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Susan Ito trying to do it all: reading writing mothering spousing daughtering working living

Monday, May 01, 2006

Adoption in the Blogosphere

Continuing on with my adoption theme, I wanted to share some links to some unique blogs I've been reading this year.

Twice the Rice
: Korean adoptee Ji-In is one of the most eloquent, right-on and funny bloggers out there. Her writing is sharp, excellent, and really a must-read for anyone interested in international adoption. I keep hoping she'll turn some of her blog posts into a book. Here's an excerpt from a recent post about the long journey of changing her legal name.
My parents had my new name all picked out long before my Northwest Orient flight touched down at O'Hare International. I emerged from the Jetway in line with all the other groggy Korean babies being carried out in matching pastel sweater outfits, and suddenly, I was an American child with a funny Swedish-American name.

And so this is how it came to pass, that I tried an American classification on for size for nearly 30 years. That's 30 years of insisting to strangers that yes, that was my name, and yes, damnit, those were my actual parents.

But even I wasn't entirely convinced. Stepping up to claim my name at the doctor's office and FedEx counter makes me feel fraudulent at times. Often, my adoptive name — called out by DMV clerks and neatly pressed receptionists with the assumption that its rightful owner is actually someone much whiter – has the sound of a fugitive's alias. My name incriminates me as a counterfeit American to white people, and as a "banana" to Asians. Sometimes I don't even believe myself.

Mimi Smartypants (great name) is the adoptive mother of a daughter who was born in China. She's way on the other end of the journey, just at the beginning. She is extremely funny and sharp. She doesn't write a lot about adoption explicitly, but a lot about parenting.

Someone I sort-of kind-of know has a son about the same age as Nora. Every time I run into this woman, she has a bunch of weirdly anxious questions about the sorts of things Nora is up to lately (is she dry at night? can she draw people?), and I hate answering her because I just know she is comparing our children on some dumb checklist in her head. She also has a tendency to try and score bizarre uber-mommy points by constantly saying how well-adjusted Nora seems to be to preschool and to her nanny, and falls all over herself to say how great it is that we don't have daily tears when I head off to work. Then this woman likes to fake-complain about how her son cries and cries when she drops him off at the babysitter's, and how he is just so attached to her. As if having a big old crybaby of a kid is a normal source of pride.

Usually I just nod and smile and get the hell away as quickly as I can, but the other day I decided to go ahead and play her retarded game. When she mentioned Little Lord Crybaby for the umpteenth time I sweetly said, "Wow, it's very unusual to have such severe separation anxiety at his age...have you ever tried to find out what's causing it?" And then she got flustered and I said I had to be running along and I felt good for about ten seconds. I would really rather just opt out of the Competitive Mothering games but sometimes you just have to give people a taste of their own medicine. Right?

Korean Adoptee Bride is writing a pre-wedding blog, but it has a ton of really poignant posts about adoption. She was adopted into a white family, and is marrying a Chinese-American man, and this was about her desire to have a Chinese wedding banquet.
Months before I got engaged I spent the day with my mom doing errands. In the car ride to her jeweler, I started to offhandedly tell her what a Chinese wedding was like. The conversation led to a huge fight: my mom did not want me to have any sort of non-American cultural wedding. Her explanation was, “You’re not Chinese.” We bickered back and forth, and she stated these reasons:
  • Your relatives (especially the older ones) won’t be able to identify the food, and therefore will not eat it.
  • No one would drive to Boston for my wedding. (It had to be in Boston because that’s where the good, traditional Chinese food is, and the large venues.)
  • No one would pay for parking in Boston, or pay to stay overnight, and no one would go to Chinatown.
  • The overall plan of the way a banquet worked would hugely inconvenience my relatives and all of my parents’ guests; therefore my mom would not invite my extended relatives. In fact, she would prohibit me from inviting them.

I wanted to give my relatives the benefit of the doubt. A wedding is about the couple, and what the couple wants, needs, and likes. There has to be a certain point where “you”, as the couple, needs to do what you want, what you like. You can’t please everyone.
My family—parents, and brother who is also a Korean adoptee—have never acknowledged that our family is multiracial, or talked about what being Asian or Korean means to me and my brother. My Korean/Asian identity has always been ignored and shunned. But five years ago I started writing about how damaging it was to me that I was raised as a white person, and how being denied my culture was more destructive to me than the loss of my birth mother. I mourned the loss, and had to start from scratch, learning what it meant to be a minority; an Asian person; a Korean person.

So when she said to me, “You’re not Chinese,” she was technically right; I’m not. But I’m also not white, which is what her and my father imagine me to be.

The Birth Project is Lisa Marie Rollins' blog. She's a great poet and playwright, and an African American transracial adoptee.
she is stark blue
in her school uniform
starched and clipped tight
class picture day
she is all bubbles,
sun and fire smiles with glossed
and combed pigtails
waiting for the camera man
to line her up with the other girls

that day
she is brown skin turning to fire
eyes full of thunder
as he lines her up on the boy side
a tornado of pain
a copper heart
like a cold penny taste.
And then there's a whole TON of adoption blogs over at AdoptionBlogs.com. There are blogs about foster-adoption, about adopting older kids, about transracial adoption, and open adoptions and adoption searching. I have been reading the foster care and transracial adoption blogs with great interest. But I have very mixed feelings about this whole blog site, as well as its parent blog, Adoption.com.

My friend Marie Lee was writing their Fertility Blog (a huge issue for many pre-adoptive parents) when she became aware that Adoption.com was being sued for anti-gay discrimination.
NCLR is suing Adoption.com, the largest adoption-related Internet business in the United States, on behalf Rich and Michael Butler, a same-sex couple who have been together eight years. Rich and Michael attempted to post a profile as potential adoptive parents on one of Adoption.com's websites. A company spokesperson told the Butlers that Adoption.com does not allow gay and lesbian couples to use their services.
She quit (good for her!) and is now over at GreenFertility.

Whew. Now I have some major link fatigue. But happy clicking, everyone, and if you know of any great adoption blogs, post them here.


Blogger Libby said...

Susan, one other terrific adoption blog is Dawn's at http://www.thiswomanswork.com

A lot of it's writing and parenting stuff, but there's a lot about her open, transracial adoption of her daughter Madison as well.

Monday, May 01, 2006 11:07:00 AM

Blogger Susan said...

Libby, thanks for the reminder. You're right - Dawn's blog is great.

And I also forgot to add a newer one, the Orphan Chronicles, by Georgette Todd.

Monday, May 01, 2006 11:53:00 AM

Blogger Lisa said...

As a former foster child and current child advocate, I'm sorry to say that I don't have a lot of adoption information about my site.

But if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about the foster care system...

Monday, May 01, 2006 3:59:00 PM

Blogger Green Fertility Marie said...

Hey, Susan!

When town for the MN Book Awards, I actually met someone who could have cared less about my books, she said "I looooove your blog." But it was the old one! D'oh! Thanks for helping spread the news about the new one. Obviously, I wasn't allowed to say where I was relocating.

the Fertilitybitch


Tuesday, May 02, 2006 8:04:00 AM

Blogger Lilian said...

Hi Susan,

I read quite a few adoption blogs.

Manuela, from Thin Pink Line found out she was adopted when she was 25 y.o. and her "saga" is long and hard (she's also infertile): http://www.manuela.blogs.com/

Kateri from Wet Feet (whom I know in person) is a birthmother who suffers deeply because of her decision even after she had two other daughters: http://wetfeet.typepad.com/wet_feet/

AfrIndieMum (from California) has adopted a girl and is in the process of adopting a nother baby: http://afrindiemum.typepad.com/afrindiemum/

Bringing Desta Home is this great story of a family's journey in adopting an HIV positive girl from Ethiopia (they already have a daughter - their own - an a son from Ethiopia): http://bringingdestahome.blogspot.com/

Well, there are more, but I guess these are enough to keep you occupied for a LOOONG while :)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006 6:42:00 PM

Blogger Michelle V said...

Thanks for mentioning and linking to my blog! fost-adopt.adoptionblogs.com
There are a lot of great blogs out there including yours! I'll go check out a few of the others you mentioned.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006 8:45:00 AM

Anonymous Ji-in said...

Susan -- Hey, thanks for the shout out! Thanks also to you and Julie for sending the latest Pact newsletter my way. I really enjoyed reading it (and not just because of my blog excerpts, honest!). It's really a fantastic resource.

Friday, May 05, 2006 3:22:00 AM

Blogger sabbath day's journey said...

I'm glad you're writing about this and bringing attention to adoption. In my life, I've been so thankful for this option.


Saturday, May 06, 2006 7:45:00 PM


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