April 1, 2009

Adoption, ethnicity, racism

A few days ago the L.A. Times published an article entitled Thanking her for opening my eyes. The author, Corina Knoll, is ethnically Korean and was adopted as a child by a white family in the U.S.

In the article Knoll reflects on racism in America and how an Iowa school teacher made racism come alive to her white students in the 1960's. I recommend the piece -- but with reservations. For example, the author remarks that being stared at in an all-white town made her uncomfortable. Fair enough. But by itself, that's not racism. (I've been in numerous villages in Cambodia, and everyone always stared at me. They weren't racist. They just weren't used to seeing a white face. I've had the same experience in big cities in China, so it's not just a village thing. It's a cognitive-perceptual thing.)

But my complaints aside, the author highlights some of the real challanges faced by non-whites in America, and anyone thinking about international or transethnic adoption should be pretty serious about what adult adoptees in transethnic families have to say about their experiences.

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