Full of fail.

“It was the best day, but a powerful day,” Kiernan recalls about the day she and husband Bob Lazeski adopted their daughter Anna from Anhui province. “As we passed rice fields and people with oxen it struck me that we were taking Anna from her culture.”

Probably not the best day for her, but whatever. Also, China isn’t just about rice fields and people with oxen. We have that here in the U.S. too, you know.

“Over the years we’ve done a lot to share ancient Chinese traditions with our families,” says Kiernan, who is also [Families with Children from China’s] current president.

Ahhh! Not ancient Chinese secrets, I hope!

“As they’ve (the adoptees) gotten older, they realize by the quirk of luck, they were lucky enough to hook up with their forever families,” says Mary Hammele, 52, of Fairport, co-chair of the Teen Group Fashion Show at FCC.

Apparently “hook up” doesn’t mean the same thing to Ms. Hammele as it does to me. But good thing they recognize their luck. We wouldn’t want any ungrateful adoptees. No sirree.

“We tell our families that ‘When you adopt internationally you are not just adopting a child, but a culture,’ ” says Kathryn Young, an adoption social worker at the Catholic Family Center. “Maintaining a child’s cultural heritage is a big part of the adoption process.”

Young says things adoptive families can do to help their internationally adopted child maintain their heritage are: travel to the child’s birth country, hang artwork from the native country in the home, prepare traditional foods and experience cultural events and activities like the fashion show.

No actual people are involved, however. Hey, I’ve been to England. I have some artwork from there. Also I can cook some of the traditional foods like fish and chips, plus I speak English. Never been to a fashion show, however. But it sounds like I’ve been maintaining my English cultural heritage. Except I haven’t got one.

Yeah, I guess I could give you a link. But do you really need the aggravation? I didn’t. We read it so you don’t have to.™ You’re welcome.


5 thoughts on “Full of fail.

  1. The worst part is that these are parents whose kids are in their late teens now. Not new adoptive parents with babies. Oh, and a social worker as well.

  2. Yes, some of this thinking is misguided, but it’s a bit unfair that you quote the most provocative sections of the article without even including a link to it so people can read it and make their own judgments. I googled it, and quotes like these- “We tell our families that when you adopt internationally you are not just adopting a child, but a culture,’ ” says Kathryn Young, an adoption social worker at the Catholic Family Center. “Maintaining a child’s cultural heritage is a big part of the adoption process.”- go some way to addressing the one-note exoticization that you imply.

    Yes, it is important when raising a child of color or having undergone transracial adoption to address racism directly and to make multicultural education a key feature in family life. And for all we know, that may be done in these families. That there are no quotes about this can be attributed to the fact that it’s an article about a fashion show. Not exactly high-brow fare, and these anecdotes shouldn’t be used to demonize families who in their own ways are trying to give their children a sense of their past and history. In fact, the fashion show features Asian-American designers in an attempt to provide professional role models of color to their children, and the event supports the very admirable cause of assisting children who have aged-out of the Chinese adoption program. As a person who is part of the Chinese diaspora in Asia, learning about and practicing my traditions is an important part of how I self-identify, and in fact the mockery that the phrase “ancient chinese traditions” has evoked in the previous poster and the post feels racist and personally offensive. It is a fact that many of our practices are both ancient and chinese, and it is actually something about which I take great pride.

    I recognize that there are many issues and problems in transracial adoption, but it would be much more helpful to discuss these in a balanced and constructive manner.

    I apologize for the length of this response and for the slightly huffy tone. I simply wish to provide a somewhat more balanced perspective to what seems like a shallow, knee-jerk post. I do applaud the purpose of this blog and want you to know that I mean no offense.

  3. Okay. I admit to a bit of fail on my part for not realizing that the quote I used was in fact included in the original post. I suppose to summarize what I mean- Yes, these things that the families do may seem one-dimensional and insufficient, but while serious discussions of race and difference with a transracially adopted child are important, they do not render physical manifestations and appreciation of the child’s culture any less so. I am not American, I am Chinese and live in Asia, and things like food and celebrating cultural holidays are not the fetishized idea of Chinese culture imagined by white parents. They are genuinely important to me and my family and friends.

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