Adoption and White Bread

In a previous post, durgamom wrote:

The deprivation I see that Asha actually will face is directly the result of being adopted by the Huntsmans: the cultural and racial deprivation of growing up in what the reporter herself terms “white-bread Utah” compared to what she would have had growing up in a family in India. Granted, the Huntsmans had to endure the bureaucratic delays that are characteristic of most international adoptions from India. And sure, a $10,000 donation does not rival Madonna’s $3 million dollar pledge to Malawi. But the Huntsmans’ adoption raises some of the same ethical questions that Madonna’s does. Salt Lake Tribune, let’s not gloss over the fact that race, class and privilege had everything to do with this adoption story.

It struck me as difficult not to associate this story with “buying” a baby, especially since race, class and privilege so strongly play a part in intercountry adoption. And when Americans adopt from other countries, it often seems as if part of the adoption process involves remaking the child into an appropriate image. Here, Asha Huntsman has been saved from poverty. She has been renamed (her first name was Kanak) and recreated:

The family chose the name for their newest child because Asha means “hope” and Bharati means “India,” Huntsman has said, describing the girl who has become his youngest daughter as “the hope of India.”

That’s a pretty heavy load to put on a small child. Additionally, it causes me to wonder which children can be remade in a suitable image. Is the creation and recreation of a life, history and backstory for adopted children a result of the assumed privilege of adoptive parents? Would parents ever choose to rename and remake a child who came into their family if they assumed custody of a child a deceased family member? If one of my siblings dies tomorrow, will I have the privilege of renaming the children and recasting them as lucky to be in my home?

The Huntsmans have another child adopted from China, whom they renamed “Gracie Mei.” Gracie Mei’s abandonment and other personal history details have been made public much in the way durgamom detailed about Asha.


One thought on “Adoption and White Bread

  1. Pingback: Remake « Resist racism

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