Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I hate China, so I'll adopt from there!

Why do people with so little understanding of China adopt from there?
Just before Christmas in 1999, I got off a flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco with a frail, 13-month-old baby girl in my arms. Until a week before, that baby had lived in a Chinese orphanage after being abandoned at a railway station, with little care or nourishment in her first year of life. But now she was about to spend the rest of her life as my daughter, and a citizen of the United States. When we got off the plane after what had been an arduous, emotional and unexpectedly life-changing journey, I held that baby up to the window of the galley way so she could catch a glimpse of America.

"Baby", I whispered in her ear, "look. You're home now, you're free." She put her hand up to the porthole window and touched the glass, reaching for what she saw beyond. In that moment, I was so happy for her that I thought my heart would burst out of my chest. She would now live her life in a country where she would not be politically or socially repressed; where she would not be subject to a government that was unaccountable to her or anyone; and in a society that cared about individuals and protecting their rights.

The future for her, I felt sure, would be far different now that she was in America. She, along with uncounted others, had literally been thrown away, by a family, a government and a society that does not value girls and women, and does not value
individual choice. China had been a dangerous place for her and my dream was that the United States would be her safe haven.
Wasn't it wonderful of her to save her child from the evils of China?! From a family that threw her away? From a government that devalues girls and women? Sheesh.

The article gives me several choices to click my opinion: important, funny, typical, scary, outrageous, amazing, innovative, finally. I think I'll pick SCARY. Too bad IGNORANT isn't a choice.


Victoria said...

I'm not going to mince words: I think she's an idiot. Also, I have not read her book but I remember reading of it and I believe she ended up adopting a girl that her travel companion decided not to adopt. In other words, she went over there as just a travel companion and came home with a baby. Just for context. How could she have possibly been prepared?

Anonymous said...

I've heard this before and challenged it at least once. "So like you think China's an evil empire lacking in all morals and integrity wow what do you tell your kid?"

Amazing and pathetic.

bint alshamsa said...

That article is absolutely stomach-churning. My heart aches for the little girls who will have to be raised by this wretched woman.

Mei-Ling said...

We should totally evacuate China.

I mean, if it's such a terrible country, NO ONE should live there.

A Chinese Dad said...

"So like you think China's an evil empire lacking in all morals and integrity wow what do you tell your kid?"

I have heard your argument before from other Chinese parents in the U.S. They don't want to say anything negative about China to their ABC (American-born Chinese) kids in fear of their kids rejecting their Chinese heritage. To me, that argument is quite comical. Kids are smarter than that. Unless you believe Communism is good, you should be honest with your kids about China. Child abandonment in China has a lot to do with its Communist single-child policy started in the mid 1970's. The single-child policy has led to millions of forced abortions in China, which basically numbed the mind and soul of the Chinese people of that generation. The fine from the violation of the single-child policy is oftentimes the amount of 2 years income for a farmer. Hence, some had to abandon their second child for better opportunities for the child and parents. Unlike Korea and Taiwan, it doesn't cost much to raise a child in China because all a poor child needs in China is food and clothing, which is very little (think no additional costs to an existing family). Plus, grandparents usually help to care for them. There are no medical costs because poor kids in China don't go to hospital (sad and not right). So abandonment due to poverty is not the reason for Chinese kids. Their misery is primarily caused by the evil Communist government. The problem, though, is how you present this message to your children without letting them down. If it makes you feel better, I have the same dilemma in my house with my ABC (American-born Chinese) kids when coming to China.

Anonymous said...

Since I supposedly live in the socialist paradise to the north of you (and actually appreciate it), I won't comment!

Anonymous said...

If it makes you feel any better, you will have the same problems if you raise your American child outside of the U.S.
The United States is a mega-power that is hated, feared, loved by people around the world. It has a reputation as a war hungry country. Like China (Cultural Revolution) and Germany (the Holocaust), it has a past we'd rather just forget about (slavery, mistreatment of native people).

malinda said...

I think the problem with the China = Bad, USA = Good meme is that there's no nuance there. Certainly there are bad things about China, and we need to acknowledge that with our children. But it's not all bad, or even mostly bad! There are ways to be realistic about China's problems without painting it as an evil empire. Not only does that make it difficult for our children to form a positive racial identity, it paints us as saviors and them as grateful beneficiaries, which makes it impossible for our children to form a positive adoptive identity.

Anonymous said...

China = bad; US = good. That was exactly where the original writer went with her piece, and that was exactly what was wrong with it. Also, since one cannot know the hearts of people one doesn't know personally, there would be no need to comment on that to my child either. Embracing heritage is a different story IMO.

I will say, however, that at the beginning of my adoption journey I noticed certain PAPS who would not brook any criticism of the China adoption program out of a misplaced sense of not being labeled racist.

LisaLew said...

I think what you see with the author of these statements is patriotism. Her patriotism has caused her to be closed minded, and not think about how her statements could potentially damage her child psychologically. A majority of families who at one time immigrated to America wanted freedom, this freedom is our theme for life. It's easy to turn up your noses at those who may bash China, but this country is not where WE LIVE. What makes us the authority on this issue? Having said that, our own patriotism can blind us, making us less objective and tolerant of other countries' policies.

I agree with A Chinese Dad. I respect my child's birth country as part of who she is, but do not agree with the Communist policies of China. So, this makes conversations tricky. I don't want her to feel I am bashing her background, it's just a government I don't agree with. And, yes, our children will hear this from people all their lives, whether they like it or not. We are the Land of the Free, after all. And if we sugar coat things to protect their psychological well being, they'll see it clearly.

In general, the culture of China has been quite intriguing to study and learn and enjoy with my daughter. I see strong family values and devotion that sometimes lacks in western culture. So, there are some positives that the author could emphasize to assist with her own daughter's sense of self (helping reduce the "you don't like my birth country so you must not like me" syndrome).

Mahmee said...

Victoria - you took the words right out of my mouth. The book itself is full of offensive crap about China and the Chinese people. Definitely an ignorant individual.
Mei Ling - Your comment made me laugh out loud.

malinda said...

Lisa, I agree with what you said, but I think I'd call it nationalism rather than patriotism. I think there's a fine line difference. Patriotism is love for one's country, and doesn't require dislike of some other country. Nationalism is exalting one's own country above all others. I have no problem with patriots -- I'm one! Nationalists, on the other hand, can be a bit more problematic, I think.

I agree, though, that we have to be realistic about China's faults without denying it its strengths.

I'd love to hear examples of some of the conversations folks are having about these things with their kids!