Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dr. Monica Dowling's ‘Globalisation and International Adoption from China’ — Call for Participants

Dear Lost Daughters Writers, 

Your work is so important. Thank you for creating a safe space for adopted people in different countries to come together in your LOST DAUGHTERS blog.

I'm working on a piece called ‘Globalisation and International Adoption from China’  for  a 28 chapter book entitled 'The Handbook on Family and Marriage in China’. My chapter is the only one on international adoption and I would really like to use social media to collect your views as adoptees on globalisation and international adoption. I have 3 questions  but please just send me your views if you wish?  Please also pass this message on to other adoptees if you know about other blog pages, etc.

Here are my questions on globalisation as they relate to international adoption. I'm looking for perspectives from Chinese adoptees, in particular. Your views would be greatly appreciated.


1. On closer links between different countries particularly in relation to culture…

What are the positives and negatives of this for you?

2. On Organisations that transcend national boundaries  - this of course includes the internet! 

Have you been involved with  non government organisations (NGOs) and support groups across national boundaries - has this been positive or negative?

3. On economic growth is frequently accompanied by widening economic inequalities…

What is your experience of this in relation to China?

A key aspect of my analysis is that factors such as economic inequalities, worldwide communication, and the influence of international organisations contribute to the effects of globalisation in relation to inter country adoption. 

DEADLINE: 1st January 2017 


Many thanks for your help.

With very best wishes,
Professor Monica Dowling
Thomas Coram Research Unit
The UCL Institute of Education  
University of London
 27 Woburn Square  
London, WC1H 0AA
United Kingdom

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

To Search, or Not to Search?

Cross-posted from ONE WORLD: Chinese Adoptee Links Blog.

Hello Dear Friends & Sisters:

An editor in Australia recently asked me about my experience of search and reunion. My response?

I've actually never searched! People always ask me if I want to search, and I find it difficult to answer. On the one hand, of course I am curious (who wouldn't be?). Do I look like my biological family members? Are we similar, at all, in personality or taste?

On the other hand, in all honestly part of the reason I have never searched is because I do think that it would affect relations with my (adoptive) family, and it probably comes as no surprise to fellow global citizens that I am very protective of my family's feelings.

One friend suggested searching in secret. She said, "It's none of their business. It's your life and your identity that's at stake, not theirs." But would my family understand? Or approve? I'm not so sure. I think that they would feel rejected, and profoundly hurt.

Do I feel like my identity is incomplete without knowledge of, and from, my biological family? I wish that I could say 'No, who needs to know about their genealogical past?' (True, I have my adoptive social identity. Isn't this enough? many will ask.) 

But if people didn't long for information about their genealogical past, entire tourism industries in Ireland and England, for example, would collapse. The truth is that—adopted or not—there is a universal human need to know where we come from. It gives humans a sense of belonging, continuity and collective understanding. 

Even if we have new (adoptive) social identities that are legally created and codified by the state, the fact is that the fabric and structure of human society is grounded in the geometry of genealogical identity. To not acknowledge this social fact is to turn a blind eye to social traditions, rituals and connections that are encoded in the earliest historical annals of human time. 

We, as adopted, fostered and orphaned global citizens, are connected to these annals of genealogical history. It is our birthright, therefore, just as it is the birthright of every member of the human family, to sit at the table of the human family tree. Failure to acknowledge this birthright dehumanises not only individuals connected to adoption, but all peoples, for we are all intricately connected and whatever missing pieces there may be of our identities are missing not only to us, but to all of human history.

What do you think?

Much Love,

Native Province: Taipei & Jiangsu (mainland China) Hometown: Laguna Beach (OC), California Arrived in the USA: Dec 1979 / Jan 1980 Education: NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts & Harvard Generation: G2, “A Global Generation” Proud Big Sister of: Chris (from Seoul, South Korea) Why This Blog: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller

Saturday, June 11, 2016

On Being the Next of Kin and Saying Goodbye

Last June, I reckoned with two aspects of family I wasn’t prepared for: decisions about end-of-life treatment, and death.

In Pennsylvania, I was recovering from a challenging birth two months prior and caring for my new daughter, when in Georgia my birth father, Rodney, suddenly found it increasingly difficult to breathe. He’d been a heavy smoker for years, and here came a flare-up of emphysema, a condition he’d had trouble with for some time. I was his only daughter (I almost wrote “biological” before “daughter”, as I'm so accustomed to using qualifiers to explain my family relations). Because of this, even though I’d only known him for five and a half years, the doctor in Atlanta called me to tell me they had put him on a breathing machine, explained what that meant, assured me he wasn’t in pain. This was life support. This was likely the end, as his lungs were in such a state that he would not recover. She wanted to let me know that we’d need to discuss decisions about when to remove him from the machines.

I felt a strange cocktail of emotions: shock, grief, and—unexpectedly—honor. His siblings, whom he’d always been close to and who lived nearby, were really the ones to ask—I didn’t feel qualified for such responsibility. I hadn’t known him that long. But was that selfish of me—to want to be connected with a relative but not be willing to bear responsibility that comes with it? I told his sister I didn’t know what he would want in this situation; we’d never talked about end-of-life wishes. She said they were not expecting me to make the call, but they wanted me to be part of the discussion. She knew that he’d always felt sorry for people who were kept alive by machine, so she was confident he wouldn’t want to be in that state for long.

I hung up the phone and cried. He had a very difficult life (part of the smoking, I believe, was self-medicating to help ease other pains), and I think I was grieving for that, too. I’m grateful for those 5+ years. It seems my birth father was making up for lost time, for he called me every single day. Sometimes multiple times a day-- sometimes I would get annoyed when his name popped up on my phone after I'd talked to him only hours before. What a gift to express annoyance with someone! Because 
to express a temporary, authentic emotion like that, you must know them, know them well, be confident in their love for you. It’s beyond niceties, which I never knew whether I’d gain with birth family. He was so excited to know me, to discover he’d fathered a child. Said it every day. He welcomed me unabashedly, as did his family. There are no words to express how grateful I am for that. How I will always treasure knowing him and the embrace of his—my—clan. 

Have you ever known someone who is sick and has been for a long time and you seem to believe the person can keep hanging on like that indefinitely? I think that’s why it felt so sudden—I must have been telling myself that because he’d obviously lived that way for years he would of course continue to do so. I assumed he’d meet his first grandchild—we were planning a trip to visit in November. Instead, at eight weeks old, my daughter peered into the casket at a stilled version of a man whose blood courses through her veins. I vowed to always remember him, keep connected with the family, so she could know him that way.

An aunt turned to me before the service began and said of his skin, “He’s darker than usual.” It was true. I’d noticed too but hadn’t said anything, figured it had to do with either the Georgia sun or embalming. Lingering on the question of skin tone out loud reminded me of how Black people talk about skin color freely, while White people often feel like they must tiptoe around even innocuous comments like that, so entrenched is our racial baggage in this country. It was the type of thing Rodney would have talked at high volume about without worry—he often mentioned his own shade and how light I’d turned out.

It is sad that the last time I saw my birth father was at his death, on this day one year ago, but it won’t be my final image of him. At the funeral I met more extended family members and learned more about him. One cousin recounted how he loved to dance way back in the day. Hit the clubs in late 1970s and 80s Chicago. Tall and lean, he’d swing ladies around on the dance floor, high kick over them, and I couldn’t help but picture Malcolm X in his zoot suit (I’d been reading X’s autobiography). It’s an image of a man before I knew him, before smoking got the best of him. An image that makes me smile, hopefully one as beautiful as this.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Things to Consider Prior to Reunion


When is the right time to organize a birth family reunion ? I would argue never, given what I know and what happend to me. How old will your birth parents be ? Do you want to met them when they still may be alive? If you have birth siblings will the age difference be an important thing to consider ? 

Although I was able to met my entire birth family, now 6 years ago. There were already many factors working against me- many challenges for me and my birth family members to overcome once discovered. Consider this, my oldest sister was 15 years old at the time of my birth a significant age difference not be forgotten or ignored. My second sister was 11 years older, my third sister 9 years older, my fourth sister 6 years older, my fifth sister two years older and my sixth sister one year older. On top of that my younger birth sibling was two years younger than I was.

Being so many siblings it was natural for all of them to develop into their own individuals , choosing different lives for themselves. I know my oldest sister has influenced my second and third sister a lot maybe even my fourth sister to. They share the same values, morals, opinions and beliefs to a large extent. My fifth and sixth seems to be the closest given that they were born so close after each other. They are the new Korean generation but also share a lot of the same values that their older sisters do.