Friday, April 29, 2011

My Takeaway

A British woman has published an adoption memoir about her adoption from Mexico called Mexican Takeaway. (Yeah, I just had to share the cover.) In  British-speak, "takeaway" equals "takeout," like the icky references to China adoption as "Chinese Takeout" to distinguish it from "homemade" kids.

Mexican Takeaway -- most offensive title for an adoptive parent memoir ever, as Dawn queried?  I'd sure put it on the top 3 list!

I haven't read the book, but between the author's website descriptions and what I could read through Amazon's look inside feature, the basic theme seems to be that she and her husband wanted to offer a home to a needy child and everyone in Britain tried to stop them.  So off they go to Mexico to rescue a needy child.  Part of the attempts to stop them from adopting were British social workers who deemed them "too white" to adopt.  In fact, Too White to Adopt is the title of the first chapter of the book.

You know, SOMETIMES it isn't about the race of the potential adoptive parent.  SOMETIMES it's about racial ATTITUDES of the potential adoptive parents. It's like a case I teach in Adoption Law, where white foster parents sue the state when it won't approve their adoption of their African-American foster child.  It's gotta be because they're white, right?  Never mind that the mom initially said she didn't want to foster any black children because she didn't want anyone to think the child was hers and that she'd slept with a black man.  Never mind that she told the social worker she didn't know how to take care of black kids, like they were some other species.  Never mind that she told the psychologist that she didn't think it important to do anything different to help an African-American child form a positive racial identity.  Never mind that she told the social worker she had no black friends and "wasn't going to manufacture" black friends just to help her potential adopted child.

So, I gotta wonder here, with an adoptive parent who could use such an insensitive book title, whether she was "too white," or whether her attitude was dismissive and insensitive to racial differences . . . .

That's my takeaway.


Linda said...
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Linda said...

"Never mind that the mom initially said she didn't want to foster any black children because she didn't want anyone to think the child was hers and that she'd slept with a black man."

I laughed so hard I think I just peed a little.

Yikes.....I have no other words. Shocking, I know...;)

Von said...

Not like you Linda to pee yourself and not have the words!!
Yes it's about the racist attitudes and no doubt about the inability to see and understand that.

Dawn said...

Her description of Mexico is also startlingly racist, full of ethnic othering. I can't tell -- is the book self published?

Wendy said...

And yet, the comments on Amazon are stunning--must be friends of hers or those who seriously don't get it!

Amy said...

The first thing I thought when I saw that book cover on your blog was, "I really hope that doesn't mean what I think it does!" And, apparently, it does.

What confuses me is that she went through with the whole adoption without her SW or agency educating her well enough...we weren't required to do a lot of training, but did learn enough not to make that mistake. At our first meeting, our SW required we start reading Adoptive Families magazine, and after an issue or two, we were able to see what was PC and what was offensive.

LisaLew said...


Claudia said...

Oh wow, that's horrifying. I've seen that woman quite a lot in the media here, and I'm afraid that book title fits right in with the way she talks.

Jenna said...

I just gagged. I'm sorry. I know everyone has their own story, but that title makes me angry... and sad.

Ms Robinson said...
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Ms Robinson said...

Hello, I can't believe what I'm reading. I do know this lady and I know the story having heard it all so I'm a little surprised on the collective takeaway here. She is the least racist person I know and what you have said is totally inaccurate.

As for all this 'peeing' and 'gagging' over a book title I suggest you get some self control. And lighten up.I think perhaps her lack of sentiment and self-righteousness does not match your view of the world. Fine. But read the book first. Then become a critic.

Francesca said...

Many thanks for writing about my book and letting everyone know the title. However I think it might have been more constructive to read the book first rather than taking it at face value. At a guess I suspect at the least you would know the real story. At best you might not resort to being so judgmental and better informed.

The title of the book is ironic: a sarcastic swipe at the adoption critics who believe 'It's as easy as ordering a takeaway; you choose the size and colour and pay your money.'

Here in the UK adoption is insanely bureaucratic.The result is that thousands, yes thousands of children every year languish in care because of arcane rules about matching skin colour and ‘culture’ when in fact children are just children. What they need most is love.

As for the 'too white' issue, this is a political hot potato here in England. Prospective adoptive parents are turned down simply because they are white. Here the government and local councils have guidelines banning white parents from adopting non-white children. My husband and I did not necessarily want to adopt a child from a different race or even a white child. All we wanted to do was to provide a child who did not have a caring home with love and stability.

We were discouraged and led astray by officials who misinformed us. We found ourselves in a living nightmare and wondered why offering love to children who needed it was so hard.

In our months in Mexico, a country that I love more than my own, we connected with the most amazing people and did months of voluntary work while searching for our daughter first and then our son. I now have deep friendships with the people I met there and the Mexicans who have read the book recognized it all the way through unlike some of your readers. It’s so easy to take the high ground when you haven’t read the book isn’t it?

Today I have two wonderful children whom my husband and I love with all our hearts. In writing the book my aim is to make adoption a first rather than last choice for couples and singles who want children in a country that is light years behind the US in its approach to such wonderful human act.

In campaigning for a more humane process I hope that one, two, tens of children in care today can find a loving and stable home. The book and my campaign group are part of my drive to make this whole thing better for the next person and the children who languish in care. I have no idea how you could misread this (sorry I forgot you didn't read it, you just assumed it).

Of course we are all allowed to have our own opinion and I don’t expect universal praise for the book or my views. I do however think it’s so sad that a fellow adopter has taken such a militant position against it based on nothing. If you send me address I would love to send you a copy of the book. Best wishes.

DrSpouse said...

Those rules on ethnicicy and placement don't exist any more - and they should not have existed in about the last 10 years (though I'm not sure of the time scale this book refers to). There's been talk of a recent "rule change" in the UK but it is actually just an encouragement to social workers to do what they were already obliged to do - consider the ethnicity of adopters and adoptees, but not make any blanket rules.

That's not to say there are not some social workers or children's services departments that are stuck in the past of course. But when we originally applied to adopt in the UK the main barrier to adopting a child of another race was the willingness of the adopter to think outside the box and the assumptions of the social workers that no-one would actually want to adopt a child from another race - therefore leading to no helpful preparation for the few families that were prepared to go down that route.

Adoption especially through foster care is very bureaucratic in the US and as the author has been through international adoption (which we're going through at the moment) she knows that's a paper mountain in itself.