Racism In Adoption

Snark 1102
Teacher: Today’s lesso–
Bright young student [reads blackboard]: Oh! Oh, I know, pick me!
Teacher: Yes, bright young student?
BYS: This is gonna be one of those things where we find out there’s racism in adoption and that’s terrible because an AP might get hurt by it, right?
Teacher: Well, you have been paying attention. That’s exactly what this is.

The author of two books about adoption and a’father to six says he chose Russia because “[o]ur adoption/foster system here in the States is a big mess, and adopting within [it] proved to be a nightmare. That isn’t to say it gets better when you adopt internationally. It actually gets worse.”

Wait, what? You adopted in Russia because it’s so much harder? I think what I really just read was “I know I’m not supposed to say ‘because I didn’t want to have some kid in my house who might never be legally mine,’ or ‘because I didn’t want to deal with a first mother’ or ‘because US foster kids are more messed up than Russian orphanage kids’…but what will I say? Um, it’s easier but harder! That’ll fix’em.”

It didn’t. Perhaps perplexed at not having gotten an answer, the interviewer asked again why he and his wife chose Russia.

“I’ll be honest. It was racism. To my wife, race didn’t matter. For me, personally, I could have had a child from any race and it wouldn’t have mattered to me. Still, I was afraid that as a child aged, it might matter to them.”

Of course it will matter to them! And you shouldn’t even contemplate an interracial adoption if you can’t take a long, hard….what? What did you say?

“I was afraid of being rejected by my adopted children.”

No. No, that’s not possible. It must be these glasses. [rubrub, squint]

“I was afraid of being rejected by my adopted children.”

No. No. No. No.

He was afra… [counts to ten] He was fine with bringing some hypothetical kid here from Ethiopia or somewhere. He was fine with the idea of raising that kid in a society that would judge him/her inferior by skin color forever. He was fine with doing that even though he, as a white parent, can do little or nothing to help that child negotiate racism. He was fine with all that. That would have been dandy. But a resentful child? Oh no, racism, now you have GONE TOO FAR.

Adoption is about rescuing a kid who’s properly grateful for it. It’s about the wants and feelings of well-off Western whitefolks, and if some kid’s gonna resent them, it’s just not worth it!

The assumption that no child who “looks like” Mr. Simmons will ever dare find fault with his parenting skills is not merely racist, of course. It’s outright harmful to adoptees of all backgrounds. Back before people knew any better, a lot of us grew up feeling that using anything short of gushing praise to discuss our a’parents was disloyal. Some of us grew up thinking all our confusion was our own fault, and that we must have been given up because somebody knew we would think secret bad thoughts about our parents. And if we looked a lot like our a’parents, we were expected to be like them and have fewer problems than adopted kids who didn’t “look like” their parents.

We know better now. Psychologists, adoptive parents, everybody knows better now. Surely a man who published two books on adoption knows better?

Anyway there it is, the “racism” in adoption. (Scare quotes signify that the resentment of their oppressors felt by the oppressed never has been and never will be racism.) Any questions?

BYS: Oh! Oh! Miss?
Teacher: Yes?
BYS: Is at least one of Mr. Simmons’ books on adoption drowning in sugar?
Teacher [marks extra credit column]: He calls it “saccharine,” but that’s close enough. Here’s why:

“First, it’s easier to write fiction. If you don’t like a part of the story, you change it. If you want to make a point, or you don’t know a detail, you don’t need to do research, you just make something up.”

Mr. Simmons, as a writer of fiction, let me just say that is not exactly how I or anyone I know writes fiction.

“Secondly, there are a lot of beautiful experiences that come with adoption. Why cloud it up with the uglies? Paint a rainbow on the bedroom wall, give the kid a stuffed unicorn and live happily ever after.”

(He actually. Said. Rainbow.)

(He actually. Said. Unicorn.)

But yeah, why not go on spreading the same sweet lies about adoption? It’s not like the book will have an effect on anyone–

“It was pretty easy to use a little saccharine (to artificially sweeten the story). I wanted people to adopt, so why not ‘sell’ it?”

You want people to adopt based on a prettied-up version of adoption. Well, that kind of thing never leads to expectations a child can’t live up to, does it? And those could never in turn lead to a little white child’s resenting his or her white parent/s down the road. Mercy, no.

To give him his due, Mr. Simmons would seem to be doing good work in Russia for those children who won’t be adopted.

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10 Comments

Filed under AdoptoLand, Colonialism ROCKS!, General Ignoramitude, It Can't Be Racist. I Didn't Use the N-word Once!

10 responses to “Racism In Adoption

  1. *slow clap* The animated gif totally makes it.

    I guess adoptive parents want to own ALL of adoptees’ experiences, including the rejection part. “Hey, we feel that too! You’re not special, we are! It’s all about us! Us! US!”

  2. Pingback: Of stories told (and others that are not…) | brentsnavely

  3. Yes a painting of THAT little unicorn complete with rainbow might be just the thing for the little adoptee’s room décor..

  4. Aunt Helena

    Actually, Mr. Simmons’ fear happened to a friend of mine. They adopted an infant from Korea and when “Jr.” grew up (very happily and successfully I might add) as a full fledged American, he decided that he was really a Korean. He went back to Korea, found a non-english speaking Korean bride, brought her back home to Georgia and now lives within the local Korean community. While my friend doesn’t begrudge him discovering his roots (in fact they encouraged it – mission trips to his orphanage, etc …), he has rejected the way he was brought up for Korean values. Everything my friend and the family says and does is wrong and not the Korean way. Well buddy – FYI – you are an American! He has insulted them on every level and broken their hearts.

    As far as Mr. Simmons is concerned, becoming a parent is scary. I don’t think he understands that parenthood is not for the fearful. A biological child could just as easily reject their parents’ values. It is a roll of the dice for all parents. That is part of the adventure! 🙂

    • Brent Snavely

      An interesting perspective, but I am not certain citizenship and nationality are identical.

      • Aunt Helena

        Well – my friend’s son was adopted as an infant and brought to America. His culture is american not korean. Citizenship really doesn’t matter – it is about culture in this case.

      • If he came from one culture to another and chose to identify with the first one, who are you to tell him he got it wrong?

    • Excuse me? What business is it of yours if this adoptee wants to embrace the culture from which he was severed? If his very natural and understandable embrace of his culture is so horribly offensive to his adoptive family – and you, an outsider who has no business making judgments – then you clearly have no empathy whatsoever for the adoptee experience.

      In other words you are upset because this adoptee wasn’t the tabula rasa promised by the adoption industry. TOUGH. Adoptees are people and we have just as much right to choose as anyone. You just don’t like it when we refused to subsume ourselves to fit into others’ expectations. No wonder he’s gone back to his Korean culture. What adoptee would want to subject themselves to that? He “decided that he was really a Korean” BECAUSE HE IS and no one would allow him his identity.

    • Unless you’re Cherokee, Lakota, Ojibway, Navajo or any other of a number of indigenous nations, you don’t have an American culture. Unless maybe it’s Ferengi. Money money money, buy and spend, and nothing else matters.

      Your English language comes from a European country. Your ancestors are all mixed up. You copy what you see on TV as far as how to behave day to day.

      I don’t blame that young man for going back to the culture of his ancestors. It has more to offer.

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