Waiting for all my life

If I were to add to my general rule about adoption-related items, there would be a clause prohibiting adoption books in which the adoptive parent speaks for the adopted child.

From the book “A Forever Family”:

I knew this was the family I had been waiting for all my life.

A beautiful brown-eyed baby girl awaits adoption in an orphanage in China. She dreams about her “Forever Family” every day. Her dream finally comes true when she is adopted by an American family. Join with her as she discovers hope and a new future.

Dreams come true in China, you see.

I have a lot of difficulty with the lingo used in the adoption community because I think many commonly-used terms have meanings and implications that demand exploration.

Forever Family vs. the Momentary Family: Because the child dreams of the Forever Family, what does that say about the Momentary Family? What if the child were to dream about his or her first family? What if the child doesn’t want an American family?

Of course, it’s easier on the adoptive parents to believe that something they’ve always wanted is something equally desired by the child.

Gotcha Day vs. Lostya Day: The idea of child as acquisition is a problematic one. I was going to write that most people don’t view other people as things to be gotten, but then I realized there are quite a few circumstances in which they do exactly that. And it has to do with when the acquirer has more investment with the idea of the acquisition then with a relationship. That is, single people are sometimes more enthralled with the idea of having a mate than the actual mate. And childless people are sometimes more enthralled with the idea of having a baby than with the actual baby. It seems to be about becoming a parent rather than parenting a child.

If parents don’t want their children talked about like acquisitions to be bought and sold (“How much did you pay for him?”) then maybe they should examine their language a little more carefully. So get rid of those “Made in China” tee-shirts while you’re at it.

China Mom vs. Mom: “China Mom” is one of those instances of using a racialized descriptor when race is not the defining characteristic. It’s also a little too close to “Chinaman” for me. But it isn’t just “China moms” who cannot parent their children.

I often wonder if China is such a popular country for adoption because the physical distance makes the emotional distance possible. Much in the same way words can put emotional distance between parents and children.  And the way white adoptive parents can put distance between themselves and communities of color.


2 thoughts on “Waiting for all my life

  1. I agree!! and I am an adoptive mom… I think many of those parents who want all that “history” to just go away are fooling themselves – the children don’t forget and many parents now chronicle that their children have significant mood changes around their abandonment day (even if they did not even know the specific day because they are still too young) and thier birthday. Removing a child from their birth family and culture is a shock and needs to be treated with respect and empathy not chintzy t-shirts!

  2. Pingback: links for 2007-05-25 at Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture

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