adopt a black child here in the U.S. This is a complex issue – far too complex for me to discuss in all its richness here. But let me at least explain some of the thinking underlying my own decision to adopt from abroad. The first factor was that our son, Andrew, had just died. We were not emotionally prepared to navigate the U.S. adoption scene, which is full of uncertainty for adoptive parents for two reasons: 1) the relative scarcity of healthy but unwanted babies being put up for adoption since the legalization of abortion; and 2) the emphasis on birth parent rights.

We did give some serious thought to adopting either a black child domestically, or adopting from Africa. It turns out that African adoption is extremely complicated, as Madonna discovered the hard way. Ultimately, my own view was that the identity issues faced by a black child raised by white parents would be too difficult. Some of my academic research with Roland Fryer has made clear to me the stark choices that black teens, especially boys, have to make about “who they are.” As a parent, I was not willing to take the chance on loving and raising an adopted child, only to know that when he became a teenager he would have to face the choice of being “black” or “white,” and that either choice would be very costly for him (and also for me). That same sort of racial “all or nothing” choice is not at play for Asian youths in our society.

First of all, Levitt doesn’t really respond to the majority of the reader’s question. He only tackles the economy part in terms of how it affects the overall US economy. Using the average fees for the most well known and respected adoption agency in my state, if adoptive parents paid an average of, say, $20,000 – $25,000 a child then those 20,000+ children adopted from other countries last year add up to $400,000,000 – $500,000,000. We know that not all of this money stays in the United States economy. So, granted, Levitt is correct that this sum is pretty insignificant in terms of how it affects the overall US economy. If you calculate the 108,006 children adopted internationally from 2002 – 2006 at an average of $20,000 per child, that pumps in $1,080,060,000 that pays for adoption workers and adoption agencies. However, Levitt doesn’t mention that the overall “adoption industry” expands way beyond the singular item of agency fees. There are all the post-adoption services provided by agencies, books, those damn t-shirts, culture camps, therapy, trainings, etc. Considering that in 2000, the adoption industry generated 1.5 billion dollars* and prices have only risen exponentially, I argue that Levitt is minimizing the economic impact because, like many of us, it appears unseemly to talk about children in terms of a financial spreadsheet.

Levitt’s response to the next part of the reader’s question really begins to veer away into his own personal rationalizations. Continue reading

Color’s in the Works on SATC, the movie

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse

I love Sex & the City as much as the next woman (well, ok, fine–only when I disregard the classism, sexism, and racism in the show, ahem), but I worried when I saw the extended trailer. Mainly because I will have to use more than one hand to count the female characters of color ever featured on the show:

  • Adopted daughter of Asian descent (Chinese, presumably, considering that Charlotte was hoping for a “Mandarin baby”)
  • Carrie’s personal assistant (why she needs one, I still can’t figure out. Does this woman work…EVER?), played by Jennifer Hudson

I’m glad to see SATC hired these ladies to be in the film, yet part of me wonders whether or not their characters will end up much like the other POC featured in the television series (read: background extras or involved in the four women’s lives for a brief period to satisfy their need for entertainment, only to disappear an episode or two later) . . . Will everyone want a Chinese adopted daughter as much as they wanted Manolos? Will they oversimplify issues involved with transracial adoption? And what about Jennifer Hudson’s character–will she end up being written as a neo-Mammy, or is something more progressive in the works?

Click here to view the new extended official trailer.

The New York Times censors adult adoptees on adoption blog

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Update 11/14 at 10:25 am: Please click here to digg this story so we can bring more attention to it.

Update 11/14 at 7:40 am: Yesterday evening, shady things started happening where the NYT apparently started to add back in some old comments that it had not previously approved. And they’ve now completely shut down comments to the post. Also, check out this comment that Sarah Kim tried to leave, but was not approved. Hmm… I don’t see a thing in that comment that violates the NYT’s comment moderation policy. And yet they still chose to censor her. Meanwhile, a much harsher comment was allowed through – but that came from another adoptive parent, instead of an adoptee. It’s clear whose perspective this NYT blog is pushing.

The New York Times started a new blog this month called Relative Choices, about “adoption and the American family.”

The blog has been met with mixed reactions, especially since many prominent thinkers like Jae Ran Kim who are critical of certain adoption practices were deemed to be “too out there” to contribute. Also, the blog has featured some rather questionable posts written by adoptive parents.

This one, titled Finding Zhao Gu, is an example. Author Jeff Gammage goes all magical thinking on us, with a healthy dose of orientalism and white savior stuff thrown in:

Before I knew there was a man named Ma Guoxing, I imagined his existence.

I wondered what he — or she — might look like, whether he was married or single, had children or not. Most of all I yearned to know the secrets that he, alone among millions in China, held within himself.

Sorry Jeff, but we’re not allowed to tell. No ancient Chinese secret for you!

But yesterday’s post really takes the cake. Writer Tama Janowitz wrote an oh-so-funny post about how all kids hate their parents, so therefore it’s ok to ignore all the critiques that center around race, culture and ethnicity:

A girlfriend who is now on the waiting list for a child from Ethiopia says that the talk of her adoption group is a recently published book in which many Midwestern Asian adoptees now entering their 30s and 40s complain bitterly about being treated as if they did not come from a different cultural background. They feel that this treatment was an attempt to blot out their differences, and because of this, they resent their adoptive parents.

So in a way it is kind of nice to know as a parent of a child, biological or otherwise – whatever you do is going to be wrong. Like I say to Willow: “Well, you know, if you were still in China you would be working in a factory for 14 hours a day with only limited bathroom breaks!”

And she says — as has been said by children since time immemorial — “So what, I don’t care. I would rather do that than be here anyway.”

Wow. Imagine what other you’d-better-be-grateful crap gets said in that household, even as “a joke?” And that deliberately unnamed book that she writes off as a bunch of whining? That’s actually the critically acclaimed Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption.

As if this post itself wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that comments from at least four 13 different adult adoptees and allies critical of Janowitz’s post have not been approved. (Check this post for the latest numbers – Jae Ran is updating every couple hours.) So not only does The New York Times refuse to include contributors who are critical of certain adoption practices, it seems that they won’t even let critical comments through the gate!

This begs the question: just what does The New York Times have against adult adoptees? Why does it believe that adult adoptees’ experiences are just not valid? Somebody over there really needs to read Jae Ran’s How to suppress discussions about transracial and transnational adoption.

For more on the NYT blog, see these posts:

Save one, win valuable prizes
Relative choices?
Nail? Meet hammers.
Racist M/Paternalism at its Best
Whoa. Hey. People — this isn’t ok
Shut Up, Tama Janowitz. Just shut up. And turn in your parenting license while you’re at it.
To Willow Janowitz: You’re not alone….
All The (Adoption) News That They See Fit To Print
A Comment About the Comments
The New York Times: Gatekeeper, Censor
Tama Janowitz, My Canidate for Mother of the Year
Tama Janowitz on NYT adoption blog
Fairness Doctrine
New York Times aka “the Adoption Police?”
censorship on new york times adoption blog
New York Times Adoption Blog Censoring Adult Adoptees
Where are the Outraged Parents here?
New York Times’ Adoption Blog Censors Adult Adoptees
Late to the Party
Surprise – The NY Times is filled with Red Thread Ladybug Arses
NYT Adoption Blog Salts Wounds In International Adoption Community
Adoptees Are Not Your Therapists
Appalling

Tama Janowitz, let me introduce you to
Dear Tama,
Willow’s day

NYT Relative Choices ~ Adoption & censorship?
“Either Chinese, or some black dude – who can remember?”
Dear Tama Janowitz

Angelina Jolie to adopt from Chad

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Another one??? According to the New York Post, Angelina is about to adopt yet another child, this time from Chad. And this is just weeks after her latest adoption from Vietnam. I guess this is part of her “balancing out the races” philosophy:

“Angelina and Brad want to make sure Zahara doesn’t feel alienated as the only black face in their family,” a source told London’s News of the World. Jolie herself recently said, “Should you balance the races, so there’s another African person in the house for Zahara, after another Asian person in the house for Mad? We think so.”

Jolie reportedly has already picked out a 1-year-old girl from Oure Cassoni in Chad and has her lawyers working on the adoption paperwork. “She is hoping to have her daughter home by the summer,” a source told the British paper.

I guess she really will need that hands-free multiple child carrier (from Gallery of the Absurd, hat tip to Nina!):

Korean adoptee on Miami Ink

by guest contributor Jae Ran Kim, originally published at Harlow’s Monkey

Did anyone else catch episode “History of the Circus Sideshow” of Miami Ink? I saw it late last night and one of the segments was about a Korean adoptee who came into the shop to get a tattoo with her adoptive mother.

The young woman explains in the episode that she went through a very difficult time growing up in the Jersey area as the only Korean child around, went through a lot of racial identity issues and had problems with trust and attachment and abandonment.

She and her adoptive mother both had Darren tattoo the same basic design, a triangle (representing the adoption triad, first mother, adoptive mother and child) intertwined with a heart.