So you don’t have to™

Yoli somewhat presciently noted that I was unlikely to want to see Wo Ai Ni Mommy.

And yet I did.  What can I say, it is on the internet. I’m much more likely to watch a documentary if I don’t have to change out of my pajamas.

I knew this film was going to be bad, but I refrained from saying so to avoid the grief I get despite the fact that I am always right.  For example, I saw this and it was maybe even worse than I predicted or could have imagined.  If that is even possible. And I was completely right about this book.  It even had those misspelled italicized phrases.

But people are always screaming “How can you criticize something when you haven’t even seen it/read it yet?”

Hey, I can tell it’s a duck before it walks or quacks.

And I knew this film was going to be maddening and infuriating and awful.  It was.  And in addition it was terribly heartbreaking and sad. 

The duck was easy to spot.  First, the story is about an eight-year-old who is adopted from China by a white American family.  It is her story, but it is not hers to tell.  I have a problem with adoptive parents spreading their kids’ lives all over the internet.  Because there is no way a child of that age can make an informed choice.  Not that anybody ever gave the subject of this documentary a choice.

But she’s treated as if she is truly being given a choice.  A choice to embrace an “American” name.  A choice to move halfway around the world with strangers.

Her adoptive mother phrases commands as “choices” quite a bit:  Say you’re sorry or go to your room!

The little girl notes in one case that she didn’t have a choice.  And she never really did.

Let’s look at the naming issue as one example.  One of the first things her new adoptive mother wants the orphanage worker to ask the little girl is whether she likes the new name chosen for her.  We’ve written extensively about naming before.  (Apparently immigrating to the U.S. no longer means a new name.  If it ever did.)  And I just can’t imagine renaming an eight-year-old.

Adoptive parents often talk about renaming as a choice.  They boast about how their children wanted a new “American” name.  They talk about how their kids can always go back to using their original names.  They keep the original name as a middle name.  They claim the kids embraced their new names.

Yeah, if you can say a kid embraces a life preserver when she’s thrown out to sea.

Let’s be perfectly clear here:  They aren’t giving the child a choice.  First, there is a power differential.  But in addition, if they really were going to give the kid a choice, they’d leave the name alone. But the paperwork reveals the parents’ choice:  The new name.

How many adoptive parents do you know who kept their child’s name in its original form?  I don’t know any.  How many kept their personal names?  I know just a few.

The orphanage worker in this case doesn’t talk about the name as a choice to the child.  She tells the little girl her “new” name and tells her to say “Yes!” when her new mother calls her.

It all seems so accommodating.  That would be my criticism of the adoption process in China.  It’s about accommodation.  Not necessarily about the kids.  This is the reason that flocks of prospective adoptive parents are drawn to China.  Agencies talk about the streamlined process, the single trip.

But the handover appalled me.  Here ya go, kid.  Bye.  Have a good life.  The little girl in this documentary had a teddy bear, some hair clips, a picture album of her new adoptive family and a barbie doll.  All of which were shoved into a plastic bag.  We learn later that her foster mother gave her many photographs, but she no longer has them on her adoption day.

And her adoptive parent has not been advised to bring a small suitcase or bag for her.  Like foster kids in the U.S., all her belongings clutched in a grocery bag.

The parents seemed woefully unprepared, especially given the fact that they were adopting an older child.  They did not appear to have learned even rudimentary Chinese phrases.  And yet the adoptive mother is unsympathetic when her new daughter balks at language drills, saying it’s “too hard.”  In a voiceover, the mother says something like “She’s thinking this is too hard, why don’t you learn Chinese?”  Yet it does not seem to have occurred to the adoptive mother that perhaps she might have tried.

(Maybe adoption training could involve dropping adoptive parents in another country with no money or access to telephones and see how that pointing and gesturing strategy works.)

The mom badgers the child to Sit up! and learn her lessons.  And this segues into a truly awful segment where the adoptive mother lectures the girl about how she has another Chinese kid at home who speaks English and how the mother loves her.  And she asks the little girl if she is ugly because she’s a white person.

The whole time I was thinking Oh fuck no.

Because I tend to believe that as awful as people will be in the presence of others, they will probably behave even worse when nobody is watching or the cameras aren’t rolling.  So I wondered just what this little girl was subjected to while she was still in China waiting to leave for the U.S.

Strangely enough, the adoptive mother didn’t seem prepared for the criticism she has received since the film was broadcast.   I don’t know what she imagined the response would be.  But she obviously never thought too hard about it being negative.  And she never thought about opening her child’s life up for public consumption.   Yet here it is.  If there is an eternity, it is on the internet.

She talks about how she didn’t want to be seen as saving a child.  And yet she can be found here and there on the internet, defending, defending, defending.  Talking about her child’s medical needs and how much the surgery costs and how she couldn’t get that in China.  Like many other adoptive parents, she sees criticism of adoption as a personal attack.  The response to this attack typically runs along the lines of what a shitty life the kid would have in China.

That isn’t the answer.  The answer is to address how we could do this differently.  Any other response implies the child should be grateful.  So quit complaining, already, you angry adoptees!

There was a bunch of other crap in here, like when the mother talks about how she doesn’t see the kid as Chinese (she sees her as a “beautiful girl”), a scene of a birthday party with all white friends, a FCC New Year Party (Chinese New Year without Chinese adults!), the kid wanting to go back to China, a creepy thing with the father saying he’s always been “all things China … martial arts,” and a strange little add-on at the end with Dr. Amanda Baden.


PS:  But don’t take my word for it.  If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can watch it over at the PBS site.  While you’re there, you might want to watch First Person Plural.  Which won’t leave you with the sense of having lost more than an hour of your life, forever.  Remember, we watch so you don’t have to™.

39 thoughts on “So you don’t have to™

  1. I’d really been putting off watching this because I was afraid it would just make me angry, now I don’t have to. thanks for the report!

  2. Ok, since these things typically won’t let you forward to the end, and since you so graciously subjected yourself already…the part I’m interested in is the “strange add-on.” What did Amanda Baden talk about?

    Oh, and I’ll second the recommendation for First Person Plural. Nicely done. Looking forward to her next film, which is airing soon.

  3. I don’t think I could subject myself to this movie. So, thanks for the review because now I don’t have to!

    On the subject of names…I automatically think you’re a POS if you change your child’s name when you adopt. Period. Yeah, yeah I get criticized for viewing adoptive parents so harshly but I don’t care. That’s your kid’s name. Perhaps the one lasting link to their birth parents. If you change it, you’re an asshole. I don’t care if everything else about you is awesome and you crap unicorns. You are an ass. Especially if you adopt a child older than 1. And don’t give me the line about choice. Like you said, there is a power differential. If your child chooses to change his/her name when they are an adult for whatever reason then that is fine. But if you choose to change it before then, you’re a POS.

  4. Thanks for this review, and again for watching this kind of crap so I don’t have to.

    Melanie, you’re not harsh, but have you considered that you’re a bit broad with that brush? Many children who have been abused and neglected express the desire for a new first name to go with their new life, especially those coming from foster care.

    It’s unkind and obnoxious for adoptive parents to refuse the child that accommodation, but it happens every day…one more thing that the adoptee has no choice about. And most likely she will be challenged to come up with the hundreds of dollars in court fees later. And shows no respect for the adoptee as a thinking person with agency.

    Point being, if the child initiates the idea on her own, it’s a small thing (to everyone else) that her new family can give her control over.

    However, I’m not holding out a lot of hope for the kid in this movie being handed the reins about any decision of importance to her parents, anytime real soon. ‘Am I ugly?’ Seriously? Oh no you didn’t.

  5. I think Melanie is saying that a parent changing a child’s name is wrong, not that a parent supporting a child in their expressed wish to change their name is wrong.

  6. Melanie, I somewhat agree with you, but what if the child has an extremely ethnic name that would stand out in a non-minority family? I am not sure if it would be better to keep his/her name completely unchanged in such a scenario. Would he/she be upset once again at being the only “different” one – in name and in appearance?

  7. Changing the child’s name indicates that it’s the child’s problem for standing out (why don’t the other family members change their names to match the child’s?), and changing the child’s name would have no impact on family appearance.

  8. Yeah, that’s the way racism functions. People don’t suggest trying to eliminate racism; they instead suggest the victim should try not to attract racist attention.

  9. I wrestled with the idea of watching this the other night to see if it would be as bad as I expected, and decided I simply didn’t have the time or energy to devote to a frustrating hour of arguing with my television. And, I secretly hoped that it would be a “So you don’t have to” post. I’m sorry to see that it was even worse than I thought; please know that your efforts are appreciated.

    Melanie, I’m in agreement regarding the name change issue. I’ve heard the excuses before:

    “My child WANTED an American name!” Funny how the child’s desire aligns so perfectly with the parent’s needs.

    “We worried about our child feeling different.” And the name is the easiest thing we could change without having to take any responsibility for that.

    “We didn’t want everyone to mispronounce and misspell their name.” So we went with Jaxsyn or Rhys instead.

    “We’re choosing a new name from their culture.” Jade and lilies count, don’t they?

    “My child gets to keep their original name- now she’s Peytyn (we just looooove that name!) Eileen (after MY grandmother) XXXX (we don’t know if that’s her “real” name, anyways) Brooks…and if she decides she wants to be XXXX when she turns 18 we’ll support her!” I wish I were kidding.

    Of course, when a child is old enough to rename him or herself and wants to, they should be allowed, but to meet a child and tell them that you are going to call them by a new name of your own choosing is a seriously f-ed up abuse of power.

    June, a Chinese name is no more “ethnic” than a white Anglo-Saxon one; white names are not racially/ethnically neutral. Bestowing a white name on an adopted child who is the sole person of color in their family does absolutely nothing to reduce that child’s feeling of “standing out” or being the only different one. Because the child will *still* stand out and *still* be the only different one regardless of their name due to their visible difference. Why is it the child’s responsibility to change her identity? We should be asking why it’s acceptable for white families to adopt children who will be living in racial isolation. If the family is so white that the child will stand out, it’s not the child that is the problem.

    This post by an adult adoptee covers the issue well, and although it’s from over two years ago, I’ll never forget it:

  10. @Melanie: co-sign with everything you’ve said. Changing a child’s name sure makes it easier on the AP. A name is part of an identity and your roots – you want to take that away from your kid? I mean, what the fuck. all these shitty lame excuses about how it will help the kid “assimilate better.” Yes, let’s try to accommodate the fucked up system instead of doing what’s best for our child.

  11. @Melanie, I did keep my kids real name, I also gave them an anglo name, they are interchangeable for them, me personally, I did ask around when trying to figure out what to do, my decision to both retain and also give an addl name came after a lot of thought and maybe it will be the wrong decision, but it was the best I could think of at the time. Thanks for your strong opinion on this subject.

    Resistance, great post, thank you!

  12. Wow, even after your post I didn’t expect it to be as disgusting as it was. My fiance and I were watching it and feeling physically ill. What a condescending and insensitive family.

  13. [As a white parent to a child of color, I need to learn how to speak with people of color and hear their anger. I will try to understand the concept of sanctuary. And when I share, I will try to do so in a non-defensive manner. Because my children are always listening.]

  14. We adopted kids from a foreign country — not China, but a very foreign country. We did all sorts of pre-adoption classes — adopting foreign kids, adopting older kids, on and on and on . . . But we were still taken aback when we phoned the agency to say we had picked up the kids from their escort, and we were all home now, and their first question was “Did you have press present?” and the second was “Are you changing their names?”

    We were shocked — the very idea! of changing their names, their perfectly fine names that they were used to, so that what, they would look less foreign? Not gunna happen. And press? This is a family event and we’re not celebrities, so we are mercifully free of the burden of being looked at by everybody and their bad-mannered brother.

    Kids don’t have choices about a lot of things. These kids just barely had a choice about joining our family — it’s bad enough to lose your parents, but to have to go to a country that is very different from yours in practically every way in order to find a new family — I can’t even imagine it. But they “chose” to do it, on condition that they would not be separated from their sibs. Some kids don’t even get that choice.

  15. Forgot to say, we did learn quite a lot of their language. Learned to make bi-lingual puns, learned enough to chastise a kid when he said something rude in his native language. These events, even the last kind, were real family-builders. The kids laughed with delight every time. And they were delighted that the name of the son we already had was phonetically identical to a common name in the country they came from.

  16. The documentary sounds truly horrific. I made plenty of mistakes when we adopted our children, but my screw-ups (and more importantly, the heartache they caused my kids) are not for public consumption. Their pain is private, and adoption, for them, began as a series of terrible losses. It is not the sort of thing that I care to have broadcasted.

    I’m an adoptive parent who did not change my kids’ names. We also added back their father’s name, which the Ethiopian government removed during the adoption process. So, now you know one adoptive family who did.

    I agree that there is no reason on God’s green earth that a family should change a child’s name after an adoption, unless, like a previous commenter mentioned, the child has a history of trauma or abuse attached to their name, and without any suggestion at all from their parents, requests a change of name. And honestly, even then, I’d hesitate.

  17. This film was painful to watch. I got the impression that the adoptive mother was picking out the equivalent of her favorite breed of exotic dog when she said she saw only a beautiful child. It seemed the richness of that eight year old’s life experiences were to be left behind.

    The film seemed almost like satire when the adoptive mother commented about how good it was to get back among English-speakers, after she had been relentlesly drilling such vital vocabulary into the girl as the word “bagel.”

    Later the adoptive mother admits to solipsism, saying she was adopting to provide something missing in her life. More troubling is the fact that the filmmaker believed this couple was more intelligent in the way they were going after adoption than the many other couples she interviewed.

    And so much for the girl’s disabilities — when the girl complained the book being heavy, does adoptive mom take into account the girl’s weak wrists? No, the girl needs to “work hard.”

    This brings me to the problem of adopted children being subjected to a fringe pop psychotherapy called “Attachment Therapy/Parenting.” In this highly abusive 24/7 program, the adopted child must do all the work “to earn a family.”

    It was disappointing that POV recommended the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute as a resource. Their executive director Adam Pertman has assisted in the promotion of Attachment Therapy via a recently published book entitled “Adoption Parenting.” Numerous USA organizations that focus on Chinese adoptions are also gungho on Attachment Therapy/Parenting.

    Attachment Therapy is much more brutal than I could describe here. I highly recommend a blogsite for survivors and the personal stories found here, written by now-adult adoptees:

  18. I saw this film and it was difficult to watch. Perhaps the weirdest part was that bizarre birthday party with all of the little girls dressed up in very ‘mature’ clothing with lots of make-up on and they were on stage dancing around. First of all, that kind of party just makes my skin crawl and to see this little girl so entrenched in that part of our culture, I found that appalling.

    I could not help but think about how females in China are so under-valued, such a long history of the exaltation of the first born male child and the abandonment and murder of first born daughters. I kept thinking about how this history has affected these daughters, how they ended up coming to live in America. Adoption is complicated, yes, and the cultural history of the treatment of women in China, only makes it more so.

  19. i only made it to the 47 minute mark before the anger made it impossible to continue. i’d really like to email this woman and give her a piece of my mind. the piece that’s angry and violent.

    the fact that she didn’t think it was important to learn any Chinese, refused to get a translator because “that would be a crutch,” and then insisted that an 8 year old that she knows doesn’t speak English COMMUNICATE her needs to her is simply infuriating. and i’m not even going to go there about “Faith” being her “American” name.

    because people in America don’t have Chinese names????

  20. The link to First Person Plural does add an ironic twist to the whole subject of naming, I found myself crying through out that documentary, thanks for the link. I didn’t know it was available.

  21. No comment on the rest as I haven’t seen it yet, but the names issue – we have an open international adoption. Our kids family do not have a surname that’s fixed exactly, and we flipped a coin to decide how to double barrel our names for the family name. It’s a little different in Singapore because just about everyone has an english name and a mother tongue name, so it’s no big deal to swap names around socially. My eldest uses her birth name at home and sometimes out, but has recently started using her english name (she chose it off a phonetic shortlist we gave her when we had to apply for her passport) as her work/school name. The second loathes her middle english name and never uses it, preferring the name she was given by a foster family and then sometimes her birth name. The third kid tosses back and forth between his birth name (what our family uses), his english name at school because he likes that it’s two-syllables, and sometimes his baptismal name given much later. The youngest, poor little guy, has now four first names – a never used english one, except when I am yelling his full name at him, his foster family name he uses mostly, his birth name that only his birth family really uses now, or when his sisters are talking about him in Vietnamese, and his baptismal name which he is starting to use more and more. Which is Russian.

    I switched to my middle name as a teenager and think that names are incredibly powerful. They’re not always freely given – one of my kids has a name given with negative connotations which is a struggle – but they matter. Or more importantly – they matter to the kid who should get to chose what to use. And chose freely, not with a parent scowling or slipping over the name, showing disapproval.

    Although the phase when one decided she was going to be called Delenn and the other decided he would only answer to Spike was a bit odd.

    It’s code-switching. People aren’t a single identity, but fluid depending on circumstances, and adoptive kids, esp. internationally, have even more identities to bring together and balance.

  22. Transracial adoption by white US parents should be banned. Period. If they’re so desperate, they can ask some poor white woman to pop one out for them. I hear that was the subject of a recent indie movie.

  23. I have a de facto foster sister who has been with our family for 12 years, since she was 2. (De facto because it isn’t legal. Essentially her family dropped her off and didn’t come back for her, although it’s a longer story than that.) Her legal name is still her original name, but she has taken to adopting the same last name as the rest of the family at school, on FB, etc. But it is her choice, not one that’s being foisted on her. And if she wants to legally change her name when she’s old enough, we’ll help her do that. The important thing is that it is what she wants.

  24. I watched it. I had some of the same issues that you did with it as well. It bugged me that Dad thought “watching a Bruce Lee movie” was helpful in understanding & embracing Chinese culture. However, as a mom with a daughter adopted from China, this program helped me as it did cause me to face issues that I’ve never confronted before…such as: how do I help my daughter to embrace her Chinese heritage? how can I help her deal with conflicting feelings about her adoption? how can I help her hold on to that part of herself in her life before me? I do commend this family for being willing to share their story.

  25. [I don’t read this blog regularly, so I didn’t realize that at least nine of the above commenters are adoptive parents and at least five are white people. So I guess adoptive parents and white people are allowed to comment on this thread.]

  26. I have the greatest respect for people who watch horrible things so I don’t have to. I watched the trailer and that was bad enough. I am, practically speaking white, but of my 9 children, four are non-white. (Five are adopted.)

    I will never cease to be amazed at what people will do to “keep their kids in touch with their heritage”. Watch Bruce Lee movies? Ouch. You know (or maybe you don’t), there are kids from the US adopted overseas all the time. I wonder if their adoptive parents take them to Chuck Norris movies to “keep them in touch with their heritage”.

    As I said above, we adopted from overseas. To keep our kids in touch with their heritage, we sought out immigrants from their country before they arrived, to educate ourselves about their culture. After they were here, we continued to keep in touch with people from their country, and we took them to a church of their religion as often as we could manage it (200 mile round trip). We learned simple sentences in their language, while they were learning simple sentences in ours. They are now adults, but are still in close touch with the immigrant communities in the cities in which they now live. They were fortunate enough to find some of their actual relatives in these communities, but even if they had not, it was an invaluable experience for them.

    In one case, our son complained to the pastor of the church we were taking them to, about the religious practices of his (new) older brother, and was surprised when the pastor gave him a lesson in the virtues of freedom of religion, something that was more theoretical than actual where they came from.

    A family in our congregation adopted a black girl (they had four kids, all boys and wanted a daughter). This little tyke showed up at 14 months with long beaded hair extensions, and when we commented on it, her mother said, “We want to keep her in touch with her culture”. She is, was, the only toddler I have ever seen with such an elaborate hair style. I can’t imagine how she was able to sit still that long. But then, these people were never satisfied with their kids. They sent every one of them to Wilderness School, because they wanted their attitudes adjusted, even the girl, who
    was as wonderful and as well-adjusted a child as I have ever met. Adoptive or not, there are some people who shouldn’t be allowed to have kids. Not that I have any idea how to enforce that without the most terrible of oppressive government oversight.

    As for integrating foreign kids into the community, I am surprised that I never hear this advice: As soon as you know your new child’s age and sex, sign him or her up for AYSO. Soccer is played everywhere. And the rules are the same everywhere. It provides the child with a ready made bunch of friends and a lot of easy, natural language lessons (although I do remember even in my son’s second year in AYSO, running along the sidelines to interpret for him — Coach: “Stay back ten feet!” Mom: “Sost mater! Sost mater!!” — frantic hand gestures). Okay, now some of you know where my kids are from.

  27. We are guilty of keeping our daughter’s given name as a middle name (for reasons that made sense to me at the time, and which I won’t go into b/c I know you’ve heard them all before).

    Still, I can’t *fathom* adoptive parents who don’t bother to learn any of their child’s language. We met an adoptive father at the airport with his new daughter (4 or 5 years old, I think), and I asked him if she spoke Mandarin or Cantonese or what, and he just shrugged — he had NO IDEA. You’d think he’d at least learn basic phrases (are you hungry/do you have to pee/etc.), if only for practical reasons.

    Our daughter was under a year old and wasn’t talking yet when we met her, but I learned a bit of Mandarin anyhow, and it’s been very helpful — I knew that “nai-nai” wasn’t gibberish, it was a request for milk; I knew that “mao” wasn’t a mispronunciation of “meow.”

    (Of course, to me it’s been most helpful b/c it helps us support her knowledge of Mandarin, but I suppose if you don’t especially want your kid to retain any of her first language, that wouldn’t be a plus …)

  28. I find the reasons people change their kids’ names very interesting. I just don’t like the reasons contrasted against That Other Country Where Kids Were Abandoned And They Do Bad Things. Or Those Birthparents Who Were Abusive and Neglectful and Never Cared for You.

    Kids hear their parents were bad, internalize that they are bad. Kids hear that their country is bad, internalize that they are bad. How to deal with difficult truths?

    Criticism of adoption practices is not a call for adoptive parents to defend those practices by saying how shitty the kids’ lives would be if not adopted. It is a call for change.

  29. Criticism of adoption practices is not a call for adoptive parents to defend those practices by saying how shitty the kids’ lives would be if not adopted. It is a call for change.

    There was a blog post at Kad Nexus, where an adult adoptee shared that while she loved her adoptive parents and felt lucky that they were her parents, she would never wish adoption on any child.

    I try to think of that when I raise my kids, that it is helpful for me to remember that each and every part of them makes them whole, not bits and pieces of who and what we might want them to be.
    In a way, I have come to love my children and see myself as not just an adoptive parent, but also a guardian, looking out for them the best I can, with their interests always in my heart, and always with the paradoxi in mind, that adult adoptees have referred to.

    Thank you so much Resistance, for your blog.

  30. Criticism of adoption practices is not a call for adoptive parents to defend those practices by saying how shitty the kids’ lives would be if not adopted. It is a call for change.
    I remember an adult adoptee on KAD NEXUS a while ago, saying that she loved her adoptive parents, even felt lucky that they were her parents, but that she wouldn’t wish adoption on any child.

  31. Much of what you’ve written above is necessary criticism.

    However, I just want to point something out. You wrote “flocks of prospective adoptive parents are drawn to China”
    In 2008, there were 3911 adoptions from China. In the same year, there were about 54,510 adoptions from US foster care.

    Please be a little more careful about painting all adoptive parents with the same wide brush. Just like our children, we are a diverse group of individuals.

  32. adoptive mom, not sure what you mean. That paragraph addresses adoption practices for China.

    Psychobabbler, you can move the slider to the end on the PBS films. I should have been clearer when I said Dr. Baden’s part was a strange add-on. What I meant was that it just seems dropped in without any context, no transition. Also that I thought what the parents said was kind of strange.

  33. Thank you a thousand times for the First Person Plural recommendation. As painful as it is to watch, it is the story of an adult adoptee as told by the adoptee herself, rather than the exploitative story of how some Americans bought an adorable puppy that would surely have been put to sleep otherwise, but which was nevertheless expected to already be housebroken and obedience trained. FPP is a splendid antidote to Wo Ai Ni Mommy.

    Poor “Faith” was given an “American” name that neither she nor her adoptive Chinese sister could pronounce! It kept coming out sounding like “Fate” instead, which points up the nightmare irony of adoption quite nicely. After all, Sandra Bullock’s adopted son was “always” hers, and Rosie O’Donnell’s kids were placed, apparently by god, in the “wrong tummies.” Surely “Faith’s” pain was meant to be because her a’dad likes Bruce Lee films.

    I am very glad Wo Ai Ni was filmed by someone who spoke “Faith”‘s language. I can only imagine how different it might have looked had it been shot by, say, an American adopter of a Chinese daughter. As it is, Wo Ai Ni is as difficult to watch as it should be.

    I suspect there are a very, very few white Americans out there who could adopt outside their race and culture with eyes unclouded by privilege, but such couples are a tiny percentage of Americans. That tiny percentage doesn’t justify what so many Americans do in the name of building a family, saving a child, or whatever rationale helps them sleep at night. It certainly doesn’t justify what internationally adopted children go through.

    I’m the white American adopted child of white Americans. Growing up like that was hard enough.

  34. I never had the chance to watch “First Person Plural” but because of this post and the following discussion thread I made sure to catch Deann Borshay Liem’s second film on PBS “In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee” and was very impressed. I definitely recommend watching it. Thanks to the foreknowledge provided by Resist Racism’s So you don’t have to(TM) efforts, I chose not to watch “Wo Ai Ni Mommy” and avoided the subsequent taste of exploitation of Fang Sui Yong. One of the most important differences between the two pieces is ownership and personal power. In Deann Borshay Liem’s case she is both subject and storyteller and therefore is in charge of the production whereas Fang Sui Yong is relegated to mere object with no input into the telling of her own story.

  35. thank u SO much for watching this horrible horrible thing so that I don’t have to watch it.

    i WOULD watch it but I’m not a masochist and I don’t wanna end up upchucking all night.

    I feel bad for that kid….I really do. Why do they CONTINUE to let people who are OBVIOUSLY unprepared for international adoptions to adopt internationally? WHY?!

    I’m glad to hear chinese families in china are now adopting more….because I pity any kid who ends up here with a douchebag of a mom,

    Btw, it seems to me it is always the least qualified people who feel compelled to adopt internationally (i’m guessing they have a savior complex)

    I knew a girl from childhood whose mom decided a few years ago that she wnated to adopt a kid from china. I told my friend to discourage her mom with ALL HER STRENGTH. You want to know why? My friend is adopted. She’s a white female, blond, blue eyes, and yet her adoptive parents managed to completely mess her up (I won’t go into the details). Imagine what’ll happen if they adopted a kid who isn’t even white.

    It seems to me that my friend’s mom wanted to adopt a chinese kid because she felt that her current kid (my friend) was messed up because my friend is a regular “bad caucasian spoiled brat” and she thinks a chinese baby will prove to be the perfect child (model minority, accomplished etc etc) which’ll prove she really IS a success at parenting…and any problem that her current kid has is all the kid’s fault and not her’s.

    I cannot express HOW terrible my friend’s parents are. I’ve been to her house LOTS of times when I was a kid……and….it was NOT GOOD.

  36. I remember reading this post a couple of weeks ago, having never heard of the movie. Tonight I wandered into the room while my MIL was watching it. I could only sit through half an hour or so, because dear lord, it was as bad as you said.

    THEY CHANGED HER NAME. This child is eight. She has a life. She has an identity. I felt sick thinking of what it must be like, to have someone yank you from your friends and drag you to a country where you don’t know anyone, and almost no one looks like you, and you don’t speak the language or know the customs, and YOU DON’T EVEN GET TO KEEP YOUR NAME. They stripped away everything that was familiar to her, to make it easier for THEM to assimilate her into their family.

    And this mother, who didn’t bother to learn a single word of her “daughter”‘s language – who even noted how nice it was to be around people who spoke her language – got frustrated when “Faith”* wasn’t willing to “work hard” to learn a language that she didn’t choose to learn. This kid didn’t ask to be uprooted from her culture. She didn’t ask to spend weeks unable to make her needs known because her new “family” couldn’t be bothered to learn HER language and REFUSED to provide an interpreter. I mean, did they even see her as a human being?

    Gah! And that’s just the few minutes I was able to sit through. I commend you for watching the whole thing.

    *I missed the first part of the film. Was her actual name given?

  37. Unfortunately, this happened to my cousin. My aunt and uncle got her from Vietnam when she about 7 or 8 (she’s older than me, so I’m not sure), and decided to rename her with a combination of both of their names – because just giving her a new name wasn’t presumptuous enough, I suppose. As far as I’m aware, they never lived anywhere around or had any contact with any other Asians at all. They barely had any contact with my family, and we’re the only ones with any brown people at all.

    I can’t imagine that kind of life. Awful.

  38. Pingback: The Fallacy of Choice In Names « Exile of Xingnan

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