Archives for category: Adoption

I have to say that these days I am very selective about the books on personal adoption journeys, searching for roots and adoption reunion stories that I read. Having been “bitten” once rather badly I approach such books with caution

So it was with a mixture curiosity and perhaps a little trepidation that I turned the first page of Mike Doiron’s THREAD of LIFE an adoption story. I should not have been worried. In no time at all two-hundred and thirty-two pages had been read.

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I really enjoy it when I can put a book down and without guilt or half-truths, honestly say, ‘I enjoyed that, it was a good read’.

As Mike Doiron says himself this is not a blueprint or a “how to” about searching for your roots, it’s just how he did it and what happened for him. I think what sets this book apart from others of its kind that I have read is it’s simplicity. It is straight forward, unadorned and an honest account of who Mike Doiron is. The context of his adoption and the extraordinary way in which his family openly dealt with the adoption.

I won’t spoil the experience for the readers out there, but I will merely say, I found this book utterly engaging. The fact that I am also a transracially adopted person, which some might say makes be predisposed to take an interest in such writings was by the by.
As a human being this is a fascinating, complex and moving account. Told without artifice or unwanted embellishment.
If you want to take a peak into the realities of being adopted, of how one family dealt with adoption and how that adopted child grows up and what adoption can sometimes put the child through, then this is the book for you.

going to keep silenceI’m not a trained or qualified social worker, neither do I have any desire to become so. But it came as a little eyebrow raiser when trying to talk with some adoption professionals, my attempts to reach out into this “field of work” were brushed off.

If I was being ingenuous, I could say that my status or lack or it i.e. not being a qualified social worker was a reason not to engage with me.  But that then also leads to a not unreasonable inference that this is an excuse which excuses them from having to consider the idea that an actual transracial adoptee might have something to bring to the table. That a person like me might actually have some merit in the formalised “adoption sector”.

If I was being paranoid I’d say that this is a deliberate ploy to keep adoptees out. To silence the voice of the adoptee. I actually don’t really believe that. It’s the same within the creative industry people who have no “formal” training as tutors and lecturers become so? How,  it’s who you know and whether that institution sees the value of your expertise as a working creative practitioner.

But then the flip side of this situation suddenly topples over. In my in-box an email inviting me to speak to another group of National Health Service professionals. The director of this team heard my last lecture and was impressed. So off I will be going again to speak to a room full of trained professionals all eager to hear from likes of little ‘ol me. Can’t help smiling at the irony. Plus I will also start blogging and vlogging for The Mothers’ Bridge of Love a charity set up by renowned author and journalist Xinran.

Talking of which I have to wrap my mind around the eternal question of Who Am I

Monday night I happened upon an episode from National Geographic TV program Banged Up Abroad. (It’s called Locked up Abroad in the US). This is about people who find themselves on the wrong side of the law usually we might sit and watch the first few minutes and then turn over or it would just play in the background (bad I know) without anyone watching.
But this episode caught my attention, a couple resident in Egypt that want to adopt a child. Susan Halgof and her husband Medhat Bassada. Though Ms Halgof is still a US citizen. During the process of the adoption Ms Halgof has to return to the States because her mother is ill. Basically they get caught, after having tried to pass off false and falsified documentation to the American Embassy when trying to get a US passport for the baby.

I’d like to think that I am a sensitive, caring human being. But as I watched this semi dramatised account, inter-cut with actual footage of Susan Halgof talking to camera about her terrible and traumatic experiences in an Egyptian court and subsequently in an Egyptian prison. I was left completely cold. I actually ended up feeling very annoyed, at best with Ms Halgof and at worst, thinking well if you enter into this world of deceit, buying a baby that isn’t yours and then trying to pass it off as yours. That is to say that you’re trying to get the authorities to accept that you gave birth, then what can you expect?  Is this cruel of me?  Am I so callous and insensitive?  All I could think of was that baby’s family, the mother, the father, the grandfather, the aunt.  Yes I accept I don’t know then entire background. Perhaps they we willing to relinquish the child. Perhaps there were other social and economic factors that had come into play. As this account was purely from Ms Halgof’s point of view, you’ll have to excuse me if I can’t accept this whole heartedly as a de-facto account of all that occurred

Whether we in the west like it or not, there are some countries that do not look on transracial adoption in a benevolent way. The see adoption as a very negative action. Now we can go on and on about how this leaves children languishing in institutions. But does this give people the right to flout laws?  Is this a good enough reason to dislocate and culturally displace a child?  The latter is a life long sentence and I am one of the many that were unwittingly sentenced.

If we are so determined to better the lives of orphans in other countries, then perhaps we should look at giving inter-country support, financial aid and expertise so that those countries. So that they can better care and place their own children domestically?

One unexpected benefit of bilingualism is when I speak English to my daughter in China, people think I don’t speak Mandarin and talk very, very freely about all sorts of things about us. Here’s what I recently overheard!

via InCultureParent | Overheard on the Beijing Subway When People Don’t Think I Speak Mandarin.

Monday morning, 1st of July I delivered the third “lecture” or talk on the subject of being a Transracial adoptee. Today’s was ““All you need is love..?”: What happens to cultural identity in transracial adoption? A personal perspective from a Hong Kong Chinese adoptee raised in a white British family. ” for the Clinical Psychologist/Thinking Space organising committee, Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

It never ceases to amaze me how interesting people find what I have to say. I guess when you live it, it can become somewhat “boring” whereas if you see it for the first time as an outsider looking in then quiet possibly it is interesting. What I speak about is certainly different. Because that’s what I am, a person of difference.

If you would like to read the entire “talk” that I gave then please click here

 

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–May 17, 2013.  How does art help tell the story of mixed race Asian Americans? Exhibit curator Laura Kina, associate professor of art, media and design at DePaul University, describes how this show helps to visualize the complexities of mixed-heritage Asian American identities.

 

Source: depaul.edu

In a word no.

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Adoption in many ways is a Pandora’s box in reverse it’s been opened and you can’t close it. Well that’s been my personal experience.

As a private individual as well as a transracially adopted child and one of the first in a small group of organised transracial adoptees to the UK in the 50s and 60s from Hong Kong; I’d have to question – why would you keep secrets from your child?  What’s the thinking behind this, why would you want to cover, hide, conceal from your child their origins, their history, something that will always be part of them? If you have transracially adopted a child then there may be obvious physical differences. The colour of your complexion or the facial structure. If you have adopted from within your own “ethnicity” social and cultural group then it may not apparent that your child is adopted. But take it from one who was adopted, where you come from what ties you to the world, how you relate to your family, your history, your culture, your identity is incredibly important. It might not hit home until the adopted child becomes an adult. But eventually the facts about who you are and where you came from come into play.

If you’ve been brought up in an environment where you have always known who and what you are then questions of identity appear to be more easily handled. Whereas if you’ve grown up only being told half-truths or no truth at all the adoption turns into something that it really is not and should not become. What should in essence be a positive if not challenging intervention becomes a negative and all the beneficial aspects which may have come about via the act of adoption can be cancelled.

Part of what I do now is what I call transracial orientation for both parents who wish to or have transracially adopted and for those who have been transracially adopted. For the former I face many eager, hopeful and in some senses naive people. Because they have never had to think or view the world from a point of view of “disadvantage” or from the point of view of not being in the dominant social and culture group. For the adoptee, it is usually pain, anger, a sudden awakening or crisis point instigates personal feelings, thoughts or a search for their roots. The latter is the post painful and distressing for all concerned and leaves indelible scarring. Sometimes this wounds and those that have been responsible for causing them are never reconcile such is the depth and severity of the hurt, mental anguish and emotional turmoil.

It is never, in my opinion ever wise to contemplate hiding facts from an adopted child. We hide things because we are ashamed. We hide things because they engender feelings of guilt within us, and we don’t want to be associated with such matters. So by “hiding” adoption what are we unconsciously saying to our adopted children?