Thursday, May 19, 2011

Video Game Forces Father to Face His Own Failings as an Adoptive Parent

From a TV station in North Carolina:
Controversy has erupted after a local father contacted WBTV and told us he was offended by a popular video game that appeared to make fun of adopted children.

The character in Portal 2, is taunted for being adopted: "Alright, fatty. Adopted fatty. Fatty, fatty no parents."

Neal Stapel was playing the game with his 10 year old daughter, when he heard the comments. While he acknowledges it won't be a big deal to most, it is to their family.

"If you're not an adoptive parent it's probably not that big a deal to you," he said. "It's a fantastic game. It's a great game. It's just that one little blurb in there ."

Stapel and his wife adopted their daughter from China and say they've never hidden the fact their child is adopted, they say they wanted to wait until she was ready to talk about it.
Excuse me?  Your daughter is 10 and you're waiting to talk to her about her adoption?!  Waiting for WHAT exactly?! For the world to end on May 21st so you never have to talk to her about it?!  Who knows, maybe that strategy will work for you, Mr. Stapel. 

For the rest of us, let's review:  If you wait for your child to ask questions about her adoption, your silence is telling her that she isn't allowed to ask those questions.  Your silence has already answered her question, telling her there is something taboo about the subject of her adoption. So stop tip-toeing around the issue; that lousy video game has given you a wonderful opportunity for adoption talk!  Consider the 9th Commandment from the Ten Commandments of Telling:
IX. Initiate conversation about adoption.

Waiting until kids ask questions isn't adequate. Look for opportunities to raise the issue of adoption:

1. Watch movies/programs with adoption themes with your child and draw parallels and contrasts to your child's story; use as a springboard to further discussion;

2. Use key times of the year (birthday, Mother's Day, gotcha day, adoption day) to let your child know that you are thinking about their birth family;

3. Comment on your child's positive characteristics and wonder aloud whether they got that characteristic from birth family members;

4. Include the birth family when congratulating your child for accomplishments -- "I'm sure they would be as proud as we are."
So grab the opportunity when it presents itself -- tell your daughter why that video game's treatment of adoption upset you; let her know what you think about adoption.  Don't worry about planting ideas in her head -- research tells us they're already there.  But remember, you haven't talked to her about adoption unless you talk about her birth mother

Video game that makes fun of adopted people:  bad
Parent who hasn't talked to his 10-year-old about her adoption:  worse


bytheriver said...

no question. I mean how old was the child when adopted anyway? If not in the 3 month old category she may have active memories of her adoption and life in china, mine does and she was less than 1.5 years old. Processing all the changes was hard and the only way to get through it was to talk about adoption, why it happened, why there was no other option to stay in china. She wants to go back permanently - she is only 6 now and may change her mind about permanent residency, but if not that is ok too - it is her country.

Oh yeah - she is adopted from China - unless the adoptive parents are chinese, I am sure she has already heard it at school.

Anonymous said...

There is another side of things. Just yesterday, my 7 year old, who is adopted from China said, "Mom, would you stop talking about adoption to me. I want to talk about other things." Actually, I don't think I talk about adoption that much, but I guess to her, I do. I guess I have to tone it down. By the way, this is a child that never wants to talk about China or her Chinese foster mother or her Chinese birth family and says she doesn't want to visit China. So all children are different and I think you have to follow your child's lead.

Lesley said...

Okay, this video game has a AI computer that hates the human player, and is putting the human through tests at a facility (not like, torture tests, but you as the player are doing puzzles. It is actually really cool). The AI verbally insults you throughout the game. It is entertaining. I can see how the adoption insults can be hurtful, but I guess the "fatty" comments are okay? And earlier, when the AI tells you you are a horrible person...that is okay too? It was okay for the game to mock everyone else until it hit home for him?

I agree that this guy should have spoken to his daughter AGES AGO, and the comment may be a trigger for people. But in the spirit of the game, nobody is safe from insult, and it is rather tongue-in-cheek. Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

I know some get their knickers in a knot over random "adopted" comments JQ Public make and if it hurts them then I am sorry, but they don't bother me so much.

We are going to hear them and that's reality, but understanding they are made from ignorant people who don't know better, instead of malicious comments made by those in the adoption community that know better (or should) - huge difference to me. The former rolls off my back with a slight "ouch" the latter sits there rubbing me "raw".

As to waiting for her to bring it up? Seriously flawed mentality to think a child will ask something deemed taboo by the deafening silence. The AP's will not be there to censor every single moment of the adoptee's life and truth seems to matter to more adoptees than not.

Mei Ling said...

I thought the world was supposedly ending in December 21, 2012.

Or somewhere in Dec 2012. Something about the Mayan calendar and that's where it ends?

Also heard Portal 2 was a great game, although this is the first time I've heard any reference to adoption in it.

Then again, it's such a tiny thing... is it really necessary to make a big deal out of some script?

Mei Ling said...

"Okay, this video game has a AI computer that hates the human player, and is putting the human through tests at a facility (not like, torture tests, but you as the player are doing puzzles. It is actually really cool)."

That made me giggle.

Don't know if you've played Halo, but there's been reference to Guilty Spark?

Is the AI like that, except with taunting?

*has been totally immersed in Dragon Age Origins*

Lesley said...

I'm not familiar with the Halo story, so I don't know! I'm just familiarizing myself with Portal (my son plays it). The AI has a huge grudge against your character.

Also, who goes to the news with this sort of thing?

For some reason this has me all in a kerfuffle this morning...

Anonymous said...

Whoa....hold on please.

I second Anon.; we too initiate adoption related conversations with frquency, have successfully searched for 2 overseas families and have an open door, any question, thought, moment, emotion, etc. is more than okay with us, policy......

and our oldest simply rarely wants to discuss it. If ever beyond the basics of her birth country, age at our arrival, etc.. No drama, no heat, no hidden agenda ~ she knows we can talk about it anytime/anyplace and she will be validated. She just doesn't want/need to at this time. That could change. Probably will ~ but maybe not at 10 or 15, but when she decides.

Our other daughter is just the opposite.

Every family need not follow the same script; just as every child is different, so to is their reaction and way of handling issues.

I think we strayed off topic too....that adoption taunt via the videogame is hideous. Outrageous. That should be getting some honest uproar!

Anon. 2 Deb

Wendy said...

I agree with Anon 2 Deb, this has gotten off topic. Not only are the comments about adoption pathetic, so are those about being fat. I don't want my kid playing any games where they degrade anyone. It is not about accepting negative comments as a part of life; the focus should be to stop this behavior and acceptance.

dartarian said...

Here is the full context

Wheatley-”Okay, So that last test was seriously disappointing. Apparently, being civil isn’t motivating you so let's try her way, all right? Fatty. Adopted fatty. Fatty, fatty no parents.”



GLaDOS- “What exactly is wrong with being adopted?”

Wheatley-” What-What’s wrong with being adopted? Ut, um, well…lack of parents?"

GLaDOS- "Record: You are adopted and that's terrible."

Wheatley- "And also… nothing. But some of my best friends actually are orphans, but--"

GLaDOS- "Also, look at her, you moron. She's not fat."

Wheatley- "I am not a moron!"

Anonymous said...

Our child never wants to talk about adoption either and we do not bring it up. I think it would be very uncomfortable if we mentioned the birthfamily every time someting was done well. Our child does not have any interest in watching adoption theme movies. The information has been presented, child knows about coming into the world but we will not create a fantasy around this. I will not make up feelings that we are not sure the birthparenst would have. We simlpy don't know them and that is a fact that must be dealt with realistically.

We rarely talk about it. This does not meant we have hangups about it. We are following the child's lead, and no, I don't think that gives the message we don't want to hear about it.

The plan you outline would never work for our family. And that is what really matters, what works for each family.

Anonymous said...

As an adult adoptee, I think that families who are not talking to their kids about adoption are doing their kids a disservice. Please do not think you are following their lead. The child is most likely picking up YOUR discomfort or does not like the WAY in which you discuss it.

What works for each family is, unfortunately, a way of saying what makes adoptive parents comfortable. Learning how to communicate is tough work. But it must be done for the sake of the child.

asomatous said...

Weird, if it was a trans-racial adoption then i don't get how her parents could "hide" it from her???? And why wouldn't they be open from the start???? My parents were always completely forthcoming as i was growing up, and my brother has been with his Russian son as well. It's better to be able to discuss stuff like that with your child without stigma!