My niece joined the family on July 12th, 2010. This special young lady's mother is my younger sister, which in classic Chinese culture makes me her Jiu Jiu (舅舅) -- thus the title of this blog. Here I intend to semi-regularly post reflections, thoughts, stories, and assorted whathaveyous pertaining to our trip to China, adoption in general, and (mostly) watching my niece grow up. Since the web is a very public place, I will attempt to maintain my family's privacy while telling the story... but I invite you to follow the blog and come along for the adventure!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Something Serious, for A Change(?)

Warning: This post is not going to be like most of those that have come before it. (It may also trend toward the longer side.)

In the intro at the top of the home page, I include the statement that I "...intend to semi-regularly post reflections, thoughts, stories, and assorted whathaveyous pertaining to our trip to China, adoption in general..." Well, this is one of those "adoption in general" posts, and it may not be a terribly happy one.

I am thrilled to the core that the Pipsqueak is my niece, is a member of my family, is my sister's daughter. I have found my life view tilted askew from what it was in a number of ways as a result, and all of them are IMHO good. In my eyes, this little girl is literally The Most Important Person In The World -- no offense to anyone else, especially AJ, our folks, and the rest of the family... but y'all (and I) come second to her. (Interestingly, one thing I've learned is that there's room in that #1 spot for additional kidlings, but right now she's the only one there.) The adoption of this little Chinese girl has been an astonishingly positive, good, healthy [insert multiple positive adjectives here] event for this family; if the reports from the Chinese authorities are to be believed -- and we very thankfully have no evidence they shouldn't be (I've been quietly poking around) -- it is all equally good for her.

That said, I am aware that adoption isn't necessarily always rainbows and roses (to steal borrow the words of another blogger). Like all aspects of life, this particular gem has multiple facets, and some are quite dark & ugly.

Facet: There have been well-documented cases of babies & little children literally being stolen from their parents, of birth mothers coerced into giving up their children, of children literally being sold to "adoption agents" and of adoption agencies & government authorities engaging in an amazing variety of highly unethical (often outright illegal) activities to keep the funding flowing. I don't mean just in China. I mean everywhere. Even here in the good ol' USofA.

Facet: Not all adoptees grow up in good families. Not all adoptees grow up feeling, or being considered as, a "real" part of a family. Not all adoptees have been allowed to develop good feelings about being adoptees. Many adoptees are not only lacking basic information that non-adoptees take for granted (e.g., What genetically-linked medical disorders run in your family? Do I have my mother's eyes?) but are often legally blocked from getting access to that information even when it is available. Many adoptees who voice [concerns / unhappiness / fears / problems] linked to being adoptees often have their concerns dismissed by other members of society, and some have been very actively "shouted down" in online forums and the blogosphere.

Facet: Many people dismiss adopted children as not being "really yours" or even belonging in their adoptive family. Many people dismiss raising adopted children as being [a lesser calling / easier / less important / less meaningful] than raising biological children. Many people consider a family's love of adopted children less "real" than the same family's love of children with a direct genetic link.

Facet: Many people consider adopting a child of a different race equivalent to denying that child their rightful heritage. Many people consider transracial adoption to be nothing more than guilt-ridden Whites trying to erase a history of racism and/or make up for decades of White Privilege. There are even a frightening number of people who consider mixed-race families to be an actual sin against God.

Facet: Many people think of adoptees in terms of, "What good are you if your own mother didn't want you?" Many people think of adoptive parents in terms of, "What's wrong with you if you couldn't have kids of your own?"

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Unfortunately, most of the "facets" above carry a lot of emotional weight, making it extremely difficult to discuss any of the issues without extreme polarization (usually followed by extreme behavior) among those doing the discussing.

I won't pretend to have any of the answers... but these (and other) facets are all part of the same stone; denying the existence of any is roughly equivalent to denying the existence of the stone itself -- and yet the world is chock-full of adopters and adoptees so such a denial amounts to truly monumental delusion.

What brought on this darker post, you might ask... Several things, actually (many of which I learned of by reading the blogs of adoptive parents and adult adoptees). The two that knocked me off the fence -- I really wasn't sure if I wanted to post this, I'd been editing a post about cute things the Pipsqueak says -- are as follows:

1) A well-meaning group called Circle of Moms held their annual "Top 25 Mommy Blogs" survey, in which people could nominate blogs for the list and then vote for them. Interestingly, a number of the most popular vote-getters were blogs (mainly written by adult adoptees) that advocate changing how adoption works and that openly address the dark side of adoption and the different issues facing the members of the "adoption triad" (birth mother, adoptee, adoptive mother). One of the top-ranking blogs belonged to an adult adoptee who also had to unwillingly give up her own child for adoption -- but it apparently ruffled some feathers and was eliminated from the contest by COM for not being sufficiently supportive of adoption and adoptive parents. I'll skip the gory details; the end result was that COM cancelled the contest mid-stream and (still licking their wounds) have announced that they will be addressing next year's contest rather differently. The (often highly polarized) comments posted on the censored blog are an interesting, albeit sometimes painful, but informative (and in some cases probably necessary) read. The URL may change as new posts are added, but the original post on the Adoption Truth blog is here. (Note: This is a well-written blog but it is not of the "rainbows and roses" variety.)

2) One of my favorite bloggers introduced her new "What The ----" feature with a doozy: a tweet from the Catholic League that says, "Lesbian Dem Hilary Rosen tells Ann Romney she never worked a day in her life. Unlike Rosen, who had to adopt kids, Ann raised 5 of her own."  (That's a direct quote, copied, albeit without permission, from the screenshot of the original tweet.)  The entire tweet is positively oozing with "there's something wrong with you if you adopt," and "raising adopted kids is nothing compared to raising genetically related kids."  You can see the original post of this particular piece of drek on "I Will Pull This Blog Over!" by clicking here.

Maybe I'm a little too sleep-deprived... maybe I'm a little too sensitive... maybe I got tired of seeing posts from people of diametrically opposed polarities drown out (by sheer volume of bytes) posts from those in less extreme points on the spectrum of experience & belief... but when added to a number of other adoption-related posts, articles, and news stories I've encountered recently, those two required me to write. This isn't a good essay in terms of presenting a particular point of view and then supporting it with specific facts, and I seriously doubt I'm saying anything most adoptees & adoptive parents haven't at least thought of themselves, but I had to write something.  (Wait 'til you see the post I've been trying to compose in response to a note on an adoption forum where someone referred to adopting a child not directly related genetically as "sick" -- assuming I'm ever able to finish editing it without foaming at the mouth.)

In closing -- this post is using an awful lot of electrons, and they're not as cheap as they once were -- I have a couple of suggestions directly related to the two events/issues I mentioned above. As far as the firestorm ignited by the Circle of Moms contest, I'd suggest turning down the heat and adopting a "wait and see" attitude; the organization (and at least some of the people leaving comments on some of the blogs) seem to have learned a valuable lesson and will handle things a little more realistically next year. I'm convinced that there's no way COM will be able to satisfy everyone, but it looks like they're going to do a better job of accepting a far greater variety of the facets of adoption. (On the other hand, keep your matches handy for re-ignition in case I prove to be overly optimistic.)

And as far as the Catholic League is concerned... This is a case where "tweet" is a highly appropriate term, the strongly inferred beliefs being at best bird-brained and at worst an expression of nothing more than thinly-disguised hate. I would suggest that Twitter, Facebook, email, and even plain ol' snail mail be used to educate the birdbrained idiot who represented that organization.

[ . . . ]

Okay, I just wrote, deleted, and re-wrote the same paragraph several times; I'm looking for an intelligent ending to this post and the brain's just not working any more (been awake too many consecutive hours). I'll just leave y'all with a request to not over-simplify adoption as all supercalifragilisticexpialidocious goodness or blacker than tar in the shadows at night dark evil. Adoption encompasses literally the entire range of human emotion & experience, from the ingrained biological urge to perpetuate the species all the way on up through the definition of "family" and on to the subjects of parenting, religion, race, heritage, and culture.  If an answer to all this is really simple, it's bound to be the wrong answer.

And speaking of answers... Please try to leave enough room in your personal beliefs to accept the fact that different people will have different thoughts on the subject, will have different experiences, will have vastly different lives, and thus will have different answers -- and "different" simply means "not the same" and NOT "better" or "worse" (it's how AJ is trying to raise the Pipsqueak).

I moderate the comments posted in this blog, but do so with a light touch -- anyone have a response they'd like to share?


  1. This is a very good, thought provoking post. Thank you for this. You make several good points.

    My blog was the one that was removed and I just wanted to clarify that I am not an adoptee. I'm actually a First Mom and then, because my husband and I adopted back our oldest son and it was - because he was not yet 21 - a minor child adoption, I'm also in the weirdest of ways, viewed as his adoptive mother as well.

    Again, I really liked your post, do you mind if I share it some of my adoption related groups on Facebook?

    1. Cassi,

      First & foremost I apologize for completely missing the target on identifying you as an adoptee and not as a First Mom; I'll throw myself upon the mercy of the jury with the semi-valid excuse that I really was much too tired to keep my thoughts & facts untangled while writing about such a complex subject.

      Please feel free to share my post as you see fit... and thank you for the kind words!

  2. Very thoughtful and well-written post...I have been out of the loop in many ways the past few weeks so I hadn't been aware of either of the situations you wrote about. As you said, it certainly isn't all roses and rainbows, but still so disheartening to see/hear how adoption and families directly impacted by adoption are portrayed or treated. Thanks for writing this post.