More discussion on pet adoption than human adoption during National Adoption Month

DONALDSON ADOPTION INSTITUTE SOCIAL MEDIA ANALYSIS REVEALS NEED FOR UNIFIED VOICE
MEDIA ADVISORY: For Immediate Release 

CONTACT: April Dinwoodie – (212) 925-4089 – adinwoodie@adoptioninstitute.org

New York, December 3, 2014 –The Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI) today released a social media analysis of National Adoption Month (NAM), revealing that conversations about pet adoption continue to be more robust than those about human adoption.

DAI, a research hub for ethical adoption laws, policies and practices, analyzed social media messages surrounding NAM and found that even with the legacy of powerful organizations focused on foster care adoption and the addition of new dynamic voices, the conversation about human adoption lags behind that of pet adoption.

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The Real Problem with Kim Kardashian’s Adoption Fairytale

Who says no to Kim Kardashian? A young woman named Pink, that’s who. During a family vacation to Thailand, the reality show star visited a children’s home and fell in love with Pink, one of the young women living in the home.

On Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kim said, “I literally cannot stop thinking about her. I told Kanye, I was like, honestly, this girl is so sweet and so cute, like, I would honestly adopt her.”

Pink politely said “no thank you” to the idea of being adopted by Kim, saying she “realized it wouldn’t be good for me, because I would have to leave so much behind. I wasn’t ready for that.”

Pink has become the unexpected break out story of National Adoption Month – a time that has traditionally placed the spotlight on raising awareness of the need for adoptive parents for children in foster care. However, Pink’s story is an important one – and reveals the complex reality behind Kim’s adoption fairytale.

It turns out that Pink already has a mother – Rose – who lives in a nearby village and comes to visit her every day. Following the 2004 tsunami, the family has struggled financially. In an effort to provide her child better education and care, Rose made the difficult decision to send Pink to the children’s home.

“I spoke to my mum about Kim and she said, ‘When you finish high school and you can look after yourself, I will give you permission to go and live with Kim if you want to go,” Pink said.

Poverty should not be the driving force behind international adoption. In the United States, a family can spend up to $50,000 to adopt a child from another country. In many cases that money might be better spent on supporting the biological family of the child and keeping her within her community of origin. If Kim wanted to make a real difference for Pink, she could reunite Pink and her mother.

As Pink explained, “Everyone wants to have a different or a better life, I suppose. But when I thought about it, I realized it wouldn’t be good for me, because I would have to leave so much behind. I wasn’t ready for that.”

Intercountry adoption can be a viable option but only when transacted ethically on all sides and truly in the best interest of the child. Adoptive parents and professionals have an obligation to be certain that this is the case, every time. We already know so much about what works and what does not, now we need to be sure we share what we know widely to help dispel the myths so often in the public eye.

As both a professional encouraging adoption reform and an adopted person, I am grateful that more people have been properly introduced to Pink and see beyond the fairytale. Perhaps one young woman sharing the realities of her situation can help to shift the conversation and provide a more candid and productive discussion about the complicated realities facing children and families today.

Influencing Change: DAI’s 2014-15 Annual Report Available Now

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The past year has been one of incredible change in the adoption and foster care communities–and for DAI as well. From turning the tide on open records in New Jersey to the continuing decline in intercountry adoption, from safeguarding lesbian and gay family rights to securing needed funding for post-adoption services it has been quite a year! To find out what DAI did to meet these challenges, I invite you to click here for your first look at DAI’s 2014-15 Annual Report.

The report highlights our work in each of our 4 pillars (The Adoption Experience, Foster Care Adoption, Adoption Support Services and The Modern Family); spotlights our efforts to understand the impact of the internet on adoption; offers Board members’ reflections on what DAI means to them; and most importantly acknowledges the people without whom we could not do any of this work—our wonderful and generous donors.

Available electronically on our website today, print versions are in the mail now. If you are not already on our mailing list and would like to receive a hard copy, please drop us a note at info@adoptioninstitute.org.

April-Signature

April Dinwoodie, Chief Executive

Profile: Amanda Baden Ph.D.

CaptionWe are honored to profile DAI Senior Fellow, Amanda Baden, Ph.D. Amanda is an Associate Professor in the Department of Counseling and Educational Leadership at Montclair State University in N.J. She is a licensed psychologist with a clinical practice in Manhattan. Her research and practice focus on adoption triad members, transracial/international adoption issues, racial and cultural identity, and multicultural counseling competence. She is on the editorial board of Adoption Quarterly and co-chairs the Biennial Adoption Initiative Conferences in New York. She is a columnist for Families with Children from China journals across the U.S. and she is an editor of the book, The Handbook of Adoption: Implications for Researchers, Practitioners, and Families. In 2005, she received an Angel in Adoption award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

How long have you been working in adoption research/reform?

I began doing adoption research while a graduate student 20 years ago. I started by studying the identity of transracial and international adoptees and have continued in that line of research. I have also expanded my work to include adoption competence, counseling for the adoption kinship network, and other adoption-related topics.

How has your personal adoption experience inspired or influenced your work over the years?

I am an adult transracial and international adoptee. I was adopted from Hong Kong and raised by white parents who were in a mixed faith marriage. My personal experiences have undoubtedly influenced my work. I have been able to understand the dynamics of adoption in a way through the lived experiences that I have as well as the experiences that have been shared with me by my peer adoptees. I am also an adoptive parent and, although that role is newer, I have been able to understand the adoption experience in an additional way that informs my understanding of adoption even further. To truly understand the impact of adoption, I believe we must really explore the meaning we make of our heritage as well as the lived experiences we have that are affected by our various identities. Heritage and our identities are heavily influenced by race, ethnicity, and culture and too often the literature minimizes these issues. My work has been centered on explicitly looking at the multiple and mixed influences that race, ethnicity, culture, and adoption have on identity development among adoptees.

How has your work changed over the years?

My work has continued to evolve and grow. I now study the other adoption stakeholders (adoptive parents and birth parents) as well as the adoptees themselves. As a counseling psychologist, I have combined my research and practice interests and am now focusing on the clinical competence of counselors and therapists who work with adoptees and their families. My work with the Adoption Initiative that holds biennial conferences at St. John’s University for the past 14 years has also been important in my development. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing scholars and practitioners who have greatly influenced my work. My connection to DAI as a Senior Fellow has also been a wonderful experience. The opportunity to work with amazing scholars like Ellen Pinderhughes, Ruth McRoy, and Hal Grotevant has been a great privilege. My critique of adoption and adoption practice is more informed and more nuanced based on my involvement in research as well as my work as a practicing psychologist.

What has been one of your biggest “ah-ha” moments?

This is a hard question! I think it might have started with my work on a paper that we published in 2012. I had been thinking about culture camps as cultural immersion experiences, but then I tried to understand them and the racial-ethnic socialization experiences they provide. I realized that, like others folks of color, transracial and international adoptees themselves were often trying to exert effort to understand themselves as racial and cultural beings; however, unlike others, they were seeking to reclaim a lost cultural perspective that they lost upon adoption. We named that process reculturation to depict the experience of attempting to acculturate to what is often a minority culture. It was really exciting to finally name that process that is somewhat unique to transracial and international adoptees.

What do you love most about your job?

I love the freedom that I have in my work. I am lucky to get to study other people’s ideas, to develop new ideas, and to work with some wonderful people in the process.

Why do you think the search and reunion project is an important one at this time?

So many adoptees and birth parents have embarked on searches and have been frustrated and blocked as they attempted to get information about their heritage. The attitudes toward adoption continue to reflect fear and suspicion toward those who search for birth family ties. As more states begin to move toward changing policy and allow access to original birth certificates, this is the perfect time to reform and reconfigure current practice and training for those who assist with searches and reunions. However, to achieve this reform and to support searchers, we must first understand what current practice is for search facilitators. This project will allow us to better understand the training, experiences, and practices of those who do this important work.

If you could change one thing about the practice of adoption/people’s attitudes toward adoption what would it be?

If I could change anything, it would be attitudes about adoption. I would work to decrease adoption stigma by raising awareness of all of the judgmental and pathologizing attitudes toward adoptees, first parents, and adoptive parents.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on the Adoption Search and Reunion Project with DAI and some students. I am also working on a newer construct in the literature (microaggressions) that I have applied to the adoption experience. I have written about adoption microaggressions and I’m working on two projects related to adoption microaggressions and racial microaggressions experienced by adoptees, adoptive parents, and international transracial and domestic adoptees. I am also working on a study exploring the effect of the late discovery of adoption on adoption status on adults who were adopted and learned of their adoption later in life.

DAI Fall Newsletter – Baden Profile & More Analysis

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the latest edition of our quarterly newsletter. In this issue we are highlighting DAI’s “Adoption Experience” pillar.  Focusing on the entire adoption community, DAI works to safeguard the rights of adopted people and parents (expectant, first/birth and adoptive), promote healthy identity in adopted people, and educate practitioners, professionals and policymakers to improve the adoption experience and strengthen families.

Depending on our personal experience, the “Adoption Experience” means different things to different people. With that in mind, adoption reform means different things to different people, making our collective work all the more challenging but that much more critical.  This pillar is all about the people that are closest to adoption.  This includes professionals that are transacting in the world of adoption every day.  Case Workers, Social Workers, Attorneys, Mental Health Professionals, etc. – they all have a place in the “Adoption Experience.”  Ultimately the workforce is responsible for helping children and families as they navigate adoption, so we need to work hard so they have the tools they need.

There is an exciting future ahead for DAI as we continue to curate a rich body of research-based content, educate the community and field and advocate for adoption reform.  As we do this, we will also be creating new opportunities to engage in broad, two-way dialog to raise awareness of adoption in the 21st Century.

As always, in this edition you will find updates on policy, advocacy, research and education from DAI, as well as developments from the community and our partners. This edition includes more detailed analysis than ever before, so be sure to click the “Read More” button!  We are especially thrilled to profile one of our Senior Fellows, Amanda Baden.  Amanda is a force in the adoption reform movement and her contributions to DAI, the field and the community are countless.

 

Enjoy & Happy Fall,

April Signature

April Dinwoodie