Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chinese Language Camp 2011

Today was the last day of the Startalk Chinese Language Camp -- 4 mornings a week for 4 weeks.  Whew!  The girls had a blast, learning martial arts, including tai chi for Maya and tai chi with swords for Zoe. 


Their calligraphy lessons are demonstrated on their yellow and green tshirts with the Chinese character for dragon. 

They got to show off all they'd learned today, including Chinese songs and all about the Chinese zodiac.  Maya got to ask each child in class what his or her zodiac was (in Chinese), the child had to answer in Chinese, and then another little girl translated it into English. 

Maya's class also learned and performed a lion dance!

They each had to do an "all about me" poster in Chinese -- here's Zoe's. 

And they each received a certificate of excellence in each of their classes!  Zoe was particularly pleased, since she was the youngest student in her class (and the teens in the class really doted on her, and gave her a great round of applause when she was presented with her certificate!).
The proverbial good time was had by all!  We're definitely doing it again next year.  That will be Zoe's fourth year in the program and Maya's third year.  Despite the 30 minute each way daily commute, this FREE camp is definitely worth it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Virginia: Majority Approves of Same-Sex Adoption

A new poll shows that Virginians love their homophobic governor, oppose same-sex marriage, but approve same-sex adoption -- depending on how you ask them the question:
According to a new statewide poll, Virginians area ready to see the Commonwealth's ban on adoptions by same-sex couples come to an end.

The independent Quinnipiac University poll, in its first statewide survey of Virginia, interviewed registered voters by phone from June 21-27, and the poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

A majority, 52 percent, opposed gay marriage in Virginia while 41 percent would support it. Same-sex marriage is forbidden by both state law and the Virginia Constitution.

Yet a majority said the state should lift its prohibition on gay adoptions. Fifty-one percent said the state should allow couples of the same gender to adopt children, 43 percent supported the present ban, and six percent had no opinion.

Democrats, 67 percent; independents, 52 percent; and women, 54 percent; favored same-sex adoptions. Only 33 percent of Republicans polled said they would endorse same-sex adoptions.

When asked if government-run agencies should discriminate against same-sex parents looking to adopt, opposition to the discriminatory policy increased to 59 percent while 35 percent said it should remain unchanged. But when asked if church-run adoption agencies should be allowed to deny adoptions to gay or lesbian couples, the results were closer: 48 percent said yes, and 45 percent said they should not be allowed to discriminate.

Virginia's social services board in April rejected proposed regulations that would have prohibited adoption agencies from discriminating against couples who want to adopt on grounds of sexual orientation.

Fifty-five percent of those polled said they approved of McDonnell's performance during his nearly 18 months in office.

Celebrity Adoption: Denise Richards

Yes, that Denise Richards.  Charlie Sheen's ex-wife.  TV reality show star.  She's adopted a U.S.-born newborn, says Us Magazine & MSNBC:
Denise Richards is a mom — again!

The actress, 40, recently adopted a baby girl domestically, her rep confirms to Us Weekly. Richards named her daughter Eloise Joni after her mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2007.

"Denise and Eloise's big sisters couldn't be happier and feel incredibly blessed," the actress' rep tells Us.

The "Wild Things" star has two daughters — Sam, 7, and Lola, 5 — from her previous marriage to Charlie Sheen.
Wouldn't that be an interesting home study. . . .

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Retaliation Against Parents Complaining About Child Trafficking in China?

As a followup to their reports of Chinese birth planning officials confiscating children from parents and sending them to the orphanage, Caixin Century is reporting that two parents have been arrested for prostitution:
Yang Libing and Zhou Yinghe, two leading petitioners from a child-trafficking case in Hunan Province, were arrested on June 22 for prostitution, witnesses said.

The two will be under police custody for 15 days as part of the standard penalty for prostitution, according to local authorities.

At the time of their arrest, Yang and Zhou were with a group of parents that were also seeking to petition a child-trafficking case in Shaoyang, Hunan Province.

Yang' younger brother told Caixin that his brother was being framed. "Shaoyang police have not been prosecuting prostitution cases recently. How could my brother be arrested for that reason? Someone wants to restrict his activities," he said.
Seems pretty transparent. . . .

Monday, June 27, 2011

Extending Post-Adoption Services for International Adoptees? Really?

Senator Amy Klobucher of Minnesota is touting a new bill she has introduced that is intended to extend post-adoption services available to domestic adoptees to international adoptees as well:
The Supporting Adoptive Families Act involves three main changes to existing law:

1.It would redefine the current federal definition of “adoption support services” to include American families adopting a child from abroad.

2.It would make those services eligible for [pre-existing] federal funding that would be delivered to states for child welfare-related services, and a specific portion of existing funds would go directly to caring for adopted children with mental health problems.

3.It would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve its data collection regarding adoptions -- especially those that fail -- to better develop the support services.

This legislation doesn’t require any additional spending,” said Klobuchar.
I think we can all agree that better post-adoption services are desperately needed.  The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute's report, Keeping The Promise: The Critical Need for Post-Adoption Services to Enable Children and Families to Succeed, should convince you of that if nothing else.

So surely it's a good thing to make international adoptive families eligible for post-adoption services.  We've seen countless stories of failed international adoptions that might well have succeeded with post-adoption services (poor Artyom, anyone?).

But what this legislation does is increase the pool of eligible families without increasing the pool of available services!  How is that going to help?!  The Institute's report notes that one of the biggest barriers to accessing post-adoption services is inadequate funding to serve all the families that need help. 
As the senator from Minnesota, not surprisingly, Klobuchor emphasized how this bill will help Minnesotans:

“This issue is of special importance for Minnesota, because we lead the country with the highest rate of international adoptions,” said Klobuchar. “Parenting is always a challenge -- but there can be additional challenges for parents who adopt a child from another country. We need to help adoptive families get access to the support they need so their children can thrive.”
Irony alert! Minnesota is facing a government shutdown and there is no doubt that it will affect some post-adoption services.

Without REAL increases in federal/state funds for post-adoption services, it does little good to expand the number of eligible families.  All we'll have is more families scrabbling for the same inadequate services that exist today, or in light of state budget shortfalls all over the nation, we'll have more families scrabbling for LESS services than exist today.

So, yes, include internationally adopting families in post-adoption services provided by state & federal funds.  But increase the funding to make that promise of post-adoption services reality not illusion.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Russian Adoptee from Failed Adoption Fights for American Dream

Russian adoptee, from adoption disrupted and life on the streets to motherhood and GED, climbing the proverbial ladder of American success, reported in the Tennessee Commercial Appeal:
When she arrived in Memphis 11 years ago, even a short car trip left her with motion sickness. That seemed like ancient history when Elena Mordvina got her driver's license at the end of March.

Driving meant she could get a job. The job meant she could rent a house. "It's like climbing a ladder. Each step gets me a little closer to the top," she says of the route she traveled from a Russian orphanage, through a failed adoption, life on the streets and the birth of a son.

Elena, 21, was 9 when she was adopted by a Cordova couple who wanted a daughter in addition to their three sons. She stepped off the plane from Russia with little more than a change of clothes, a few snacks and a silver cross with Jesus on it hanging from a raggedy string around her neck.

Her arrival in Memphis was supposed to be an answer to the prayers of her adoptive parents. For Elena, it was a chance for a child beyond the toddler stage to be adopted and live a version of the American dream. Instead, it was a catastrophe. Elena claimed she was abused by her adoptive mother. Her doomed adoption was cited as one reason for the breakup of her new parents' marriage.

Another Russian orphan, a 7-year-old boy, got the world's attention last year when his adoptive mother in Shelbyville, Tenn., put him on a plane alone and sent him back to Russia. He was violent and threatened to burn down the family home, the mother said. Elena's adoptive mother told friends she thought Elena was the "devil's egg." After four years, her adoptive family gave her up to state custody without getting her U.S. citizenship.

* * *

Elena spent three months at Lakeside [a mental health facility], then lived briefly in a series of foster homes and at Porter-Leath Children's Center. She ran away. She stayed briefly with friends she had met at Lakeside, with a 45-year-old man and others. She moved to Jackson, Tenn., to stay with a former sister from one of the foster homes where she had stayed. She had a green card, identifying her as a permanent resident, and was able to work at a Burger King. It was in Jackson where she met a 19-year-old man who became her lover. "It wasn't that I was in love. I was careless and dumb," says Elena, who worked until 11 days before the birth of her son, Mario.

She lived with the baby's father for a while, but says he did not work steadily and took little responsibility for her or their son. When the bills mounted, she left.

Her former soccer coach, Droke, says Elena "made some horrendously bad choices. Once she got into Lakeside, it's kind of like the gates of hell opened up." An accountant and former wrestler, Droke says he stuck by Elena. "She made some bad choices. A lot of kids do. The problem with her was she had nothing to fall back on. ... She didn't do anything but get adopted and have a bad adoption."

Droke, a former neighbor and friend of the Mills family, quickly learned they had not gotten her U.S. citizenship. She lost her green card while living in Jackson and, without it, was unable to get a driver's license. Droke set up a Facebook page called "The Elena Mordvina Trust," inviting friends to donate to help Elena get back on her feet.

* * *

She now is studying to take her GED exam Monday. "What she lacks in wisdom and experience she makes up for in heart and determination," says Boraten. "She just needs a little help here and there." Boraten also is planning to help Elena get her U.S. citizenship.

* * *

She took a break on the doorstep of her rental home on moving day to consider the adoption process and its pitfalls. "You don't know who they (children) are going to be placed with. People have personalities that you don't see outside the home. You don't know what kind of people you're placing your child with. Everything is not what it seems."

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dragon contest for China Daily USA

China Daily USA is having a facebook contest in honor of the Dragon Boat Festival.  "Like" the China Daily USA facebook page and then upload a dragon photo to the page.  The most "liked" photos will win.  Prizes included backpacks and umbrellas with the China Daily logo.

Have fun!

Friday, June 24, 2011

"I found my birth mom through Facebook"

Part fear-mongering, part open to the possibilities, this article from the New York Times looks at birth parents finding their children on the internet, and vice versa:
The Internet is changing nearly every chapter of adoption. It can now start with postings by couples looking for birth mothers who want to place children, and end years later with birth mothers looking to reunite with children they’ve placed. A process that once relied on gatekeepers and official procedures can now be largely circumvented with a computer, Wi-Fi and some luck.

“It used to be a slow process,” says Anya Luchow, a psychologist who facilitates an adoption support group in Bergen County, N.J., that includes the Dorfs. “And when the children were minors, it was one that their adoptive parents could control.”

Now, says Leanne Jaffe, a Manhattan therapist (herself an adoptee) who specializes in adoption issues: “Kids, at the most vulnerable time for developing identity, are plugged in online. Either they are savvy enough to find their birth parents, or they spend time in places like Facebook, where their birth parents can find them.”

There are stories of children as young as 13 approached by birth parents online, and of children being contacted before they had been told they were adopted. Among the most cautionary of tales is that of Aimee L. Sword, who was convicted of having sex with her biological son, who was 14 at the time, and whom she found on Facebook when yearly updates from his adoptive family stopped coming. “It’s uncharted territory,” Dr. Luchow says. What are the new rules? They are being made up as the participants — adoptees and their parents — go along.
 The article profiles several families, very interesting read.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ending S. Korea's Child Export Shame

From Jennifer Kwon Dobbs at Foreign Policy in Focus, a look at South Korea's new adoption legislation working its way through the National Assembly and a lesson on why it is needed:
South Korea is on the verge of changing its reputation as the world’s leading baby exporter to a world leader in grassroots adoption reform. The first-ever birth mother, unwed mother, and adoptee co-authored bill is moving toward a National Assembly vote with government sponsorship.

Under current South Korean law, prospective adoptive parents don’t need to undergo criminal background checks. Moreover, agencies counsel unwed mothers, whose children comprise almost 90 percent of adoption placements, to sign illegal paperwork consenting to adoption even though their children are still in their wombs. The new bill proposes urgent revisions to change these realities and stipulates a court process for adoption, a cooling off period for child surrender without duress, and the documentation of identities, among other provisions.

"What makes this reform effort distinctive is that [it] is neither the result of a top-down process nor a powerful adoptive parent lobby,” says tammy ko Robinson, coalition member and professor at Hangyang University. “This bill is co-authored and informed by those of us who have been directly affected by this law.” The bill is a coalition effort that includes Adoptee Solidarity Korea (ASK), Korean Unwed Mothers and Families Association (KUMFA), and several other groups.

"[The revision of the special adoption law] is an opportunity for South Korea to fully enter the 21st century as not just an economically developed nation, but as a socially developed one," says ASK representative Kim Stoker. “It's time for the government to end its outdated attitude toward international adoption and make concrete steps toward protecting the rights of its children and the mothers who give birth to them.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thank You, Merci, Xie Xie

Thank you -- you did it!!!!  You got me into the top 25 at the Circle of Moms Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Parents, and kept me there through 21 days of ups and downs!  And you put up with all my begging and nudging and reminding;  I kept  expecting someone to say, "If you don't SHUT UP about it, I'll refuse to vote for you!" The girls are very gratified by the effectiveness of their begging photo -- I think it netted over 100 votes on the last day!

And I also want to say that if you EVER see me in another contest like this, just SHOOT ME!  This ridiculous thing was ridiculously stressful for me.  I like it better when I DON'T know how many votes I have and CAN'T compare my standing to anyone else's.  Then it's completely out of my hands and I can just go with the flow. 

Again, thank you, merci, xie xie. Couldn't have done it without you.

Parenting While Not Noticing Race

At, "parenting advice" from the adoptive mother of three children, one of whom is biracial (African-American/Caucasian child), under the title, Skin Color Not Discussed in Our Family:
About a year after we brought our kids into our family through adoption my niece who was 6 at the time pointed at our middle child and said "Aunt he sure keeps his tan a long time". It never occurred to me that she did not realize that he was bi-racial but had strong African American features. If you did not know that his brother and sister were Caucasian and that they all had the same biological mother than you would look at him and see a beautiful black child. Ten years later thinking of that day when we explained to my niece that one of our children was black still brings a smile to our face.

My family never referred to a person by their ethnicity or skin color so I guess it never came up even better she never gave it two thoughts. I guess I just assumed that everyone knew it without it being said.

With our kids when we sat the kids down and explained to the children that they all had the same tummy mom just different tummy dad's. We then did something a little odd, we all poked our fingers with a glucometer tester and we all took a piece of paper and put a little drop of blood on it. Then we mixed up the pages after cute band-aid's of course, and asked if anyone could tell me what blood drop's belonged to who. Well no one could and that was the point, we all have the same things on the inside and what is on the outside is not what matters.

* * *

From that day forward when the kids talk about someone they met or friends at school, they will describe the color of their hair, the color of their eyes and other physical attributes but not one of them ever say what the skin color is.
Where to start?

Oh, the funny things white people say!  It's pretty easy when you're white and in the majority to say that what's on the outside doesn't matter.  When was the last time you couldn't get a cab or get a job or get a date or get an apartment because of the color of your skin? Do people lock their car doors when you walk by, follow you around a department store when you shop, racially profile you when you drive or get on an airplane or walk around in a neighborhood the police assume is too "rich" for your skin? Has anyone shouted at you, "[Racial epithet], go home?" Or let's look on the "positive" side of prejudice -- when was the last time you were told you were a credit to your race? or told that your affinity for math was because of your race? or told that your first-language English was wonderful for someone of your race and (presumed) nationality?

Try walking a lifetime in your biracial child's shoes before telling him or her that race doesn't matter.

You think your children are so evolved because they never mention race/skin color when describing someone?  Not so much evolved, as having learned that such talk is forbidden in your house.  Do you think your child will tell you about racial teasing at school?  Will you hear about it if someone calls him/her the N-word? Will you hear about it when the teacher calls him/her to the front of the room for a mock slave auction in history class?  Somehow I doubt it.

Do you think your kids don't mention it because they don't notice it?  Couldn't be further from the truth.  Kids notice, and at a far younger age than we think they do.  Don't you think it must be confusing that they aren't allowed to talk about the things they notice?  People who are comfortable with race can actually say the words!  If there are two people trying to describe John to me, and one studiously avoids mentioning the quite salient fact that John is African-American while telling me in laborious detail that John is wearing a blue polo shirt and is tall and has black hair and dark eyes, and the other person says, "You know, the African-American dude standing in the back,"  I know which one has a problem with race.  Don't you think your kids can figure out what your silence on the subject means?

And when your child is African-American, and you send the message that race is forbidden talk, how can you expect your child to form a positive racial identity?  Would you say to a child, "I never think of you as a girl?"  Or "I never think of you as a boy?" Those would be completely ridiculous statement, wouldn't they? How would you expect a girl or boy to develop a positive sense of identity if their gender was never acknowledged?  You're essentially saying to a child, "I don't think of you as Black or Asian or Latino," when you refuse to acknowledge that race exists.  You're denying part of your child.  How can that be good?

Feel free to think of yourself as completely evolved on issues of race.  Think of "colorblind parenting" as the progressive cutting edge (despite studies that suggest how bad it really is).  But you have to recognize reality -- not everyone is as "colorblind" as you are.  You have an obligation to prepare your child for the world he/she is living in.  The world where race matters.  The world where racism exists. You prepare your children for the dangers they will encounter in the world, right?  Don't cross the street in the middle; don't talk to strangers; don't smoke, don't drink, don't swim alone.  You teach your child how to cross the street safely when you're not there, you teach your child to swim so they can save themselves from drowning if you're not there.  Don't you think you should also prepare your child to face racial encounters when you're not there?

I just don't get it -- how can parents adopting transracially ignore the race of their children? Do your love your child because of their race or in spite of it?  Loving your child because of his or her race is loving ALL of your child, not just some parts of your child. Please love all of your child, including the color of their skin. Please.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Last Day to Vote!

We're begging you!

I mentioned this morning that today was the last day to vote for our blog in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Adoption Blogs contest.  Maya said, "We're winning, right?"  I said, "Well, we're in the top 25 right now, and I hope we'll stay there!"  Zoe said, "Aren't we number 1?"  I replied, "No, but we don't have to be, we just have to be in the top 25.  There are a lot of good blogs in the running."  "But I want to be number 1!" said Zoe.  "We have to ask everyone we know to vote!"  So I said, "ask away!" And this is what they came up with -- humble begging!

Please vote for Adoption Talk!  The contest ends today at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time! And it'll only take about 2,000 of you to put us number 1! (Yes, I know that isn't going to happen, but Zoe doesn't!)

And as always, check out the full list and vote for your favorites, paying special attention to the desperately needed voices of first moms and adoptees.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: Somewhere Between

A review in Variety of a new documentary, Somewhere Between, focusing on the lives of four teen adoptees from China:
One needs several hearts to survive the breakage inflicted by "Somewhere Between," a delicately wrought, deeply felt docu-profile of four teenage girls who differ in background and aspirations, but share one life-defining factor: All are Chinese adoptees, and all are trying to come to terms with that fact as they navigate the already perilous waters of American adolescence. As the film states, 80,000 children from China have been adopted in the United States since 1989. Considering Knowlton's sublime subjects and sensitive execution, despite a certain vagueness of context, the docu could have widespread appeal.

Knowlton (who co-directed the 2006 Sundance docu "The World According to Sesame Street"), isn't close to being a remote observer: She adopted a daughter from China, and so "Somewhere Between" is as much an effort by the director to get a grip on the issues her daughter will face as it is an exploration of its subjects' cultural quandary. Fortunately and wisely, Knowlton picked a quartet of Asian-Americans who are secure, self-possessed and articulate enough to approach their own questions in a manner that transcends race or nationality.

All four -- Jenna Cook, Haley Butler, Ann Boccuti and Fang Lee, known as Jenni -- share an outsider's perspective and a certain self-deprecating humor; they refer to themselves, and occasionally each other, as Twinkies, scrambled eggs and bananas ("white on the inside, yellow on the outside"). All were adopted out of Chinese orphanages and wound up in different parts of the U.S. -- Lee in Berkeley, Calif., Cook in Massachusetts, Butler in Nashville, and Boccuti outside Philadelphia.

* * *

Docu could [have]offered a more in-depth explanation of why so many Chinese girls were available for international adoption, which would have enriched the story without derailing it. Beijing's misguided one-child policy is addressed, but not its calamitous consequences: Chinese tradition calls for the son to care for his aged parents, so a girl without brothers was considered a liability.

Knowlton is more interested in her subjects' world-views, attitudes and peeves -- like being told so often how lucky they are to live in America. All express an interest in going back to China, and finding their birth parents; Butler, in fact, does just that, in what is easily the film's most electrifying sequence.

Production values are tops, especially the agile HD lensing by Nelson Hume and Christine Burrill.
Anyone seen it?  Let us know what you think!

Thinking about birth mom v. birth dad

When we were driving around last night to get balloons to send off the girls' Father's Day wishes, the girls kept talking about sending a note to their birth parents, not to their birth fathers.  I threw out a question casually: "When you think about your birth family, who do you think of the most?"  Maya answered immediately -- "My birth mom."  She couldn't explain why, she just did.  I suspect it's because she's more familiar with what moms are, given our daddy-free family.

Zoe answered more slowly:  "I think of my birth dad the most because I don't have a dad.  And I don't have Grandpa, either."

That's a change in attitude for Zoe.  She hasn't really displayed all that much interest in her birth father.  Her acute grief and longing has been for her birth mother.  I always thought that as a daddy-less family my kids would be more interested in their birth fathers (as I said here), but that hasn't really played out until now.

I think Zoe's new interest in her birth dad is really connected to that last half of what she said -- "I don't have Grandpa, either."  When she was really little -- maybe 2.5 years old -- she quite consciously made Grandpa her daddy substitute.  She'd say, "I don't have a daddy, but I have a Grandpa; and he's like a daddy, and sometimes Mimi calls him Daddy."  All figured out, huh?  Now with no dad and no Grandpa, her birth dad seems to have grown in importance.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Please Vote!

Only 2 more days left in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Adoption Blogs contest; it ends Tuesday, June 21, at 5:00 p.m. PST, so you only have 2 more chances to vote.  I hope you'll vote for me.  And I hope you'll consider sharing this with your friends via email, facebook and twitter (you can use the handy buttons below this post for such sharing).

Two ways to vote -- click on the badgey thing to the right.  It will take you to the list of all the blogs in the running, and you can vote for any or all of them.  There are some great blogs, including some important birth mother and adult adoptee voices.

Or to just get to my voting page, click here: Vote For Adoption Talk.

The big "prize" for being in the top 25 is that Circle of Moms promises to publicize the top blogs to their "six million readers."  This strikes me as an opportunity to broaden horizons by presenting the difficulties, the ambiguities, the real nitty-gritty of adoption, moving beyond the narrow happy-happy-joy-joy narrative that so many adoption blogs present.  So I'd appreciate your vote.

A Father's Day Tradition, Modified

I've mentioned before that on Mother's Day and Father's Day, the girls write notes to their unknown Chinese birth parents. We customarily burn the notes so the smoke will carry their good wishes to wherever their birthparents might be. We added my dad to the Father's Day tradition after he died last year. But this year, with a burn ban and high winds, we modified the tradition. We wrote the usual notes, but instead of burning them, we sent them aloft attached to balloons (I know some of you do the same -- I stole the idea from you!).

Now, this was MUCH harder than burning.  First, when we stopped at our neighborhood Walgreens for balloons, they had sold out of Father's Day balloons and had no other kinds already blown up.  But when the girls did their "OH NO" routine, and I explained why we needed them, the clerk called the manager over and he agreed to blow up birthday balloons!

Next problem -- putting two notes on each balloon really weighted them down, so I had to cut out all the unused paper portions to lighten the load (I didn't have the heart to ask the girls to re-write the notes, especially the birth father notes, since they both worked laboriously to write them in Chinese). Here's Zoe's note:

Finally, we took our balloons outside and set them free.  Given their weighty loads, it's a miracle they cleared the trees and power lines!
Next year, we go back to burning!  And if there's another burn ban, we get multiple balloons, use tissue paper instead of regular paper to write the notes on, and/or write front-and-back!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Two Argentine Adoptees Will Submit to DNA Testing

From Yahoo News, more on the ongoing saga of Argentine adoptees who refused DNA tests to establish whether they were children of the disappeared from Argentina's military dictatorship:
Two siblings who were adopted as babies by the owner of an Argentine media conglomerate have agreed to court-ordered DNA tests to determine whether they were among hundreds of infants stolen from political prisoners during Argentina's military dictatorship.

Adoptees Marcela and Felipe Noble say they will not appeal the order to have blood samples taken and compared with available DNA of every relative of those who disappeared during the country's 1976-1983 dictatorship. The pair had previously refused to submit to such tests or offered to only allow their DNA to be compared with two families of disappeared people.

The adoptees, who are in their 30s, have said they have no interest in learning the identities of their birth parents and have been protective of their adopted mother, Grupo Clarin owner Ernestina Herrera de Noble, 86.

On June 2, the country's top criminal appellate court ruled that Marcela and Felipe Noble had to submit biological material, with or without their consent, for testing but limited the scope of DNA comparisons to people known to have disappeared before the date of the Nobles' 1976 adoption papers.
I've posted about this situation before, the Right Not to Know?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Chengdu has starring role in Kung Fu Panda 2

From China Daily:
It's no accident that Sichuan's provincial capital Chengdu features heavily in Kung Fu Panda 2. Huang Zhiling reports.

While Kung Fu Panda 2 has made audiences roar with laughter since it hit mainland screens on May 28, it has also put grins on the faces of publicity officials in Sichuan's provincial capital Chengdu. That's because they have managed to put their internationally obscure city on the world's silver screens. The animated flick incorporates many cultural icons of Chengdu, which hosts the world's largest captive panda breeding base.

"Mount Qingcheng, spicy dandan noodles, mapo tofu and hot pot all appear in Kung Fu Panda 2," chief of the city's information office Xiong Yan says.

That's because the production team - none of whom had seen a real panda before working on the sequel - visited the city twice.
Interesting!  I noted in my review of Kung Fu Panda 2 that I really liked the more pronounced Chinese imagery in the second movie, and speculated it might have been due to the fact that the movie was the first Hollywood animated feature directed by an Asian American woman.  Perhaps it was, instead, the time the production team spent in Chengdu.

We spent a few days in Chengdu in 2007, eating dandan noodles and visiting the same place the production crew visited to pet baby pandas, the "Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding." The girls also got to pet a baby panda there!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are they REAL sisters?

I was cleaning out computer files the other day, and ran across this blurb I wrote to accompany this picture for a scrapbook page soon after Maya came home.  Zoe was 4 1/2 and Maya was 21 months:
“Are they sisters?” We get asked that question a lot. And my favorite, “Are they REAL sisters?” I’m always tempted to reply, “No, they’re FAKE. Isn’t it amazing what they’re doing with robotics these days?!” What they’re REALLY asking is, “Are they biological siblings?” Why does it matter? It isn’t only blood that’s a guarantee of love. . . .

Are they REAL sisters? When Maya cries, Zoe croons, “It’s ok, my precious one,” and shares her special blanket. When Zoe cries, Maya makes funny noises to try to cheer her up.

Are they REAL sisters? Zoe hits Maya for messing up her computer game or tearing her drawings. Maya, with great cunning and skill, steals Zoe’s chair when she isn’t looking.

Are they REAL sisters? Every day when Maya and I drive by Zoe’s school, Maya asks, “Zoe?” When we go to pick her up, Zoe flies right past me to give Maya a hug and a kiss.

Are they REAL sisters? When Maya sits on my lap, Zoe gets jealous and sulks. When Zoe sits on my lap, Maya tries to push her off.

Are they REAL sisters? They laugh, share, cry, smile, dance, play, fight, smile, sing, tattle, kiss, giggle, love. . . .

Are they REAL sisters? The next time someone asks, I know how to answer: “Yes. Yes, they are.”
I don't think I'd say much different about their relationship today, over 5 years later!

Children trapped between supply and demand

From the Nepali Times:
Kathmandu Valley has dozens of children's homes and orphanages, Thamel is plastered with fliers looking for volunteers and donations to help parentless children. Foreigners can often be seen holding their newly adopted Nepali babies as they dine in hotels.

It is clear that the business of adopting orphans has taken off in Nepal. Below the surface, however, lies complicated political and social conditions that affect the lives of thousands of Nepali children.

Since international adoption from Nepal became legal in 1976, there was a huge increase in the number of both registered and unregistered childcare facilities as well as an increase in incidents of trafficking, false documentation and bribery. This led to the temporary suspension of adoption from Nepal in 2007 by the Ministry of Women, Children, and Social Welfare.

But by January 2009, the self-imposed ban was lifted, resulting in an even more disturbing situation.

Inside a small orphanage on the outskirts of Kathmandu live dozens of 'orphaned' children. Younger children lie in small rooms tied to cribs, with the door shut, screaming, in desperate need of a diaper change. Older children stand barefoot outside as they wait for the small amount of food they are allotted each day.

Sadly, this is an all too common scene in Kathmandu. Organisations like UNICEF and Terre Des Hommes Foundation estimate that more than 15,000 Nepali children live in residential care facilities, but no one knows how the children are treated because the shelters are rarely monitored. Shockingly, more than half of the children in the 'orphanages' actually have biological parents.

Inside the same orphanage, a 15-year old girl nervously confesses having living parents and two younger brothers. "I want to go home," she whispers in English as her biological younger brother climbs onto her lap. Her parents voluntarily gave their children to shelters in the city because they couldn't afford to feed and educate them. In many cases parents are promised their children's safe return following the completion of their education, but many never see their children again because they are sold to foreign adoptive parents.

Many child-care facility owners see the struggle of poverty-stricken parents simply as a lucrative business opportunity. This is not surprising because the average price of an international adoption can be up to $10,000.

On the other hand, many adoptive parents also endure great personal turmoil as they wait for their children. Over the past year, 11 countries including the United States, Canada, and Britain have suspended adoption from Nepal, citing an unreliable adoption system and the documentation practices. Although no new adoptions can be initiated from these countries, parents who have already begun the adoption process have been forced into legal battles with government embassies in their efforts to acquire visas for their newly adopted children.

Dozens of families from these counties have put everything on the line to bring their children home, spending thousands of dollars in legal fees and months stuck in small hotel rooms in Kathmandu. Sharon Vause is one parent. "I am meeting families here who are risking everything to bring their children home," she told Nepali times, "some have sold their homes, taken loans, but we are doing it for our children, we can't give up on them."

A growing group of foreign and domestic voices are once again calling for the suspension of international adoption from Nepal. However, those who oppose this fear that children will be forced to live in bleak orphanages for years before adoption is resumed.

In order to bring adoption practices in Nepal up to the standards outlined by The Hague Convention, child care experts say, there is a need to completely reorganise the process. In the meantime some agencies like Next Generation Nepal are concentrating their efforts on rescuing children with their biological families in hope of one day healing shattered lives.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ambassador Post Blocked by U.S. Adoptive Parents

Over 16 stalled adoptions from Vietnam, Senator Marco Rubio has placed a hold on the nominee for the spot.  Because having NO Ambassador to Vietnam will make it all better. . . .
Some families blame the U.S. State Department for the hold up, arguing it has pressured Vietnam so hard to impose stricter regulations that their cases ended up getting stuck. They're now hoping for exemptions and have gained some leverage: Two U.S. senators have blocked President Barack Obama's pick for the new U.S. ambassador to Vietnam over the issue.

* * *

Three Florida families have enlisted the help of Sen. Marco Rubio, who a placed hold on the ambassador nominee after Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar lifted a similar block. Rubio has concerns over the State Department's handling of the "long-delayed adoptions," said his spokesman Alex Burgos.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Adoptees, World's Oldest Children

I've written before about the tendency of the world to think about adoptees as perpetual children.  You think I'm kidding?  Well, look at this article about a bill passing through the Rhode Island legislature to provide access to original birth certificates to adult adoptees . . . if they ever become adults:
Meanwhile, Senate leaders say they are working to revise an alternative bill, introduced by Sen. Rhoda E. Perry, D-Providence, to create a more-limited access depending on the adopted adult’s age.

Perry’s bill (S-748), as originally introduced, would limit access to adult adoptees born after Jan. 1, 2012, or to those who are 40 years or older.

“I do believe that this session we’re going to come to some agreement and move passage of an adoption bill,” Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin, D-Providence, said Thursday. The revised bill would include some type of restrictions, she said, regarding the age at which adoptees would be allowed access to their original birth certificates.

“It will not be 18,” she said. “I think 18 is too young. … I want them to be able to find their records in an appropriate and meaningful kind of way, not because they want to get back at their adoptive parents.”
O.M.G. Like I said in the title to my previous post, Adoptee = Perpetual Childhood.  At 18, you can fight and die for your country.  You can marry without anyone's permission.  You can vote.  You can send in your money and ask for a copy of your original birth certificate . . . unless you're adopted. Then, you're too young, you're too immature, you can't do things in an "appropriate and meaningful way."  You're just an angsty kid getting back at your adoptive parents -- up until you're 40.  Maybe then we can trust you to have left childhood behind.  Until then, you'r just the world's oldest child.

American Adoption Congress is asking folks to comment at the original article, because they've been informed legislators are watching them closely. 

Census Shows Rise in Gay Adoptions

From the New York Times:
Growing numbers of gay couples across the country are adopting, according to census data, despite an uneven legal landscape that can leave their children without the rights and protections extended to children of heterosexual parents.

Same-sex couples are explicitly prohibited from adopting in only two states — Utah and Mississippi — but they face significant legal hurdles in about half of all other states, particularly because they cannot legally marry in those states.

Despite this legal patchwork, the percentage of same-sex parents with adopted children has risen sharply. About 19 percent of same-sex couples raising children reported having an adopted child in the house in 2009, up from just 8 percent in 2000, according to Gary Gates, a demographer at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law at the University of California, Los Angeles.
So the growth in gay parenting isn't just gay couples raising children from former straight relationships, but growth in adoption as well.

We Have a Winner!

Actually, we have three winners for the Barbie in China clothes giveaway!  My able assistants drew three names from the 16 entrants. 

Our winners, as certified by the accounting firm of Zoe & Maya, are (drumroll, please!) Caren, Margaret & Melissa.  Congratulations!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Current Placement v. Placement with Siblings: What Would You Do?

From KHOU in Houston:
A Houston couple is fighting to adopt a nearly 6-month-old boy after they say Child Protective Services gave them false hope that the baby would be able to stay with them.

"I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anything more in my life than to be a mother," said Houston attorney Rachel de Cordova.

De Cordova and her husband, Hayan Charara, a professor at the University of Houston, said they had trouble having a baby on their own. They tried for eight years.

In January, a 6-day-old baby boy came into their lives.

"He’s a really happy baby. He’s amazing," said de Cordova.

According to court documents, the baby tested positive for cocaine when he was born, so Child Protective Services took custody.

The couple said they took him in as part of a foster-to-adopt program.

"It was an awesome little miracle," said Charara. "It was the most amazing thing I had ever experienced."

The young boy’s birth mother has four other children, all of whom have been placed with other families. Three siblings are together with a family in Killeen, and a fourth child is with another family. Cordova and Charara say they pushed CPS to contact them.

"We probably pushed for them to be contacted for about two months and they finally said, ‘We’re not contacting them, there’s no reason for us to contact them, he’s great with you,’" said de Cordova.

But the couple said the child’s attorney ad litem stepped in and recommended that the child be placed with the family in Killeen, because that’s where three of his siblings live. The de Cordovas also said CPS is now recommending the same.

A spokesperson for CPS said the agency believes children belong with their siblings whenever possible.

The case will head to court on Tuesday.
So, if you were the judge, how would you rule?

UPDATE: Judge rules that the prospective adoptive family has no standing in the lawsuit about placement for the baby since they have not had him for 12 months.  HOWEVER, the judge rules the baby may remain with them until trial on August 30, 2011.

Racialicious looks at Modern Family's adoption storyline

Funny and insightful take on the transracial adoption storyline in ABC's Modern Family, starting with the book white, gay parents wrote for their Vietnam-adopted daughter, titled "Two Monkeys and a Panda:"
Liz: Ok Amber… a Panda? Really? I know Modern Family likes to make a joke of the ignorance of Cameron and Mitchell when it comes to their transnational adoption, but I had to roll my eyes.

Amber: Girl, I was rolling mine too. I cringe often when Cam and Mitchell talk about Lily. The writers do attempt to make a joke of the ignorance, but I think when it comes to Lily, it gets really hard for me to just laugh it off. For one, Cam and Mitchell seem to be completely OK with exoticizing Lily most of the time. What is that about? Modern Family is so interesting because even though it does show different familial structures, most of the characters are white and upper middle class. :-/

Liz: Yeah, I’m always amused that this show is called Modern Family, as if it’s the “new” family. I’m usually thinking, “whose family is that?” As far as the jokes, I find myself sometimes laughing at the ignorance (cuz the reality is there are ignorant parents) and sometimes cringing when the joke is played less as criticism and more as “awwww look how silly but really cute they are…she’s a panda!” Because you’re right, the jokes exoticize Lily.
Go read the whole thing -- you'll be glad you did!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Just two:

1.Don't forget the Circle of Moms Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Parents contest.  You can vote once a day until June 21.  I'm still in the top 15 (unlucky 13!), thanks to your 391 votes, but the contest is far from over!  There have been a number of fast climbers over the last few days that have surpassed me, and there are several more poised to do that.  And there are only two adoptees and no birth moms in the current top 25.  Please vote for me, for all your other favs, and to add adoptee and birth parent voices to the list!

2.  The contest for the Chinese Barbie outfit (doll not included) ends tomorrow, June 11, at midnight.  Please email me with your snail mail address to enter!  Haven't had tons of entries, and I'm giving away 3, so your odds are pretty good!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

China: Adoption 'donations' encourage crime

That's the headline for this article at
The industry insiders said that overseas families wishing to adopt a Chinese child almost always make donations to the welfare home, leading homes to put up more children for adoption and resort to illegal practices to find more children, Xinhua reported.

An agreement prepared by the adoption center of Nanchang City, capital of east China's Jiangxi Province, has a clause mentioning voluntary donations.

The amount suggested is 35,000 yuan (US$5,405), an unnamed insider told The Beijing News yesterday.

Fu Yuechan, director of the adoption center, admitted the mention of a donation but said the amount "could be negotiable."

The donation was part of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, an international agreement between participating countries on best procedures, Fu said.

Asked of the welfare home "sold" children for profit, Fu said the donation was used to cover the expense of raising them, the report said.

Under Hague Convention and China's Adoption Law, adoptive parents are not required to make donations and it is strictly prohibited for anyone to exploit the process for profit, the report said.

Tan Mingzhu, Party secretary of the Nanchang Welfare Home, told The Beijing News that it didn't profit from donations, which went to a special account managed by the Nanchang finance bureau.

But the newspaper found some welfare homes, eager to make money, resorted to criminality in their search for children to put up for adoption.
The article then mentions the earlier Hunan scandals about orphanages buying babies and the confiscations of children by family planning authorities.  There is also a reference to "some welfare homes had been forging certificates to make trafficked children appear legally available for adoption," without attribution to any particular story.  I mention this so that folks can guage whether this is reportage about what is already known or about something new in corruption in China adoption.

Some other interesting points:  first, the references to "industry insiders."  It would certainly be interesting to know if people inside the orphanages are now talking to the press.  Second, the reference to the fact that Xinhua is reporting this -- Xinhua is the official Chinese news agency, not one of the independent, proprietary newspapers that has been reporting about corruption in Chinese adoption.

Friday, June 10, 2011

When Potential Trafficking Adds Another Layer to Your Child's Adoption Story

At Bluegrass Moms, Jane Samuel ruminates on what the recent news of corruption in China adoption means for telling her daughter her story:
A month ago I posted about my personal respect for my adoptive daughter’s birthmother, an unknown Chinese woman. I shared that while we did not know the circumstances of our daughter’s abandonment, the most likely scenario was that she was voluntarily and clandestinely (to avoid fines) left at the gate of the orphanage by her birth-family.

In that piece I also alluded to the fact that recent reports of child trafficking were leaving me increasingly anxious with regard to the accuracy of the above story. . . .

Unfortunately, just two days after I posted my Mothers’ Day missive my heart was again sent reeling with a Hong Kong newspaper reporting the 2002 to 2005 abductions and subsequent trafficking of children in Hunan province, my daughter’s province of birth and adoption. My mind lurched from potential scenario to potential scenario.

Had she perhaps been sold by one municipal orphanage not approved for overseas adoption to another approved orphanage? Or confiscated by population control officials and turned over to an orphanage in return for monetary or other recognition? Or stolen directly out of her village by child traffickers? Or relinquished as part of a population control incentive program, which program paid parents while conveniently feeding the increasing demand for overseas adoption?

Then my thoughts turned to the conversations I would someday have with my daughter about this new layer to her adoption journey.
I posted about this issue almost two years ago -- what do we say when news of corruption and trafficking make us question the initial story we were given?  How to we talk about it when we learn for certain that our child was trafficked?  Two links at EMK Press are also incredibly helpful:  The Impact of Illegal Adoption on One Family by Julia Rollings and Telling About Trafficking by Sheena Macrae.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Top 10 Best Chinese American Books for Children

LOVE this list from the JadeLuckClub blog, probably since we've read most of them. My kids had an obsession with Apple Pie 4th of July that had us check it out from the library 9 times in a row!  And Zoe loved Grace Lin's Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and wants to re-read it since it appeared on her school's recommended reading list for 5th graders.

Has this list missed any of your favorites?  What would you add to this list of best Chinese American books for children?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cooking/History/Storytelling Class!

On Monday evening, my old college roommate (thanks, L.!) and I took a cooking demonstration class by Grace Young, author of the cookbook Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge. It was a phenomenal class, with great recipes, delicious food to taste, and TONS of tips on stir-frying. Grace Young is truly The Wok Queen, The Poet Laureate of the Wok, and a Wok Evangelist.

She is also a wonderful storyteller, describing her adventures with airport security when transporting her personal wok around the country, with great humor.  But my favorite stories, which are also shared in her book, were those about what she called "Chinese diaspora cooking."  When the Chinese migrated to countries where they could not get familiar ingredients for traditional Chinese dishes, they improvised.  So in Trinidad, a shrimp stir-fry would use rum instead of rice wine and the shrimp would be rinsed in lime juice according to Trinidadian tradition. In Peru, a beef stir-fry called Lomo Saltado is made with filet mignon and aji chilis, and served over french fries! In the Mississippi Delta, Chinese immigrants used local ingredients like rutabagas and turnip greens and fat-back to make stir-fries.

Chinese restaurant cooking outside of China would also be altered to meet the tastes and expectations of the locals.  So in Jamaican Chinese restaurants, there'd be jerk chicken fried rice.  And in Chinese restaurants in India, curried stir-fries are common. Dutch customers expected french fries with every meal, so Chinese Dutch restaurants stir-fried with french fries.  And, of course, that explains the American-Chinese mess known as chop suey, which would be considered a foreign dish in China, made to appeal to mainstream American palates!

Young also tells a reverse-diaspora story; when a Chinese-American woman raised in Brooklyn moved to Beijing and opened a bagel store, her Chinese employees invented a stir-fry dish with the bagels (and, yes, the recipe is in her book!). She describes it as similar to a hot bread salad or a bread dressing.

All in all, a fun and fascinating evening!  If you have a chance to hear Grace Young speak and taste her cooking, grab it!  Click here for her website, which includes her schedule.  I would also recommend her latest book, whether you cook or not, just for the wonderful stories of Chinese diaspora cooking.

Moving Beyond "AIDS Orphans"

From the Huffington Post, what's really happening with "AIDS orphans" and what they really need:
What comes to your mind when you hear the words "AIDS orphans"? Do you imagine a skinny, destitute African child with matchstick legs? Is he or she young -- maybe 7- or 8-years-old? Are there flies in the child's eyes? What do you think would be the best way to help this child? Should you send money to an orphanage that can provide food, shelter, clothing, and education? How about a mission trip to bring soccer balls and medicine? What about international adoption as an option?

Popular American conceptions about so-called "AIDS orphans" are based largely on well-intentioned but ultimately inaccurate portrayals about who children affected by HIV and AIDS really are.

* * *

But the next time you are thinking of taking a mission trip to visit "AIDS orphans" in Africa, don't pull a Madonna and try to rescue anyone. I hope that you will pause, remind yourself not to use the phrase "AIDS orphans" anymore, and take the time to examine some of the vast technical resources that are available to anyone who is interested. There are far better ways for you to invest your time, money, and compassion.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chinese Consulate in LA Welcomes Chinese Adoptees

Interesting, here's the report by the People's Daily of a visit by children adopted from China to the Chinese Embassy in Los Angeles:
Singing Chinese songs, performing Chinese dances, eating Chinese food -- for those children adopted from China by 30 American families, it is their first "home-coming visit" at the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Nine years ago, Alaina Olson was found abandoned at a shopping mall in Anqing, a city in east China's Anhui Province, and was sent to an orphanage when she was two months old. Now she is a third-year student at an elementary school in Los Angeles.

But her adoptive parents Albert and Melainie Gee-Olson still call her Yunfei, which means flying cloud. They like the Chinese name given by the orphanage in Anqing.

Yunfei looked happy and excited. "I have not visited China since I left, but my Dad promised he would take me there next year," Yunfei told Xinhua.

Olson confirmed that he would take Yunfei back to China next year for a visit, and of course she would go back to Anqing, Olson said. He said that when Yunfei was two years old, he sent her to a private language school to learn Chinese. "I want Yunfei to learn the Chinese language and the Chinese culture. She is now an American, but I don't want her to forget her Chinese origin," Olson added.

She is now growing like her American schoolmates. "Los Angeles is a multicultural community," Olson said, adding that at least one third of Yunfei's classmates are Asians. Two of the four adopted children in her class came from China.

Most U.S. citizens have chosen China as one of the most reliable and stable countries for adopting children since the year 2000, when there was an explosion in the number of children adopted from abroad.

* * *

Consul General Qiu Shaofang at the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles welcomed those adopted children. He said he is pleased to know that many adopted children are learning Chinese and the Chinese culture here in the United States.

"You are angels of friendship and will serve as a bridge between China and the United States," said Qiu.
And here's the People's Dailyreport of last year's visit:
Chinese Embassy in the United States held a reception on Saturday for the American families having adopted Chinese children.

"It is a miracle that people so far away apart get connected, form a family, go through all the cultural barriers and live happily together. This is a strong proof how eastern and western cultures can coexist in harmony instead of clashing with each other," Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Zhang Yesui said when addressing the event.

Around 80 American families with children adopted from China, along with officials from U.S. Congressional Coalition on Adoption, U.S. Department of State and other agencies, were invited to the reception.

"The friendship between the two peoples will be further enhanced by a new generation with Chinese descent and American background. China will continue to commit itself to the bilateral cooperation of adoption and to the Sino-U.S. friendship," said the Ambassador.

U.S. officials attending the reception also expressed their thanks and willingness to push forward the friendship between the two countries and the two peoples.
I'm intrigued by the differences in how these visits were reported, and what that may tell us about the relationship between the two countries on issues unrelated to adoption.  I'm by no means a Sinologist, but there are certainly some suggestive elements.

The year's story is a "feel-good" story about adoption and culture.  Last year's story seems to place more emphasis on the "friendship" between the two countries than the incidental adoption theme.  In some ways, the earlier story seems conciliatory, more about making nice, strengthening relationships. China seems to be speaking from a position of weakness. In this year's story, it seems to me China is presenting a stronger posture, a more see-how-valuable-China-is position, with less emphasis on the relationship between the countries.  Hmmm. . . .

Am I reading too much into this? [Probably!]  What do you think?

Sex-Selective Abortion: India and China

This blog post focuses on India and responses to sex-selective abortion, but the analyses would apply in other places, including China:
Criminalization, regulation, and decriminalization are all inadequate feminist responses to sex selection:

► Criminalization threatens to punish the victims -- women are in a double bind since society pressures them to produce sons but the law penalizes them if they undergo sex-determinative tests or sex-selective abortions. Criminalization thus may compromise women’s health, by pushing them to illegal providers or even the age-old practice of infanticide.

► Regulation also could endanger women, threatening doctor-patient confidentiality and opening women to harassment.

► Decriminalization validates society’s prejudice against the girl child and removes protection for those women who might seek legal defense to resist coercion into sex-selective abortions.

Given the inadequacies of all these alternatives, it is not surprising that non-legal options, campaigns and public initiatives against sex selection, have been noisily pursued.

Such campaigns and initiatives focus on “naming, blaming, and shaming.”

* * *

The shaming techniques penalize the woman, who might be simply acting on her family’s behest, and further ostracize her. The model also involves the invasion of a pregnant woman’s privacy. Monetary incentives to "report" pregnant women raise concerns about false reporting and undue harassment. Finally, the model is also likely unsustainable. The short-term flurry of activity hardly changes the forces under which women are devalued. This is not the desired route for sustainable change.

Acts of resistance to patriarchy by women themselves provide the seeds for real change.
Here's another blog post exploring sex-selective abortion in China.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dragon Boat Festival

Today is the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, and thus, the Dragon Boat Festival. The picture is Zoe's and Maya's re-creation of a Dragon Boat race, with a drummer and just one rower since the boat is small!  The girls were motivated by today's lesson at the first day of Chinese language camp, which included lots of info on the Dragon Boat Festival.

A couple of links, if you're interested in learning more:

Origins of the Dragon Boat Festival, a Tragic Tale, exploring the various stories, including the most common one, about the death of the exiled poet Qu Yuan.

Enter the Dragons, an article at China Daily about how dragon boat racing has spread beyond China.

Making Zongzi, a photo tutorial and recipe for making the bamboo leaf-wrapped rice dumplings that it is said were thrown into the water to keep the fish from eating Qu Yuan's body.

Qu Yuan's famous poem, Li Sao (the Lament), translated into English.

Transracial Adoption: ICWA v. MEPA

Interesting paper comparing legal reaction to adoption of Native American children by whites (passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act, which makes such adoptions more difficult) and African American children by whites (passage of the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act, which makes such adoptions easier.  Here's the abstract:
This paper critiques the case law, federal statutes, and secondary commentaries related to transracial adoption in the United States. The abstractness of the phrase “transracial adoption” obscures a crucial feature of almost all adoptions in which the adoptive parents and adoptees are of different races, namely, the adoptive parents are white and the adoptees are members of minority groups. Given the way whites remain the nation’s dominant racial group and have the greatest political and socioeconomic power, adoptions of this sort rankle some as still another example of racial “haves” getting what they want from racial “have-nots.” The paper explores the ways this concern has manifested itself in the legal discourse, stressing the adoption by whites of, first, Native Americans and, second, African Americans. How do the laws related to these varieties of transracial adoption compare? What do adoption and adoption law controversies tell us about systems of racial dominance in the United States?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Anti-Blogroll

I've been added to the Inquisitor's "Anti-Blogroll," where Daniel Ibn Zayd criticizes adoption blogs;  since I've touted my kudos, I thought it only fair to share criticisms, too:
The current plateau in the falsely named "pro vs. anti" adoption debates is among those from both "sides" who consider that they constitute some kind of "middle ground" of the discussion; that their supposed progressive open-mindedness is anything other than more of the same self-congratulatory passivism. The words "race" and "class" are bandied about, and studies for and against are trotted out, as if this back and forth advances anything; as if this logorrhea brings anything new to the table. The problematic of their positioning is that it takes adoption to be a given, with the ensuing discussion stemming from this "reality on the ground". This results in adoptees giving advice to adoptive parents as to why they should live in a racially diverse neighborhood; this results in adoptive parents (such as this one) finding nothing wrong in promoting a "Chinese Barbie Doll" on her blog; this results in the endless parade of discussions, talk shows, conferences, and blogs on the subject that rehash the topic to death—as opposed to, say, condemning adoption in the first place for the act of class aggression against other peoples that it is. Until such a time that the discussion shifts, then this is all so much Uncle Tomism; a horrific beguine of compradors and masters. And you'll forgive me if those of us truly on the ground don't "LOL" along with you.
We had a twitter discussion about the Barbie in China clothes before he posted this;  he objects to it as "neo-colonialist predation "and labels it as #heinous .  I understand his point, but Chinese adoptees playing with white Barbies in Western clothes colonizes their minds, it seems to me, so an alternative isn't a bad thing (see, there I go again, accepting the fact that there are already adoptees who should be considered -- he's right about me!). The "LOL" reference is to my twitter reply of surprised laughter when he accused me of "promoting adoption" at my blog, since more people accuse me of being anti-adoption than of promoting adoption.

He's right about me -- more of that "both sides" discussion I find important and he finds "advances nothing," exemplified by my decision to, in fairness, share with you his viewpoint.

P.S. Daniel Ibn Zayd responds.  I appreciate his perspective, but I do not appreciate his implication that I called his work "stupid."  Not something I'd ever do.

The Ugly Side of Overseas Adoption

From the Independent (UK), after a discussion of corruption in Nepali adoptions:
Nepal is far from the only country where international conventions on the rights of children have been breached as unscrupulous middlemen trade toddlers like livestock to desperate Western couples. The process is simple: parents in Europe and America contact an adoption agency in the country of their choice, either privately or via a home agency. Money changes hands, and their papers and the papers of the child are checked, the latter being easy to falsify. More money changes hands, and the child goes home with new parents.

Many of these adoptions are legitimate, beneficial, and bring nothing but joy to the new parents and hope to the child. But there is another side. The possibilities for corruption and back-hand profit are immense, because the emotional stakes are so high. "When people want something so very much, like a baby, the amount of money they are prepared to throw at it can be limitless," said Andy Elvin of Children and Families Across Borders. "In some countries, those amounts of money on offer mean that people do things they wouldn't otherwise do, and that's the problem."

* * *

Across the world, there are thousands of parentless children needing adoption, and there is nothing remotely wrong with placing children with caring families. Unfortunately, the international adoption trade has become a murky trench of money-making and malpractice. Extant systems of oversight are rickety, but there is much that can and should be done to tighten up the provisions of The Hague convention to ensure that adoption does not become a byword for benevolent human trafficking.
The article also refers to adoptions from China, Korea, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Russia, Guatemala, Haiti, Japan.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Living in a Diverse Neighborhood

One of the most frequent pieces of advice given to transracial adoptive parents from transracial adoptees it to live in a diverse neighborhood. Consider this heartfelt post from Dr. John Raible, Why do adults force kids into hostile environments?
I’ve reached the same conclusion based on my work in the transracial adoption community. If you follow this blog, you know that I have been trying to get adoptive parents and social workers to wake up to the realities of living in a racially charged and still divided society for three decades—THIRTY YEARS, people. That’s a long time to be waiting for folks in positions of power and authority to finally “get it.” In the meantime, well-meaning parents can still waltz into their local adoption agency, pick out a darling brown child to take home to Whitesville, and never have to take responsibility for working through their own racism. Because in our society parents think they own their children, white APs are not required to consider what it might feel like, from the child’s perspective, to live –without a break—as the token brown person at every social event year after year. White APs never have to question, as transracial adoptees must, when the next time will suddenly pop up and someone says or does something offensive or racist. It seems as if kids who grow up under such oppressive conditions of racial isolation are expected to endure those hostile environments until they are old enough to move out on their own. Only then may they get themselves connected to a friendlier, less hostile, and more understanding community, not until they become adults. It’s too bad we accept this as normal, responsible parenting for transracially adopted children. I’ve even heard parents justify their abdication of responsibility, saying, “Hey, a little teasing makes them stronger. And they’re lucky they even got adopted, don’t forget.”

And consider this from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute's report on transracial adoption, Beyond Culture Camp: Promoting Healthy Identity Formation in Adoption:  when asked about experiences/services that would have been helpful in forming positive racial/ethnic identities, 70% of Korean adoptees said living in a racially diverse community and 73% said attending racially diverse schools (p. 44).

But oftentimes adoptive parents will say they can't live in more racially diverse communities because they want good schools and low crime, they want to live in "good neighborhoods" that will maximize opportunities for their kids (read the comments to this post from the Rumor Queen). This article (p. 8, Separate is Never Equal) in my alumni magazine offers a perspective on this issue of "good neighborhoods:
It's no surprise that people try to get the best houses in the best neighborhoods they can find.  How does it end up they live so segregated by race?

That's the question that Michael Emerson asked, and he said he hears two common answers.  The first, "It's not race, it's class."

"In fact, that's not the answer," said Emerson, the Allyn and Gladys Cline Professor of Sociology and co-director of the university's new Kinder Institute for Urban Research.  "There is a range of incomes within any racial group, and when we look at where people live by income level, they're still segregated by race.  Segregation by race is substantially greater than segregation by income."

The second answer -- "People like to live with people like themselves" -- is somewhat more accurate, he said, but it's still not the complete answer.  "In current times, many people want not to live with certain people -- people they think will drive down their property values, raise crime and lower the quality of local education.  They use race to decide these other factors."

* * *

A 'factorial experiment' . . . [showed] sensitivity among all groups to high crime rates and low-quality schools. . . .  "But for whites," Emerson, "you get a different story.  They are highly sensitive to percent black and percent Hispanic. Even if you take a neighborhood that has low crime, high-quality schools and rising property values, and you say it's 30 percent black, in almost every single case, the white respondent will say, 'Not likely to buy the house.'"
I'm not doing this as a finger-pointing post -- according to the 2000 census, my zip code is predominately white (though the private school I send my kids to is 30% non-white) (click on this link, and enter your zip code in the geography block to find out the demographics of your neighborhood).

So what do you think of Dr. Emerson's research on race as a proxy for "crime," "school quality," and "housing values?"  

Giveaway! Barbie in China Clothes & Book

Yeah, I know, but I lost the Barbie battle a long time ago with my kids, probably about the time a friend gave Zoe a Barbie for her FIRST BIRTHDAY!  But I surely can't resist when I find something China-themed for any of our dolls.  When I found this set of clothing and book of Barbie in China at  Tuesday Morning, I bought three extras.  If your kids are into Barbie, you can enter to win one!

Just email me with your snail mail address before June 11 to be entered.  We will draw three winners, and I will mail the outfits/books to the winners!

Oh, and while I have your attention?  Don't forget to vote in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Adoption Blogs contest! (Any appearance that I'm trying to bribe you is merely coincidental!).