Why I hate adoptive parents

Number 16 in a series.  Please note that this is not the new, improved, longer and angrier rant that was predicted (threatened?) in an earlier post.  It’s just a garden-variety hate-filled post, with a vitriol level hovering around five or so.  Newcomers to the blog:  As always, we appreciate it if you read Racism 101, We Heard It Before and the rest of the blog before pressing that tempting ‘submit comment’ button.

Reason 16:  Assuming your experiences encompass all experience everywhere.  Because you were raised white with privilege, you assume that how you lived was natural, normative, regular and right.  And you were regularly validated and supported in your viewpoints.  You surround yourself with people just like yourself, and you assume that’s the world in its entirety.

I think this is a dangerous assumption for any parent, but especially for an adoptive parent.  For a white adoptive parent to a child of color, this sort of worldview is abusive to your child and ignorant of his or her lived reality.

If you were raised by your first parents, you do not know what it is like for a person who was adopted into another family.  If you are white, you do not know what it is like to be a person of color.  (Also, I do not want to hear any of you dismissively say, “I get it!  I get it!  I’m one of those who gets it!”  Because if you have to say it, the opposite is true.)

So for white adoptive parents who believe that Miley Cyrus’ actions are no big deal because “everybody” has made the “slant-eye” gesture at some time:

NO.  We have not.

It is not “normal” to make a racist gesture at other people.  And “everybody” does not do this.  But what does that say about the “everybody” you’ve been hanging out with?

And this is not just a “goofy kid thing.”  I’m tired of hearing this rationalization.  It is racism.  Children need to be taught that racism is wrong.  We (hopefully) don’t allow our children to hit other children.  Racism similarly should not be tolerated.

Additionally, this is not “innocuous.”  It is not “in good fun.”  Because for this gesture to be considered fun, you have to be accepting of the racism that it perpetuates.  It’s probably helpful to be the perpetrator rather than the victim.  Because while I know some people find “fun” in hurting others, it isn’t “fun” for those who are hurt.

I am really tired of making this same statement over and over again, but I think it is necessary:

Your life experience is not the totality of all life experience.  Your opinion is not everybody else’s opinion.

So you don’t think the racism du jour is of any consequence.  You don’t think it is real racism. You believe that it is just political correctness gone crazy.

Remember this when your child comes home crying.  Remember this when somebody ching-chongs your kid and then beats the crap out of them just for fun.  Remember this when an adult male tells your little Asian daughter that he’d like to fuck her and love her long time.

And remember to tell your child that he or she shouldn’t play the victim and should not give bullies the power over them and to just let it roll off his or her back.

Because racism was never a big deal to you and you never bothered to speak out against it.

And one day you wake up and your children no longer speak to you.  Because they are hypersensitive and have chips on their shoulders and are just angry ungrateful adoptees.

So even though race never mattered to you and you were colorblind, all of a sudden you’ve become the enemy.  You’re whitey.  You’re the man.  And it’s because your children have become reverse racists.  They see racism in everything.

But it can’t be in you, can it?  You tell your white friends, and they nod along.

40 thoughts on “Why I hate adoptive parents

  1. Lurve this. Had a conversation over dinner last night. About JUST THIS SUBJECT. Thank you. And, yea, I get alittle pissed that all Asians are Chinese. Because Asia is not a continent. It is China.

  2. Well said. Again.

    Any chance that the whole series might be made into a link at the top next to Racism 101? It really does deserve its own space.

  3. Well written. And honestly, you need to compile all your “why I hate adoptive parents” articles and mail it to adoption agencies.

  4. [Hi, sorry I forgot to read all the disclaimers and qualifiers in the other posts as well as the R101 and WHIB pages. So I repeated a lot of the WHIB stuff. I’ll read them before pressing the “submit comment” button again. Ta!]

  5. Spot on. As an adoptee of color with white adoptive parents I’ve gone through through this type of situation. We talk still, though at arms length, and they realize that they should have acted differently when I was exposed to that type of behavior. But they have not learned enough to realize that racism is still so pervasive and something that they themselves possess. They never knew how hurt and afraid I was, to the point that I wanted to commit suicide. Hopefully all adoptive parents can learn these lessons before it’s too late for another child to suffer quietly and alone.

  6. I really would like to know ___ what do you say? How do you say it? What should you be saying in between?

    It’s easy to know what to say about Miley Cyrus. My daughter, however, is unlikely to meet Miley Cyrus. But what about the kids who say ching-chong to my daughter, what about that leering middleaged man, what about all the people she will actually be in the same room with, people who for a number of years to come are likely to be substantially larger than she is?

    If I’m there it’s easy for me to do the talking. But the constraints she is under are different.

    Hate me all you want but I would really appreciate some help. Just think of it as helping my daughter, who can’t be here herself because she doesn’t know how to read yet.

  7. Thank you for the links. I will look for the books mentioned.

    But truly, I am begging for some thoughts. What does an Asian parent advise their little child who is being taunted by the bigger white kids for being Asian? or leered at by some slimey pig, when she is predisposed to think grownups will be nice to her (yes I know that is a problem in a lot of ways that have nothing to do with race – at least I was there for that one)?

    All I can think of is things like, that is bad, some people have bad ideas and don’t understand things, mommy is sorry, for now it is better to stay away from them….. none of those feels like an ideal response. If I am there I am happy to confront them – but obviously I will not always be there.

  8. What an Asian parent does should not and cannot guide a white parent.

    In any event (making an exception here), what should a white parent do? Examine his or her own racial identity. Read about the history of racism. Learn about the struggles of people of color. Undertake anti-racist action. Move to a diverse neighborhood. Don’t expect people of color to serve you by providing all the answers. Do the work yourself.

  9. Dear a no-good AP,

    You’ve made a cry for help and I am here for you. You want an end to racism. If you are ready to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem, I am willing to be your sponsor. It helps to work the steps together. Here is a link to the 12 White Steps so that you can start today. http://damaliayo.com/pdfs/12whitestepsWeb.pdf

    This link has only two pages to read instead of the twelve pages from the link to “I Can Fix It! Volume 1: Racism.” I guess that in your hurry to post you didn’t get a chance to read the free, downloadable 12 pages from this resource. Don’t worry, the 12 White Steps covers much of the same material in only two pages.

    Let me know when you are ready to begin. And, in deference to Resist Racism blog host, please re-read Racism 101. I realize that you don’t yet see the connection between your questions and this information. I trust this will become clearer as we work the 12 White Steps together.

  10. Sinoangle,

    Thank you for your encouraging comment. I just submitted a post on the Yahoo group International-Adopt-Talk (IAT) with links.

    Dear a no-good AP,

    I am serious about my offer to be your sponsor. My email is available on IAT and you are welcome to contact me. If you are not a current member, I encourage you to join this Yahoo group. Sounds like you could use the emotional and practical support. Of course, discussion groups like IAT are not nearly enough. It is important to work the 12 White Steps every day. I hope to hear from you soon! Hang in there.

  11. hi Mollie, I emailed you from IAT. And reread Racism 101.

    resistance, I am quite aware that no one owes me anything – but nonetheless I am asking, in the hope that someone feels like answering. I’m sure you are right that what an Asian parent does will not directly apply to a white parent. But I don’t know any white parents with useful ideas on this subject. Maybe an Asian parent or other parent of color might come up with something that I can then figure out how to apply, suitably altered for my situation.

    In fact, to broaden this substantially at risk of being off-topic, I don’t know anyone with great answers to what to do about bullying, race-related or other.

  12. Well, being aware that people of color don’t owe you an education is a start. So why are you still asking? I made a bunch of suggestions above; have you started them yet?

  13. Dear No good Adoptive parent,
    I am also an adoptive parent of an Asian child…. You can’t just ask an online group one question and get one answer. I am wondering if you have an Asian friend you can ask, and if not, why not? Since you have an Asian daughter, start right now to bring your daughter to HER people. Move to a neighborhood where there are many Asians to be role models and to help her learn how to be a confident Asian girl and then woman. YOU are not Asian. You cannot do this. If you cannot move, then drive there. Whatever you have to do, do it. You have to introduce her to her culture from which she has been removed. Place her in a school with so many Asians that if they make fun of Asians, she will not be alone. Take her to an Asian church. and an Asian dance team. Anywhere she can be exposed to other Asian kids, adults and teens to help her along the way. Help her make Asian friends. Bring Asian friends to your home. Be the only white person there when she looks like everyone else. Surround her with her culture and her people. And then you won’t have to ask. My personal thoughts are, if someone can’t go the extra mile for a transracial adoptee, then you should have adopted a child the same race as you are. You didn’t, so now you do have to go the extra mile for your child. You may not have any time for your old friends or old activities. But for the sake of your child you have to do it. If you have other bio children, bring them along. They need it too… They need it more than they need cheerleading or girlscouts or anything else.

  14. I have started your suggestions, resistance. As for my education – I am asking. Not demanding. Kind of like a panhandler. A few people may feel like giving something; it is not expected and there is no right to it, and the recipient asks knowing that those are the rules.

    My daughter is little. She cannot be here to explore for herself because of that, nothing else.

    There a lot of Asian families (mostly Chinese, same as my daughter) around here and our closest friends include a family with a Chinese parent. My daughter attends a number of activities including some with a majority of Chinese families and some with a majority of adoptive families with Chinese children. All told probably 15 hours a week of activities with majority Asian kids either adopted or not, including language and some other culture activities. I am friendly with the other mothers, Chinese and white, but not very close to any of them. The Chinese mothers have not talked about racism in my presence. The white mothers do, but their answers to their children do not sound as though they would work for our family.

    There is a lot of prejudice against the adopted children in the Chinese community. Part of this is racist preference – though Chinese, my daughter, like many of the children adopted out of China, is almost certainly not Han, the majority ethnic group. Part of it is the stigma attached to being assumed to be the child of either a poor family or an unwed mother. It is widely accepted though not universal among the families where the parents immigrated to the US. A high school student who has come to help my daughter with her Mandarin seemed to accept this as very obvious and expected when the subject came up. I believe it is not as common in the generations raised in the US.

    Our Chinese friend makes a miserable role model. As far as I can tell she tries hard not to be Chinese. She converted to a religion with extremely few nonwhite coreligionists and refuses to cook Chinese food any more. Her main comment on my daughter was that she was obviously not Han. She is a successful professional, as were both her parents, and does not believe (at least that she will admit to me) that she ever experienced racism of any kind while growing up in New York City.

    My daughter has a lot of peers and when she is old enough, there will be peers that she can talk to about a lot of these things. But that is several years away. Right now she cannot describe things so clearly that she can talk them out with friends. She is trying to work things through by talking to us. Today there is a baby in her stomach. Last week a baby was left on a plane. Little bits that mean something, but that another little child cannot discuss with her yet. I am looking for how to help her feel and be empowered during these years of young childhood.

  15. It’s intervention time!

    A no-good AP, your sponsor is here, with a reminder of what I told you this morning. Approach people of color who are volunteering to answer questions from adoptive parents. Don’t impose your questions on someone like Resistance who is focused on her own efforts at education through offering thought-provoking posts for the public to read. Get back on the program and stop bothering Resistance!

    For now, if you want to get advice from Transracial Adoptees you might try “Ask the Experts” http://www.nysccc.org/T-Rarts/T-Rarts.html There are a lot of great resources on this site. I have read and re-read them many times.

    As for the panhandling comment. I’m trying to bite my lip (hard) on that one. If you’ve browsed damali ayo’s site — you went to the wrong page. From my accounting, you have committed four (4) drop in appearances on this post alone. By my calculations, your current bill is $800 for this single blog post. Knowing priviledged white adoptive parents like I do (takes one to know one) you have probably been soliciting advice elsewhere. If you are asking Resistence to “Just let it go” please be aware that the recommended charge is $1,500 per incident. Feel free to check out a pricing schedule here http://www.rent-a-negro.com/negropricing.html

    I suggest that that you look closer at the fine print of Step #3 in the 12 White Steps. If you aren’t going to work the steps, then you probably should take a closer look at your bank account.

    I’m volunteering to be your sponsor. I promise to call you on your white privilege when I see it. Together, we can start being part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

  16. a no-good AP:

    “Our Chinese friend makes a miserable role model”

    I am just wondering out loud. What exactly are you looking for from these Chinese friends? Sounds to me you expect your friends to be certain ways. Hey, good role models come in all shapes and forms.

    I think it is hard to develop meaningful friendship with someone if you are focusing too much on who YOU want them to be, rather than who they are.

  17. Dear a no-good AP,

    Resistence provide two free examples of apologies. I suggest this one:

    “I would like you to know that I did not intend to offend you Resistence and the readers of the comment section in this post. Since I did, I acknowledge that impact is very different from intent, and realize that I am are woefully ignorant of what it means to live in a diverse society. I promise to unpack my white privilege and help others do so.”

    I also belief that a meaningful apology has to include making amends.

  18. I would suggest that you observe carefully and try to choose another closer Chinese friend. Have you tried observing whom your daughter plays with and inviting them on a playdate? You may become closer friends with their parents. Sometimes people approach something different with trepidation. Suddenly you have all these white people with “your” kids. Some people feel some resentment. Some people feel the kids are lucky to be in America. Others feel they are unlucky to lose their heritage. Some will look down on them, in our community most do not. The Chinese community here is not so prejudiced against the adopted Chinese kids. They have embraced them as their own (with a few exceptions). My best friends are Chinese and truly love my daughter and want to pass their culture on to her. I am sorry your community is not so. I would say that you do have to give it some time. Your daughter is young, also. Even if they have not broached the subject of racism with you, you may want to broach it with one of them, in a one on one context, discussing what happened with your daughter. This may help enable you to become closer. I would also consider looking at trying to become friends perhaps and what you can do to help them rather than the other way around. Some people like to have help with their English. There are going to be some who look down on her. There will be others who do not. I would also say to be respectful also. I see some American moms being very brash, nosy and demanding, and have not taught their children appropriate respect either. This kind of behavior can be a turn off for Chinese people. They have to see that you are real, that you care, that you are not just “using” them. All of this takes time. Sounds like you are making a good start. Don’t give up. My daughter does look Chinese (as opposed to some minority groups), but I have been told by one of her teachers that from her appearance she is either from the countryside or a minority group area. Everyone seems to love her anyway.

  19. I am a multicultural individual with a somewhat Asian appearance. I have received all kinds of negative and insensitive remarks from some white people. If you have never been there, you cannot understand. On the other hand, I would suggest that you ask another Asian mom in your school if her daughter/son has had to deal with this and how she responded. The reason it is dfficult is that all schools are different. All communities are different. Someone who is there can help more. Sometimes going to the teacher is the best thing to ask them to address if the teacher is supportive and it is that kind of school that addresses things like this. Sometimes the teacher is the problem. How I respond to things (and did respond in the past) is different in every situation.

  20. Sinoangle, I’m sorry for not giving credit where it is due. Thanks for catching my mistake and pointing it out, Resistance.

  21. lots here …. I am trying to respond to this in a somewhat timely fashion and though I read through those sites the other day obviously I need to go back …

    first, resistance – I did not have any intention of offending you or other commenters. Nonetheless, though without intent, apparently I have done so. I am very sorry. I acknowledge that I have much work to do and much changing to do. I do not know how to make amends. I am open to suggestions.

    As far as the friend I mentioned above – This particular person is not really my friend. Her husband and my husband are friends, and her husband and I are somewhat friends. She has tried to erase being Chinese from her life. This is her choice and her right. I happen to find it somewhat self-hating, but I acknowledge her perfect right to live this way. But if I am looking for adult role models of life as a Chinese individual in my daughter’s life, this will not be the person. She is also not likely to play much of a role in my daughter’s life because she does not like children in general. Before I had any she told me that she could barely stand children other than her own.

    I changed my daughter to these schools this year; her school last year was almost all white and if she had continued there she would have been the only nonwhite child in her class. She is friendly with some children and I am becoming friendly slowly with a couple of the parents. Playdates have been hard to arrange. Most families have both parents working. The mom I was most friendly with is likely to move far away this summer. Surely it is a terribly personal question to ask someone how they have dealt with racism in their own and their children’s lives. I will not be comfortable coming out and asking such a question until I know people very well. That will take a long time, if for no other reason than that it is my personality.

    I am being called and must go – I hope this has not further offended anyone.

  22. Dear No good adoptive parent.
    I would respectfully suggest that most people of color are not going to bring up racism with a white person.You are going to have to do it yourself. It isn’t fair for you, but many things have not been fair for your friends either. If you feel it is too personal to ask about their experience, you can ask a local person who knows the school/kids/teachers etc what they think you should do. You may have to get out of your comfort zone (personality). Even as we speak, I would imagine others have experience some racism as a daily occurence while you are thinking about this one.

    Just two days ago, an older white man standing next to me asked me if I was Korean. I told him, “No.” This did not stop him from decided to tell me about his “girlfriend’ in Korea during the war who told him she was 18 but looked “13” who did “everything” for him. That certainly didn’t stop him that she looked 13. What did I do? I was too disgusted to handle it politely so I just walked away. Others may have handled that differently. You may want to check out the heartmindseoul blog about the Korean adoptee adult who is dealing with your issue as a substitute teacher. She had the returning teacher do an education for the class.

  23. Dear no-good AP,

    Maybe this isn’t the best place for you to come for advice. Mollie, unfortunately, met each of your sincere requests for advice with condescension. She is perhaps a good analyst, but not yet a gifted teacher. She is unaware that her actions are counterproductive. This blog is a great read, certainly, but I bet you can find much better sources of support.

  24. Radiant, I think that this is a great place to come for education, thought-provoking posts, links and ideas about how to take action against institutional racism and individual racist acts.

    Regarding your comment about my comments… I don’t know that I am very good as an analyst. I’m working on it. Counterproductive? To whom? I’m an AP and I didn’t come here for “support” if by that you mean personal comfort. Actually, afflicting the comfortable seems more likely if you are a white reader of this blog. And, I’m thankful for this because I don’t see supporting me as a priviledged white woman as the role or function of this blog.

    I don’t consider my approach condescending. Instead, I view it as a kind of tough love for my white AP peers. I notice that you did not provide a single link or suggestion about those better sources of support that you believe are out there. Keep in mind that this is a comment section of a blog. To build a support system takes years of effort and intentionality. I’ve volunteered to provide off-line support to the individual who chose the pseudonym “a no-good AP.” What are you offering?

    Let’s keep in mind that this is a garden variety post on why Resistance hates adoptive parents. I think that the focus of APs should be on listening to her critique. Then, let’s act in such a way so that we give fewer, not more, reasons to deserve it.

  25. Resistance, thanks for this post, I was away when you posted it, but I have enjoyed reading it and the comments. Mollie, thank you always for your insight, links, and commitment, I appreciate that very much, and I agree with you about tough love.
    A no good Ap, first, the name you chose for yourself, it’s a bit passive aggressive in my opinion. Next, besides all the really good advice you got here, I just wanted to elaborate something, if you are looking for answers so that you,(selfishly) can be a better ap, my opinion and advice is that you will never fully be able to be a good parent to your child until you, yourself ,embrace social activism for YOU, until you unravel your own thoughts, ideas, and perceptions, until you actually come to terms as a white person of privilege in an unfair world of white supremacy, you will never be able to parent your child in any effective way that you seem to desire. I am glad that you want to learn how to prepare your child and I think it’s very perceptive that you realize that support will never come from other inexperienced and privileged fellow white parents. On the other hand, if you are looking for a monolithic answer to how to specifically prepare your child, I think that begins with you and how you choose to confront and address white supremacy, racism, and your privilege. No good AP, I think it begins with you, and not trying to dump on PoC or “panhandling” for answers.

  26. uh, hello.

    The name was inspired by the title of this post. I’d never been here before – came from the link Harlow’s Monkey posted.

    Mollie has not offended me, and I’m grateful for her thoughts – we are in contact off this list, as you can see above, having met here a few days ago.

    In fact, I hope this remark is not annoying to anyone – but no one here has offended me. It seems like all part of the learning process. I expect that the learning process shall be a long one and I do not expect it to be an unadulterated pleasure. No monolithic answers expected.

    It’s true, I am so selfish that I want to be a better parent. Even maybe a better person.

  27. Surely it is a terribly personal question to ask someone how they have dealt with racism in their own and their children’s lives. I will not be comfortable coming out and asking such a question until I know people very well.

    Okay, I was just surfing along, but you drew me in with this.

    As another white AP raising a mixed child, slightly more experienced as my kid is 9 years old now, I will respond to your inappropriately placed request for help, and challenge you with this: Pick one.

    Either you’re going to get over your discomfort and get help in talking to your kid about racism–or you’re not really committed to being the best parent to the child you have. Your discomfort about what a personal question it is to open up a conversation about racism can’t stop you. If you’re white you’ve been comfortable all your life, and you’re going to need to let go of that feeling as a right.

    I guarantee you that entitled racists of all races in our shared culture don’t feel a bit uncomfortable objectifying and insulting your daughter. They’re perfectly happy knowing that your exotic Asian child doesn’t belong here and that her alien status will follow her all of her life.

    So good luck with your stuff, but ‘honey I’m sorry’ ain’t gonna do it. If you don’t have a support community for your kid, of other Asian kids who live near you, get her one. Do it now.

    My third grader can call her ‘Super Friends’, who have all known each other since babyhood, when something happens that her white parents just won’t understand. Set that as a goal today, and you may be able to get there by late elementary school, which is typically when kids’ racism takes off.

    You can do this. We’re not the super-enlightened special good flavor of white people, we just perceived no alternatives.

  28. Well, how lucky, lucky, lucky you are to be able to have children biologically on your own and to be able to sit high on your throne condemning those of us who could never have families otherwise. Be thankful that you will never know nor experience the depth of despair of that infertility can cause.

  29. Hey Darth,
    Maybe you should read all the post and comments and get off of YOUR high horse. The issue is, if you are going to adopt transracially, you should raise that child immersed in their race and culture instead of being the only one of their race with nothing but a bunch of white folks around. So many people do this in spite of numerous books and blogs written by adult transracial adoptees about how hurtful this is. If you are NOT willing to do that, then don’t adopt transracially. It is that simple. It is NOT about meeting YOUR needs, it is about what is best for the CHILD. I am also an adoptive parent, and I have done this, and I personally don’t feel it is everyone’s “right” to adopt at the expense of what is best for CHILDREN. And even beyond that, what is best for ONE child may lead to a demand for healthy children from a particular country leading a bunch of other kids to be kidnapped from their parents. So please get over yourself and read this list to learn!!! It is not all about you. Yes, infertility can be painful. But it is also painful to have a child, and then have that child kidnapped from you just so some white couple in America can have a healthy baby. It is also painful to be a Black or Latino or Asian child when everyone else is white. Look beyond yourself at someone else’s pain.

  30. It is painful to be a black or Latino or Asian child when everyone else is white.

    Oh, so there are no Americans Indians, no Pacific Islanders? Let alone, those of us who are adoptees. I read this entry feeling like I just saw something I could relate to as a person of color raised in a white household with racists. But people like me don’t even fucking exist in our own goddamn homeland. Wake up, because you are in North America.

    Now I’m just more depressed.

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