Saturday, June 12, 2010

Watching Adopted with my mom

I recently rented Barb Lee's film Adopted. Initially I was just going to watch it by myself later this evening, but when I told my mom what the movie was, she wanted to see it, too. So, we watched it together this morning. I will dedicate a proper post to the film itself at another time. Right now, my mind is on my mom's reaction to the movie. I can't say I was shocked because I have at least some idea of where my mom stands regarding my adoption. You might call her an old school mom, seeing as she adopted in the 80's; a time period when Korean adoption was at its peak, when attitudes regarding adoption were different than they are now and when there were literally fewer adult adoptee voices to talk of their experiences. The film did not sugar coat the experience of 32 year old adult adoptee Jennifer Fero whose story, to me, was just heartbreaking. When the film was over, I asked my mom what she thought. Her response was that it was 'depressing' and that 'that girl didn't adjust well'. My response was that I felt it was important for her struggle to be documented and that I could identify with many things she said or felt. This surprised my mom and led to a slightly uncomfortable conversation about racism. Fero was taunted at her predominantly white school for being Asian. My mom said, "Well, you never had that problem in school". I hesitated and then ended up dispeling this notion for her. Her words were sincere. She truly thought that I didn't experience racism growing up. I finally told her about the boys at school who made crude comments to me about Chinese porn and the father of a friend who called me a chink. It was a hard conversation for both of us. I could tell she felt a little hurt that I never told her about these incidents when they happened. Had I told her, I'm positive she would have folded me in her arms with love and acceptance, but she will never know what it is to actually be an Asian female in this society. This is no fault of hers. She is what she is. I am what I am. Watching Adopted today made me realize that this journey of exploration I am on will ultimately not affect just me. I'm glad my mom and I watched the movie together, even if it led to discomfort. I even told her about this blog. We might not be on the same page, but I want her to always know that she is welcome to be a part of this journey with me.


  1. I never had any doubts that racism exists in my community. But it really pulls you up short when your kids tell you outright that they have experienced it.

    When my kids, who are now in college, were in high school, we had a discussion in which they, after some pushing, admitted that they had both experienced racism in school. In both cases it occurred in junior high school, and in both cases they never told me or my husband.

    Even today, this is something I don't think they would be totally comfortable telling us about, although I hope they would be. And I know it would still be hard for me to hear that they had experienced it again. But it's important that we talk about it, and that I acknowledge it.

  2. I think discussions on race in general tend to make a lot of people uncomfortable, but I completely agree that it needs to be talked about!