On Wednesday evening, Jeff Yang, Phil Yu aka Angry Asian Man, Dan Matthews (DANakaDAN), and I had a conversation about Asian adoptions to the U.S., Dan and my personal experiences growing up as Asian adoptees, stepping into our Asian identities, and our perspectives on some recent, troubling news stories about Asian/Pacific Island adoptions, including the Myka Stauffer rehoming case, the Paul Petersen case, the murder of Johanne by her adoptive brother, and the arrests of 3 Iranian men for selling babies for adoption on Instagram.
When I question how I could have both been helped and hurt by white privilege, it is the same type of reflection that I must conduct when I think about the ways in which I have both gained and lost so much through my adoption. The ability to not think in simple polarities has shaped and defined my maturation and has been a liberating discovery.
Read this book if you want to think of birth mothers reimagined, a fantastical rags to riches “Cinderella” story, or a beautiful portrayal of scenery and a lesser known culture, not if you are an adoptee looking to identify with Haley, the Chinese adoptee character in the story. While Lisa See tried to do her research, her identity as a non-adopted person shows clearly in the adoptee parts of this book. The use of common adoption tropes and clunky, developmentally-off dialogue made the adoptee passages difficult for me to read or even get excited about until the last chapter.
If you felt uncomfortable or outraged reading about the Myka Stauffer adoption case, here’s why: The unique factor about Myka Stauffer is the culmination of almost every adoption trope and controversial practice that there is no room left to say what they, as adoptive parents, did well. This case is about Huxley and the Stauffer family, but it is also about the public’s desperation to believe in the fantasy of adoption and anger at being shown the truth of what can, and often does, go wrong.
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