Monday, April 23, 2007

Big Risk Taker, Who Knew?

All last week, I kept promising myself that when I completed tasks A-C little i-iv, I could indulge myself and write a feel good blog entry about my wonderful little family. About how I’m learning to help Nora see how good choices get “good” attention or how I cannot WAIT for the IKEA store to open next month which will bring Utah closer to the middle of the mass market retail stream (if we could just land a Crate and Barrel my life would be complete), and then I opened yesterday’s big Sunday edition and saw this huge feature article about international adoption on the main local page and all other topics went to the bottom of the pile.

I’ve never felt the need to blog about current events although, of course, this blog exists in real time and of course we are all feeling the pain and horror of the senseless deaths in Virginia, or the forced abortions in Guangxi Province, or can’t comprehend that our tax dollars are being poured down a bottomless bucket called Mr. Bush’s Homemade Civil War. But I am acutely aware of my literary limitations (which is a topic for a future blog, man there are some folks out there in blogworld that can lay it down, they can write their nubs off). I know when I don’t have anything unique to add to the discussion besides a “yeah, me too,” so why create more clutter?

But can you see the headline? Taking a Risk: More Families Adopting. I don’t know how long this link will last, but good hell, what additional scary risk exactly are we taking when we choose to build our families through adoption? And, apparently, according to this headline, the risk of this mysterious scary X-factor that I can’t figure out goes way up when we choose international adoption. The last time I checked, the state pen was not filled exclusively with adult adoptees. Tim McVey, Adolph Hitler and Sueng Hui Cho were not raised by adoptive parents. My Nora is not the only child in her Kindergarten class who can’t read or count and the other “academically challenged” kids in her class are being raised by their biological parents.

I kept reading the article to see if the reporter was going to tie in the disturbing story about a local agency that told big fat lies to Samoan birth parents and US adoptive parents and made a heartbreaking pig’s breakfast of hundreds of lives. She gets there, she mentions Focus on Children and the adoption scam, but that does not seem to be the risk referenced in the headline. Am I reading this too critically? Does the reporter think the risk is that adoptive parents roll the dice and we could get a “bad” one? Who chose this stupid stupid headline? She discusses the extra baggage, the “narrative burden” a transracially adopted child comes with from the start. But she writes about the narrative burden generally, that all adopted children have a big sign over their heads that invites the stranger standing behind them at the grocery store to pepper their parents with personal questions. I just don’t think that happens to the blond-haired, blue-eyed Ukrainian adoptee and her mom, but I could be wrong.

I very much appreciated reading the companion article written by a Tribune staffer who is an adult adoptee. I always want to learn more about the feelings of grief and loss my kids will inevitably need to address as they grow older. I want to be prepared to recognize the issues although I will have no better answers for them when they become old enough to formulate the questions.

So is that the risk? That our internationally adopted children are removed from their birth cultures and may resent us for being the tool of the oppressor when they get older? Does she think that our aopted kids will be the only ones that rebel or reject their parents’ values? Does she think that all adoptive parents are dumb as rocks and haven’t wasted a single brain cell worrying about these issues? That we haven’t wept as the plane taxied away from the Guangzhou/Vilnius/Amaty/LaPaz/Guatemala City airport for the loss we were inflicting on our children by providing them a family? These issues of grief and loss are complex and deep and unending, so is that the risk? That building a family through adoption means we’ll have to talk about tough stuff?

I know about the risk of losing your heart to children who will never carry your biological stamp of approval, so is there another kind of risk of which I’m not aware? I am a leap then look kind of gal. So what is there about international adoption that I am so completely unaware of that I have to even ask this question? I guess I better write to the editor to find out.

And since I still haven't quite figured out how to respond to comments, I'm just throwing another paragraph on this post and italicizing for fun? distinction, because it's the only other font Blogger gives you? A wise efriend, (and who could have dreamed that up a generation ago, that we'd have efriends, when you don't have to buy a stamp for a letter, a penpal becomes an efriend, boggles the mind, but, back to this topic), who, in three sentences distilled my the discomfort and annoyance at that stupid headline (Dawn, you're right, I don't mind the article, but the headline frayed me a bit) that I couldn't make clear in shower of words. That to regard international adoption as a category different from "adoption" is the problem. Not that it isn't different from domestic adoption, but that to set it off as so different, so risky, seems to deemphasize the human characteristics of the children we welcome into our families. They are children, not something different than other children. It seemed to me that this headline gave the article an orientation that the reporter wasn't trying to communicate about the children, but about the process. The headline stressed the alien-ness of the experience rather than the humanness of it. See, it still took me two times the volume to paraphrase the idea, but hey, when you're used to billing your time in 10 minute increments, over-writing is a hard habit to break.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, narrative burden. Maybe I would have to deal with that if I adopted a blond blue eyed child. So far the only comments I have received are how beautiful my children are, how polite (not often but the rush when it does happen- whew!), and how much they look like me. One child is hispanic and the other is chinese. I have brown hair, brown eyes, and tan easily.

In China I received the comment that my son must look like his father. I agreed.

Rebecca M.

Yes, Minister... said...

I think you may be underestimating your talents, you got some pretty good literary nubs there :0)

Okay, this is kind long and rambling but here goes:

I get so sick of people judging people – especially in the media to get a story out on the QT. I went to read the article but it was no longer available. I'd love to read it if you can e-mail it to me.

Honestly, the majority of comments that I get are sweet, how cute or how lucky we are to have LiLi, but then there is the one or two that bring out Mrs. Nasty. Is your son yours? What the he!!? Is he mine - they are both mine you moron! I realized going into this that there would be ignorance and OMG have I dealt with it - remember Publix lady and son -who commented that LiLi was an orphan with a thing on her face!

Okay make the point :-)
I know that our girls face a complex road in this world torn between two cultures. Note to the media - Please don't educate an already miss-educated world on the negative aspects of international adoption and make it harder for her. If LiLi, Nora, Yu Yu, Ellie, Mimi, or any of these girls were in China right this minute, what future would they have? A great mom? A chance at education? Gawd - think of the life these children now have to become lawyers, engineers, teacher, what ever? But most of all, they have a home, where they are loved.

How many American bio-kids have it so good? Well, mine does :-)

BTW – Have you seen the study on biological v. adoptive parents that IU and UC recently published?

Dawn said...

I actually thought the article wasn't too bad. Kids who are a different race than their parents (not just internationl adoptees but domestic, too) are going to face a few challenges that others won't, such as listening to rude or just plain stupid remarks from ignorant people) and may at some point feel a "loss" of their birth culture. However, that doesn't mean that they aren't going to have great lives and families that love them more than anything and can help them through the rough times. One thing the article should have done differently is change the wording in their title about people who decide to adopt internationally "taking a risk". If the article were completely truthful it would have mentioned the fact that people who decide to get pregnant and have a biological child are taking a big risk, too. Childbirth, even in this day and age, is risky, and just because you give birth to a child doesn't mean that child is going to go through life perfectly healthy and free from emotional problems. Deciding to have a child (no matter how you do it) is a big risk. It involves another human being. All children could come up with a severe health problem at some point in their childhood. All children could come up with severe emotional problems at some point in their childhood. All we can do as parents is make sure our kids know we love them no matter what and be there for them to help them deal with any problems they have.

Your girls are all so beautiful and I love seeing the updated pictures of them, and even seeing them once in a while in real life. You have a great family and I have to credit you with us having Amaya because you are the one that gave me the idea to adopt from China. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Even her non-biological brothers love her like any other sister they could ever have, and they like to tease her just as much, too.

Keep up the good work. I love reading your blog. You are actually a great writer and are always making me laugh.