Archive for July, 2008


Favorite Diversity Books for Parents

These are for the parents, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. When we started our adoption process, we hadn’t really thought about race, white privilege, or how being a multiracial family would affect our son’s self-esteem. Boy, have we received an education in the last couple of years!

The first two books listed below deal with how people who are ethnic minorities in America develop their identity. While they don’t deal exclusively with transracial adoption, both are excellent resources and what I consider “must reads” for all multiracial families. And both books do touch on some specifics of transracial adoption.

The third book is about creating a multicultural home and environment that represents the family you’ve now become through adoption. It, too, touches on the importance of this and how it relates to your child’s identity development.

• Does Anybody Else Look Like Me? by Donna Jackson Nakazawa
Through stories about the author’s children, who are multiracial (Japanese American-caucasian), and numerous interviews with transracial adoptees, multiracial children and experts in the field, this book explores how kids at different stages of life (starting with preschool) process race and gives you ideas and sample scripts to help talk to your children about race.

• Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
Talks about who racial identity develops and why it’s important to know about racial identity with sections on black, white, and multiracial identity (multiracial includes transracial adoptees).

• Dim Sum, Bagels, & Grits by Myra Alperson
An excellent book about the importance of becoming a multicultural family with ideas on how your home and life can be a reflection of your now multiracial family.


Favorite Diversity Books for Children

Multiracial families have unique needs. Our children need to see their ethnicities and their unique-looking families reflected in things they see in their everyday lives—books, magazines, videos, etc. The next few posts are going to include books for every member of the family that will cover diversity, adoption, Korea, and more. This list includes some of my favorites (current as of July 2008).

• Board books by Helen Oxenbury
Clap Hands, Tickle Tickle and Say Goodnight are simple large board books that feature children and parents of all ethnicities.

• The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
An adoptee and her mom walk through their neighborhood noticing how everyone is a unique color.

• Throw Your Tooth on the Roof by Selby B. Beeler
This book details tooth traditions from around the world, showing how children worldwide celebrate losing a tooth.

• People by Pete Spier
A book showing how there are many ways people are different—from what they eat, to where they live, to what they look like, to how they worship.

• How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina Friedman
A little girl tells the story of how her Japanese mother and American father learned how to eat in each others culture.

• Shanté Keys and the New Year’s Peas by Gail Piernas-Davenport
Shanté’s grandmother has forgotten to make the lucky New Year’s peas. As Shanté goes through the neighborhood looking for peas, she learns about many other New Year’s traditions.

• All Kinds of Children by Norma Simon
Tells how all children are similar—they eat, live in houses, etc.—while showing how the food or housing looks different.


Not a Fad or a Joke or a Stereotype

Once you adopt an Asian child, your life is no longer your own. For the rest of your days you’ll be asked rude and insensitive questions (Where did you get him? How much did he cost? Why not adopt American?), stared at like you have three heads by those who oppose interracial adoptions, and generally not recognized as your child’s parent in public. Just last week we were in a thrift store and our son was messing around with a futon frame. One of the workers got on to him, saying he would pitch his fingers, then said very loudly, “Whose child is this?” My husband and I were standing right next to him, but it never occurred to her that we would be his parents.

And the nonsense doesn’t just come locally. Last month many blogs and adoption forums were flooded with information about a column that appeared in an East Coast paper. The writer, a married-with-no-children African American man, said that adopting Asian children had become a fad, something all trendsetters had to have. He wondered why those adoptive parents weren’t interested in adopting children from the American foster care system, particularly black children.

Then just a couple of days ago we received our copy of the July issue of the KoreAm Journal. (An aside: We love this magazine! It’s well done, covers a range of different topics, and it’s great for our son to see his ethnicity represented in a positive light.) Each issue has a pull-out quote about the Korean culture or something said by a Korean American. The quote in July is from Esther Ku, a Korean American who apparently was a contestant on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” The quote itself was funny, but the attribution describing her comedy routines bothered me. It said, “Her comedy routines center on Asian stereotypes such as ‘ching chong,’ squinty eyes and Caucasians adopting Asian babies.”

Let me just say that we are not trendsetters. No one would look at me and think I’m in the know with the trends. Not to mention Caucasians adopting Asian children has been going on for more than 50 years now. That’s not what I would call a fad.

There are lots of reasons families choose to go with an intercountry adoption, instead of a domestic one. Each family has their own reasons and honestly, they aren’t anyone else’s business. I think it’s especially wrong to be asked such a question (Why not adopt American?) by someone who has never and will never adopt. What right have you to judge?

Nor are we a stereotype. I haven’t heard Esther Ku’s routine or what she says about adoption so I can’t address that directly. I’ve learned that as with all similar groups of people, there some generalizations that apply to most intercountry adoptive families. But as with all stereotypes and generalizations, they don’t apply to everyone in the group. In fact, I don’t feel most of those generalizations apply to my family. Not to mention I don’t understand why anyone, even jokingly, wants perpetuate ethnic stereotypes.

If your family is different in any way (multiracial, large size, etc.) you quickly learn that many people feel they are entitled to know everything about your situation and allowed to have an opinion on it. Instead, curb your curiosity. Why not be respectful of other people’s privacy? After all, do you want to share the intimate details of your family coming together with others?


It’s a Small World after All

Yesterday my 2-year-old was singing “It’s a Small World After All” (the title, by the way, are the only lyrics from the song that he knows) as we were driving through town. While the song was written in 1964 for an exhibit at the World’s Fair, I think they’re more applicable today.

With the popularity of the Internet, YouTube, Amazon, and NetFlix, the world is a much smaller place. You can learn about holidays and customs in other countries through a simple Google search. Or you can learn the words to Korean songs by watching YouTube videos. And if you’re so inclined you can watching foreign films from the vast offerings of Netflix. Our family’s done all of the above.

(Sometimes you get more culture than you bargained for. For example, last night we watched the Korean film “Please Teach Me English.” We, of course, were reading the subtitles but knowing a little Korean we pick up words here and there. Except last night we weren’t recognizing anything. Finally with only a couple of minutes left in the movie, we realized that the language was set to the Cantonese dubbing. So we watched a Korean film listening to the Cantonese soundtrack with English subtitles. Ooy!)

Intercountry adoptive families of the past were often limited in their resources by geography—where you lived dictated how much diversity or birth culture you had access too. But that’s really not the case now. Even if families live in an area without face-to-face access to the birth culture, the Internet can provide lots of indirect access.

There’s really no excuse for not giving our kids some exposure to their birth culture. The resources are there for the taking. All it takes is time.

My Korean Culture Blog

Just a reminder that if you want to learn more about Korean culture (both traditional and pop culture), language resources, and cooking, check out my other blog: It's filled with resources for adoptive families or anyone interested in Korean culture.

Favorite Korean Movies-TV Shows

Be Strong, Geum-Soon
Please Teach Me English
Spy Girl
Tae Gu Ki
2009 Lost Memories

Contact Me

2worlds1familyblog at gmail dot com

It’s a Small World After All