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If you read anything today, read this! A crash course in transracial adoptive parenting, brought to you by Dr. John Raible, a scholar, transracial adoptee, adoptive parent and awesome coffee buddy.
Obtain a kid from overseas recently? Or still fantasizing about rescuing somebody’s orphan? Perhaps you are in the process of saving one of those less expensive kids from foster care?… The unabashed assumption and unapologetic bias behind this Crash Course is that the best teachers of adoptive parents are adult transracial adoptees who have lived through the experiment, especially those adoptees who are also adoptive parents. The second best teachers are experienced transracial adoptive parents who, even though they may not be adoptees or people of color, nevertheless have figured out how to become conscious anti-racist advocates and allies.
Allies, you ask, in what struggles? In the joint struggles against racism and on behalf of adoption reform.
I had the great pleasure of meeting Dr. John Raible, whose work I admired from afar and quoted in my dissertation, at the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture conference at MIT earlier this month. He gave a phenomenal talk on LGBT parents and transracial adoption, and generously made the text available on his blog. In this presentation, Dr. Raible asks us to reconsider the assumption that “LGBT parents have an almost innate sensitivity to diversity issues since they are members of an oppressed minority”; if they are white LGBT parents, they still might not “get it” in terms of race. He speaks of the need for all white parents and white siblings – be they gay, lesbian, straight – to transracialize; that is, to be people “who did pay attention to race, who early on moved beyond color-blindness, who took their heads out of the sand long enough to notice how their siblings of color were being positioned in particular ways, and how they were being racialized.”
I encourage you to read his presentation and also to subscribe to his blog: http://johnraible.wordpress.com/how-to-fix-adoption-first-respect-adult-adoptees/lgbt-parents-transracial-adoption/
Holy hot cakes, there’s never a dull day in the transracial adoption blogosphere. Here’s a summary of what’s going on at my good friend Bae Gang Shik’s blog:
- Gang Shik wrote a thoughtful and critical blog entry about John Seabrook’s The New Yorker article and NPR podcast regarding his recent adoption of a Haitian (post-earthquake) girl named Rose.
- John Seabrook responded to Gang Shik, calling him “unhappy.”
- Other transracial adoptees and allies commented on the entry, asking Mr. Seabrook to consider his own white male privilege and stop dismissing criticisms coming from adopted persons who are, after all, experts on their own lives, as well as scholars of adoption.
- John Seabrook responded again, accusing adoptees of not listening to him and twisting his words.
- An adoptive mother threw down the final word (as of now):
I sincerely hope that John never has to read the unkind assumption about his daughter that I read on these pages about my son – that Rose must have had an unhappy adoption experience simply because she speaks her own truth.
I’m really glad whenever I read/hear the comments of adoptive parents who actually listen to and support their transracially adopted children (who, by the way, do grow up into adulthood). But I continue to be extremely frustrated by the active silencing and dismissing that occurs at the hands of other adoptive parents who cannot look beyond their privilege and entitlement. Transracially adopted persons have a right to tell their own stories and be critical of an imperfect industry without having to be defensive towards the very people who parent them. I’m not a transracial adoptee, but I’ve been researching this for a number of years. At the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture (ASAC) conference 3 weeks ago, I observed first hand how often white adoptive parents dismissed issues of race, pathologized adoptees scholarship and thereby treated them as objects rather than subjects. For example, adoptive parents asked Dr. John Raible about his personal life in response to his academic presentation regarding gender, sexuality and transracial adoption; another white therapist asked Deann Borshay Liem if she felt “whole” after viewing her mind-blowing documentary, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee. Clearly, these folks don’t see adoptees as scholars, as documentarians, as experts regarding their own lives. They see them as objects to be studied, examined, pathologized, and then silenced. This must change.
Whew, off my soapbox. Read the conversation at KAD Nexus: http://kadnexus.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/john-seabrook-npr-segment/
I’m very pleased to announce Talk Story: Sharing Story, Sharing Culture, a literacy program put together by the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) and the American Indian Library Association (AILA). The American Library Association and ALA President Dr. Camila Alire launched this Family Literacy Focus initiative to encourage families in ethnically diverse communities to read and learn together (press release).
Talk Story: Sharing stories, sharing culture is a literacy program that reaches out to Asian Pacific American (APA) and American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) children and their families. The program celebrates and explores their stories through books, oral traditions, and art to provide an interactive, enriching experience. Children and their families can connect to rich cultural activities through Talk Story in their homes, libraries, and communities. We welcome all ethnicities to customize Talk Story as needed for your community family literacy needs.
Talk Story: Sharing stories, sharing culture: http://www.talkstorytogether.org/
Happy reading, happy learning 🙂