“There is another me out there in the world"
August 8, 2019 9:42 PM   Subscribe

I have two cousins adopted from China (one from Changsha specifically). One wants to know nothing about her origins; the other has a deep yearning to meet the people she shares her genes with. (She also happens to have a medical condition that is often hereditary.)

The stories they tell themselves about why they were adoptees are generally hopeful ones (families who loved them but could not provide the life or care they needed), but I know that sometimes they worry that they were given up under coercion or because they weren’t valued.

My cousins bring a huge amount of joy to my life—I dearly hope that joy wasn’t stolen from another family.

I suspect we’ll see more of these stories of reunion both as this generation of girls grows up, and as more and more people take advantage of commercial DNA testing.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:14 PM on August 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

I've come to the conclusion that the only ethical adoption is an open adoption. Because it turns out so often that the supposed rescued child was a stolen one. Of course, the people profiting from adoption very likely will start to produce people to pose as the supposed birth parents, so I don't even know if I think open adoption would work for international adoption.
posted by tavella at 10:32 PM on August 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

As a happy adoptee I sometimes really don't like the way we talk about adoption on metafilter. Considering how many kids are lost in foster care and need parents, and how birth families can be just as abusive as adoptive families can be- the position of all adoptions bad sometimes comes up here and it puts a real sour taste in my mouth. Maybe when we have these discussions we can remember that some of your fellow mefites are adopted and at least some of us are better for it? Not discounting that bad shit happens, but it's a little more nuanced than this site likes to get into.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:53 PM on August 8, 2019 [39 favorites]

Just sobbing. Thank you for the link.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:54 PM on August 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Homo neanderthalensis, the story featured is very much specific to China and outright abduction, corruption and an unwanted forced adoption from the birth family. The balance is that the reasoning for delay from the adoptive family's side involves parental loss, trauma and is well explained and both families are portrayed sympathetically with the families' own words used over editorialising. There's a look at the range of emotions and types of reconciliations and the ethics of family searches related to China. It's a very China-specific article with an interesting POV, the journalist who accidentally found the link.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:58 PM on August 8, 2019 [5 favorites]

I have read the article dorothyisunderwood and I understand that. But it's not just this article, it's past discussions on metafilter about adoption that tend to go a little haywire, and I'm hoping that the context of the article can be remembered in the comments and not devolve into mindless bashing of adoption which has occurred on this site before.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:00 PM on August 8, 2019 [11 favorites]

incredible story
posted by growabrain at 12:13 AM on August 9, 2019

it's past discussions on metafilter about adoption that tend to go a little haywire

As another adoptee (also from a pretty good experience as far as these things go), I have found metafilter one of the few places I feel comfortable reading the comments on adoption stories, since I know I don't have to worry about seeing and having to rebut bullshit framing about, "rescuing children" or about adoptive parents being so selfless etc. Or even just blanket assumptions that adoptions are painless processes.

That's not to dismiss your experiences, homo neanderthalensis. Just that I think we already do a lot right here. Maybe it's just a matter of commentators needing to make fewer assumptions overall, good or bad.
posted by lollusc at 1:52 AM on August 9, 2019 [6 favorites]

There’s a movie called Twinsters, about identical twin girls born in Korea, who are eventually adopted in London and LA and reunite as adults based on a chance viewing of a YouTube video. But the background on that is very different. Different country, different circumstances, and both young women speak the same language. Still, the reuniting is heartwarming.

There’s also “Three Identical Strangers” but that’s an entirely different and very complicated kettle of fish. That one haunts me still, months after viewing.
posted by 41swans at 5:36 AM on August 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I definitely recommend Twinsters (on US Netflix). I've watched it a couple times. Its pretty powerful for... a don't want to say a casual documentary, maybe a simple documentary? Maybe just that the overall tone of it is light, hopeful.
posted by CPAGirl at 7:38 AM on August 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

My brother is adopted and he's always said he is happy that he was adopted. It was an open adoption so my family is in contact with his birth mother. But a lot of people with no experience with it have weird ideas about what adoption is, how easy or hard it is, and how complicated or not complicated it is.
posted by tooloudinhere at 7:55 AM on August 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I mean, it’s fine to talk about open adoption but this is a case of a child stolen. I yelled out when I read that Esther’s mom wasn’t ready to reach out to the birth family when she became aware of them, that it would be “too hard.” I feel pretty strongly that if your child wants to know their family, you should make that possible. And if family comes to you and wants truth, you owe it to them to be as open as possible. I recently wrote a letter to my new extended family after my birth mother died. I had met her at 19 and then lost touch and then found her again before my daughter was born. We all got to have a relationship with her and now I know uncles and cousins. But it wasn’t until she died that I got more candid information. I want people in her family to know that she made a choice and it was a difficult choice and she lived with it and it was hard. My upbringing in my adopted family was both great and horrible. But here we all are and it is better to have the truth such that we can know it.

These girls, these families, will be happier to know. And in this particularly criminal case where the birth family feared she’d been used for organs?! I hope more answers for more families are coming.
posted by amanda at 8:15 AM on August 9, 2019 [7 favorites]

Yeah, I get not immediately springing this news on a kid, but to refuse to contact the birth family at all after finding out the kid you adopted was stolen from them... WTF? At least send them some photos and regular updates?! Seven years of radio silence?! How convenient that the birth family were poor people living in remote rural China. Can you imagine getting away with this if the kid was from a middle class American family?
posted by airmail at 9:05 AM on August 9, 2019 [9 favorites]

I yelled out when I read that Esther’s mom wasn’t ready to reach out to the birth family when she became aware of them, that it would be “too hard.”

In the article, it's clear that Ether's mother didn't tell her because she was concerned for Esther's welfare, not her own. Also, when Esther found out, she was afraid she'd be forced to leave her adopted family, which she didn't want to. It was a hard choice, and there was likely no right answer. But she chose her child's immediate welfare (not her own) over the birth family's potential welfare.
posted by jb at 11:20 AM on August 9, 2019

Well, I don’t buy that. I think it was concerns for all those things as well as shock and bewilderment over the whole story and personal fear and strife. And I will admit that this is a sore point for me. People get uncomfortable or afraid and they choose status quo over the hard, messy work of making things known and right. I totally get it but I also feel very strongly that in these situations, it is best to know. Anything could have happened in the intervening years that would have made reunification difficult or impossible. They are lucky that the delay didn’t seem to harm reunification. I’m so happy for these girls but this will continue to be a complex situation for everyone involved. I’m glad it was not delayed even further.
posted by amanda at 12:08 PM on August 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

What an amazing story.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:56 AM on August 10, 2019

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