Read 'em and weep

A good rant always, oddly, stills my soul a bit, which it needs after trying to wrap my head around these two items. You're just not going to believe them.

First - a fellow Korean adoptive parent went to register her daughter in one of the largest high schools in suburban DC. She and her daughter went to the school together, to complete the registration and to have a chance to look around. Upon being seated in the counselor's office, the counselor turned to my friend (making eye contact with her and not her daughter) and said, "Does she speak English?" My friend was dumbfounded, and stumbled through a response that attempted to bring her daughter into the dialog, indicating that she did, that she was born in Korea, arrived in the US as an infant. To which the counselor replied, "Is she fluent?"

Now think about this in light of the second, a comment to a post on a blog I've read from time to time. The post in question was, among other things, a rant about white adoptive parents who apologize to KADs for having adopted. The post was pretty demeaning to KADs in particular, also to a-parents who might agree with their perspective or be trying to. Unpleasant, although not unexpected; it's been heard before. But one comment was. It stated that the commenter was fine with the fact that his or her daughter (on the way, not arrived yet) would be a Twinkie, was fine that some people wouldn't be OK with that, and couldn't understand why this was bad when it was OK for Asian Americans to be fully americanized.

Someone pinch me, this has to be a nightmare.


Ryan said…
I have to ask, what is a "twinkie"? Oh wait... as I typoed that I think I figured it out. I think I get it now. I hope that doesn't mean "white" on the inside and "yellow" on the outised. I'm scared that it does. Ugh.

Margie said…
That is exactly what it means, Ryan. Ugh indeed. And a whole lot more.
Lori said…
Oh for heaven's sake. It's hard to believe, sometimes, that this kind of thing goes on in this day and age...
Cara said…
I've read some of Robin's blog.

You seem completely straightforward and willing to examine your own heart, and therefore you have plenty of value to say to anyone who wants to hear it. As an adoptive mother, I know I want to hear it.

And the twinkie remark is putrid, I agree. I wish I knew what blog you were referring to.
Ryan said…
BTW- The counselor seems to need a *bit* more education! I would let the initial question of weather the girl spoke English slide (after all, the counselor may not have known the girl was adopted as an infant). I'll give her the benefit of the doubt on that one. But to ask if she is "fluent" even after the mom explained that she was adopted as an infant, well, that's ridiculous! Was she asleep during the mothers whole explination? My 4 year old even gets the concept.

Susan said…
She said it was FINE for her daughter to be a "twinkie" and she hadn't even brought her home yet?

Beyond bad intentions. Lordy. I really wish someone could send this blog remark to this person's agency and get her application to adopt revoked.
The Goos Family said…
Hey Margie,
I'm really not all that surprised. As much I want to believe that our society has come along way from racism and prejudice, it really has a long ways to go. Believe me, I'm saying this as 37 year old Korean American (who was not born in the US and immigrated with my family in 1976) who still gets stares and questions such as "where are you from really?" I leave in the Northwest which is pretty diverse but I still get these kinds of comments. I don't mean to be disrespectful but racism and prejudice might be a reality of adoptee's daily lives that they might not share with their adoptive "white" parents for fear parents will not be able to empathize. Racism and prejudice is fresh on my mind as I have pondered how in certain pockets of society (i.e. predominantly white churches) racism and prejudice is still so steeped in the organization that people cannot even see it is.
The Goos Family said…
I don't mean to monopolize this conversation but your posting has been intersecting with what's been happening in my own life.
Education and exposure to diversity and experience with other races and people can be a solution to racism and prejudice but I think ultimately we have to deal with our human nature to be "selfish": to want to live life the way we want to see them and not be made uncomfortable or challenged by another's view of life. Because ultimately that is what is asked of me, when I encounter my own prejudice or racism against a particular race or people, to view life from another's perspective which might make living my life uncomfortable or challenge my own assumptions of what I value in life. I think until I as an individual question my own assumptions on race and prejudice then effect change by asking my "community" to also examine their assumptions as well, racism and prejudice will continue to exist.
MomEtc. said…
"Twinkie" demeaning to the child!
Dianna said…
This comment might not be very well thought out yet... so bear with me, but why are adoptees, adoptive families, and first parents NOT allowed to take a break from the 'hard issues'? As someone who is still a long way from bringing home my adopted child, I know I have a lot to learn. But I would hope that there is time in life for the enjoyment of the moment, for absorbing the world around us, and for looking at things that have nothing to do with adoption, just because those things make us content.

There are plenty of things that will happen (including incidents with ignorant school counselors) that will put the focus on the 'hard issues'. I would hope that we have an ongoing conversation at my house that will prepare my entire family to react appropriately and to fight those perceptions in any way possible. But I wouldn't want my child to constantly focus on the things that will make their life a struggle. As a parent, I shouldn't focus on that either - or the struggle might be the only thing I see. The hard issues will have to be dealt with, and they should be prepared for, but I don't want them to dominate each and every day. So you should be able to take a break on occasion, as should your kids and their first mothers.

Does that make any sense Margie? *lol*
Kathy said…
I also am not that surprised because the image of Asian Americans as the invisible
perpetual foreigner is well
entrenched in the US. My opinion
is to tell kids that this is going
to happen and to support them when
they express their feelings about

The "twinkie" lady is the reason
I find trans-racial adoption so
troubling. I think parents need
to have some sort of cultural
competancy prior to adoption.
Racism is something the kids live
with every day, whether in a diverse
setting or not.
Gwen said…
Wow Margie,

I have been away for a while. So much has been happening on your blog! I'm kind of speechless right now. I just wanted to write a quick note to say I'm thinking of you! It seems a lot has been going on in your heart lately!
Margie said…
Thanks, everyone, for your responses to these absolutely incredible things. I don't know why I'm amazed when I hear and read things like this, because I know racism is far from over. But I'm always surprised anyway.

But seeing what you all have to say is heartening. No one here is denying that racism exists; everyone is accepting that we need to continue to be vigilant, to work to stop it, and to recognize that our children may very well have experienced it yet may not have told us.

Dianna, I'm sure the hard stuff won't dominate your family's life. But it's good that you're thinking about these things even before your child has arrived. That sensitivity will serve your children well. Thank you for commenting.

Ryan, several folks I've told the story of the counselor to had the same reaction. I guess it's possible that a counselor in a school with a large international population might come to the wrong conclusion. But I have to question the counselor's judgment in asking the question the way she did - wow!

Erica, you make excellent points about individuals and communities needing to question our own views on race. And that's why I think it's good to talk about race issues, to keep it in the open, to recognize that it's something that we can't pretend away.

Lori, Cara, Susan, MomEtc, Kathy - I was really shocked at the Twinkie comment, for so many reasons. The most obvious is that a prospective a-parent would even consider that attitude acceptable - I mean what is their agency doing to prepare them? But I was also pretty shocked that a white person would use the term at all.

Gwen, thanks for stopping by. You are right, it's been a time for a lot of introspection. But for me it's been important, and I'm coming to grips with a lot of issues that I haven't faced before.
Susan said…
Oh, if this were only a world where the parents of their would-be Twinkie girl could have their homestudy revoked...

And Margie: [Many of you suggested a rest from the hard topics - wise advice, but advice only an adoptive parent can take. First parents and adoptees don't get a rest, and so I don't feel I can really back away.]

I am an adoptee. I take PLENTY of rests. I never stop being an adoptee, but I can certainly choose to not focus on it for period of time. In fact I have to, for my sanity's sake.

I am personally happy that you said "I'm not blogging" two blog posts ago, and yet you are still here. YAY. Quick, keep asking questions folks, keep her around!!

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