So, there’s a new adult Vietnamese adoptee blogger on the block, Adam over at Permanent Rice. And, one of his first orders of business is to take me on over my critique of the four-part series on adoption from Vietnam in Nguời Việt2 Online.

Apparently, Adam also believes there is not enough balance shown in the media when it comes to adoption. However, instead of taking the media to task for its overly generous deference to P/AP’s concerns, he implies that the status quo is not in need of change and that all viewpoints are equally valid, no matter their intentions or implications.

In fact, his stance on the Nguời Việt2 Online adoption series is quite confounding and confusing, as exhibited below, in reference to our Letter to the Editor:

4. I think the letter makes a great point about the article having a very strong savior feel to it, and while nothing is completely altruistic, I think most agree adoption shouldn’t be as narcissistic as it can sometimes be perceived, or actually be on the parts of families who have children via adoption. Somedays, as much as I like to see happy stories of adoption, I do get tired of the fluffy material out in the world with the Christ Complex…

Well, Adam, is the desire to adopt an “altruistic” or “narcissistic” endeavor, or is it only “perceived” to be that way? And, how do these characterizations affect your view of the practice? A little clarification would be nice, I think.

In the above example, Adam generalizes his critique of Nguời Việt2 Online’s series by writing that it has “a very strong savior feel” and that he gets “tired of the fluffy [adoption] material out in the world with the Christ Complex”. Makes me wonder how closely he read the series. Again, his point of view could have been solidified with the use of concrete examples that bolster his contention that the articles leaned a particular way.

3. I understand where you were coming from on the commodities issue especially in regard to the lists…while adoptions can go horribly wrong because of bad information, bad parenting, bad preparation, et al. – when adoption is good, it can be great – so for those that I would hope have good adoptions I do think it was kind of a nice primer in a way.

As the above excerpt shows, in an attempt to have it both ways, Adam shoots himself in the foot by recognizing one of the major shortcomings of the articles while, at the same time, embracing it. My whole contention was that Venus Lee, the author of the series, betrayed a lack of understanding and compassion by minimizing the adoption of Vietnamese children down to an import/export business. In my assessment, Lee propagated a shortsighted summary of adoption to the detriment of everyone’s understanding of the complicated issues surrounding this human interest story. I actually see an unavoidable correlation between the media’s simplified accounts of international adoption and the public’s poor perception of whom adoption is for and why, thus leading to some adoptions going “horribly wrong”.

The most perplexing part of Adam’s post is when he pinpoints what he thinks the main issue of this debate is. He deduces it to being “simply the lack of views and viewpoints…versus individual representations.” To me, the first part about the “lack of views and viewpoints” sounds redundant because I’ve already pointed out in Misplaced Baggage that the Nguời Việt2 Online series essentially froze out many interested parties within the adoption community, not least the voices of adult Vietnamese adoptees. But in the context of Adam’s post, I think he is going to bat for the majority voice (i.e., P/APs, ASPs and the uninformed public) because of what he writes directly after that assertion:

For instance I don’t think there’s anything wrong with looking at the good aspects of adoption and not focusing on the trials and tribulations of adoption if that’s the goal, and sometimes it can be. Sometimes it should be.

I still rub my eyes after reading this quote in association with the previous one. It begs the following question: Does Adam honestly assume that there is a dearth of “happy” adoption stories or ones that sympathize with the “plight” of P/APs in their expedited quest for building “forever families”?

Again, this makes me question how much and how closely he read the Nguời Việt2 Online series, as well as whether or not he’s ever taken a serious survey of articles on adoptions from Vietnam, especially in light of the most recent suspension on adoptions placed by the Vietnamese government. For if he did, it would become obvious that time and again the same actors appear, and their stories and viewpoints are featured to the almost entire exclusion of anyone else’s. This continued oversight does a disservice to an honest accounting of the concerns raised by people who are intimately connected to adoption and those who have a passing interest in the issues generated by adoption.

That’s why I wholeheartedly support what Kev Minh is doing, because sometimes you have to take the offensive, especially to get noticed.

At the same time, I do question if that was the right magazine, the right venue to go after.

Thanks for the “support”, I guess.

And, again, Adam leaves too much up to the imagination with his vague suppositions. He makes it seem as if my effort to scrutinize Nguời Việt’s handling of the adoption series was a case of either me being out of line or it being a waste of time because it turned out to be the incorrect target of my ire. What would be “the right magazine” or “right venue”, Adam? And, when exactly would you “take the offensive”?

With his emphasis on equal representation of voices and open dialogue, I get the feeling that Adam wishes to see the expression of opinions without the attendant reactions and critical interactions that normally come with their utterances. When it comes to the conversation on adoption, it cannot be unhitched from the reality of world politics, economics and social mores. From my point of view, one should be both actively engaged in laying out the salient points of an issue and then coming up with realistic solutions in order to make the world a better place.

I freely admit that’s a challenge I have yet to fully meet.

So, now that we’ve had our dialogue, Adam, let’s have a real debate.

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