Wednesday, August 11, 2010

. . . and the crowd goes wild!

Rumor Queen hits a home run in a blog post discussing the importance of racially diverse schools and communities for transracially adopted children, and garners over 60 comments, many from defensive adoptive parents and prospective parents who disagree.  Here's what she had to say:

From all of the reading of books and blogs, and the conversations I’ve had with adult adoptees (many of them Korean, a few of them my age), I’ve learned that it is of the upmost importance to 1) Make adoption something that is talked about freely in our home without it being a big deal and 2) Put them in a diverse school where they will never ever ever ever be considered (or consider themselves) “other”.

* * *

All kids have to form a self identity, that’s part of growing up… figuring out who you are. As a general rule, kid’s who aren’t white have to do more defining than kids who are white. I’m told that my girls are likely going to go through stages of identifying as more Chinese, then less Asian, then more American and try to ignore the Asian part, then go overboard with the Chinese stuff, etc. Eventually they will find a balance and figure out who they want to be, how they want to identify. And we, as parents, need to be okay with their experiments.

From what I’ve been told, if you put a child into a classroom where they are the only non-white child, or one of only two or three non-white children, then they will see themselves as being “different”, and the process of figuring out who they are gets derailed. But if you put them into a situation where diversity is a fact of life, where they are just one of the diverse and multi-cultured crowd and aren’t seen as being “other”, then they can explore their individuality from a much better place.

* * *

Before we adopted GlitterGirl I considered myself open minded, but I now realize how clueless I was. You know the saying, “Things you know, things you don’t know… and then the things you don’t know that you don’t know.” My understanding of racial issues fell firmly into that last category. There is another saying, the one about white people having the luxury of thinking race doesn’t matter. It took me a while to understand that statement.
Be sure to read the whole thing, and check out the comments, too. I can't think of a word to disagree with in this post (and I've criticized RQ when I've disagreed!), but the commenters sure have.  The discussion has spilled out into the discussion board , as well as at a follow-up post where RQ encourages readers to listen to what adult adoptees have to say. With RQ being such a trusted name in China adoption, and being someone as about pro-adoption as you could imagine, some of her following is really imploding on hearing hard truths!


Anonymous said...

WHY is it that any adult adoptee who talks about having had problems with racial identity as a teen is automatically labeled an "angry adoptee"???? And why are their issues and feelings discounted?

God BLESS America, it seems that every time this subject comes up, any adult adoptee who even mentions that it might be a good idea for transracially adopted kids to live in an area/go to a school where they're not the token ethnic representative, they get tagged.

And, oh, yes, "Well, we're doing so much better than the parents of those adoptees!" or "they must have had a bad relationship with their parents" and blah de blah de blah. This one particularly frustrates many adult Korean adoptees I've read online: you obviously can only have questions about adoption or reservations about raising transracially adopted kids sans diversity if you were "damaged" by your parents. It's not possible that your parents did very well, that you love them immensely, and can STILL FEEL sorrow/grief/anger/racial isolation.

I give RQ kudos, big kudos, in her ongoing quest to have her readers at least read about and think about (an itty bitty bit) these questions. I also give her kudos because she's pretty even tempered about it all; I'd be frothing at the mouth.

So I'm going to be a wuss and go incognito on this comment...

Anonymous said...


(Hah, thought you could get rid of me! ;-) )

This dismissal of these points of view as coming from "angry adoptees" means you don't have to think about the issue or take action. See, it's not *your* problem, it's *theirs*, because they're "angry". They're not "well-adjusted". They're not "happy".

Bah. You see? I'm frothing at the mouth.

Raina said...

AGGGGHHHHHH. And *sigh*.

Today's discussion at RQ, and some personal circumstances, and some off-hand comments by some firiends, made me lose it today!! That discussion is tiresome and frustrating, and yet we must keep repeating it for our children's sake. RQ sounded very intelligent and reasonable today.

Diane said...


You know, sometimes I forget that this is a more mainstream AP POV. I’ve worked hard to surround myself (via the real world and my little blog) with such great mentors, teachers and listeners from all sides of the triad. Apparently I’ve been somewhat successful because when I read the comments you linked to I feel quite taken aback. Is this really how it is? Are people really still making the argument that at least the kid is no longer in an orphanage? Or, well I talked to so and so adoptee, or I know so and so adoptee, and they are ok with how I am raising my child so...who are you to criticize?

So many APs responded as if they were being encouraged to move to a slum with the risk of a drive by shooting. The instant correlation between diversity and crime was highly unsettling.

It is hard to digest. It hurts to imagine that when my children reach adulthood and express pain and anger over their losses (or searches) they too will be labeled – angry/ungrateful adoptees.

Steve said...

I agree with RQ on the importance of having your child attend a racially diverse school. This is why we chose to send our daughter to a public school where there was no dominant ethnic group. She even ended up in a class which was nearly 20% Asian last year. Put simply, if you live in the suburbs or put your child in private school, you are not going to find racial diversity.

malinda said...


I agree, but not all private schools are created equal.

I remember going to the private school forum where all FW private schools had tables and asking each one about racial diversity. I'll never forget that one representative answered, "Sure, we have a diverse student body. Why, there's Michael. . . (shouting over her shoulder to another representative of the school) hey, isn't Michael half-something?!" Aargh! When "diversity" has a NAME, it's not a diverse student body!!!!

But my girls' private school is almost 30% racial minorities this year, though admittedly with not as many Asian students as I'd like to see. When Zoe started kindergarten there, her class was 20% Asian, though that percentage has dropped to about 10% now.

Elizabeth@Romans8:15 said...

I will go read the posts and the comments. We just moved last week. Our intention was to be in a more diverse area and we are so thrilled with where we ended up! I, personally, feel so much relief now that my children (caucasian and asian) will both be able to look around and see people from all sorts of backgrounds and walks of life.

Steve said...

"When "diversity" has a NAME, it's not a diverse student body!!!!" I know that this is not supposed to be funny, but it did make me laugh.

Reena said...

I completely agree that AP do need to do all that we possibly can so our kids do not grow up in an environment where they are the only minority-- only Asian.

DH and I live in an Urban/suburb that is primarily Caucasian although where we actually live is probably the most diverse of our Town.

The day care where I send my daughters, born in China, was at first primarily Caucasian—but the day care now has several Asian kids as well. It turns out that some other Asian parents chose the school partly because they saw my first daughter.

I am not sure what to do about public school when the time comes. Given the real estate market and economy—if we were to sell our home to move—even if we could sell it (and I would LOVE to sell it and move), there are not any good public school systems in our State that are also diverse.

The expense of private school is not entirely affordable—yet we tend to be just over the *mark* for financial assistance-- we also have to consider some medical needs of our youngest daughter in the upcoming years that will not be fully covered by health insurance. Besides, I don't think private school would really address the diversity issue anyway.

There is a good charter school, very diverse, that has a lottery based admission and I am going to try and get the girls into that school—but that is entirely luck of the draw.

We still have a couple years and things could change—but I am trying to look ahead and plan for what is best for my daughters—short of actually moving. While, I do have some mobility to move with my career, DH would have to start over establishing his clients with his career.

The bigger issue for us moving-- DH has shared physical custody his two kids ages 12 and 14 from his first marriage—so moving out of the state where we live—or even too far from the Town where we live isn’t really an option right now. Perhaps in 6 more years we can consider it, but definitely not right now. Also, our family is somewhat equal in terms of diversity—DH and I are Caucasian, my stepkids are bi-racial Hispanic, our two daughters are Chinese.

What we have done and/or plan to do: We have switched churches to one that is more diverse than where we were attending.

We joined a YMCA that is somewhat diverse and may go to one a little further away that is even more diverse as the girls get older. We particiapte in a lot of activities here.

We participate in a China Care Bears program at a local university where Chinese college kids act as mentors/playmates (depending on the age of the child)—meets once a month during the school year.

I am enrolling the girls in a Chinese culture and language program that meets once a week.

As the girls get older (they are not quite 4-years and 2 ½ now), I plan to take them on frequent visits to China town in Boston and occasional visits to China town in NYC.

We also have several friends, close to the same age, adopted from China and we get together nearly weekly with at least one or more of these families. Unfortunately, we all live in different towns or school districts and the girls will not go to school together.

I also plan to send the girls to Pact Camps etc. when they are old enough.

I was very glad to see the post by RQ and sadly, I was not surprised by the response. I have gotten the response from a few AP that I know when I try to talk about adoption loss for our kids and racial identity. Given all the info that is available from Adult Adoptees, it amazes me that AP just want to stick their head in the sand.

Mei Ling said...

"Are people really still making the argument that at least the kid is no longer in an orphanage? "


Anonymous said...

Really interesting. I chose our neighborhood in part because it is diverse, and now that my daughter has been in school for 3 yrs I couldn't pry her out of it with a crowbar. Yet I know that many of my co-workers who are Indian and Chinese live in much posher neighborhoods farther outside the city, and there is a much greater concentration of Indian and Chinese children from Indian and Chinese homes in those schools. I think my daughters would stand out even less in those schools than they do in our current school, but on the other hand those schools lack economic diversity - everyone there is wealthy. I wonder how things will shake out as my daughter gets older. My understanding is that most of the children in this school will end up cliquing by skin color. Will she group with the few Asian kids? The larger group of black kids? The even larger group of Hispanic kids? Or the largest group, the white kids? There are definitely socio-economic ramifications regarding who she decides to hang out with in high school - there are groups that will be college oriented and groups that will be Mcdonalds oriented. And some will be wanderers, maybe she will be one of those.

Bukimom said...

Interestingly, my 7 y.o. daughter has felt the most out of place when at Chinese class with other kids who look just like her. Why? Because the fact that she really isn't Chinese like them stands out. They all know a little Chinese because at least one parent speaks it in the home, and forming the "sounds" of Chinese seems to come easily for them. For her, it's a struggle and makes her feel very different. Still, she really wants to learn the language of her birthplace. Has anyone else faced this and how did you deal with it?

Sandy said...

I have read many of the comments on RQ's blogs and the forum posts and seriously most of them are so into bashing each that they are not focusing on the message.

Sad really when words are twisted and parts of sentences outright ignored such as 'some adult adoptees would prefer that IA did not exist as it is currently practiced' - not an exact quote but many read it as 'angry adoptees want IA stopped period end of sentence' when if they had actually listened to the statement they would have heard the words 'as it is currently practiced' and then could have asked the adult adoptees what needs to be changed that we can get on board with and make it better for the future and actually accomplish something seeing as they are the ones in power. Instead it simply became a bicker fest.

And the dismissal by way of stressing it was a different country they were adopted from or they have evolved from how those adoptees parents parented...perhaps not so much if this is how they react to a mere opening of dialogue...and a request to think about an uncomfortable subject...

Sad really...when this generation of AP's actually have adoptees to talk to they dismiss and negate. Makes me wonder what they will do if their adoptees when they are adults have the same words the adult adoptees of today have.

Closed era domestic adoptee - 60's...

malinda said...

Bukimom, I don't think you're daughter's reaction is at all unusual. When we were living in China and Zoe was going to a Chinese kindergarten, she, too, felt out of place because of the lack of language. I think the answer is to keep on keeping on, so our children develop the cultural competence (that may only come with language competence) to fit in with their birth culture and the majority culture of their family.

And what's interesting about your question is that I know something other readers don't -- your husband is Asian, but not Chinese. Do you think the fact that he is Asian helps your daughter with identity issues, or not?

Mei Ling said...

'some adult adoptees would prefer that IA did not exist...'

The AP commenters may have gotten this idea from the Korea adoptee reform movement and the idea that the Korean government wants to eliminate all international adoptions by 2012.

Anonymous said...

It always shocks me that AP's don't think about adoption, race, and culture as all equally important componets to defining an adopted child's positive self identity.

That Ap's don't get that love is not enough.

Bukimom said...

Malinda, I definitely think it helps for her to have an Asian father as he knows how it feels to be a minority in a mostly white community. Also, they can talk about things like having Asian hair and skin and how it is different from white people's. It definitely helps her not to feel different within her own family. Actually, in my family of 5, I am the only one with blonde hair and blue eyes.

I think it also helps that many people don't assume my daughter is adopted; they just think she looks a lot like her dad. She also has an Asian last name, so that isn't a dead giveaway either. As a result, she has the luxury of not having to reveal that she's adopted if she doesn't want to.