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« If I'm Not Locally Produced, Does That Make Me an International Import? | Main | Oh The Irony! »

June 23, 2010



While I understand where you're coming from, I do think that sometimes adoptive parents use their experience to claim themselves as "experts" in the broad sense when maybe their only experts in the area of adoption where their experience lies. I thought I knew a lot about adoption as an adult adoptee but have learned that there is so much out there I was not educated about. Being an adoptive parent now and being involved in adoption/orphan care ministry, I am constantly learning more and realizing how much I was certainly not an expert.
Bottomline--experience gives a person a unique expertise but there is something to be said about professionals in adoption. The best advice and information I've read is from professionals who are also adopted or adoptive parents.


This is great! I am an PAP and I have learned so much from adoptees. I would be lost without your wisdom.


i am still sitting here with my jaw on the floor (and it HURTS) after reading your *footnote*

I answered the first 3 a's and then all B's for the rest. i'd be shocked if anyone answered differently.


Seriously? Someone actually said that? Please, please, please tell me it wasn't an adoptive parent. It's bad no matter who said it, but I feel so awful for that person's kid(s) if it was an AP. Oh, and number 5--did that actually happen?

Paula O.

Okay - a little more background on what prompted this quiz.

I recently shared with a group of acquaintences that my family was going to be attending an event featuring 4 adult adoptees - amazing women who are incredibly accomplished and educated in their own right and respective fields of discipline - and who have done much to support and validate ALL of the voices of other adoptees. In this same conversation it also came up that I will be attending a future adoption engagement as a keynote speaker. One of the people said "Who else is speaking at these events? Who are they bringing in to represent the experts on adoption?" Basically the message was, Who on earth would ever go to hear adoptees speak when the real experts are either a) adoptive parents b) people who have actually written a book about being an adoptee, regardless if they're adopted or not or c) someone who actually works in the adoption industry.

I'm not at all suggesting that the ONLY experts and professionals in the field of adoption are limited to just adoptees. What I am saying is that YES - adoptees ARE experts - and not only have every right to be included in the discussion, but we damn well deserve to be there as well. Am I an expert who speaks for other adoptees? No, of course not. But I am an expert in my own life whose story is part of the collective history and narrative of other adoptees and esp. other Korean adoptees like me. I may not have one thing in common with the Korean adoptee across town, but we are both experts in the experience of adoption and I believe that each of us has a valid and equal voice.

Sara - no #5 did not happen to my family personally. What I was trying to illustrate with that particular question was how quick people are to jump on adoptees when adoptees don't answer with the "right" response or the answer that many have already formulated in their minds. I can't count the number of times I have seen and heard adult adoptees get a verbal beat down because they don't express what many "experts" deem to be the "correct" answer - esp. when it comes to being grateful or happy to be adopted.

k - I hear you. Given my comment (or should I say post), I obviously have some very strong feelings about this. Mainly because I don't want either of my kids EVER to believe that their voices don't count or shouldn't be included when it comes to experiences that they themselves have lived. I tell my kids often that they ARE experts in their own lives and their lived experiences - just as we all are in our own lives.

What's sad is that there actually is an element of truth to this person's comment in that white APs really do hold the majority of power because of their privilege and status. The inequity of whose voice really dominates what adoption is all about is rather shocking. And unfortunately as much as this particular comment (the one referred to in the footnote)might surprise and shock people, there is truly no shortage of similar sentiments expressed by scores of others - just read some adoption forums, select blogs and other AP focused websites.

And just in case people are still reading: This person was not an adoptive parent, but someone who has expressed an interest in adopting soon.

Mei Ling

"white APs really do hold the majority of power because of their privilege and status."



I guess I don't perceive anyone to truly be an expert in adoption. In their own experience...yes. Those outside adoption I tend to tune out. They don't even have that valuable life experience. I think there is definitely a reason to listen to those in the profession, adoptive parents, adoptees and birth parents. We all have different perspectives, that put together, really give a lot of pieces and vantage points that are so valuable. I just like hearing all the sides though. There's always food for thought, whether you eat it or not.

Paula O.

Lisa, I hear what you're saying. For me, the definition of expert (as defined by Websters) of "having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience" is evidence that yes, adoptees are experts in adoption. I truly believe that no one is more fully immersed in the adoption experience or has more intimate knowledge of adoption than adoptees themselves.

And yes - first parents' voices are virtually non-existent in the dialogue regarding adoption. The dearth of recognition and validity of their voices and experiences is a part of the adoption system that is incredibly broken, to say the very least.


I hate to say it, but I unhappily agree with the footnote. I don't like it, but that seems to be the way it is. Adoptee voices are still second fiddle to adoptive parents.

I'm reminded of yet another recent NPR radio interview on adoptee rights and the myth of confidentiality in surrendering parents, and once again the two experts debating were adoptive parents.


which is the very reason we are switching from our very white attachment therapist to a new korean adult adoptee therapist to help our daughter process her losses. Who better to help her than someone who not only looks like her but has walked the walk and now talks the talk that my daughter needs to hear about. Simpatico.

I'm a white AP, my girls are Chinese. I will never tell them I understand their grief, loss and uncertainty, but what I will do is search for each and every avenue for them to reclaim some of what they have lost. Chinese Immersion Elementary, a therapist who is an adult adoptee herself, and honest and open conversation about adoption...well, thats a start.


and to add...finding strong Asian female role models so they can see themselves in these women.


The voices of the adoptees needs to be considered the first voice of reason where adoption is concerned. They are living proof of what adoption is and what it is not. What is it with these people? My blood pressure shot through the roof reading that footnote.

Paula O.

Theresa - I'm right there with you. Just for kicks, I googled "adoption expert" and came across numerous listings. . .I clicked on a few organizations and scrolled through their staff bios and found so many "experts" - SO, SO many - who have no direct connection to adoption whatsoever.

Hayley - thank you for sharing what you did. Your second comment filled my eyes with tears because it makes me grieve for what I did not have as a young girl growing up. To think of how powerful it would have been to know strong and confident Asian women in positions of power and leadership - and to know that one day I, too, could be genuinely happy to be in my own skin - well, that is just a beautiful and amazing thing.


I have always believed any Adoption Agency in existence should be led by Adoptees only.


There are also special subgroups of people I would love to hear much, much more from

-- adoptive parents who share their child's ethnic background. What is different about being a family with one or two Chinese parents raising a China-born child, a Korean family in the US raising a child adopted from Korea - what is the place where transnational adoption separates from transracial adoption?

-- adoptees who are adoptive parents - or even those who seriously considered adopting themselves - I know of this blog and only one other.

-- adoptees who became mothers of children who were subsequently adopted

I cannot believe someone really said that, out loud.


White APs definitely hold the power, and lobby it right up to the Hill, where it influences the laws that continue to deny adoptees of their rights.

There's another dynamic that I experienced which I also believe is a huge part of the problem. APs are expected to be loyal to their adoption agencies - after all, they brought them their children, right? I've experienced the wrath of an adoption agency, back when my friends and I founded Korean Focus. It's a tiny little group that wanted nothing more than provide support for our children and each other, yet the backlash was both personal and long-term.

15 years later I'm still angry, and still don't understand why adoptive parents don't get that agencies should be serving children above all, not their own agendas. Instead, they are supported by APs who will follow along out of that blind loyalty.

Excellent post.


It is fascinating to me that we instinctively "get" that the best people to help/speak for addicts are recovering addicts--hence all the rehab programs that employ people in recovery.

Yet we do not trust adoptees to address their own experience unless it conforms to the "happy, happy, adoption is totally wonderful" that we adoptive parents are anxious to hear.

Even then, we go to the adopting parents, not their children, for comment, advice, etc.

Paula O.

Julie - my apologies for taking so long to publish your comment - I've neglected to check in on this blog as summer has been calling my name. :)

You nailed it about people going straight to the APs. I've heard and participated in a number of panels and even though most people generally seem interested in what we adoptees have to say about the adoption experience, I've noticed that far more hang on to every.last.word. that APs have to share - as if their words carry infinitely more weight and clout. I get it to some extent - esp. if the audience is comprised of APs or PAPs, but still - as you alluded to, it defies logic that when wanting to know about the actual adoption experience, people will bypass the adoptee and look to his/her parents instead.


Wow, that person is obviously clueless.

Just wanted to add though that while I get your point about #6 and the importance of people of color speaking about racism I also think that it is important for whites to be allies. If the CEO happens to be white he/she should speak about racism from an "educated" perspective, not from his/her perspective.


With whom do you think an adopted child of color is more likely to identify?

a. A non-adopted, white peer.

b. A fellow adoptee of color.

This question rubbed me the wrong way, only because you are considering two possibilities, when in fact there are much more. You are looking to get the response you want and conversely the response you don't want. I would think an adopted child of any color would identify most with another adopted child, regardless of color. Why couldn't you have listed "a non adopted peer of color" as a choice as well? Clearly, everything in this country boils down to race, and that saddens me. An adopted child will most likely identify more closely with another adopted child, regardless of that child's race and regardless of the race of the non-adopted child.

People who are not adoptees can still be experts in the area of adoption, but maybe not in ALL areas of adoption. Adoptees have critical and valuable expertise regarding adoption, but not ALL facets of adoption. It is the collective voice of all the experts that matters, because as individual voices you aren't getting the full picture from all sides involved.

You're also categorizing ALL APs into the same category and making generalizations. I know many APs who defer questions about adoption and what it's like to their adopted children because they experienced adoption firsthand. However, the APs also experienced adoption, just from a different vantage point and their knowledge can be extremely beneficial as well.

I don't support APs who are trying to limit adoptees rights, I feel like all adoptees should know their history and their life story.

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