Thursday, March 23, 2006
Chinese American adoptees

The NY Times recently ran an article about how the first large generation of Chinese girls adopted by (mostly white) American families are now reaching their teenage years. You can read it right here. An interesting part that caught my eye:

Molly and Qiu Meng represent the leading edge of this coming-of-age population, adopted just after the laws changed and long before such placements became popular, even fashionable.

Molly was among 61 Chinese children adopted by Americans in 1991, and Qiu Meng was one of 206 adopted the next year, when the law was fully put into effect. Last year, more than 7,900 children were adopted from China.

As the oldest of the adopted children move through their teenage years, they are beginning — independently and with a mix of enthusiasm and trepidation — to explore their identities. Their experiences offer hints at journeys yet to come for thousands of Chinese children who are now becoming part of American families each year.

Those experiences are influenced by factors like the level of diversity in their neighborhoods and schools, and how their parents expose them to their heritage.

"We're unique," Qiu Meng said.

A view that Molly does not share. "I don't see myself as different at all," said Molly, whose friends, her mother said, all seem to be "tall, thin and blond."

The different outlooks are normal say experts on transracial adoption.

Most Americans who bring Chinese children to the United States are white and in the upper middle class.

Jane Brown, a social worker and adoptive parent who conducts workshops for adopted children and their families, says the families should directly confront issues of loss and rejection, which the children often face when they begin to understand the social and gender politics that caused their families in China to abandon them.

Ms. Brown also recommends that transracial adoptive families address American attitudes on race early, consistently and head on.

"Sometimes parents want to celebrate, even exoticize, their child's culture, without really dealing with race,"
said Ms. Brown, 52, who is white and who has adopted children from Korea and China.

"It is one thing to dress children up in cute Chinese dresses, but the children need real contact with Asian-Americans, not just waiters in restaurants on Chinese New Year. And they need real validation about the racial issues they experience."

The two stories of Molly and Qiu Meng definitely are food for thought. For once, I'm glad to see an article about Americans adopting Chinese girls address the issue that many Asian Americans like myself find troubling with the phenomenon of white American families adopting Asian children: a tendency of those families to exoticize or ignore the racial implications that come with an Asian child being raised by a oblivious families (who by virtue of their whiteness, can ignore racial issues) in a society that is still deeply marked by racism and discrimination against the "other" (read: non-white, non-Christian).

I remember my friend Justin (who is a Korean adoptee himself) once wrote a rather extensive essay on the topic.

There is some hope, though - an interesting angle explored by the article talks about how many Korean American adoptees are using their experiences to positively influence this next generation of Asian adoptees. It mentions that Nancy Kim Parsons (a filmmaker who's an Korean American adoptee) is currently making a documentary comparing the experiences of Korean adult adoptees with those of the Chinese children being adopted today.


more podcasting

davephonic has unleashed his Lucky-sponsored (haha) podcast here. Hilarious, and 100% anti-establishment tuneage. Ph333r his awesome casting sKiLLz.


i had an interesting experience trying to explain adoption to my students and even fellow teachers last month, when i got asked how many children i wanted.
adoption is clearly not very popular in japan, esp for a country struggling with it's own birth rate! =P
thanks for the plug, mang. im considering exploring the similarities between country music and hip-hop for the next cast. well, assuming there is another one.
Angela- You gotta admit, it's expensive to raise a kid in Japan... adopted or birthed. Did you see the article mentioning the majority of Japanese women in their late 20s and 30s are unmarried? duh-dum!

dks- heh, nice! Southern krunk + meets blue grass? ;)
it isn't more expensive than the US. i mean, there's monetary "bribes" now in certain cities/prefectures to entice women to have more children, plus insurance is pretty good at covering the cost of hospital fees, etc. each year, my school population has dwindled at least by 10 students school, which is pretty significant considering i haven't even been here for 2 years. but yeah, a lot of men and women are getting married later in life, and women who don't get married -- worklife here is pretty harsh for women to juggle with having to raise small chilren, not to mention husbands still don't help out much with housechores and raising their kids =P
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in?scrip?tion (n-skrip-shun)n.
1. The act or an instance of inscribing.
2. Something, such as the wording on a coin, medal, monument, or seal, that is inscribed.
3. A short, signed message in a book or on a photograph given as a gift.
4. The usually informal dedication of an artistic work.
5. Jeremiah 31:33

the facts.
name. Gar AKA "that Chinese guy" "Sleepy.McSleeping"
ethnicity/nationality. Chinese/American, 4th gen.
location. Sea-Town, WA, USA Kawanishi, JAPAN
occupation. less-cynical poor grad student
age. younger than you think, older than you know



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