No, no, no

This article caught my eye for a number of reasons. It started out in a promising manner with a quote from a director of international adoption:

“They need to understand that race and ethnicity still matter,” Stigger says. “Love is not going to be enough. Where your child came from is part of them, whether that’s a neighborhood in Chicago or an orphanage in China.”

But then the (white) director goes on to say the following:

Parents need to expand their social circle, Stigger says. She had black kids, so she made black friends — and now describes herself as a black mom.

The article later quotes an adoptive parent:

Harbeck Haley is thankful that Xilin provides Asian role models for her girls, and she tries to provide the rest. “We cook Chinese, go to Chinese restaurants, have a lot of Chinese art in our home, celebrate the Chinese festivals,” she says. “Twice a year I give a party at their public schools for the Chinese New Year and Chinese Moon Festival. It’s just part of our life — what we feel is important as a Chinese-American family.”

I’m sorry, but you don’t become a “black mom” because you adopt black kids. Try announcing this among your “black friends” and see how well it’s received. You don’t become a “Chinese American” family by adopting Chinese kids. I mentioned this once among a bunch of Chinese Americans (real Chinese Americans) and they all just about spit nails.

gabriela63 once mentioned that to identify your family or yourself as “Chinese American” is to exoticize the “Chinese” over the other heritage(s) that may comprise your family. But additionally I think that it is patronizing to think that you can assume the history of being black or being Chinese simply because you got a couple of kids of color.

Wanna try being black or Chinese for a while? Try giving up your privilege.


9 thoughts on “No, no, no

  1. I read the same article and had the same impression. I’m Chinese American and absolutely agree with your friends. I’m tired of hearing white adoptive parents coo endlessly on their blogs about the cuteness of their Chinese children. Yeah, I can’t wait until those babies grow up and think wtf. I wouldn’t be surprised if a huge percentage of the babies being adopted end up resenting their white parents.

    And is it just me or do many adoptive parents – including those waiting for a kid – seem especially needy? From browsing their blogs, they appear to want the American dream. The house, the cars, and yes, the kids. I understand the pressure our society places on us to become parents but did any of these dingbats do any self-examination to discover if they would be good parents in the first place? I mean, articles like this prove that some folks have no business parenting anything except maybe a pet rock…

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  3. Yet another article of parents congratulating themselves on how great they are because they’ve learned so much. My question: What do their kids have to say about all of this?

    Why is the adoptee voice ignored?

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  5. I definitely think that White parents that adopt children of a different ethnicity feel that having a “multicultural” family gives them carte blanch to say things that can be offensive to others. They may honestly not see that what they say can be offensive or in poor taste. I see it is similar to the “oh, I have Black/Asian etc friend, so it’s ok” type of feeling. I am a Korean adoptee and after coming out of such a system, there is a lot of resentment towards the treatment of the child as a commodity.
    I’m glad that the trend has changed since my adoption, where the parents were instructed to abandon all cultural elements of the child to fully “Americanize” them; but the assumption that the parents can accurately convey being Black or Chinese or anything else is totally false and hurtful to their children. White parents that adopt will never know what it is like to be a ‘person of color,’ and no matter how well intentioned, they will never be treated like their children will in society. Because of my own experience (which compared to many has been fairly good), I do feel a twinge of pain when I see adopted children because I know it won’t be easy.

  6. The director has bought into some weird post-modern version of color-blindness or relativism, I’m not sure. Scary. But here is the question then, should white folks never adopt a non-white child? Some of my friends argue yes, and others argue that there are so many kids who need homes, languish in foster care, etc that a good home (which one would hope means a “I’m am never done, need to keep working like hell to learn a little bit about other local communities” attitude. I’d be interested to hear folks opinion.

  7. I’m white – my partner and i adopted 2 African-American girls. It’s very complicated, being honest about who i am and being honest about racism, and living a life that includes and embraces all people and teaching my children what *i* know/have learned about surviving racism. What *i* know has been taught to me by many, many women of color over the years. I also make sure that my daughters have opportunities to form significant relationships with women/families of color outside of our immediate family. And my learning and striving is never done. And i make mistakes, pick myself up, talk to my kids and work to always do better. It’s a strange sort of duality in which we live.

    Should white folks adopt kids of color? My answer would be yes, but conditionally. Consciousness is a must. A deep desire to struggle mightily with a person’s own racism and to recognize the ways it plays out in your life is a must. ymmv.

    My girls and i have learned a lot, through the honest conversation and working through of issues. It is sometimes painful, sometimes exhilarating. It is definitely *not* for the faint of heart!

    And, fwiw, the thought of identifying myself as a “Black mother” is completely abhorrent to me. The presumptuousness, the arrogance – amazing!

  8. But on the flip side, do the small percentage of minorities who adopt white children(when they’re “allowed” to e.e) become White Parents? After reading an article about the fight a black mom had to go through in order to adopt her white daughter, the article cited is pure BS and only fuels white supremacy.

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