The other night, Matt and I watched the documentary "Adopted", by Barb Lee. Here is the trailer:
After watching the documentary and the training DVD that came along with it, we were left stunned. It was truly eye opening. Haunting even.
Here is another excerpt:
I will admit that I was pretty naive before adopting Jazzie and Tahlia. And even though I have learned a lot since then and I have come to realize that there are complexities with adoption, this film made me realize there are a LOT more things to learn and consider. Here are some quotes that stood out for me and left me feeling haunted:
"Adoption is celebrated. Abandonment is ignored".
Wow. That is a powerful and true statement. In our family we have always celebrated the girls' adoption days and referral days. I never really stopped and thought about the fact that we are not talking about the fact that they were abandoned and that the girls might feel really sad and confused about that. Sure, the days we got both our girls were amazing and wonderful and happy for us, but what about the fact that they lost their first family? Which brings me to the next quote:
"You only got her because she was abandoned and she knows that at a much younger age than you can ever imagine".
I never thought about it that way, but it is true. We would not have had Jazzie and Tahlia as our daughters had they not been abandoned. It's tough, but that is the way it is. I think we need to be honest about this with them and not sweep it under the carpet. After watching this film I realize that we owe it to the girls to talk about their abandonment. Adoption is not a fairy tale. You can romanticize it all you want, but the truth is that they suffered a loss in order for me to be their mother. "No adoption story has a happy beginning. Kids don't get adopted of everything is going well in their first family". Powerful words, but very true.
Part of the training DVD dealt with race and stereotypes. It opened my eyes. I know now that I need to bring up the topic of racism before Jazzie and Tahlia are faced with it, because they will be. They interviewed some college boys about the prospect of marrying an Asian woman and some of them said that their parents and/or grandparents would have a hard time with it. It just reminded me that there are older generations in particular, who would look down on my girls, just because of the fact that they are Chinese. There was a part in the DVD where the film makers talked to men about what they thought of Asian women. Barb Lee warned the viewers: "Brace yourselves". Wow, that was really hard to watch. Call me naive, but I had no idea men really thought that way. And even though I cringe at the thought of what they said, I am glad I know now so that I can start thinking about how I can prepare my daughters for it.
Another eye opener for me was when they had an activity where they asked an adoptee to drop one colored bead in a cup that represented herself. She placed a yellow bead in the cup. She was then asked to drop in white beads representing her parents, siblings, teachers, dentist, doctors, etc. She ended up with a cup full of white beads and one yellow bead. When I look at my girls and think about them doing that same activity, it is painful to realize that besides a few beads representing their cousin and a couple of friends, their cup would be filled with white beads. How does that make them feel? In the movie they talk about how a lot of parents say that they don't see race when they adopt their children, they just see their children. I have been guilty of saying the same thing, but I realize now that I NEED to see race. Other people see it, so I should too.
One more quote that has stuck with me was during the training session called "Intentions". It talked about why parents chose to adopt. It left me feeling a bit uncomfortable because I did have thoughts like "I really wanted a girl". I don't think I ever really thought about what it meant to adopt a child from a different race/culture. Raising children who are adopted is not the same as raising biological children. It is very complex. In the film it was said: "The reason for adopting a child should be to give a child a family; not for the family to have a child." Families for children, not children for families.
Please try and see this film. It will open your eyes. It did mine...