Saturday, February 28, 2009

I did one too

Postcard Submissions

Did you remember that the submission deadline for the G2 Global Girls postcard project is TOMORROW, March !? If you forgot, get busy! (Being grand procrastinators we finished ours this morning!) Above are Zoe's and Maya's postcard pictures, and below are the backs of the postcards with the messages the girls wrote (actually, Maya dictated hers, and I wrote it.)

As you can see, Zoe's picture is a sad birth mother and a happy me. Maya's picture has her and the hospital she was found near and the airplane that took her to America (the tree is there because she thinks maybe she was found near a tree).

Zoe wrote: This is a picture of my birth mother and my forever mother (sorry, Mei Ling!). My birth mother is sad because she misses me and had to give me away. My forever mother is happy because she gets to see me and love me every day. I miss my birth mother and she misses me too! I love my birth mother and my forever mother. Love, Zoe S. p.s. Adoption is both happy and sad and that's ok.

Maya wrote: To my China mothers: Thank you birth mother for carrying me in your tummy. I'm 5 years old (the one fact her birth mother already knows!). I play soccer and dance ballet. Thanks foster mama for taking care of me. I go to Chinese School. Maybe I can speak Chinese to you when I see you again. Why are bats lucky? Love, Maya.

So who else submitted? What do your submissions look like? What did your kids write?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

American Adoption Congress Conference

Yippee!!! I'm going to attend the American Adoption Congress national conference in April in exciting Cleveland - I'm so excited! If you don't know much about the American Adoption Conference, here's a snippet from its mission statement:
The AAC believes that all children have the same core of basic needs, and that these needs can be met most easily when children can grow up in the family into which they were born. Every effort should be made to preserve the integrity of this family. When birth families are unable to meet the ongoing needs of children born to them, however, we believe that adoption provides the best alternative—provided the adoptions are humane, honest, and rooted in the understanding that adoption does not erase a child's connections to the family into which they were born. We believe that those who have lived the adoption experience are in the best position to articulate the importance of these conditions and to bring about an adoption system that is based on them.
This fits perfectly into my current research project on openness in international adoption, so this is a work-sponsored trip (double yippee!!!)!

For more about the conference, click here. Anyone else attending?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Higher Fines for Violation of One-Child Policy

From China Daily last month:

Beijing authorities will also introduce measures later this year that include greater penalties for those who break family planning rules requiring most couples to have one child.

"As the public feels strongly against those who have more children just because they can afford to pay the fines, we are thinking of collecting much higher social maintenance fees from those who go against the policy," Deng said.

In Beijing, the fine for those who break family planning rules is computed based on the average income per capita, usually about three to eight times of that figure. The per capita income in the capital was 24,725 yuan ($3,600) for urban residents and 10,747 yuan for rural residents last year, official figures showed.

To date, Guangdong and Hubei provinces have taken the lead in the country to impose expensive fines on violators of family planning rules. In 2007, an entrepreneur from Xiaochang county of Hubei was fined 760,000 yuan for having a second child.

The article also quotes Deng Xingzhou, chief of Beijing's family planning commission, as saying that "family planning as a fundamental national policy will exist for another 20 years."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Hold your children close tonight, and give them an extra kiss. Little Lydia, whom I posted about in November, passed away today. Five-year-old Lydia, adopted as an infant from China, fought a virulent form of leukemia, and needed a transplant. Although the family miraculously found her birth family, and a 16-year-old birth sister was a match, it was too late. She could not be brought into remission so that a bone marrow transplant could be done. Her family's website is here.
UPDATE: Click here for a newspaper article about Lydia's death, including information about the memorial service in Ohio.

Friday, February 20, 2009

More Miley Mess

OK, we're giving Miley Cyrus more publicity than she's entitled to -- but I hope it pains her, rather than being a case of, "It doesn't matter what you say, so long as you spell my name right."

Still, because it fits into the age group I'm interested in, I wanted to share this post from an Asian-American mother touching on talking to your kids about the finger-pulling-eyes picture:
I want to talk with them about the Miley picture, which they haven’t seen yet. I want to show them that their Miley is mocking their Mommy, her people, her family. That what she is doing is mean and makes “mommy’s heart feel sad.”

Would it matter if my kids were just a little bit older? I recently talked this over with an anti-racist speaker that I met the other day; his kids are 8 and 10. Yes, he talked with them about it. He had a conversation about what it meant to do what Miley was doing; what it meant to make fun of other people. Those kids got it.
I haven't shown or talked to my kids about the photo, I'm not sure why. Maybe because we're not at all into Hannah Montana here? Maybe because I'm not sure they're of an age to get it?Maybe because I want to protect them from racism, even second-hand? Now I'm not so sure avoidance is the right approach.

So, have you talked about it with your kids? Share your stories and your opinions in the comments, please!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Another Birth Parent Story

As I mentioned, Zoe's last story was written at a friend's house, and her friend also wrote a story. Like Zoe, Sydney is 8 and adopted from China. I have permission to share her story, too. This is exactly how Syd wrote it, lines and !!!!!!! and all!

Once upon a time in a small town a little girl was born. Her parents were so, so happy. Their only girl. But the law in China said only one child. The parents were heart broken to hear this rule.

On the day she was born they tried to have as much fun with her but on the second day they had to say good-bye to the little girl. They wrapped her in adult clothing and put her in a basket and took her away. They put her by the gate to orphanage, which is, by the way, a very risky thing to do. They then set her down and said "good-bye" and they left and they were never seen again.

The girl was just sitting there for a long time until a guard came by and saw the baby girl and took her to his station right away. They soon found out that the girl had no parents and took her straight to the orphanage and there she stayed there for 13 months. It was a busy 13 months day and night. Finally a nice woman named Lisa got a letter from China and was asked if she wanted to adopt the baby girl in China. Lisa said "yes." She wanted a child more than anything! So she packed her bags and was off!

In China the baby girl was still there when Lisa got there. She took a hotel room and waited til the Chinese ladies came with her baby. She was going to name her Sydney. Then there was a knock at the door........... IT WAS the Baby Girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then it was a happy ever after.

The End

Did you like this story? If you did talk about it with your family. If you are adopted and don't know your story well this might be like it so read it and find out! Enjoy! I wrote this story because I like my adoption.
The End

Lisa and I are fascinated by the similarities and differences in Zoe's and Sydney's stories. The end part, did you like the story, talk to your parents about adoption part, is obviously a collaboration. But the rest seems to be each of them trying to come to terms with different parts of their stories. Here's Lisa's take:

This is how I see it: Sydney is fantasizing some, but not to the level Zoe is. . . .

Sydney appears rather matter of fact about the whole thing, as is her personality. Everything HAS to make sense. She questions and questions and questions and probes until it makes sense. Not just about adoption - everything!

The first part of the story is basically as I have told her over time as she has asked questions. Just her take on what I have said, because it isn't word for word. I have never said her birth family was "so so happy" when she was born. But, think about this - we have read On the Day You Were Born many times. And as I see her view: "who the heck WOULDN'T be happy when their child is born?"

The whole saying good-bye thing was interesting. I truly think she got that from the China Workbook, and just figured that is how it must have happened because it makes sense. In her mind, "who would drop off a baby without saying good-bye?"

She has been adamant that she got to spend a joyful day with her birth parents for 24 hours after she was born, (and then they took her to the orphanage). And she did ask me if she had to wait long for a guard to come and find her. I told her I didn't think so, since she was placed close to the guard gate and the guards walked around all night. But yet in the story she waits a long time for the guard.

I agree with Lisa's take. It seems to me that Syd is focussing on reality, more than fantasy. Yes, she is fantasizing all kinds of positive and loving responses from her birth parents, which is a normal (and good!) thing. But she's focusing more on the actual abandonment rather than the reasons for it. This is the hard part to reconcile, isn't it -- the fun, loving birth parents sad to say goodbye, who then left her alone and went away never to be seen again. In some ways, the telling line for me is "The girl was just sitting there for a long time . . . " But even with this, her story is a happy one and "I like my adoption."

And I love the mutual story writing -- they are so lucky to have each other and their love for writing to help them work through these issues they have in common.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Almond Eyes Redux

Remember my post about almond eyes? Well, I found an interesting blog post with great photos of almonds and eyes and almonds in eyes to refute the notion that "almond eyes" is an accurate description of "Asian eyes." Conclusion:
Jesus H., people, do I have to spell it out for you? East Asians don't have almond shaped eyes. White people do.

Yeah, that's right. So the next time you're looking for a cheap way to say that your Fu-Manchu-Dragon-Lady-love-you-long-time character is f***ing Asian, know that if you write that s/he has "almond (shaped) eyes" we are all gonna know you for the fraud you are.

Look at what you're looking at!

It's a must-see!

Zoe's Latest Birth Parent Story

Zoe wrote this story at a friend's house last week, and said I could share it here.

Story About My B-Parents
by Zoe, age 8

My B-parents are very, very kind. If you want to know why I think that then read or listen to this story.

Once upon a time there was a woman who had a husband. The woman was named "WenLi." The husband's name was "SiBo." They were very sad to hear these rules: 1. You can only have 1 child; 2. There are too many people so some of you have to go.

One day their child named "Jin YiLing," was trying to change those laws, and quick. She thought of an idea. Since she was 21 she wanted to have an election. The greatest thing was she won!

Her parents were very happy. The people in China were happy too. Her parents said that she gets to pick where they go for 4 weeks. The first week they went to see "How to Learn English." The second week they went to Chengdu. The third week they went to New York. The fourth week they came back from New York.

She told her classmates what fun they had over their summer vacation. Her classmates were so interested she told it 20 times and it took 16 hours. When she got back she was like a chatterbox.

Her parents were so tired they fell asleep at 4:30. She had to scream as loud as she could just like this: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Her face turned red. Her parents were so, so, so sorry they made a sorry card.

After they were getting along, the rest of their life was great!

The End

Do you think my B-parents are very, very kind? Good, because I think so.

P.S. Did you like this story? Maybe you could read this when you're old enough. Are you adopted, because I am. If you don't know your story, then maybe you can ask your parents. If not, read this. Enjoy!

What do you think? BTW, Jin YiLing is Zoe's Chinese name, and SiBo is the name of a little friend in China. I love her explanation of the one child policy, and her conviction that democracy is the answer!

I find it interesting that the story starts as fervent argumentation that her birth parents are nice, and then seems to end in some anger and apologies on their part. She's working hard to reconcile her fantasy of loving birth parents with the reality of abandonment, I think. Or am I reading too much into it?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Book Review: The Seven Chinese Sisters

Book Review by Maya, age 5

Book: The Seven Chinese Sisters
Written by: Kathy Tucker
Illustrated by: Grace Lin (our favorite!)

What this book is about: There are seven sisters who are all Chinese, and they each have their own talent. Like the first sister rides a motorcycle, and the second sister does karate, and the third sister can count high numbers, and the fourth sister can talk to dogs, and the fifth sister can throw a ball up really high and catch it, and the sixth sister cooks the best food, and the seventh sister does nothing because she’s just a baby! A dragon wants to eat baby sister, but the other sisters save her using their talents. And baby sister got her talent – saying words like HELP!

What I liked about the book: The best part was after they saved the baby and they all ate noodle soup. And I liked when the dragon smelled the yummy noodle soup.

What I didn’t like about the book: I didn’t like when the sisters were too busy to pay attention to the baby so the dragon could steal her. I didn’t like when the dragon grabbed her.

How the book helped me/What I learned: Everybody has their own special talent. And pay attention to your baby or a dragon will come and get it!

Grown-up note: I like that the seven sisters are all traditionally garbed in qi paos and then have such modern (and not very girly) talents!

But this one . . .

. . . doesn't surprise me: Man learns white flowers can lead to a broken heart:

A man and his girlfriend nearly broke up when he showed up at her home with a bouquet that contained some white flowers used to worship the dead.

The local industry and commerce personnel had to intervene with a flower shop to secure a 120 yuan ($17.60) refund after the man surnamed Jiang purchased them before he visited his would-be in-laws in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, on Thursday.

Jiang went into the store and was handed nine red roses plus a white one and some baby's breath inside the Sisi flower shop in the city's Huangbo district. But Jiang's girlfriend became very angry and her parents refused to let Jiang enter their home when he arrived. Jiang's girlfriend even threatened to break it off with him. Jiang realized what has happened after his girlfriend's relatives told him white roses should be used to worship the dead.

With the help of his friends Jiang and the woman made up. Jiang later complained to the local department of industry and commerce and sought compensation.

I love it! The story strikes me as very Chinese, especially the intervention of the Department of Industry and Commerce and the couple's friends! Love, Chinese Style!

Chinese gays, lesbians step out on Valentine's Day

Now THAT'S a headline (with photos no less!) I never expected to see in China Daily!

Monday, February 16, 2009

More about Miley

Remember the awful photo of Miley Cyrus and her friends doing the slant-eyed thing? I just read this on the blog, Resist Racism, attributed to a white adoptive parent:

What about kids who hold up their fingers and do bunny ears in photos? Should
rabbits start holding town meetings to cry racism??
(Hat tip to Harlow's Monkey for the link.)

Argghhhhhh! These are the people who give adoptive parents a bad name. And, unfortunately, I can confirm that an adoptive parent acutally said that -- I've seen the post on APC, the big yahoogroup for adoptive parents of children from China. Of course, it's not just adoptive parents who are offering these responses. But those of us parenting Asian children CANNOT TOLERATE or OFFER EXCUSES for such racist behavior.

And here's another post from Resist Racism, entitled, "Why I hate adoptive parents," refuting some other unfortunately typical responses to such racist gestures:

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.

Click here to read more.

Domestic Adoption in Korea and Elsewhere

From a South Korean newspaper article entitled, "Even Fertile Parents Are Deciding to Adopt Kids":

Kang Eun-mi, living in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi, is happily married with three children: a 12-year-old son and two daughters, one aged six years and the other 17 months. Kang said she loves all of her children, though only one of them is biologically hers. Kang adopted the two daughters when they were newborns.

“I wanted my son to have siblings,” Kang said. She adopted her two daughters though she was still physically capable of bearing more children, she said. Kang has been open about adoption with her family, relatives and neighbors as well as her two daughters.“I see them as my own children. Sometimes I’m confused about which one is an adoptee and which one is not,” Kang said.

Kang is one of a growing number of Koreans who choose to adopt a child, in a slow but clear departure from Confucian norms that highly value blood ties and family succession. There is an old saying in Korea: “One shouldn’t take in a hairy animal.” It literally means that one should never adopt a child. This thinking has resulted in many Koreans orphans being sent abroad. But as times change, not only are infertile
couples adopting, but so too are fertile couples, such as Kang and her husband.

I wonder if the "same as" narrative is a necessary starting point for any society trying to overcome deep-seated attitudes against adoption -- adoption is the same as building a family through birth; there's no difference between raising a biological child and raising an adopted child. The article certainly seems structured to convey this message.

Or maybe the article is just reporting that these adoptive parents are simply at a common starting point for a lot of evolving adoptive parents -- we start out believing the "same as" narrative until our understanding of our children's loss of their first families leads us to accept the "different from" narrative. (So there will be no confusion, let me say: Yes, I believe that a parent's love for his/her adopted child and for his/her biological child is the same. But a child who experienced the loss of his or her biological family is "different from" a child who has not.)

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that domestic adoption is on the increase in Korea, and that the country intends to end international adoption by 2012. I'm thrilled that Guatemala is encouraging domestic adoption, and that Russia is looking to international adoption as a last resort. I'm especially thrilled by the rise in domestic adoption in China. At least these domestically-adopted children won't experience the loss of culture that international adoption usually brings.

But I hope that other countries relatively new to "modern" domestic adoption (yes, I know many countries have ancient traditions of adoption, so I'm using "modern" adoption to connote the family-building form of adoption over adoption for inheritance purposes, or for labor purposes, etc.) can learn from the mistakes we've made (and are still making, I'm afraid) here in the U.S. (I've posted before about the "too many secrets" approach to U.S. adoption that ruled for decades, and that I think is so poisonous to the parent-child relationship).

I'm certainly encouraged by the openness of adoptive mother, Kang, in talking about adoption with her kids, her family, her neighbors. That contrasts so nicely with the report of another Korean family where the father preferred to let his parents believe that his adopted child was actually his biological child from an extramarital affair! And in China adoptive parents are using a trick not unfamiliar in the U.S. a few decades ago -- pretending a pregnancy and then claiming the adopted child as a biological child.

Maybe there's a different cultural meaning to keeping an adoption a secret in other cultures, maybe I'm guilty of Western paternalism, thinking that "our way" is the best way. But until I see studies to the contrary, I'm going to hope for openness about adoption world-wide!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blog Love

Happy belated Valentine's Day! Hope you had a good one. I've got a sick child (Zoe), which explains the belated nature of this holiday greeting. I think she's on the mend, but then, each time I think that she seems to get sicker, poor thing. (I knew she was really sick when she was willing to skip school on the big Valentine-exchange day!)

But I definitely feel showered with love this Valentine's day -- SiteMeter tells me we've hit the 10,000 blog visitors mark! Wow! And today marks the 6-month anniversary of the blog, so I'm thrilled with 10,000 visits!

I love SiteMeter, with the fun info it provides about visitors (really, nothing identifiable!). I get a bit tickled by some of the searches that lead people to the blog, though, which is one of the things SiteMeter tells me. Can you guess THE MOST COMMON single search that leads to me? How about patron saint of adopted children?! I can just imagine all the good-intentioned people looking for a feel-good memento about adoption, to discover my snarky comments about the choice of Saint William of Rochester, St. Murdered-by-Adopted-Son, as the symbol of adoption!

Anyway, thank you ALL for visiting, for reading, and especially for commenting. I look forward to more Adoption Talk with you!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Birth Parent Fantasies

Zoe enjoys a rich fantasy life where her birth parents are concerned. Everything I've read tells me it's perfectly normal. "The adoptee's fantasies begin when he is told that he is adopted and are both positive and negative," says Sherrie Eldridge in Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew. It's a normal part of the grieving process, says Brodzinsky, Schechter & Henig in Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self: "The youngster who was placed as an infant, and who has never known his birth family, cannot grieve for his loss until he develops an internal mental representation of what it is he has lost. This can take the form of thoughts, mental images, and fantasies about his birth parents and his past. . . . the child is not grieving for a known birth parent, but for the representation or fantasy of a birth parent."

Zoe's latest scribblings about her birth parents take the form of lists -- she's big-time into lists these days!

My Birthparents Are:

1. kind

2. caring

3. fun

4. nice

5. precious

p.s. I am the same thing!

Little realism here -- but that's why it's called a fantasy! So far, Zoe is the poster child for why it's important for adopted kids to have a positive view of their birth parents; she's made the connection that "my birth parents are good so I am good." She probably would have readily made the connection between bad birth parents and bad Zoe, too.
My Wish

I wish I could see where I lived.

I Hope

I hope my birthparents can answer my questions.

I Wonder

I wonder if they wonder the same things I do.

I Know

I know they miss me as much as I miss them.

This last list seems to place her fantasy in the context Being Adopted talks about -- part of the grief process, coming to grips with not knowing her birth parents and not knowing anything about them.

And don't you love the picture -- they all have glasses!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chinese New Year, Second Grade Variety

On Friday I did my Chinese New Year schtick for the three second grade classes at Zoe's school. We were helped by another adoptive mom and daughter from China, which made it doubly fun for Zoe and for me.

We did all the things I described previously:

Our usual routine is to take the kids through some of the traditions of Chinese New Year, like cleaning house -- I give out a few feather dusters, and some kids "clean" the classroom. We talk about wearing new clothes, and I bring silk pajamas and qi paos in larger sizes, and kids take turns slipping them on over their regular clothes. We talk about the special foods for CNY, and then we bring chopsticks and teach the kids how to use them (popcorn isn't Chinese, but it's a great thing to practice picking up with the chopsticks!) These days, since I am sans dragon, we use our a loong stuffed snake-like dragon (bought at IKEA!), and the kids take turns parading around with it, while other kids make loud noises on drums, etc., to chase away evil spirits. We talk about the Chinese zodiac and figure out what year each child was born in (not too hard since you've got only a couple of years in any given class!). And of course we give out lucky red envelopes -- we give one to each child, with chocolate coins inside.

We also did one new thing this year; a friend told me about a website that gives Chinese names for English names. I made a bookmark for each child with the name in English and in Chinese characters. We talked about Chinese characters, and Zoe wrote some on the board. And connecting it to Chinese New Year, we talked about hanging the spring couplets (Chinese good luck-poems/characters on red paper), and then we handed out the bookmarks. They were a big hit!

In fact, the kids seemed to enjoy it all very much. Zoe and her friend loved being helpers and showing off their knowledge of all things Chinese. I wanted them to feel special for being Chinese, and I think we accomplished that!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Going Home Barbie

Do you have a "Going Home Barbie?" I have one, from Maya's adoption trip. Zoe didn't get one because we were only able to book into the White Swan at the last minute because rooms came available when people stayed away in droves from the October trade fair in Guangzhou after 9/11. So we weren't there as adopters, and missed out (!) on the Barbie.

Here's a story referencing the "Going Home Barbie" by Tai Dong Huai, an adult adoptee from China who writes fiction based on her adoption experiences:

My adoptive mom's best friend, Rachel, comes over to our house with her new Chinese baby. Her American name is Cynthia, she's eleven months old, and she's already a brat. People expect me to make a connection. They grin at me as if to say, "Look. One of your people."

But it's not Cynthia's overwhelming smell of baby powder that gets my attention. It's not her porcupine hair that sticks straight up, or her still malnourished body. It's the toy she was given at the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou, just before she and her adoptive mom got on the plane aimed toward the U.S.A.

It's called Going Home Barbie. I know this because it's still in the box and, from the way Rachel handles it as if it were rare art, it probably always will be. Inside are two dolls: Barbie, white, blond and dressed for what looks like divorcees-night-out at the Holiday Inn Lounge, and her small baby who appears more Aztec than Chinese. She's huge, this Barbie, actually dwarfing the cardboard house and picket fence that attempt to confine her. And she's too young — twenty, at most. Rather than an adoptive mom returning with a baby from China, she resembles a steroid-soaked Swedish nanny who's making off with a small, Mayan child.

Click here to read more.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I took the hint. . .

I was channel-surfing tonight and hit Comedy Central just as comedian Joe DeRosa was saying (I'm paraphrasing, but I think I got the gist), "I'm adopted (applause from audience) . . . I'm OK with it. But I know what you're wondering, people ask all the time, 'Did you ever look for your real parents?' Uh, no. I pretty much took the hint (laughter). When they abandoned me, I figured they wouldn't be calling . . . ."


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

2 Kids + 0 Husbands = Family

One of my students sent me this interesting article in the New York Times about single mothers by choice, including both mothers adopting and mothers using donor insemination. I was especially interested in the discussion of second children for single mothers by choice:

Unmarried college-educated mothers tend to be older: close to 40 percent of them give birth for the first time after age 30, compared with only about 8 percent overall. Many of these women followed a similar and familiar pattern in having their first child: they planned to marry, found they hadn’t by their 30s, looked some more and then decided to have a child without a husband.

What’s less familiar is what these women do next. Increasingly, instead of giving their children a father, they give them a sibling. Schmidt’s data show that second births to unmarried college-educated women have risen even more rapidly than first births — nearly sevenfold since 1980. For Fran and her friends, a second child, not a husband, becomes the path to normalcy. “This is exactly the difference between my generation of single mothers and the current one,” says Jane Mattes, who founded the national organization Single Mothers by Choice after her son, Eric, was born in 1980. Mattes has written of her own regret about not having had a second child. “It seemed to me such an amazing, daring thing to try to pull off, I never seriously considered it,” she says. “Now these women are saying, Why not? Why shouldn’t I have the family I always wanted?”

When I adopted Zoe, I expected that I would have only one child. Just about everyone I knew at the time -- married or single -- had only one child from China. But our family didn't feel complete. Then most of my friends started adopting their second children, and I thought, "Is it possible for me?" Being an older mom, it seemed that the best way to guarantee a family connection after I was gone was to have siblings who would have each other longer than they would have me. Still, it was an overwhelming thought at times, especially when Zoe was younger. How in the world would I manage two?! But as they say, "Fortune favors the foolish!" I'm so glad we added Maya to our family: 2 Kids + 1 Mom = Perfect For Us!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


In case you've been thinking, "we've come a long way, baby," a friend sent me the link to this photo and story from TMZ:
The OCA -- a group "dedicated to advancing the social, political and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans" -- is fuming at this photo of Miley and pals for using what they have deemed an offensive, stereotypical gesture.

The OCA sent us this statement: "The photograph of Miley Cyrus and other individuals slanting their eyes currently circulating the Internet is offensive to the Asian Pacific American community and sets a terrible example for her many young fans. This image falls within a long and unfortunate history of people mocking and denigrating individuals of Asian descent. . . . The inclusion of an Asian Pacific American individual in the photo does not make it acceptable."

Adoption and the Convention on the Rights of the Child

We all know about the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, but before the Hague Convention there was the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Here are a few things it has to say about adoption and related issues:
Article 21

States Parties that recognize and/or permit the system of adoption shall ensure that the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration and they shall:

* * *

(b) Recognize that inter-country adoption may be considered as an
alternative means of child's care, if the child cannot be placed in a foster or an adoptive family or cannot in any suitable manner be cared for in the child's country of origin;

(c) Ensure that the child concerned by inter-country adoption enjoys
safeguards and standards equivalent to those existing in the case of national adoption;

(d) Take all appropriate measures to ensure that, in inter-country
adoption, the placement does not result in improper financial gain for those involved in it

* * *

So Article 21 clearly permits international adoption, but note that it is phrased in such a way that international adoption is a last resort, when a child cannot be cared for in-country. That's as it should be in my opinion. Though it calls for preventing improper financial gain in international adoption, we know that it hasn't been that successful.

Article 7
1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and. as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

* * *

A few thoughts: Does "parent" for the purposes of the CRC include birth parents? Does the "right to know . . . his or her parents" translate into a right to information about birth parents?

Article 8
1. States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference.

2. Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of
his or her identity, States Parties shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to re-establishing speedily his or her identity.

A few thoughts: How broadly can we read "identity?" Can it be argued that this includes birth parent info, etc.? Is a child trafficked into international adoption "illegally deprived of some or all elements of his or her identity?" Does the CDC then require States to cooperate in searching out birth parents in cases of trafficking? Does the CDC exclude such a duty when a child is NOT "illegally deprived" of identity?

Interesting stuff (at least for me it is!).

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chinese New Year, Chinese School Style

Zoe’s and Maya’s Chinese School celebrated Chinese New Year on Saturday. The teen class explained some Chinese New Year traditions, with Power-Point presentations on special foods and on what happened each day of the 15-day celebration. Then the younger kids’ classes took turns singing songs to celebrate the new year. Maya's class was really cute, especially when each child said "Happy New Year" (in Chinese, of course) into the microphone.
Notice that Maya’s class is all girls,

while Zoe is the only girl in her class! Just coincidence; Zoe is also the only non-native Chinese speaker in the class, and the only adopted child. Maya's class has 3 girls adopted from China.

Freed from the performances, the kids had a chance for fun and games – making rice balls. . .
. . . practicing calligraphy with brush and ink, on lucky red paper,

. . . and yo-yoing – that’s Mr. Allen, Maya’s teacher, showing her how.

She picked it up pretty quickly, going solo in no time.
Zoe considers herself an old hand at the Chinese yo-yo, having played with it last year at the school's Chinese New Year celebration. It might be time to get her one. . . .

Finally, the kids had a chance to be the lion for the Lion Dance.

So the Chinese New Year has been well and truly rung in. We still have one more celebration – showing Zoe’s class how it’s done!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Birthday Calculator

It can be frustrating for us and for our children that we know so little about their life before we met them. When I started on Zoe's lifebook, I tried to collect as much information as I could, including the weather, the phase of the moon, etc., for the day of her birth.

This birthday calculator gives a lot of fun information, including possible date of conception, how many days/hours/minutes you've been alive, Zodiac/Chinese Zodiac information, and more. I think I'll print out each girl's report for their China Workbooks. It isn't a substitute for REAL information, but it's better than nothing!

Thanks to my mom, who sent me the link!

How important is a diverse neighborhood to transracial adoptees?

I hope everyone looks to the right and sees the blogroll, with blogs from adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents. I've sort of assumed y'all do that, so I don't always highlight what's said on those blogs here. But I wanted to share this snippet from Mei-Ling's blog, Shadow Between Two Worlds, with a word of encouragement to check out the blog, as well as her other blog, The Original Heping, frequently:
I saw white teachers, white peers, white friends, white neighbours, white extended family… you name a social group, and I can guarantee you it consisted of all white people. Therefore… I wanted to be white. And so, I rejected my heritage, my birth culture, and the language. This is emphasizing the consequence of impact, which is the result of intent.

Some of you might say, “Well, why didn’t you try to seek out Asian communities?”

To which I respond, “Why would I? I was in a white neighbourhood. I saw myself as

I'd add another answer to Mei-Ling's "Why would I?" How about, "you were a child, it wasn't your responsibility." I'm not saying this to pass judgement on adoptive parents of the past. But there sure isn't much excuse anymore, is there? And if there are things keeping you from moving, it simply means you need to work harder to build a diverse community in the midst of homogeneity

Will I Ever Understand?

Paula's post, Twenty-Three Things This Korean-Adoptee Thought About as a Child, at Heart, Mind and Seoul, is very revealing, emotional and thought-provoking. I could probably spend a lifetime writing a treatise about each one of the twenty-three things, since she's telling us adoptive parents so much about what our kids might be thinking, but wanted to address at least one of them:
8. That my mind understood why my Korean mother had to give me up, but that my heart didn't.

This definitely where Zoe is -- "knowing" the reasons, but struggling with understanding. She's even changed her standard question -- "Why did my birth parents let me go?" She now asks, "Will I ever understand why my birth parents let me go?"

My answer to her has been that it is a very hard thing to understand, that it might become easier to understand as she gets older, but that it's something that grownups have a hard time with, too.