Saturday, August 13, 2011

Adoption Nation-second edition

Oh, the joys of getting a new book in the mail!

Well, new for me, anyway. Yesterday, I received the "new" Adoption Nation, by Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. To quote from his website: You’ll note that I put the word “new” in quotation marks; that’s because – as some of you eagle-eyed readers will note – it’s really a revised and updated 10th Anniversary Edition of my first book, and it bears the same main title. But it contains so much new research and information, so many new perspectives and up-to-date stories, and such significant changes and enhancements throughout, that I hope even the most careful readers of the original “Adoption Nation” will agree that it’s worthy of the adjective “new.”

I'm off to read this book...stay tuned for my book review later!

Friday, August 12, 2011

To Place or not to Place...

...that is the question in transracial adoption.

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of racial tensions by placing a child of color with a white family permanently,
Or to take arms against this placement - to wait for a same-race family member or same-race adoptive family,
And by opposing the MultiEthnic Placement Act-Interethnic Placement Act of 1994/1996 end the troubles?

I hope that The Bard will forgive me for borrowing his words from Hamlet, but it seemed all too fitting as I read this interesting op-ed article here called "The Radicalization of Adoption Threatens Black Children". The writer Ryan Bomberger goes straight to the heart of this issue: what is best for the child - a permanent home or ethnic identity? He makes some good points, and being a transracial adoptee himself, disagrees openly with the stance taken by the National Association of Black Social Workers in 1972. He is speaking out against the many brown-skinned children who remain in foster care because of the inability to cross racial boundaries by admitting our own prejudices. He openly acknowledges that not all families can or should adopt, but he does believe that it is up to us to make this world a better place for our children - especially those without parents or permanent families.

And what do I think? I think that adoption across racial lines is a fine way to build a family with one important condition: that the adoptive family work together to continually educate themselves about their (adopted) child's culture AND to develop their own identity through self-examination and realization of their own biases, prejudices, and cultural lenses. While adoption advocates, agencies and organizations often talk about "what's best for the child", they must also include a support system that educates the parents and extended family members who may encounter the ugly side of racism for the first time.

The truth is we live in a world (particularly in the United States) where skin color does make a difference. The "color-blind" mindset does not hold because it ignores what makes us each unique. Sadly, with darker skin color comes greater responsibility: in a world where overt racism is illegal in most situations, microaggressions abound. If a family adopts a child with a darker skin color or with smaller, almond-shaped eyes, they need to be prepared to help that child when these microaggressions happen. And if they have never experienced these themselves, education and awareness is vital.

What do you think, readers? Can we put aside our racial biases and create a culture that accepts a family of many colors, breaking the hegemony of same-race families for the sake of permanent homes for many orphans? Or is it better to place these children with same-race families who can empathize with them when racial hardships come their way?

As always, I'll be waiting for your comments...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New challenges unite adult adoptees

An insightful and courageous article about Adoptees Have Answers - an Minnesota state program which provides a place for genuine adoption conversations to begin.
I applaud the journalist, Katy Read, and Minnesotans for this ground-breaking program, started one year ago.
Click on the link below and enjoy!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2 takes on adoption

OK. I admit it. I am a full-length-feature-animated-film lover. I've seen every Disney animation (although Disney and I have a "love-hate" relationship...which another story altogether), Dreamworks and Pixar film.

So when I saw the trailers for the first "Kung Fu Panda" by Dreamworks, I was a bit skeptical. "Oh, man. Here we go. An animated movie that is going to take all of the Asian stereotypes and blow them out of proportion. Another cartoon where the main character is voiced by a white person, and the Asian people are in supporting roles." I did not see this one in the movie theaters. But when I watched it on DVD later, I was nicely surprised. It was thoroughly entertaining and not as packed with offensive stereotypes as I thought! There was one pressing question on my mind: how come the Panda hero has a Goose for a father? How come Po the Panda feels like he doesn't fit into the noodle-making family?

Enter Kung-Fu Panda 2. They should have subtitled it: "The search for self" or "The journey for inner peace." Po the Panda finds out that he was "abandoned" as a child and discovered by his noodle-making father, Ping the Goose. During the movie, the underlying theme is that Po must find himself. In order to have inner peace, he must know who he is. And, through the course of the movie, he does indeed find out his true story, which has painful roots that tie directly to the new arch-enemy he faces.

I loved how Dreamworks took on this challenging topic and, I confess, I did shed a few tears when Po realizes that "it is not where you come from that matters, but where you are going." As an adoptee, this is something I truly believe. Do I want to know where I am from? Yes. Have I tried searching for my birth parents? Yes. Do I want to continue searching until they are matter what the end result is? Yes, although my actions and my courage wane from time to time. I do not discount my past - especially when it comes to my birth parents - but knowing I am adopted gives me firm roots in who I am and also gives me the freedom for where I want to go.

It's a complex life, as you well know, my readers. But for all the joys and pains, it's my life...and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

For another opinion: read this article.

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.