New York Times' Adoption Blog Censors Adult Adoptees
(Hat tip to Carmen at Racialicious)
We are all used to independent bloggers monitoring their comment pages to weed out offensive commentators, but what happens when a blog run by one of the world’s most prestigious media corporations does it?
This month, the New York Times started a blog, Relative Choices which focuses on American adoption stories. They have asked a group of notable journalists and adoption experts to post on a weekly basis. The contributors, who consist of more adoptive parents than adult adoptees, discuss their experiences with their predominately internationally adopted children. (Perhaps this will change with time with the addition of perspectives of people who have adopted domestically). Depending on your personal perspective on International and Transcultural adoption and how much paternalism / colonialist bulls^&t you can take, the articles have, well…been interesting, so far.
This week, after a post from writer Tama Janowitz whose 12 year-old daughter was adopted from China, there was, according to Racialicious at least 13 different adult adoptees and allies whose comments were not approved via the moderation policy of the blog. Jae Ran at Harlow’s Monkey who has posted some of the banned comments, the NYT eventually posted some of them – not in the chronological order of the time they were written ( btw) but none of them were from adoptees.
So why the hoopla? Here is a portion of Janowitz’s post:
A girlfriend who is now on the waiting list for a child from Ethiopia says that the talk of her adoption group is a recently published book in which many Midwestern Asian adoptees now entering their 30s and 40s complain bitterly about being treated as if they did not come from a different cultural background. They feel that this treatment was an attempt to blot out their differences, and because of this, they resent their adoptive parents.
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!”
And she says — as has been said by children since time immemorial — “So what, I don’t care. I would rather do that than be here anyway.”
For the number of adoptees who have posted about this entry, Janowitz, whom, to be fair, was probably 'joking' (sigh) when she said the above to her daughter, the insinuation that International and Transcultural adoptees should be grateful for their adoptive parents and new living situation - that we dare not complain and must be even more obedient than their biological offspring, was resonant. And while I just said that she was joking, in reality, it is not a joke to tell your child that if it wasn’t for you, than they would, based on their cultural heritage, have a life of abject poverty and misery. Also, the attitude that Asian adoptees are complaining bitterly about their experiences seemed to be a trite dismissal of a very serious and important problem concerning adoptive parents who think that their child’s cultural differences can be dismissed / avoided / ignored with a McDonald’s Big Mac and an apple pie - the same problem that I suspect Janowitz has in relating to her daughter. You are American now! Everything is okay and now you are better than those people in that country that I just rescued you from!
So when adult adoptees wrote critical comments, they were banned, and now the comments have been permanently closed for that post. What this says about the NYT and more specifically the purpose of the blog, is that it is for adoptive parents, not adoptees. That adoptive parents can write whatever they want, regardless of the incorrect and harmful content in their posts. Regardless of the fact that there are posts which reinforce the reasons why some people should not adopt transculturally, versus the promotion of adoption, in which I’m sure was the original intent of the NYT .
There are several bloggers who have written about this more extensively, and I suggest you check them out (and according to Carmen, some prominent thinkers, such as Jae Ran were rejected by the NYT to contribute on the blog):
This Woman's Work
Reading Writing Living
My Sky - Multiracial Family Life