Adoption: Teary-Eyed Blessing or Horrific Abuse Factory

by Marisha and Luanne

You know those happy adoption stories that the media loves to feature? Adopted woman meets birth father just before he dies and all is well. Yay! Five siblings have been in foster care for three years with no hope of reunification. They are adopted by a middle-aged librarian and all is well. Yay!

The media loves those stories and so, too, do we. By “we” I mean our culture. We eat up this stuff. It makes us feel as if all is well with the world.

We don’t look behind the stories to see that this woman had to wait until she was 55 to meet half her DNA.  She lived through being a baby, a child, a teen, a young woman, a pilot, a mother, and now a first-time grandmother without this knowledge. Without knowing how he felt about her or if he even knew about her.  Without ever meeting him.  We don’t like to think about what those kids have gone through in order to have this happy “ending” (which it is not–an ending or unendingly happy either) with the librarian. Or what baggage they all (librarian included) bring to the table.

On the other hand, the media loves horrible stories about adoption. The child who is locked in a cupboard, fed only scraps, and eventually discovered weighing thirty pounds at age eleven. The child of a celebrity who either dies of a drug overdose or accuses her adoptive parent of abuse who is always identified as “adopted son” or “adopted daughter” by the press, as if that is a title or name.

By the way, all of our examples except the celebrity ones are made up, but representative of what we’ve read.

Why does the media do this? Apparently it is what we demand. We want these superficial and dangerous images of adoption. We want to tear up with joy and we want to fill with outrage.

What we don’t seem to want to do is think rationally and with common sense about adoption.

What would happen if we did? What would change about how our culture sees adoption? And how we treat adoptee rights and issues?

What do you think?

What If a Village Really Will Raise a Child?

by Marisha

One week ago, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill into law that allows California children to have more than two legal parents. The bill was partially a response to a case where a lesbian couple broke up and couldn’t parent the child. The child’s biological father wasn’t allowed to take the child and, instead, the girl was sent into foster care.

Here’s a link to an article about this bill.

I don’t know why a judge couldn’t choose a biological parent over foster parents, but knowing the thickly scarred institutions of California, I am betting it’s because he hadn’t gone through proper foster parent certification. Why it was necessary to allow for more than two parents instead of a bill that would give a biological parent the first place position in a case like this, I do not know.

But my imaginative brain is just spinning over this. My first thoughts went to adoption. If more than two parents can legally parent a child, then open adoption could change to something new. Rather than the very different roles of legal adoptive parents and the birth mother (and in some cases birth father, if he’s involved), all three or four could “equally” parent the child.

You think kids learn to play one parent off the other NOW (whether the parents are married or divorced)? I realize that when some adoptees get a little older–say, teen years–they may do this anyway in an open adoption, but if all parents have the same legal status, what will happen?  And what if there are more than three or four parents? I haven’t read of a limit on the number of legal parents. What if an entire village decides it really is going to parent a child?

Where does YOUR mind travel when you think about this new law?

Blogger Meetup!

by Marisha

I was fortunate enough to have the beautiful Marijane from Beyond Two Worlds come to my production of RENT in Phoenix! It was such a pleasure to meet another fellow blogger–and an adult adoptee, as well! I had the best time talking with her even though our time was brief. Thank you so much for supporting me in the show.

I know that my mum cannot wait to meet you as well!

Marisha and Marijane

Marisha and Marijane

Smore Stories – Daring To Journey Through Adoption..

by Marisha

Tara Bradford has initiated an exciting new series on her blog. As an adoptee and an adoptive mother, she has a wealth of experience from both perspectives which can inspire and enrich the rest of us. Follow the link below to read her description.

Thank you, Tara!

Smore Stories – Daring To Journey Through Adoption...

Tara Bradford

Tara Bradford

Help Us Celebrate!!

It’s been ONE YEAR today that we started the blog Don’t We Look Alike?, and what a ride it’s been!  We’ve learned a lot about adoption and related issues and have met some wonderful bloggers and other individuals along the way.

Coincidentally, this is also our 200th blog post!!!

English: Independence Day fireworks, San Diego.

English: Independence Day fireworks, San Diego. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Luanne:

When my husband and I adopted our two children in the 1980s, the only thing we knew about adoption was what we learned from local sources. My brother was adopted as a baby when I was eight, so adoption was familiar to me (link to my very first blog post about my brother). When we decided to adopt, we first thought of fostering because we knew the need was great, but we were told that because we didn’t have any children we didn’t qualify and were encouraged to adopt a baby for our first child. That seemed like good advice.

To do so we were asked to attend an “Adoption Information Meeting.” That evening five agencies were represented, and the bottom line was that if we wanted to adopt a baby we could go through Bethany, which represented Holt in Michigan.  Through that agency, we could adopt a Korean baby.  Within a year or so our son was in our arms. We then requested another child through the same agency because we felt it would be in our son’s best interests to share ethnicity with his sibling. Things were different in the eighties than they are today, and I still believe that was a good choice.

At that time, we didn’t have the internet to get information. Our information came from adoption-related sources, such as our case worker, the agency, other parents from our city who had adopted, etc. When the kids were little, we were connected to this network, but when the kids got older and were extremely busy with other activities and we moved away, we became less tied to any “adoption community.”

We never lost sight of our own notion that adopted children and children in transracial families couldn’t have their special circumstances ignored. But it often seemed like we were the only people around us who felt that way. People insisted that they “never thought” of our son or daughter “as Korean” or “as Asian” or “as adopted.” We would grit our teeth because ignoring realities doesn’t do our children any favors.

It wasn’t until Marisha and I started this blog that I found a whole community on the internet of people who “get” what adoption means, who understand that adoptees undergo trauma (often as infants), and that there are many political issues related to adoption which need to be considered. In fact, it feels as if the issues of adoption are just heating up.  Adult adoptees are leading the campaign to reform the way adoption works in this country.

I also didn’t know diddly about open adoption until reading like mad–blogs, articles, books. Open adoption is very different from the situation of my children’s adoptions, so it’s been such an educational experience for me to learn so much about it from the mouths of others.  We don’t know yet what adult adoptees are going to tell us in the future about their open adoptions, but I want to keep up on all this because it’s so important.

I feel passionate that reform is needed in certain aspects of adoption and foster care issues, while I am realistic about the impossibility of a system which works perfectly for every circumstance. I believe that the interests of children should be put ahead of the interests of adults.   I’d like to see our society work at becoming a “village” that cares for the various needs of foster children and children in need of adoptive families.

Thank you to all our readers and those who have participated in discussions on our blog.  And thank you to the other bloggers about adoption and foster care who share your hearts and experience with the world.

###

Marisha:

I have done quite a lot of reflecting lately about this past year–mainly regarding my adoption. Seeing as this is the first year anniversary of our blog, I wanted to write a post about how amazing it is for me to see how much I have learned about myself, my mother, and other adoptees and parents.

I see most of my progress in how I now react to the different situations I am put in regarding being “Asian” and being “adopted.” The stigma has slowly started to drain away, and I am happy to feel a sense of relief when I think about my own adoption issues. In the past I would be overly sensitive and get hurt too easily by the comments someone would make to me such as the “tsunami in Japan” incident or my middle school crush telling me “I’m only into blondes.” I used to think that those comments were a reflection of how people saw me, or that I wasn’t good enough. Instead, I resound in knowing that most of those incidents and experiences have in fact, nothing to do with me or who I am on the inside or outside. Being comfortable in one’s skin is never easy– it would be false to think that one can fully live a life of confidence and not have any insecurities or flaws within them. I have accepted my flaws and faced my insecurities. I face them every day, in fact.

I am so thankful for my mom for being patient with me these past 25 years. This blog has not only bonded us even more, but has given us an honest outlet to communicate with each other about the problems we both are facing in life and with each other. It has been a rocky year personally for both of us. I have done some things that I am not particularly proud of, but have learned from them and found it easier to move on from the past because I have given myself the time to understand my issues of abandonment and insecurities about being an Asian-American adoptee.

At the same time, the amazing adoptees I have been in contact with or have shared some of their stories on our blog or on their own blogs have educated me. They help to fill a void–that feeling of being alone. It has given me a comfort to know that I am not alone in this. That a lot–if not most– adoptees face the same feelings I do at some point in their lives. I am inspired by that.

This next year is full of excitement. I ring in the one year anniversary with the blog by announcing my new journey. I will be playing one of my dream roles: Mimi in the musical RENT! I have waited my whole life for this moment, and I feel as if it has come at the perfect time for me to start this next chapter as a proud adoptee and woman. I have learned to not let my race or my cultural position define me because at the end of the day, that doesn’t matter. What you choose to do and how you choose to live your life is material enough to create a success out of oneself. I am so proud to see the world start to change to give opportunities to people like myself, despite what we look like on the outside or where we come from.

Thank you for tuning in to the blog every week and thank you for allowing me and my mum the freedom to share our stories without judgment. I look forward to many more stories in the future from us and especially from all of you!!!

To help us celebrate, please consider donating to help foster children.  As an example, here is a news story about an Arizona charity (not yet rated by the BBB or Charity Navigator) which seeks funds to send foster kids to summer activities of their choice.  We donated for dance classes for a boy who wanted to take dance. Click this link to read the article.  In the article is a link to donate.

Where I’m “At” Today (and Happy Mother’s Day!!)

Photo by Marisha

by Marisha

I used to think that expectations were poison for the soul.

I used to blame my adoption for a lot of my actions.

I used to prefer to be down about it.

I’ve had a lot of disappointments and never thought I deserved better because of my abandonment issues.

Looking back on those times, I now realize how important it is to have patience.

Patience for myself and patience for understanding.

I’m 25 now–a woman–and everything has started to fall into place because I have allowed myself the time to understand my adoption and use it in a positive way. I know things will never be perfect, but my life is the best gift I could be given.

My mindset has changed and my outlook is now settling under a positive light.

Today I choose happiness . . .

All these downfalls have led me here in this moment: I am proud to be adopted. Proud to be different. And proud to share my stories and insecurities with you all.

Also, Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who gave people like me beautiful lives! My mum is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Who could hate adoption when I have a mother like her?! 🙂 I love you, Mum!

Did You Notice the Cat in Our DWLA Gravatar?

by Marisha

Our whole family loves cats.  The one in our Gravatar is our first cat, Macavity, or as we call him, Monkeybunnyratowlpig.  When we found him as a tiny kitten living under our new house, I begged my parents to keep him, although we had always had dogs.

Mac is 15 years old and lives with my parents and three other cats, Pear Blossom, Felix, and Tiger.

I found my cat, Isabella Rose, at a shelter here in L.A. over two years ago.  Here are some shots of my Izzie Biz I took this week.

Izzie in the morning

Izzie checking out the morning

Izzie in the evening

Izzie tired from playing a game of straw

Let’s Slow Down . . .

by Marisha

When you live in the craziness of a city, it’s necessary to find the way to stillness.  I do it by taking a walk or just sitting outside and feeling the crisp air on my face. An actor faces so many obstacles, but when I just sit and allow myself to take in the stillness inside the city and my inner voice, I get back to feeling like myself. It’s in those moments, I feel truly alive.

Photo by Marisha Castle

“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.”—May Sarton

A Magical Experience

by Marisha

Hello Friends!

I haven’t updated our readers in a while, but I wanted to say a quick hello!

I just finished doing a production of one of my favorite shows, Chicago, at North Birch Park Theatre in San Diego. I was fortunate enough to work with my friend Ron Kellum for the third time, with whom I did this same show my sophomore year of college. Also, with one of my inspirations and friends, Randy Slovacek, who did the amazing revival choreography again!

The experience was truly magical. It was a rare thing to have so many talented people with so much hunger and love for the stage in the same show. It became like a family, even though it was a short six-week process.

Most importantly, I was able to relive my role as Liz, the “Pop” girl in the number “Cell block Tango.” It was amazing to see how different my take on the role was now that I am five years older. I like to think all my discoveries as an adoptee have matured and settled within me, and I can finally explore all aspects of myself knowingly and fearlessly.

This role is so amazing, because it gave me the chance, as an Asian American female performer, to give a ballsy, intimidating, and strong performance–just the type of performance that you don’t normally see written for us. I hope more come around for me and others. Enough rambling, hope everyone is well!!!

Take care! X

Marisha Castle and Aurore Joly"Chicago" SDMT

Marisha Castle and Aurore Joly
“Chicago” SDMT

San Diego Musical

Theatre Presents Kander

& Ebb’s ‘Chicago’

Come see Marisha (Liz)

FOR THE NEXT THREE WEEKENDS!!

San Diego Musical Theatre presents Kander and Ebb’s “CHICAGO,” February 15 – March 3, 2013 at The Birch North Park Theatre.

Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb

From the San Diego Musical Theatre Facebook page

In roaring twenties Chicago, chorine Roxie Hart murders a faithless lover and convinces her hapless husband Amos to take the rap…until he finds out he’s been duped and turns on Roxie. Convicted and sent to death row, Roxie and another “Merry Murderess” Velma Kelly, vie for the spotlight and the headlines, ultimately joining forces in search of the “American Dream”: fame, fortune and acquittal. This sharp edged satire features a dazzling score that sparked immortal staging by Bob Fosse.

“A pulse racing revival that flies us right into musical heaven.” – The New York Times

We’re proud to “Razzle-Dazzle” you with San Diego Musical Theatre’s upcoming production of Kander & Ebb’s “Chicago”, February 15-March 3 at the Birch North Park Theatre! The show is Directed by Ron Kellum, Choreographed by Randy Slovacek with Musical Direction by Don LeMaster.

CHICAGO CAST
Emma Radwick as Roxie Hart – Kyra Da Costa as Velma Kelly – Robert J. Townsend as Billie Flynn – Alonzo Saunders as Mary Sunshine –

Cast also includes: Ria Carey, Marisha Castle, Chris Cortez, Alexis Henderson, Jason James, Aurore Joly, Andrew Koslow, Ariel Lowell, Mike Motroni, Marco Puente, Joshua Ross, Chuck Saculla, Jennifer Simpson, Katie Whalley, Matthew Williams

TICKET INFORMATION
Single tickets for SDMT’s production of CHICAGO are $26.00, $36.00, $46.00 and $56.00. Children 16 years and under receive a $10 discount. Seniors 65 years and older receive a $5.00 discount. Equity and Actor’s Alliance may purchase up to 2 tickets at half price. Groups of 10 or more receive a 25% discount. For individual or group tickets contact the Administrative Office at 858-560-5740 or visit SDMT online at www.sdmt.org.

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https://dontwelookalike.com/2013/02/13/2830/

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