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November 14, 2007


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Jae Ran,, a popular blog that's basically a list of links that's very well-read in new-media/online-journalism circles, picked up my recommendation of the Racialicious post, so hopefully that will lead to some wider, industry awareness of and questions about this comment moderation/withholding/censorship issue.

I'll stick my neck way out and state #57 is me.

And I do know what it is like to be taken from your mother. I was forcibly taken from mine.

I don't expect anyone to get over anything. It isn't about that. It is about understanding each other's perspectives, and more so our own. I don't know what a whole and stable childhood is like anymore than you do.

I almost certainly had a less privileged, harder childhood that 100% of the Asians I have ever met. And I lived in Japan at one time. But I am white, and therefore not subject to understanding what struggle is?

I think we have to try to let go of our anger - and trust me I have plenty of my own where my origins are concerned - and try to truly open up enough to understand everyone involved in this extremely complex life we find ourselves in.

We can't let anyone be "the enemy."

Coming to be a good parent to my Korean sons is going to take the rest of my life and it has and will mean going through exactly what that author is. How can it be any different? It isn't about being right or wrong. I think it is simply about understanding.

Ed, I in no way mean to diminish the experiences that you have, and I only have a very small understanding of your experience because I work with youth in foster care. But I would never assume that I know what you went through because I didn't. Just like I would never say I know what it's like to be the child of divorce, or to say that I know what it's like to be abused.

And I have friends who have been through all of these things - adoption, foster care, divorce and abuse.

My critique is on the ideal that ALL kids have faced some "universal" experience of losing one's parents. Not all children have. You have, I have, many of us have. But I just don't think we can say that it is a "universal truth."

I think we (adoptees) are being blamed for being "not understanding." Not understanding the adoptive parent's view? Yet, reading Ms. Janowitz's post and the subsequent comments - do you really truly in your heart feel that THEY were understanding?

We already have to be the rainbow bridge, the infertile parent's dream child, the object of God's plan; do we really have to be the ones to always be told to be understanding?

Frankly, I'd really like to see more adoptive parents be "understanding" towards us.

DIASL, that's awesome, I'm checking it out right now. Thanks for your help in getting the word out there.

Looking forward to reading more of the responses that haven't been published yet.

Thank you for your voice, Jae Ran. I hope all of our voices will be heard.

As I admitted on Resist Racism: I didn't read the article or the comments, just the awful quote posted on RR. How dare they allow Janowitz to diss your book based on second-hand defensive chit-chat in an AP group, and then they censor its very authors from commenting??? How incredibly disrespectful, not to mention unprofessional journalism from one of the most widely known and respected US publications. And this is why I don't feel too bad about having an opinion without reading all her words--I really have read them, on too many AP forums already. She's saying NOTHING original. Just infuriating.

I hope some of you OW authors can pull an op ed together and get it published. They owe you that much after this.

Thanks for all that you do -- JR and my politicized adult adoptee comrades! I can't emphasize how much your actions, vision and commitment give me hope.

I was one of the people who was initially left off and then added back in (as of this morning, it was post #50, with a time stamp of when I initially submitted it although it didn't appear until late in the day). Although I am an adoptee (domestic, inracial) and a researcher in race and adoption (albeit in literature, not social sciences), I chose not to identify myself that way in the post. I wonder if I would count as a dreaded "adoption professional"?! It's interesting though maybe not surprising that I did eventually get in, while adoptees with more direct experience with these issues were overlooked.

Has anyone considered raising the issue with the NyTimes "Public Editor"? I found the whole series has been strangely lacking in context. Who is in charge of it? How were the writers located? Why does "adoption", in this venue, refer only (at least so far) to international adoptions of children from Asia? The term "adoption" casts such a wide and would love some explanation for such a one-dimensional treatment.


I read about this last night both here and over at Racialicious and I bopped around a bit on the other blogs covering this. I'm really glad so many people came together to post about the NYT and their crappy commenting 'policy' (I'm not a big fan of mainstream media and things like this always reinforce my opinion!). I hope that lots of people clicked on the NYT's Adoptee blogroll to find you, Jae Ran! Here's what I would have commented to the NYT if a) I hadn't had to go to work last night, b) I wasn't stomping around the house and ranting about it to my SO, c) I'd been able to marshal my mature, non-ranty thoughts! So I wasn't censored, but I suppose I may have been.

I'm not a mother nor an adoptee but I hope I would be classified as an ally. So I guess have an ax to grind - some might just call this an opinion. Nevertheless, I fail to see how it's enlightening or even funny to treat TRA as flippantly as Janowitz did in her piece. To reduce the issue of race down to the idea that all kids fight with and resent their parents (uh, DUH!) is asinine, not to mention missing the boat by about twenty nautical miles. And her opening paragraphs - about how having a mixed race family just isn't a problem in her neighborhood - comes quite close to the whole "I am color blind! It doesn't matter what race you are! It doesn't matter what race my daughter is!" argument. I mean, maybe I'm just sensitive. But it seems like she all but said that her neighbors are polka-dotted with purple children. What I thought was enlightening was that she goes on to demonstrate exactly why the whole 'color-blind' idea is so incredibly false. And that's because just as she's claiming that race doesn't matter among families in Brooklyn (this idea is so ludicrous I can't even begin to touch it, for now I just suggest she read Michael Thomas' novel Man Gone Down for some perspective), she demonstrates quite vile, stereotypical, ethnocentric, xenophobic, and yes, racist opinions about China. And to her *child* no less! Oh, I know, it's a joke. She's sarcastic. That's her trademark. Well, a lamer defense there does not exist. It would almost be better if she admitted she was trying to hurt her daughter. Best would be if she just kept her mouth shut.

So call me sensitive. Call me humorless. Ask me why I always play the race card. And I'll tell you that it's because as a woman of color I can't be any other way. Because there remain people out there like Janowitz who likely claim, "But I'm not a racist!" loudly and repeatedly but continue to *be* racist and perpetuate frustrating, hurtful myths, opinions about TRA. And you expect me to stand silent in the face of this? Or to praise Janowitz for being a tough cookie? Not bloody likely.

Why are the only people up in arms about this adult adoptees? Where are all the angry and offended APs? Tana's not really AP mainstream, is she?

They've been banned too, Natasha. I know there were some adoptive parents whose comments were censored. Some were even "added in " later.

Another way to bring this attention to more media types is to try to bring it to Jim Romanesko at the Poynter Institute. He has a very influential blog on media matters. (

Unfortunately, most items in the blog come from other media outlets. Perhaps a letter to the NYT Public Editor copied to Romanesko would raise his interest enough to post. His email is available from the blog web page.

I read the atrocious Janowitz piece last night and considered commenting and didn't. Now no more comments are being accepted.

The sweat shop comment is one of the most ignorant remarks I've read in some time--especially coming from a so-called "liberal." But then, I expect that. It's the cousin of the famous, "Well send you back where you came from" tirade that many adopted persons were threatened with as children.

Censorship, I believe, is an integral part of the "liberal media." Adult adoptees who tried to debate records access on NPR's Talk of the World yesterday were also censored--even cut off in mid-sentence. AdoptionLand increasingly reminds me of the great '60s Phil Ochs song, Love Me, I'm a Liberal.

I vote for the democtratic party
They want the U.N. to be strong
I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts
He sure gets me singing those songs
I'll send all the money you ask for
But don't ask me to come on along
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

BTW, it was great to meet you at the ethics conference. I have yet to blog about that piece of work, though I will.

I was one of the dissenting APs who sent in a comment yesterday morning that was not published (not that the moderator knew for certain that I was an AP - in my comment I didn't identify my position in the triad), and who contacted JR.

I didn't keep a copy of my comment, but I can assure you it was reasonably well written, shorter than many of the published ones, and sans profanity or jabs at anyone.

The gist of what I said was this: that my reaction to the piece was similar to commenter Lori A. and that I found Outsiders Within to be thoughtful and well written re: the complexities of transracial international adoption. I also said that at times the book was uncomfortable to read but that sometimes what we need to hear isn't always easy to listen to. But I suspect that the real sinker was that I said I hoped I'd hear some responses from the authors whose works appeared in the book.

And I still hope I will hear those responses in the paper - that is, if the NYT isn't too chicken to let them speak on their pages...

Are there any other APs blogging or talking about this? It seems like it hits too close to home for some, and so APs are afraid to come out and say that Tana is totally off base.

Are APs forever going to be stuck at the basic level of unable-to-admit that transracial and transcultural adoptive families/relationships are complicated? Somehow we've got to reach the point where 'different' does not equate either better or worse.

I was going to comment about Janowitz's piece as soon as I saw it but didn't have time that minute, this was right after the piece came out and I was already amazed by the comments posted praising this "wonderful piece" I am glad adult adoptees and aps did try to comment on this piece, and shame on the NY times for censoring. I am an AP of a 3 yo adopted from Korea, and I was so appalled by Janowitz's comment about sweat shops. First off, she is teaching her daughter that she needs to feel indebted and greatful that she was "saved" which is just wrong. Secondly she is equating happiness with america, money and white priveledge, without considering that there are indeed happy people in China who have difficult lives but love their country and their lives. Again reinforcing some Americans ethnocentric views and further some APs views that their children should feel priveledged to be in America, without considering any of the losses they have incurred in the adoption process.

As a New Yorker, I never thought of taking Tama Janowitz seriously -- she's not that clever and has always been on the trashy side of sassy. But I can see the point that criticism lies with the NYT for giving platforms to this writing.

I think dry or provocative humor can be a great way to make a point, and it presumes an audience that "gets" that it is tongue in cheek or purposely outrageous. But that only works if humor doesn't lose a humanistic, respectful core, or come unfairly at someone else's expense. I think Dan Savage's "The Kid" (which deals with adoption, but not race) is brilliant because it is funny, irreverent and sarcastic, but does not demean anyone in the adoption triad. Janowitz, by contrast, has a completely demeaning attitude towards her daughter and other adoptees' concerns that gives it all a nasty edge. It's fine if Janowitz wants to poke fun at herself and her own fears to raise some good points about parenting. And it's fine to point out that kids can be bitchy and mean. But it's cheap and disturbing to poke fun at her daughter, and by extension other adoptees, for voicing their very normal, and deeply sad, fears and losses over adoption.

To Natasha's question of "Are there any other AP's writing about this?"- I am, although poorly so.

I also tried to get a discussion going on the Holt International Korea Families Forum

And my fellow AP, Ken, is talking about it- much more coherently than I!

As an adoptive parent of two daughters from China, I have been reading the Relative Choice blog at the NY Times. Please notice that I'm also reading your blog as well.

My husband had the same reaction to the Janowitz piece that you did. I actually knew Janowitz years ago in grad. school and thought that she was sort of a smart ass jerk then. I told him that apparently she had not changed very much.

And how anyone could get a graduate degree in English and still talk about reality as a stable constant is beyond me.

The tone of her whole piece was in poor taste.

So keep on writing and posting and linking to other blogs. Janowitz is just one voice and you have many. Intelligent people really are listening to you, even if the NY Times isn't.

Feel free to block my post if it makes you feel any better!

Jane Fisher

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