Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Anyone who has adopted will tell you that there is a certain language you must learn to speak. It can get rather heated if you are not "correct" with some of your terminology. The best part is that most of the time you will have no clue the what you are saying is going to cause a major uproar! This post from another blog sums it up so well! I've been coached, corrected, and "gently" reminded that saying certain things - like the words "brought home" are not appropriate. Sound silly? Read on!
Instead, I'm turning to a topic that's been on my mind quite a bit recently- international adoption. We just completed one international adoption- bringing home our daughter from China in January. Oh- I wrote something horrible in that last sentence. I wrote that we brought her "home". In some circles of parents who have adopted their children from abroad you're not supposed to say you brought your child home, because you didn't. See, your child has a home already, and a family, and a culture. You should feel very conflicted and in fact, bad, about tearing them from their home, family, and culture of origin. You should feel that you have to strive to do everything to keep your child's culture of origin alive in their life, because anything else would be wrong. You should also feel bad that you as an American have so much more than people in the developing world whose children you are adopting- and I'm sure a lot of people think you should blame America for that.

Anyway, after a great deal of paperwork, and very few bureaucratic screw ups (besides BCIS telling me my fingerprints expired the day they took them) we were able to travel to China and bring our daughter from her country of origin to a strange place to be raised in the midst of strange people who sought to damage her further by not instantly enrolling her in Chinese school, wanting her to learn English, and celebrating the day she got her Certificate of Citizenship.I'm joking about our daughter, of course, but I've been doing a lot of thinking about international adoption, and people's attitudes about it. I don't mean the people who ask us why we adopted from a foreign country rather than from the US foster system- a question I've answered here, and less delicately in private forums.

From reading broadly on adoption boards, lists, listservs, etc there seem to be four main groups that dominant the discourse. There are "the Christians"- who believe they're following Christ's injunction to care for the orphans, and as an extra benefit, getting to introduce a child to Christ who might not otherwise get this experience. There are the "regular folks", who are adopting for whatever personal reason they have with little or no socio-cultural- political motivations. Then there are "the Leftists" who are adopting or who are involved in the adoption industry. These are the people who bemoan using phrases like "bringing our child home", and insist on keeping the child as immersed in their culture of origin as you possibly can. The fourth group (which seems to overlap with the third) are the "Issues" group- whose adoptive kids always have some sort of horrible psychological issue even when they're behaving like all other kids, having the same problems and reacting in the same way all other kids do. For example- an adopted child who's anxious about starting school the first time obviously has attachment issues, and isn't securely attached, and if you think your adopted child is attached- you're in denial.It's these last two groups that have really gotten to me- so much so that I've stopped reading several lists. There's a constant anger simmering there, especially among group three. When a hapless group two person stumbles on in and asks about changing the baby's name- all hell breaks loose. The attitude is "how dare you do that", and "you're ignorant". These of course are the same people who tell everyone constantly that their children are always victims of racism, and you better get used to it, because if you adopt a child from China, Korea, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, India, etc. that child will be the constant object of hatred and ridicule. Store detectives will follow him/her around and when they grow up, no one in White, racist America will want to date them.

Personally, I think these people are struggling with the fact that they're involved in what essentially their political world view would define as an imperialistic venture. They're taking children from Third and developing World countries, and bringing them back to evil America where they'll have an opportunity to flourish they wouldn't have in their "country of origin". These are people- including the social workers and other professionals who write volumes on the necessity of foreign-born adopted children keeping their culture- who have been weaned on an academic culture of hatred towards America, the West, and imperialism. They're the ones who elevate the primitive rebels, exalt the non-materialist cultures of the Third World, and cheer the march of Socialism. Now, they're adopting from, or facilitating adoptions from, the very cultures and countries they have elevated above their own culture of origin: China, the failed Soviet Union (mainly Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic states, and Kazakhstan), any number of Central and South American countries, and Viet Nam. They're caught in an intellectual quandry. They railed against imperialism, but now they're playing the role of imperialist- taking children from the oppressed (albeit from poverty or a life of institutionalization -but God forbid you feel like you're doing something to help the child, that you're "saving" them from a bleak life, because then that's bad and you should never adopt due to a savior complex and you'll make your kid's life a living hell where they must always be grateful to you)

.I know I'm on the right track with my annoyance on this, and it's not some Redneck, Christian hatred of the Left because my older sister (who thought John Kerry was too conservative) agrees with me. We discussed this recently when I mentioned maybe enrolling our daughter in a Chinese school in a few years, and going to meetings of a group of families with kids from China. She asked, "Why the hell do you want to do that? She's American now." Now that was a shocker, and I wasn't sure how to reply. I just blathered something about how some people say it's culturally imperialistic to separate your child from their birth culture. "That's stupid," was her elegant reply, "if they wanted them to be Chinese, they should've left them in China." And she's of the opinion that we're doing a good thing by adopting internationally since "American imperialism screwed up their countries in the first place" it's the least a diehard American imperialist such as myself can do- give the kid a chance to lead a good life.Wow- an adoption that I thought might well rip my family apart, is actually helping us to mend fences. But thinking that is selfish, showing no regard for whether our child wants to be placed in the role of peacekeeper, and I should be ashamed to even think it. (Thank you "Issues" group for that insight.)

3 comments:

Rach said...

Wow, that does really sum it up! The forums can be very critical of all this.

Hope the house sells soon!!!

Recovering Wino said...

Thanks for directing me to this..it is cynical, you're right...but so true!

What blog was it from?

Recovering Wino said...

Thanks for directing me to this..it is cynical, you're right...but so true!

What blog was it from?