When a columnist has a conflict of interest, he should disclose it. My wife, born in South Korea, was adopted by an American family at the age of 6 and welcomed into a Midwestern community. I first saw her when we were both 10, and I have never recovered. Years ago, we visited the orphanage where she lived in Inchon — orderly, cheerful, but still with dirt floors. The director said she remembered my wife. She produced the police record relating how On Soon had been found as a newborn abandoned in the market, a note with her name pinned to her blanket.Not surprisingly, his view of adoption is positive and positively sentimental, and all wrapped up in patriotism as well:
Life is a procession of miracles, but this one stands out to me. A 6-year-old girl walks off a plane in America, speaking no English, loved by a family she had never met, destined to marry, of all people, me. A series of events that began in a Korean market created my family, my sons, my life. And now my Italian, Jewish, English, Korean boys view themselves as normal, unexceptional Americans. Which they are.
It is an unexpected form of human affection — meeting a stranger and, within moments, being willing to care for them, even to die for them. The relationship results from a broken bond but creates ties as strong as genetics, stronger than race or tribe. It is a particularly generous kind of parental love that embraces a life one did not give.Yep, another old white guy heard from, to tell people of color that "ethnicity is an abstraction." Another non-adopted person telling adoptees that their loss of culture doesn't matter compared to what they gained. A white non-adopted person telling adoptees that the bonds of adoption create ties "stronger than race or tribe." Another Westerner extolling Americans for rescuing "children of other lands who have been cast aside." Another ignorant person calling adoptive parents saints, praising us for our "particularly generous kind of parental love that embraces a life one did not give."
International adoption has its critics, who allege a kind of imperialism that robs children of their identity. Simon responds, “We have adopted real, modern little girls, not mere vessels of a culture.” Ethnicity is an abstraction — often an admirable abstraction, but not comparable to the needs of a child living in an orphanage or begging in roving bands. Adopted Chinese girls are refugees from a terrible oppression — a one-child policy that Simon calls “one of the great crimes of history.” Every culture or race is outweighed when the life of a child is placed on the other side of the balance.
It is one of the noblest things about America that we care for children of other lands who have been cast aside.
A whole host of distasteful and uninformed international adoption themes is presented here -- the superiority of receiving countries to sending countries, the superiority of adoptive parents to birth parents, the need for adoption as "rescue," a preference for assimilation into dominant culture to maintaining a distinctive racial identity, the "othering" of foreign people who "cast aside" their children, the complete sufficiency of the adoptive family so that knowledge of the biological family ("tribe") is unnecessary.
And this is what passes as a feel-good piece on international adoption. . . .