Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A grand social experiment

I had a feeling, a very bad feeling, when I saw the title of the blog post, Conspicuous Family — Or Ambassadors?  I knew I should avoid it. . .  but I read it anyway.  Yep, just what I expected:
Beyond comments made when they were too young to understand them, my children (three by birth and one by adoption) haven’t been adversely affected by being “conspicuous.” If anything, they have received extra smiles from strangers, smiles they must attribute to their natural charm and beauty! Maybe, beyond giving my kids the occasional shot of self-esteem, there are more benefits to being a “conspicuous” family. Perhaps families like ours are like that porch light, lighting up and even maybe changing the world.

* * *

[Quoting Craig Juntunen] “I believe that international adoption will lead to the evolution of a global society, where the cross-pollination of races and cultures will shrink the planet. Families created through international adoption are ambassadors, because their children become part of the communities they live in and everyone gains from that experience,” he said.

Ambassadors. Yes, yes, I’ve felt that many times.
So you, adoptive parent, feel like an ambassador of all that is good in your conspicuous family.  But what do your kids think of it? Really.

Look, what I'm about to say has been said by many people far more eloquent than I am -- the barest possible reading about transracial adoption would introduce adoptive parents to this concept.  But apparently it needs to be said again, in light of this post.

Our children did not sign on to be subjects in a grand social experiment on the "cross-pollination" of races and cultures. They had no say in whether to be a "bridge between the races." They did not consent to being "ambassadors" for global peace, love and understanding.  They did not consent to being "ambassadors" for adoption. It was OUR decision, not theirs, to be a conspicuous family.

If you want to work for social justice, racial equality, cultural tolerance, worldwide love, great!  But don't consider your transracial adoption as a step in those causes.  Would you marry a person of another race or culture in order to promote global harmony?  Of course not!  You marry out of love,  yes?  Now, that love may make  you more sensitive to issues of social justice, racial equality, etc., but would you hold  yourself out as an example of such?  I hope not, but if you do, at least you are both adults who consented to the relationship.

Adopting children as a social cause, a grand experiment, is not fair to them.  Holding them out as ambassadors, when they had no say in the matter, compounds that unfairness. Yes, work for social justice, racial equality, cultural tolerance, and worldwide love, but make it YOUR issue, not theirs. And don't offer them up as successful lab rats in a grand social experiment.


Anonymous said...

last night my adopted 5 yr old and I were watching an old Star Trek (new series) episode where a bunch of children were stolen from the ship by a planet who wanted children. One woman was playing happily with a little girl, she said "I've been waiting so long for you". What a weird feeling it was to me to see that. As an added bonus, my 5 yr old later said about the little girl "she sad. she not with her mommy." As she snuggled into my lap. Then she gave me a hug and kiss and said "I with my mommy. I not sad." It is a difficult world no matter how you slice it.

Von said...

If you haven't already done so Anonymous I'd recommend "Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self" written by three non-adoptees on the goals for adoptees in learning to be an adoptee.
Adoptees as stated, never ask to be ambassadors or champions of rights or change although some become involved due to the injustices they discover once they are adult, sometimes teens.
The memes of the adoption myth spread far and are ingenious in their inventiveness for the cause of promoting the adoption industry.

Mei Ling said...

"Our children did not sign on to be subjects in a grand social experiment on the "cross-pollination" of races and cultures. They had no say in whether to be a "bridge between the races."


I get so tired of people telling me I was meant to be adopted so my very existence would create a bridge in between two cultures.

No, it has not. And it never will be.

Andrea said...

Loved this.