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?

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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: thekoreanway.wordpress.com 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

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2worlds1familyblog at gmail dot com

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