Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

Adoption Microaggressions Parents Need to Know About

March 30, 2022 Creating a Family Season 16 Episode 13
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
Adoption Microaggressions Parents Need to Know About
Show Notes Transcript

What are the microaggressions or stigmas in the world of adoption and how do they impact adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents?  We talk with Dr. Amanda Baden, a Professor and the Doctoral Program Director at Montclair State University in the graduate counseling program and a licensed psychologist in private practice in Manhattan. She is an adult adoptee from Hong Kong and an adoptive parent of a daughter from China.

In this episode, we cover:

  • What are microaggessions in general and how do they apply to adoption? 
  • These microaggressions apply to all members of the adoption kinship network (adoptees; adoptive parents, grandparents, siblings; first/birth parents/grandparents).
  • Where do some of the unconscious attitudes and stigmas toward adoption come from? 
  • Common microaggression themes for adoptees:
    • biology is best/normative is based upon the belief that biological ties are superior, more permanent, and more authentic than ties formed through adoption or foster care 
    • bad seed adoptees or damaged goods
    • grateful adoptees, a third theme, refers to the idea of adoptees as both lucky and privileged to have been adopted 
    • cultural limbo and invalidation of heritage 
  • What are some of the microagressions against birth parents?
  • What are some of the microaggressions against adoptive parents?
  • Lack of intent to hurt.
  • How can microsaggressions impact the mental health?

Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Please pardon the errors, this is an automatic transcription.
0:00  
Welcome, everyone to creating a family talk about adoption in foster care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I'm both the host of this show, but I'm also the director of creating a family.org. Today we're going to be talking about adoption microaggressions. And we're going to be talking with Dr. Amanda Baden. She is a professor and the doctoral program director at Montclair State University in the graduate counseling program. And she's also a licensed psychologist in private practice in Manhattan. Dr. Bain specializes in translation and international adoption, identity and counseling issues. She is an adult adoptee from Hong Kong and the adoptive parent of a daughter from China. And she serves on the board at creating a family and we are so pleased both to have her on our board, as well as to have you here to talk with us today. Hi, Amanda, how are you?

0:51  
Thank you, Don, I'm doing well. Thank you.

0:54  
All right, let's start with kind of just making sure we're all on the same page. What are microaggressions? In general, and and we don't often apply them in the area of adoption. So tell us about what they are in general. And then how do they apply to adoption?

1:10  
Sure. So a man by the last name of Pierce in I think the 1988 first created the term coined the term of microaggressions. And it was really applied to racial, and justices and indignities insults. invalidations around race were subtle, sometimes recognized as a, an expression of racism, for example. So it can be something as simple as saying something like, oh, you speak English really well. So that that has been said to me many times in my life as an Asian woman. And I think the challenge with that is the intention. Sounds like it's a compliment. But it also sends these subtle messages that say, Oh, I don't expect you to speak English. Well, I think you look like a foreign person to this country. So you can't really claim righteous place here. And then it can sound like, oh, well, the language that you speak is, is almost as good as what other people would speak even though I'm quite aware that I speak English without, with a with an American accent. So regardless, and then when it comes to adoption, so there's three types of, and then Derald, Wing Sue in 2007. And his colleagues, they published a paper that kind of revitalize the use of microaggressions as, as everyday kinds of racism that occurs in people's lives. And they identify three types, micro assaults, micro invalidations, and micro insults. And so those little subtle things that can be said, like even just saying something like, Oh, I really don't like Chinese food, it's so greasy. You know, that kind of suggests that, yes, it could be, there could be some extra ingredients in it that you might not like, but also, it might sit, send a message about what Chinese people are like. And so the challenge about microaggressions is, they're not necessarily intentional, you can be they can be completely unintentional, and still commit a microaggression. And the other challenge about it as a result of it being unintentional, being subtle, every one of us, myself included, commit microaggressions all the time without necessarily realizing it. And I don't really think there's a way to completely avoid it, but we can become more aware. And we can keep monitoring ourselves. So when it comes to adoption, you know, there's been a long history of stigma around adoption. So the idea of adoption as a second or third best option, or the idea of adoptees being grateful, and there's all kinds of little subtle messages that tell people who are involved in adoption in some way. So stakeholders and adoption communicates a message of evaluation of that, of the process of the practice of the individuals involved. And so, after Derald Wing, Sue's paper came out in 2007. I presented first started presenting on adoption microaggressions in 2010, at the International Conference on adoption research, and I published my paper on it in 2016. And the paper was called Do you know your real parents and other adoption? microaggressions? Because these that was an example of a kind of question, maybe said innocently without intention to harm without any real intentionality in terms of offending a person, but still sending a message that the real parents are the birth parents do you know the people who are biologically related, and adoptees all around? We'll say that people feel pretty comfortable asking us pretty, pretty personal intrusive questions. And I think that most adoptive families can say that they've all been asked these kinds of things. When people find out there's adoption in place questions that you wouldn't ask about someone who was biologically related.

5:12  
Where do you think some of the unconscious attitudes or stigmas towards adoption come from? Well, I

5:20  
think that they are really baked into our society in a lot of ways. They're baked in, in the sense that we have a, a lot of some countries have these strong bloodlines, values about how people really should be part of a group or not. They even indicate whether you can be considered a true member of that group. If you don't do or do not have that bloodline.

5:45  
That's not that's less than the US though, don't you think? Or not?

5:50  
I religiously know. So in religious communities, for example, it can be very, very true.

5:56  
Yeah, I hadn't thought about that. Yeah, good point.

5:59  
One other thing I should note is that when when I wrote about adoption microaggressions, I included the micro assaults, micro validations, and micro insults. But I added a fourth category, and that I called micro fictions,

6:12  
which I must say, I loved that you did that. Go ahead and tell us what you mean by that?

6:16  
Sure, sure. The idea behind it was when I was formulating this, I realized there's not something that really conveys the mistruths, the partial truths, the sometimes outright lies, the secrecy that is really a part of the practice of adoption for many, many decades. And so for example, adoptees who have closed records, not being able to find out the truth of their identities, and having basically, you know, people who work for the government get to see their true identities, but the adoptees themselves did not. And many times paperwork that comes as part of the adoption has been altered by sometimes government workers, agency workers, or the state itself. So for example, as soon as a person's adopted in the US, their birth record is amended, and the adoptive parents information is put on their birth certificate. So the inability, even if it's an open adoption, that still occurs. And so while the open adoption, they may still know that information, but they may not as well. And a lot of times, people who were in closed record states never get that original information. But for example, a lot of international adoptees, also came with social history reports that are fabricated. You know, I've had clients whose social history report said they were born by to two young people who never married. And once they eventually find their birth, families find out they were like a fourth or fifth born daughter of an intact family. So we know there's these kinds of mysteries that that come with adoption sometimes. Mm

8:06  
hmm. You know, before I became involved with adoption, it, it never, it never occurred to me. But if you look at so many of the Disney movies, fairy tales, but in particular Disney movies, and I've really thought about it as to it once you're aware of it, it's it's everywhere. The the stereotypes the miss, and I I'm not sure why I think on some level, there is the the needing to have parents not be in the picture. Because, you know, it's it's for the fiction of it all, having the children do more that type of thing. I'm not sure what it is. Do you see that as well? I mean, it seems like it's, it feels like every Disney movie, of course, that's not true, but it sure feels like it.

8:52  
Yes, in fact, I wrote about that in the paper and so many other stories, all the superhero stories, for example, yes, there's always an orphaned person. And I think it's a narrative arc that people rely upon have for for generations, but I think it's hard to watch any show without seeing that.

9:10  
I agree with you in the narrative arc is the perfect way of saying it. And there, and there are reasons that it's it's a shorthand for getting rid of parents. It's a shorthand for elevating, it's just, you know, there are other reasons for it. But if I understand what you're saying, there's also a downside to that. And what is that just a general what would that downside be to that to the myth or the fiction micro fiction that is that narrative arc?

9:39  
Well, I think that the way the arc goes is in two different ways. One, the orphaned child and these are not necessarily true orphans, but created orphans, people whose parents aren't dead, but are somehow not identified in the in the story. So that person can overcome The difficult beginnings and be a superhero or some sort of powerful being Harry Potter, for example, who was an orphaned person not created. But he again became sort of like the savior of the wizarding world. And so he overcame all of his difficult beginnings. But the other way the Ark can go sometimes is that the orphan person may be seen as the damaged individual who has created all these problems. So for example, in the Thor comics and superhero movies, Loki is the character Loki is the damaged, orphaned child who becomes an adult who's evil in service. And then interestingly, they came up with another show, that now goes into loot Lucky's history in more depth. So that you can see these the ambivalence of and that the fact that there's more to his story to than just being evil, but still, this narrative arc is compelling, because you can make them be, you can make that person not have the supports that we expect not have the even the character that you might expect from an individual. You know,

11:21  
the adoptee is damaged goods is a, it's something I particularly am sensitive to I remember there was quite a few years ago, we had written an article creating a fam ahead or publish an article we've written about, just I think it was research on some of the you know, at least one part of it was talking about that adoptees are more represented in mental health settings or attend to, you know, seeking out mental health, things like that. And it was just kind of a general summary of the article of some research. And an adoptee reached out to us and she was I took her criticism to heart and but I don't know exactly what to do about it, but it definitely impacted I think about it all the time. And that she was saying, you know, by it feels like you emphasize the problems, whereas the reality is most of us are doing are not damaged. Good. She goes, it makes me feel as if the emphasis on this, it casts a pall over all adoptees, when most of us are dealing with no more issues than the average population. I we entered, she and I entered a dialogue. And I truly appreciated that she had reached out. And like I say it has it true, it has, it has shifted. I am cognizant, but on the other hand, as an organization that is trying to educate and wants parents to be prepared, wants to have them have realistic expectations wants to do away that all you need to do is the method, all you need to do is love them and everything and treat them as if they're your own that type of thing. So it feels a little bit that we're in a I see her point. And actually after she's pointed it out, I see it everywhere. And I think she's right. But I also think that it's also true that we need to prepare parents so I I'm anyway, that's that's one of when I read your article, and I saw the I don't know if you call it the damaged goods or the bad see, but I think yes, and I think of it as damaged goods, because that's the phrase she used. She said, You know, I'm I'm not damaged goods. And I don't know many adoptees who are in fact I know more people who are not adopted, you're struggling, you know that blah, blah, blah. So anyway, any thoughts on that?

13:40  
I absolutely. Yes, actually, I really do. Because I think researchers and clinicians have had a hard time striking the right balance around this, because we want to emphasize the need for specialized care. We want to emphasize the fact that it's an underserved, understudied population. And it's also overrepresented in mental health settings, but it ignores the fact that there's people it's still a bell curve. And there's still a sense that people who are, the idea is that there's more people doing poorly than there are people doing well, but that's not quite true. It's just shift. It's a little shifted on the axis instead of fully that fully, one way or the other. But one of the goals of my work throughout my career has been to focus on the idea that adoptees are highly pathologized. And so from the very beginning when I was in my doctoral program, when I started studying and writing about this, I really was interested in trying to question that narrative, that adoptees are damaged and that we have to decide what's functional or dysfunctional about them. And I think that we're in we represent a whole range of functionality just like everyone else, but I want to focus on how we can help understand some of the some of the challenges they may experience that aren't necessarily related to adjustment per se. The challenge is a lot of the research is very mixed in the findings. And so some will say, adoptees are no more dysfunctional than non adopted people. And some will say, oh, there's major differences. So we don't have a great set of circumstances, especially when we're looking at adult adoptees, there's more research on children in terms of their adjustment than there is on adults. And we also know that adults tend to even out some of these things that might have been more challenging during childhood. So ultimately, I would agree that we don't want to over pathologize, but we do have to find a way to make sure that some of these services are developed. Because adoptees do have different struggles, they may struggle with identity, that doesn't mean that they are have adjustment problems, per se. Yeah, and that doesn't mean that they'll have more clinical issues. But they will, may have other racial identity issues, for example, and that those services around time in terms of like therapy and other support services, need to be able to address that, while not minimizing or over emphasizing the importance of their adoption.

16:22  
It does feel like those of us and I'm in more of the educating adoptive parent, you're more in the talking, you know, from the from the counseling standpoint, but I just feel like it's a it's worthy of trying to find the balance. It's and I think if nothing else, it's important for us to realize that there's a balance to be sought.

16:41  
Absolutely.

16:42  
Yeah. We are very excited to offer you now. 12, count them 12 free online courses, thanks to the support of the jockey being family foundation. If you go to Bitly slash jPf support, that's bi T dot L y slash J BF support, you will find all 12 free online courses that are creating a family.org online Parent Training Center. You don't have to remember the coupon code, it's automatically applied and takes off that $20 per course so you get it for free. Thank you, Jackie being family. So what are some other common micro aggression themes for adoptees?

17:27  
Sure. Well, it's interesting because I'm led a study with my research team at Montclair State and we've interviewed adult adoptees adoptive parents and birth parents to look for the different kinds of microaggressions both racial and adoption that they may we experience, report or even commit themselves. And so among adoptees, some of the really common ones are things like biology is best.

17:55  
Blood is thicker than water. Yeah,

17:58  
grateful adoptees, that adoptees are supposed to be grateful and therefore not angry or critical of their adoption. One that I think is pretty powerful is the cultural Limbo invalidation of heritage one, which really helps to sort of explain some of the microaggressions that trans racial and international adoptees experienced where they're kind of neither white nor considered fully black or fully Chinese or what have you, because they are seen as not really representing both their the visual and the practical part of being a member of this groups. Let's I want

18:38  
to pause and talk about a couple of those. Let's start with the one you just mentioned, the cultural limbo. Some of what we hear from adoptees, and again, this is from a trans racial or international trans cultural, being called slurs such as Oreo, black on the outside, wide on the inside, or the slur, banana yellow on the outside wider. I mean, those, the idea is, is that you're not fully anything. Yeah, you don't fit. So how does that fit in with the IT staff? Does it feel micro that kind of feels macro aggression? But But nonetheless, how does that how does that fit in with a micro aggression thing?

19:19  
Sure. Well, saying calling those names I would agree would probably be a macro assault. But in terms of Microsoft, I'm sorry. But then in terms of a subtler way might be going to Chinese Student Association meeting and having everyone speaking in Chinese and the Chinese adoptee not feeling like you know, when they try to interact, being sort of dismissed as not really welcome there, or not really an authentic member of the, of the ethnic community. Yeah, yeah. So I mean, I think the limbo piece and that's why we I named it that was that adoptees do Feeling a limbo space where they can't identify fully with either group because one, they feel like they might share the cultural connections with white folks. But they aren't authenticated by them or aren't acknowledged as truly feeling as truly part of the group. And similarly, they may not understand the cultural connections of their birth ethnic group. But they know people, especially as adults, look at them and expect them to know certain things that they don't. And so they are constantly getting messages that say you don't belong or you're not part of.

20:37  
Yeah, that makes sense. Let's talk some about the grateful adoptee the idea that that adoptees are not allowed to feel any of the things that everyone feels about their parents, that we love them. But the truth is, sometimes they're annoying, sometimes they're wrong. Sometimes they're overbearing, sometimes they are just like everyone else, you know, everyone else's parents and that we don't give adoptees? Because they're supposed to be both lucky and privileged. And but for the adoption, where would you be that type of thing? And that messages? It's not even subtle? Sometimes. It's just so not at all? Yeah. Yeah. How do adoptees in your study? How did they reflect upon that type of microaggression?

21:28  
Well, I mean, so they talked about things ranging from messages where they were told that if they hadn't been adopted, they would have been, and the story goes on, right? Yeah, working in a factory on the streets. Yes, proof raises an orphan sex worker, you know, and they've been told that not just by strangers, but sometimes by their adoptive families. And as a child to process that information, it's pretty challenging, and the message becomes quite clear that you aren't, you're supposed to be grateful and not have complaints. And so every time those messages come through, I mean, being told you would have been a sex worker is not so subtle. But but it also is one where the adoptee may feel like that it does a couple other things to it, it almost sends the message that people from their birth country, that's the kind of people they become, if you're still in China, or Korea or Vietnam, that's your fate, people in those countries are backwards, or somehow less than white folks. And it kind of fits with another one of the microaggressions that I named cultural philanthropy, which sort of fits a bit with the the grateful adoptee, but the the cultural philanthropy is also about culture that, that people should be grateful for being in a Western country. And everyone should want to be here because they skip the immigration challenges. And they get to be in these better family. And I'm putting quotes around better because yeah, that often means wealthier

23:12  
and a superior culture, and I'm putting superior in air quotes as well.

23:16  
Yes, exactly superior culture that everyone would want to be in the West if they could and, and it also ignores the fact that we know there's many adoptees who never got their citizenship. So they still weren't protected in that way. The creating a family.org

23:33  
podcast, this one that you're listening to has been around now for over 14 years, which means we have an extensive archive of shows, many of them related to today's topic of talking about racism and transracial adoption. You can begin listening now on your phone or in the car by going to your favorite podcast app, search for our title, creating a family and then follow us or subscribe depending on what they call it. And then you can enjoy scrolling through the archive of well over well, I don't even know how many well over 300 titles, and I think you will find some that will be directly relevant and helpful to you. Okay, so we've talked about the microaggressions as they apply to adoptees, but I appreciated in your work that microaggressions apply to all members of the adoption kinship network but but yes, adoptees, but also adoptive parents, adoptive grandparents, adoptive siblings, first parents, first grandparents, it just across the board. Let's talk about some of the micro aggressions against birth parents because he talked about stigma. I do think that there are such stigmas in our culture against people who've placed children. So what did you find that in your research? Yes,

24:56  
so we're really excited by this research because no one really talk to birth parents very often, other than Karen March did so in the 90s. And, but there hasn't been a lot of research with birth parents themselves, and especially birth parents of color. So, in fact, when we were doing the Adopt adult adoptees I had done identified initially in my paper, I think 13 microaggressions. And we added a couple more from doing the coding of the interviews, but in when once we started doing the, the birth parents, we've added quite a few because their perspectives are not only under voiced, but but often just not recognized. Yeah, like, for example, secrecy and lies and adoption. Really, of course, fits micro fictions, but also is something that a lot of Earth panda really felt that they were a secret they had to keep secrets. People often told Miss truths about them, that their intentionality is for fair relinquishing even the idea that they they felt sometimes they were not they didn't have a fully voluntary relinquishment but coersion. And but the lies that they gave them up, which is an I'll put that includes as well. But so some of the, the microaggressions. The one that's probably one of the most common is the shameful inadequate birth bear, which really promotes the judgment that our society has against birth parents, because by relinquishing a child, it's unrelatable to a lot of people. And so they judge character, people who've, who've been in that position, not recognizing that there are many systemic and institutional issues that are at play here. And it's not really necessarily about the the choices that a birth parent had, they may not have felt they had very many choices, not the same number of choices that are resourced person with a lot of support would have. Another one is the sacrificial birth parents. So a lot of times people look at birth parents and say, what a wonderful thing you did. Thank you so much. You. You're an angel. You love them so much. Yes, yes. Yes. And that, that sends a message that, of course, that that they did the right thing that they shouldn't have been parenting, they shouldn't be did a better thing by saying you're not really, I wasn't capable. I shouldn't have been in that position. And I did a good thing by, in some ways, ripping apart my, my family.

27:37  
Mm hmm. So any, any other standouts from the birth parents micro aggressions? Before we move on? There are but we haven't

27:46  
published them yet. So I'm gonna, citing Yes, that'll be coming out. Hopefully, we're in the final stages of finishing up some coding. But I can say that there's things like a relinquishment taboo, that some birth parents have talked about that they recognize the microaggression they're experiencing is that relinquishment is not even something people should, should consider. And again, that sort of leads leads to more feelings of shame. And being sucked in a lot of birth. Parents never tell anybody that they were birth parents, because of that shame in that and that taboo. So they may have one or two people, maybe a sibling, or their own parents that may know but otherwise, they are silent. In the in the community.

28:42  
That was actually I don't know if it's still encouraged. But certainly back in the day, wherever that whenever that was the I think it was very much encouraged to absent get on with your life. Don't tell, don't you know it? Because there was a shameful aspect. You know, you were pregnant, you shouldn't have been pregnant, don't let the world know. So yeah, I think that and you know, even now, I suspect that even if it's not even not even the reality there that continues, you know, just, you know, because it was so much a part of our societal norm.

29:15  
Yes. And that, that sort of get on with your life message. I called phantom birth parent, that it's almost like people say, you know, and they and a lot of times, adoptive parents have said this about children adopted internationally. You'll never get to meet your birth parents. Thank goodness, they're not going to come onto the scene. We don't really have to think about them. I'm your parent now. And so the birth parents kind of get erased, at least figuratively, in the family, while emotionally they're not erased often for the adoptive person, so they don't know where to put that. Those messages.

29:52  
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I want to thank one of our longest partners who has been supporting the creating a family show for a very long time, and that is hopscotch adoptions. They are a Hague accredited international adoption agency placing children from and I'm going to read out the lists. Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia garden, Kiana, Morocco, Pakistan, Serbia, and Ukraine. They specialize in children with special needs, including Down syndrome. And they also do a lot of kinship, international kinship adoptions. They can place children throughout the US and they offer home study services and post adoption services to residents of North Carolina and New York. Alright, so that we've talked about the we used to call the triad but so we've talked about adoptees and we've talked about first parents but we should also probably talk about adoptive parents. Are there micro aggressions against adoptive parents?

30:57  
Yes. 100%. I think one of them is the altruistic rescuer, a microaggression that says what wonderful things these adoptive parents have done. Some people go into adoption, feeling like the reason they're doing it is to rescue a child to say we can provide a home and and that is really insidious, because it can also feed into the narrative, that adoptees should be grateful that they were rescued from these terrible circumstances. And it also feeds into the cultural philanthropy method message to that rescuing means coming to the US into this wealthy family, there's there's been like a, there was a sort of well known, I think YouTube family that adopted a child from China boy and use that to really Garner followers and had a very much rescue narrative. And then suddenly, the child disappeared from their family. And there were questions, a lot of questions because to them, at least, in what a lot of people say, because I really wasn't a viewer of theirs.

32:06  
I wasn't either, but that apparently they used it very much to get followers and followers equate to money on Yes, so

32:15  
Exactly. And so then. But that rescue narrative was very much a function in that in that story. And adoptive parents are also experience a lot of the biology is best messages too. And a pseudo inadequate message about they're not real parents, they're sort of placeholders or temporary caregivers, but they're not as good as someone would be. If they were biological to them.

32:42  
Your feelings are not as intense or your experience is not as, again, air quotes real as somebody who birthed a child,

32:51  
and they're not as and their instincts aren't as good because they some Yes, yes. didn't pass. Because because they didn't birth the child, they would not have real true instincts that wouldn't make me rise.

33:05  
Yeah, yep. Yep. Yep, that's certainly one. Yes. You know, there's also I don't know if this would this is a myth. I don't know if this falls into microaggressions. But the idea that most adoptive parents were infertile, and it's the, the myth around the stigma around infertility, and that you are less than your body is a failure. And that adoption, just feeds into the adoption is a second best narrative as well. Yes. So yeah. Is that a microaggression? Would you think?

33:39  
Oh, yes, I would, I would say that the one around, you know, even calling an adoptive mother, as using the word Baron, of course, also sends that it's the biology is best message again, and the pseudo inadequate that they would their infertility makes them also suspect that we might not believe that they know what they're doing or they're not resolved or any of those things. Another microaggression I should mention, too, is commerce and adoption. So a lot of adoptive parents are, are asked how much their children cost and they have sort of people might project that they're wealthy as a result of having adopted children and they, and because sometimes it's associated with celebrities now, who've adopted children. Some people have likened it to being adopted international children adopted internationally as a as a prestigious accessory.

34:39  
Oh, kind of like the puppy in a in a in a handbag type of thing. Yeah.

34:45  
Yeah. Well,

34:45  
I guess it makes sense if you think about some of the high profile adoptions, and I mean, at least in theory, that was they tended to be international. And so at least in theory, there could have been an increase in adoptions as a result. Yeah. That's interesting. It's a little depressing. Okay, so one question I have you mentioned at the beginning of when you were talking about microaggressions, that there is very often a lack of intention, and certainly a lack of intention to hurt. Now, some of the ones we've mentioned here feel that there has to be a little bit of an intention, just because it's, you know, it feels that there would have to be, but, but some of what we've mentioned, I can see that that there is no intent to hurt. It is maybe it's just so baked into what we think. So does that change the aggression part? Because it's micro, or I guess Microsoft, the right word, because it's not intended does that in any way change the fact that it is also, it is an aggression, it is an insult and invalidation or whatever.

35:49  
I mean, that micro part is an interesting, it's an interesting perspective. I've had lots of students and peers and colleagues ask that too, that these things don't seem small. They seem big.

36:02  
But some, some some that you mentioned it in some that you mentioned, don't do somebody asking you complimenting you on your English, when obviously you speak perfect English. That seems more micro, somebody calling you a name or somebody demeaning your parenting because you didn't give birth, that type of thing. Seems were major, but some do seem micro.

36:23  
Yeah. Yeah, it really does run the gamut. And I think the bigger piece is that a lot of folks don't recognize these as part of the stigma, and how it impacts people. And so they might not see that this can become a legitimate challenge for an adoption stakeholder. So an adoptee grew up with the messages of being grateful and being in the cultural limbo and all of these other things, those, their reactions to those microaggressions may have been invalidated and minimized. And so we may forget the impact that that can have on their self esteem, on their functionality in relationships, and even their relationship to their families. Mm hmm.

37:09  
Yeah, being told that you need to be grateful, even subtly toll that you need the expectation of gratefulness is a huge burden to place. I mean, on any child.

37:22  
Absolutely. I mean, one of the other ones that I wrote about was what I called adoption is a win win. And one of the things that I was thinking about was, at the time that some folks still talk about this, the red thread theory that you've probably heard of, especially among Chinese adoptions, that the adoptee was meant to be with the family. And I understand the intentionality is to make that child feel wanted it used as the sort of chosen child method to try and alleviate any grief that the child might have. And that's something that's goes back for generations that people have used that method to try and but it also says that child was meant to be torn apart from their birth family, that they were never supposed to be raised for in that family, that the birth parents were supposed to have to give up this child and all these traumas were supposed to happen. So it kind of ignores that piece of it, and emphasizes the positive so and it also says, Everybody wins here, you know, the child needed a family, the adoptive parents needed a child and the birth parents weren't supposed to be raising these kids for lots of reasons.

38:35  
And even if there are certain parts of that is true, and that the parents are doing it because they they want the child they want to counteract the biology is, you know, that micro aggression that biology is superior. That so their their attempt is to overcome that. But it seems to me that one of the challenges there is that you, you're sticking your kid into a box that may not fit them, they may fit them. I when I interviewed a bunch of adoptees a long time ago, I was surprised at how it was certainly a couple out of my relatively small sample size talked about there was a point and this is these are all women who were, well, one no women and men who were probably in their 30s at the time, and this was probably 15 years anyway. So this was a point that went around talking about you are born in my heart are under my heart right under my heart. There was a I don't remember it now. And honestly, it it never spoke to me. It always felt like a little, you know, try to whatever. But I'm surprised at how many from the adopted person standpoint that they loved it, it really summarized. So again, if that box may feel comfortable, but what if that box doesn't feel comfortable? What if the the adopting is, is really misses, it really wants information. They don't have a beat whatever the information would be or is frustrated because they really aren't very dissimilar. They're adoptive family and they feel odd man out type of thing. Anyway, it seems like that would be part of the problem.

40:06  
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, I, what I want to hear and what you're saying, Dawn is that there are the adoptees who really cherish the the chosen child kind of narrative and grew up seeing adoption largely as positive. And that goes for lots of adoptees. But the challenge there is that sometimes for some adoptees, they start to develop a more critical lens around adoption. And it's often referred to in the community as coming out of the fog.

40:36  
Or in the opposite of that is drinking the Kool Aid. If for those who are who have a more positive view, they're told they're drinking the Kool Aid and the ones who are other are saying that we're coming out of the fog. So yeah, you're right.

40:49  
Yeah. But what I think happens, so it kind of demonstrates the fact that adoptees are going to be pathologized no matter what they do, one way

40:59  
I know. You know, it does feel a little so mean, how do you Okay, and this will be my last question. It does feel that we're a bit darned if we do. darned if we don't. Yeah, cleaning it up for the podcaster. So how do we navigate, wanting to do wanting to be aware and wanting to be accepting of, of adoptive people, adoptive first parents and adoptive parents being across the gambit having all sorts of emotions? How do we do that? How do we walk this line? Dr. Baker?

41:33  
Well, I would recommend to folks to watch Chimamanda the chase, TED talk from I thought the

41:40  
the oh, shoot Yeah, dangerous story. Dangar dangerous? And yeah, I couldn't remember the name. Oh, as well as read her books. But go ahead.

41:49  
Yes. I mean, I think the, the real factor is that we paint everybody with the same brush. And as to Monday, TJ was saying, you know, if you have a single story about who adoptees are, who adoptive parents are, then you're bound to misrepresent people. But if you can allow us to be as varied as you allow other people to be, then you might have a better chance of, you know, hitting the hitting the spot where it needs to be. So like, for example, if a clinician who is maybe not trained in adoption, which unfortunately, is way too common, they may assume, Oh, okay, this person's adopted everything, all their problems are because they were adopted, and they may not be able to see the nuances and the challenges that may not be fully about adoption, and that so they may not address the aspects that are needed there. On the other hand, they may completely minimize or dismiss the impact of adoption. So it's, again finding balance. Mm hmm.

42:53  
You couldn't have ended on a better note, I will link Danger of a Single Story in the show notes. Thank you so much, Dr. Amanda Baden, for being with us today. This has been a fascinating discussion, and I've had a blast. So thank you so much for being with us.

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