On Asian Adoption

July 27, 2006 at 11:06 am 14 comments

On a discussion forum recently a few people were chatting about why white people adopt transracially. Someone said that folks who adopt transracially are looking to be “out of the box.” While I think this is often true for white people who adopt black children … the majority of people I know who adopt asian kids are not in this category. I replied in that forum as follows (just a small snipet of my full response):

My parents adopted not to be outside the box (on the contrary) – they adopted because they thought if they pretended to be colorblind, the world will be too .. and that the pain of secondary infertility will be lost somewhere along the way. They know now, that they were wrong. And it’s a bitter pill for them to swallow. Fact is, my parents, and many other parents and parents-to-be … see Asian as “the other white meat.” They think race is black and white. That an Asian child will mesh like a white kid would — just they are “easier” to find when your in an infertile bind. I was a quick fix for my parents. They were not looking for a transracial adoption – matter of fact, they were not looking to deal with race at all. And that is how I was raised. Just like my sister (who was born to them). The only way they knew how to raise a kid. The way they were raised. Was it bad? Not at all. Was it ignorant? Kinda, yeah. What’s even more ignorant is that people in this day and age (who should have learned that race IS an issue with Asian adoption!) are still adopting with the mindset that my parents had. I forgive my parents ignorance…. but it’s annoying that some APs today are making the same assumptions.

I just cannot get it out of my head that in the adoption world asian kids are seen as “the other white meat.” It bothers me that I could be seen this way. (Maybe because I clearly am not white and my daily life is a reminder of that!) I almost have to force myself to type this… but it is the reason WHY I was adopted! It seems like such an unhealthy reason.

What I don’t understand is this…

If you want to adopt and race does not matter – then why aren’t you adopting a black infant in the United States? There certainly seems to be a shortage of families for black infants. You have a better chance of being able to meet the birth parents (and by this – I don’t mean it’s to YOUR benefit – but it is your child’s RIGHT to know where he/she came from, is it not?). You already share the same cultural background, language, foods, etc with this child – as you are both American. It’s easy to find a black community in most parts of the USA to expose your child to role models in his/her background.

I am not saying there is no good reason to adopt from Korea. Much to the contrary. But it seems like most families I have met that adopt from Korea lack all of the good reasons. They just think they can love an asian baby better than they can a black baby. And how selfish is that?

Haven’t we evolved better than that? Don’t the white people understand that Asian is a race – different than theirs?

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Entry filed under: Adoption, Korean.

구지혜 At War

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Papa2hapa  |  July 27, 2006 at 8:38 pm

    evolution is for dummies. We’re stuck in a rut.

    I agree that Asians are often considered “the other white meat.” Take for example issues in South Africa. There are still places where only whites are allowed. Oh, but if you’re “Asian” you can come in with a white guest. But no blacks. Oh, no. They don’t like that.

    I also think some American white parents don’t want to be reminded of how ultra conservative they are, and so they use a “safe” ethnic model-minority as the example of how progressive they can be. It’s weak and lame.

    Reply
  • 2. harlowmonkey  |  July 29, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    Thanks for your posts, I thought it really said it well. I definitely agree with P2H on the last paragraph, about using Asians as a “safe” way of showing how “progressive” they are. Ugh, yes, they are in denial about that.

    I can understand the position my parents were in because back when I was adopted in 1971, the social workers told them to “raise me like my [non-adopted] siblings.” But, I’ve sat in on many pre-adoptive parent orientations in the past 5 years, and they don’t say that anymore. Quite the contrary. Parents today have very little excuse for this kind of ignorance.

    Reply
  • 3. John  |  July 31, 2006 at 8:42 pm

    race is transitional – serving more a purpose of rhetoric than actuality for people who rarely have to engage in its complexities on a daily basis. being “color-blind” was a figment of the 1980’s social movement, where acceptance was hand-in-hand with denial. i think we now know better, realizing that denying anothers’ “color” has little to do with accepting their color (race). i like to think that “emb-race” has alot more to do with it…and hopefully pap’s are doing more of that…

    though that leads to a secondary (or primary, choose your poison, there’s a smorgasbord) issue – that being – pap’s tend to adopt via a one way street, “US” to “it” direction; which you underlined with, “how selfish is that?” call me a cynic, but i believe the vast majority of adoptions to be inherently “selfish”. not to sound academic, but to a certain extent, there is 1) a need and 2) something to fill that need (supply and demand, cause and effect, point A to point B). we are, in effect, created via a special privilege bestowed upon individuals with the ability to procur a solution for THEIR need(s)…

    much more should be said on this issue, and i should flesh these ideas out as they are crude imaginations at this point, but i hope that i’ve come across relatively coherent…for now at least…

    Reply
  • 4. art-sweet  |  August 1, 2006 at 6:05 pm

    I can’t speak for all PAPs, but I can tell you why I’m adopting from Guatemala rather than adopting domestically, and I suspect that it influences many adoptive parents in deciding on international adoption. I don’t care what color my child is. I will try to support his/her culture, no matter what. And I would love to be able to offer my child the ability to meet his/her first parents. At least with Guatemala I’ll have some information to share and may be able to help him/her locate his/her mom.

    But after battling infertility and thinking year after year that maybe by this time next year we’ll have a kid… I couldn’t handle the uncertainty of domestic adoption. Waiting to be chosen. Selling ourselves. Not knowing when or if we would ever be parents. And so we wimped out. It is selfish, no doubt about it. But we all make choices and try to make the best of them, and that’s all we can do.

    I hope you are healing. I’m worried about you, Julia.

    Reply
  • 5. art-sweet  |  August 1, 2006 at 6:05 pm

    I can’t speak for all PAPs, but I can tell you why I’m adopting from Guatemala rather than adopting domestically, and I suspect that it influences many adoptive parents in deciding on international adoption. I don’t care what color my child is. I will try to support his/her culture, no matter what. And I would love to be able to offer my child the ability to meet his/her first parents. At least with Guatemala I’ll have some information to share and may be able to help him/her locate his/her mom.

    But after battling infertility and thinking year after year that maybe by this time next year we’ll have a kid… I couldn’t handle the uncertainty of domestic adoption. Waiting to be chosen. Selling ourselves. Not knowing when or if we would ever be parents. And so we wimped out. It is selfish, no doubt about it. But we all make choices and try to make the best of them, and that’s all we can do.

    Reply
  • 6. art-sweet  |  August 1, 2006 at 6:07 pm

    Err, I tried to cancel the first comment because it sounded like I was worried about you related to adoption, and I meant that I was worried related to whatever illness has you in Israel and your safety there, and hoping you’re healing from that.

    Reply
  • 7. Mo  |  August 5, 2006 at 10:11 am

    Funny isn’t it that we live in a world that is constantly telling us that race doesn’t matter…but it matters so much.

    When my husband and I were getting ready to adopt, I never really considered domestic adoption. I am a Korean adoptee and I always figured that I would adopt from Korea. To be fair to the people not choosing a domestic adoption, I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole until the U.S. decides to give more protection to the adopting parents. It would break my heart if I held a baby in my arms and then someone came and took her back after five months (or more).

    However, I agree that some people are not choosing their country for the right reasons. I am very patiently waiting for things to change and sometimes I feel like it is moving much too slowly.

    Mo
    http://korea-adoption.blogspot.com
    http://korea.adoptionblogs.com

    Reply
  • 8. cloudscome  |  August 6, 2006 at 7:01 am

    I have often run into these attitudes and it frustrates me. I have adopted twice transracially, (white/black), and I went through one failed placement when the baby’s parents changed their minds about adoption. I don’t want to minimize it, there are challenges, but it hasn’t been as difficult as some PAPs make it out to be. I treasure the black culture we are exposed to and involved with and find crossing the racial lines enriching for me and the whole family. It’s a learning experience and humbling and oh so good for us. I wish it wasn’t seen as so scary and different.I adopted because I wanted more kids and by God’s grace I met up with kids that needed another family. I don’t think it’s selfish to want to be a bigger family, but it is of course always hard to remember I am not the center of the universe.

    Reply
  • 9. Random Asian  |  August 16, 2006 at 12:42 am

    Race is Important. I also was adopted into a white family. For years I had thought of myself of “white” to try to fit in. Where i lived, there were rarely any asians around. Mostly white and black. Even so I was still subjected to asian stereotypes. A couple of years later we moved to a more asian community and I became aware of the asian culture “i was suppose to be.” I fit in better there and became obsessive to learn about this interesting culture. The more I liked this new culture, the more I regretted being adopted by a white family…eventually becoming deeply depressive..

    Simply put, adopting multiracial children without applying his racial culture is a disaster. It is in the childs best interest for the family to apply and learn the culture of the child.

    Reply
  • 10. Jo  |  September 1, 2006 at 6:10 pm

    This is a very interesting site that I came across and interesting comments. I’m an adoptive mom, I’m caucasian, my son was adopted from Korea and my dh is of Chinese heritage. I do agree that race in many ways does matter and we would be irresponsible in my opinion to ignore that. We had thought seriously about adopting another child and for us, we would love and embrace a child of any race and culture. But the unfortunate reality is that as adoptive parents we also need to think seriously about the extended family, friend, social network that child will be coming into. Will they be as accepting? I know some older great grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. would sadly not be as accepting and I would not want my child to have that heartbreak. That may sound selfish of me not to stand up to it (but you can only do so much) or be more courageous and it makes me sad that I’m seeming to take the “easier way out” if that makes sense?

    In any case, I think you all bring up excellent points and it gives me food for thought. Thank you!

    Reply
  • 11. lorrie  |  September 29, 2006 at 2:28 pm

    We tried to adopt domestically and applied and went through the classes offered by DSS. We wanted a child of any race. Under 4, no sexual abuse, no serious handicaps. The social worker laughed in my face and told me that I must be looking for “Heidi”. Undaunted we kept our application active as we welcomed our first daughter from China, only to receive a curt letter informing us that since we had a child our file would now be closed.

    Permanently.

    Reply
  • 12. Susan  |  November 9, 2006 at 11:08 am

    I think a lot of adoptive parents adopt internationally BECAUSE they don’t to deal with pesky birthparents. They want to be their kids’ parents, period, and they don’t want to deal with possible contact. I know that many PAPs feel differently, but there is a very real birthparent fear out there that affects this decision. And also because (sigh) Asian kids ARE seen as “the other white meat.”

    Reply
  • 13. Grace  |  November 15, 2006 at 10:52 am

    Wanting children whether by birth or adoption…it is a complicated issue. I was not keen on having children…and then I was infertile..the chose to adopt from my homeland. I had many things to consider. You can call wanting children selfish, or you can call it primal. It is a need. Is that necessarily selfish? You want to be critical, call it selfish. You want to be accepting, call it love.

    Yes there is ignorance – about race, about the trauma the babies endure, about parenting itself. No there no such thing as colorblind – ah – unless you realize it really means “be white.”

    Despite it all, I know many families avoided domestic, or abandoned it after trying because – I read somewhere that the % of disruptions in domestic adoptions is HUGE – we know anecdotally it is true, but the figure is hidden – it is the ugly hidden truth. I think it was something like 40%.

    The last comment I have is – be kind. Be kind to your parents, be kind to AP, be kind to ignorance, be kind to yourself. It can be incredibly difficult to navigate life, and parenthood…let alone the huge, almost unanswerable waters of racism, adoption….and love.

    G

    Reply
  • 14. Margie  |  May 15, 2008 at 11:45 am

    I’ve struggled and struggled to find a response to this one, because it forces me to acknowledge the racism I like to think I don’t have. But if I’m completely honest with myself, I have to acknowledge it. Even if I fight it, and work against it, it would be dishonest not to acknowledge that it shaped our decision to adopt as we did.

    Writing that was hard, acknowledging it is humbling. It’s a reminder of how little I really know about the adoptee experience and about race.

    Reply

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Julia’s Jam

It’s just not that black & white. Not because I am taking a stand against. Just because, the issues I face are somewhere in the grey area and to weed through them, I blog. I blog. ~

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