Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Eyes Wide Open: Reactions

Wow, the interest in the article about the white father who required his adopted Asian daughter to undergo medically unnecessary surgery to "Westernize" her eyes has brought lots of reactions -- universally horrified reactions, I'm pleased to say.

On Twitter, for example, lots of re-tweets to get the word out, prefaced by lots of "WTF?" and "OMG" comments:
WTF...?? RT @ulb: OMG @adoptiontalk Surgery to Westernize the eyes of an adoptedAsian child: #adoption #race #racism

On Facebook, someone (I have no idea who, but I do know that Wendy also posted it, and I am appreciative!) posted it last night and brought in over 100 hits in one hour.

And these two bloggers have posted their reactions (and be sure to read the interesting comments at their blogs):

At American Family, an important point -- that we make choices for our children every day that can cut them off from their identity as effectively as a scalpel can:
We all know those parents who say “I am not going to make my child learn Chinese now, when they are old enough they can make that decision on their own;” or “She can move to a city/neighborhood with more Asians when she grows up if that is important to her;” or any of the 10,o00 variations on that theme, how is that really so very different?

Let’s not kid ourselves here, choosing to learn Chinese/travel to China/participate in Asian American activities/be a member of the Asian American community when your parents have never prioritized your Chineseness might feel like you are making an obvious choice to reject your parents’ culture/parenting/community etc. It might be too hard or too late or too awkward to comfortably make that decision by the time you are an adult.

As a matter of fact, who can say how late is too late? My kids arealready thinking about this stuff now at ages 3 and 6.

It isn’t just a scalpel that can do that kind of damage to our children’s identity. The choices we make as parents — as WHITE parents who adopted Children of Color — that are impacting our child’s ability to make their own choices about his or her identity. Every minute of every day.
And from an adult adoptee at Pound Puppy Legacy, after noting a feeling of hope that even adoptive parents are talking about this case with horror, an understandibly angry reaction in An Eye-Opening Look at the Power of an AP:
When I was a sophomore in high school, my Amother told me my birthday gift was going to take care of a problem. In my case, my "problem" was my nose. According to my Amother, it was too big... too ethnic. It had to be fixed. I had to be fixed. If I got fixed, more people would like me. If I got my face fixed, everything would be perfect.

As my stupid luck would have it, the plastic surgeon she chose for me was old (close to death/retirement) and not that great. As a result of that surgery, I have these annoying nodules I'd like to have removed, but won't because it's not anything I can afford to do... and quite honestly, I wouldn't want a plastic surgeons nose, anyway. My annoying nodules give me "character"... a quality many seem to like, once they get to know me. [Anyone see the irony in that statement?]
I shared the link to my blog post with the colleague (who, btw, is not a member of the adoption triad) who first told me about the article, and this is what she had to say:
I read the comments and appreciate the concerns raised by the adoptive parents. This article was one of several originally published in the Hastings Center Report about parents consenting to medically unnecessary cosmetic procedures for their children. Some countries are considering banning such surgeries in persons under 18. While I think the westernizing of children’s eyes is particularly repugnant, the whole idea of parents seeking out cosmetic surgery to make their children “better” than “normal” bothers me greatly.
I'm pleased that there are others who want to keep the conversation going. This issue is, of course, larger than this child and larger than unnecessary surgery, as appalling as that is. It's about the importance of identity, and what adoptive parents can and should do -- and should not do -- to foster positive racial identity in their children. And it's about adoption generally, and the absolute NEED for adoptive parents to unconditionally love and accept their children EXACTLY AS THEY ARE.

No comments: