Why I hate adoptive parents

Note: Blog newcomers should read the entire Why I hate adoptive parents series and then should sit on their hands for the next seven to ten years. Thank you.

Forwarded from a listserv of predominantly white parents with Asian kids comes a turd of stupidity from a white adoptive parent. Under discussion is the question of how to handle another (non-Asian) child dressing as a “Chinese girl” for Halloween:

I would say that if there *were* negative comments or if things
started to show a negative light – that would be an awesome teaching moment for the teachers.

Why yes! Let’s encourage racism in the schools, because that affords teachers opportunities that they might otherwise miss. Just like ignoring situations that promote violence is a good idea, because once kids start beating on each other, it is an awesome teaching moment.

Once the negative comments are out, the damage has been done. Education after the fact may help some, but I doubt seriously it alleviates the pain of racism. That is, if the situation is addressed at all.

There are undoubtedly many opportunities daily for white teachers to address racism. The problem is that they don’t get taken.

My general experience with white teachers, including and perhaps especially nice, well-intentioned, well-meaning white teachers, is that they don’t have either the training or the experience to deal with racism. Often they themselves perpetuate it. And they don’t even recognize it.

White teachers are just a segment of the overall white population. The white population typically doesn’t have any special knowledge about dealing with race or racism. But that doesn’t stop them from opining as if they do.

This particular parent goes on to talk about how her daughter dressed up as a “hillbilly” for Halloween and how cute it was. As someone who grew up among folks my mother used to refer to as “hill people,” I don’t see a “hillbilly” costume as being either appropriate or cute. But let’s change the costume around a bit:

I dressed my white daughter up as a Chinese girl (complete with slanty eyed makeup and a cheong sam and a coolie hat) and she carried a pair of chopsticks and some fortune cookies. She talked in her best Chinese talk – nothing disparaging – just “Ching chong” and “Ding dong wing wang” – and she had the inflection down to a tee. Everyone had fun with it. And the getup was good enough to win first place.

(Of course, probably a lot of white parents of Asian kids wouldn’t see that as offensive either. But I digress.)

She (I assume the parent is a she; I might be mistaken) goes on to say that she would hate to see children’s imagination being squelched. And she ends with “Or maybe I just don’t get it.”

Well, at least that last part is accurate. Ironic, but accurate.

I have a much longer, much angrier rant about white adoptive parents that I can’t decide if I want to unleash or not. But y’all should be warned that it probably isn’t a good idea to offer lots of excuses for them.

18 thoughts on “Why I hate adoptive parents

  1. Please unleash it (I type this even though I am a white adoptive parent to a black daughter because it’s always good for me to learn something).

  2. I’m absolutely appalled at the Chinese girl costume. She had “the inflection down to a tee”?! How is “ching chong ding dong” NOT disparaging?

    This sort of crap is exactly why I spent most of my life trying to run away from the Asian half of my heritage. This sort of crap haunts kids for a long, long time.

    That mother is beyond ignorant. She knows that people COULD be offended by the costume. She’s stumbling over herself trying to justify her daughters “non-disparaging” behavior. It’s disgusting and I have absolutely no sympathy for or desire to listen to the arguments of racists like that. Yeah–she’s RACIST.

    I think my head is on the verge of exploding. But I agree with dawn–please unleash your rant. It needs to be said!

  3. You just can’t make the stuff up that white adoptive parents of Asian children say on those forums.

    Go ahead and unleash, I can’t wait.

  4. Education and taking responsibility after the fact is necessary to prevent it from happening again to more children, and to hold those who did it accountable, but what does it do for the kids who have gone through this? Does it magically erase their pain? No. You are spot on with that.

    I mentioned in another comment that our school recently had “Frontier Day” as part of homecoming week. (Yes, you’re right, I do need to post about it…) It was originally billed as Cowboy & Indians day — yes, white teachers actually thought that was appropriate. I won’t go into the whole thing here, but we did address it, and the principal did take responsibility and made an apology to the entire student body. We’re looking at bringing some Native speakers in, and further addressing the processes that led to this actually taking place, but so what — big deal —that that does nothing to erase the pain, anger and humiliation that the Native students (and other students of color) felt that day, seeing white girls walkign around in sexed up buckskin “costumes”, and posters on the wall referring to the “ultimate battle between cowboys and Indians”, and seeing the “cowboys” strutting around, hearing the pidgin talk. Education after the fact can’t take that away.

    This is their school, they have a right to be educated in an environment free from discrimination and humiliation sanctioned by the SCHOOL, not just a few individuals.

    This is why hiring processes need to be addressed as well — if more teachers of color were in this school, someone would’ve spoken up BEFORE it happened and affected these kids. (Actually one white teacher did speak up and try to stop it once he found out)

    White folks, get a clue — dressing up as another culture for entertainment is racist. Period.

  5. More Cowbell,

    I once asked a school that was recruiting children of color, offering scholarships, why they had not even one teacher of color, they said that they couldn’t find anybody, which I is bull.

    Children get a lot of bad experiences,as well as inadequate or false teaching of history from school, and I do think the school administration should be held accountable.

  6. Oooo, I’m glad this came up because it came up in some adoption related forums that I frequent. It fists right in with what more cowbell is talking about. I found 2 items of note:

    One lady who’s son is from Guatemala actaly said it’s cool to dress him up like an Indian, smear sidewalk chalk on his face and calls it Mayan war paint. Another parent of 3 native American children and claims they are all flattered when people dress up like Indians and thinks it’s “fitting” that they attend a school with a mascot of Warriors.

    Also, how does one handle the instances of a 1/4 Native American who finds there way into the discussion and declares that everyone they know does not have a problem with it? Not being a person of color, myself, it really diffuses the discussion from my POV that this kind of stuff is racist.

  7. Ewww. And ewww.

    Aw, c’mon Resistance – “no holds barred” is what some of us love about this blog.

  8. Ugh, I heard that reasoning before, that a bigoted act was a positive thing because it brings people together and strengthens the movement. As if people would have no meaning to their lives if there wasn’t any bigotry to fight against.

  9. I still can’t get over that the parent writing called her white daughter’s outfit a ‘getup’. Ok – I can’t get over ANY of it – dressing a kid up with “slanty eyed makeup”????? WOW.

    So her Asian child is basically a license to be racist against Asians. An excuse.

    Pardon me, I have to go bang my head against the wall for a while.

  10. I think I saw this exchange. I was disgusted by HILLBILLY, grrrr. I did not speak up. I do not always “try to fix things that are broken,” because it does take a toll on one, as I am sure you know.

    My husband and I are very sensitive to A N Y racism of any kind, as well as plain old slamming against “stereotypes.” We are white with an Asian daughter and it drives us bonkers with ANY stereotype.

    “Ching chong” and “Ding dong wing wang” This in particular drives us bonkers.

    Anyway, you don’t need it, but I give you permission to hate adoptive parents. I think most of us probably do not hate you.

  11. Hi,

    I discovered your blog today through Shakesville, and I am so glad to have found this place. I’ve been trying to articulate, for some time now, all the misgivings I have about transracial adoption, and your series on “Why I hate adoptive parents” is everything I wanted to say and more. Thank you!

  12. I agree with your statement: “My general experience with white teachers, including and perhaps especially nice, well-intentioned, well-meaning white teachers, is that they don’t have either the training or the experience to deal with racism. Often they themselves perpetuate it. And they don’t even recognize it.”

    And, I believe the same point can be made about most white adoptive parents.

    One resource that I recommend is the book Courageous Conversations about Race: A Field Guide to Achieving Equity in Schools. A friend of mine recommended this book to me. She specifically encouraged me to substitue the work “parent” every time I read “teacher.”

    In order to change the world for the better, we need to spread the word about resources that may open the minds of parents, educators and other professionals. The lessons that I learned from this book can be applied to every setting — our homes, neighborhoods, schools, faith communities and work places.

    Instead of sitting on our hands, I hope that my white adoptive parent peers and white teachers take seriously the critiques of adoptees and people of color. It is long overdue for us to swell the ranks of anti-racist white activists. Pick up the book and then get out there and do your part to achieve equity in your community. Think globally, act locally!

  13. Oh my god……It’s official. I too hate white adoptive parents now.

    I feel so bad for her adopted asian daughter. And it’s pathetic that the mom is so racist that she can’t see it.

  14. Ah, just found your blog. Please do unleash part 2 if you have not already. I’m really wondering how my little “exotic” looking son fit in with his fish-belly white adoptive doo-gooder family.

    Guess I’m hatin’ on the adoptive parents these days. Just sayin’, cause you know what, it feels good.

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