I’ve been reading the (rightfully) outraged commentary about the grossly entitled New York Times post by transracially adoptive parent Tama Janowitz. If you haven’t read it yet, this is the quote that is driving everyone the most mad:
So in a way it is kind of nice to know as a parent of a child, biological or otherwise – whatever you do is going to be wrong. Like I say to Willow: “Well, you know, if you were still in China you would be working in a factory for 14 hours a day with only limited bathroom breaks!”
Here’s why I haven’t written about Ms. Janowitz before now . . . Because I was waiting for the ground-swell of outraged adoptive parents, the ones who are just as angered and sickened by this commentary on [adoptive] parenting as the censored adult adoptee voices. But those adoptive parents are nowhere to be found.
The only adoptive parents I have found who are speaking out about this mess are Paula (who is also a transracial adult adoptee) and Dawn (who says only that adult adoptee voices need/deserve to be heard).
Now I’m all for hearing from adult adoptees; there is no other way to have a full and accurate discussion regarding adoption. But where are the adoptive parents who think that Tama’s attitude is garbage (and dangerous garbage at that)–just because it is!? This post offends me, and not just because I visualize my children, my friends as Tama’s child.
The anxiety that keeps me up at night is that Tama’s viewpoint really is that of most adoptive parents. That although adoptive parents may not be so ‘funny’/casual/cruel about it, they really do believe they have saved their child. Saved them not only from poverty, but also from their birthfamily and birth-culture. This ‘saving’ which then necessitates some level of gratitude from the child.
Which is why these same adoptive parents do not feel obligated to bring their child’s birth-culture into the family, or even into their child’s life. As a family member of mine said (oh yes they did, and in a totally honest way), “What exactly is good about Black American culture?” But that was a (now educated) extended family member; that was not my partner or me. (And boy, did I have to sit there and breath for a minute before answering that one. I think I started with the brilliant, “Are you kidding me?”)
I had my partner read Tama’s post last night. His take was that she was playing on a stereotype of a brash, self-centered New Yorker (“F-you, kid!”). And then the photo of Tama and her daughter at the top of Susan‘s post this morning made me think ‘child as fashion accessory’ (and honestly, I never think that of APs, not even Angelina Jolie).
AN ASIDE: I can’t believe that we (those of us who are part of the adoptive family ‘community’) are still debating whether an adoptive parent-child relationship is different–for the child or the parent–from a biological parent-child relationship. Can we just agree–it’s not better or worse, but IT IS DIFFERENT. And the adoptive parent-child relationship is (not in a bad way, but in a real way) also more complicated. When can we acknowledge these truths, and move on? As long as we (adoptive parents) try to pretend that adoptive relationships are the same as biological relationships, we are living in the land of denial. (It’s like saying that a multiracial family is the same as a monoracial family, or that a 2-mom family is the same as a mom-and-dad family. None is better or worse than another, but I think we are all (most of us?) aware that living in a multiracial family or a 2-mom family is probably inherently more complicated.)
My major disbelief? I cannot believe Ms. Janowitz has been chosen as a representative/average adoptive parent voice.
My biggest fear? That she is.
Posts by adult adoptees, including scathing commentary on the NYT’s refusal to publish their comments:
- A Comment About the Comments & All The (Adoption) News That They See Fit to Print, from Paula at Heart, Mind, and Seoul (Paula is also an adoptive parent.)
- New York Times aka “The Adoption Police?” & Relative Choices? from Harlow’s Monkey
- Shut Up, Tama Janowitz. Just shut up. And turn in your parenting license while you’re at it. from Susan at Reading, Writing, Living
- Racist M/Paternailsm at its Best, from Lisa Marie at A Birth Project
- To Willow Janowitz: You’re Not Alone, from Sarah Kim at Outside In
- The New York Times: Gatekeeper, Censor, from Twice the Rice
- Tama Janowitz on NYT Adoption Blog, from Sun Yung Shin
- Save one, win valuable prizes & What you should have have read in the NYT, from Resist Racism
- Whoa. Hey. People – this isn’t ok, from Dawn at This Woman’s Work
- The New York Times Censors Adult Adoptees on Adoption Blog, from Racialicious