Closure

Do Transracial Adoptees Know Anything About Transracial Adoption?

NPR contacted me and asked me to be a part of the Sunday Conversation that aired yesterday morning. I spoke in depth about my story, my upbringing, the challenges and joys of my experience being raised by White parents, only to receive an email the next day stating that they had chosen to go another route. I responded kindly by stating “I sure hope you’ve chosen to include an adoptees perspective for your segment.” I awoke to hear the one-sided, tired, age old perspective that we’ve heard so many times before. A loving, White adoptive parent of three African American children was the only voice to hear. While her voice is valid and valuable, it should not have been the only voice featured on this segment.  NPR’s tagline for this show is, “Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.”  When the Senior Editor of the show contacted me, she stated that in light of the recent comments about Romney’s grandchild they wanted to expand on the topic of transracial adoption. I was glad for this opportunity; hopeful that NPR would do it justice by interviewing not just adoptive parents, but adoptees themselves, and birthparents as well. I was disappointed upon learning of the parent-centric and staid approach they took.

I wonder why NPR didn’t want to air my story? What were they trying to shield their listeners from hearing? Are the powers that be afraid that the adoptee voice will disrupt the current narrative of trans-racial adoption?  Is it safe to assume that NPR doesn’t feel the listeners can understand that I, a transracial adoptee, had both a wonderful upbringing and some exposure to African-American heritage while living in a predominately white city, yet also had a need to find my roots and search for my birth parents? Perhaps it is a bit difficult to understand that an adoptee can be both glad for life opportunities afforded only through adoption, yet also wonder about what their plight would’ve been had an adoption not gone through. This is our reality! While transracial adoption is a necessary solution at this juncture in time, it’s also a solution that comes with a lot of complexity, and may not be easily “fixed” by hiring a black mentor or teaching your child about Rosa Parks.

Had my voice been aired on the show, viewers would've heard me speak my truth about how I felt when being discriminated against in the town I grew up in. What we heard about discrimination in the NPR piece instead was “…it made my husband and I very uncomfortable, but our kids didn’t notice. They were just coloring and being children…” The adoptive mother was asked by NPR host if she fears the stereotypes her black son may face as he grows. Why not simply ask a trans-racially adopted man how discrimination has affected his upbringing and adulthood?

BREAKING NEWS: We no longer need to speculate about the challenges trans-racially adopted children may face as they grow. The first hand answers for these important questions can be answered by qualified, educated, articulate adult adoptees (or birthparents) found by doing a quick Google search.

I have allowed my story to be shared in a documentary which is told not just in my voice, but also features the perspectives of my adoptive parents, birth parents, siblings who were adopted, birth siblings who weren’t adopted, my parents’ biological daughter and my husband and others – all of these voices have a place in the discussion. Closure is a valuable resource, not because my story is the best out of all adoption stories, not because I am an expert on other transracial adoptions – that, I am not. It is a valuable story because there is a shortage of resources where the adoptee’s voice and experience is included.

I know many White adoptive parents who are raising their children of color wonderfully. Comments about this conversation should not lean towards questioning an adoptive parents’ love for their child, or capability of raising their child of color.  There are plenty of adoptive parents who are doing a great job seeking out appropriate resources and asking tough questions about trans-racial parenting both publicly and privately. This discussion is about how the mainstream media chooses to portray transracial adoption. This discussion is about adult adoptees. Please stop speaking for us and assuming that your speculations are our realities. This discussion is about coming to terms with the fact that adoption ethics, practice and policies will not change until the public is willing to hear out more than just the adoptive parents’ perspective or their hopes and biased desires for our lives.

Trans-racial adoptees have a unique bond.  This is the reason why adult adoptees were so outspoken about the Baby Veronica case, and why we are speaking out now.  We adult adoptees acknowledge our different paths and childhoods, and understand that no two adoption experiences are exactly alike or give any one adoptee more credibility than another. We understand the struggles inherent within being adopted in a unique way that nobody else can understand – not even our own well intentioned, loving, adoptive parents.  However, those of us who were trans-racially adopted no longer need our parents to speak for us. We are grown up now. We can do it.

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Langston Hughes African American Film Festival

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CLOSURE will screen tomorrow, April 18th at 4pm in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Tickets ($10) are available at the door, or online.

In the pacific northwest, in general, people are pretty open minded. However, we are not known for being very culturally diverse. CLOSURE was chosen to be in the Langston Hughes African-American Film Festival with the looming question; Can the Caucasian husband of a trans-racial adoptee film and direct an unbiased documentary about domestic adoptions?

We hope that this film will stimulate conversation and perhaps foster change within the African-American community. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

"Baby girl, X" meets her birthmother! Closure

A woman whose mother threw her in a pile of burning trash minutes after she was born has finally come face-to-face with the woman who nearly ended her life.

Amy Woodward-Davis, who is now 41 years old and a mother herself, survived horrific third and fourth-degree burns that covered 70 per cent of her body.

She was born to a 16-year-old mother who didn't know she was pregnant until she gave birth to Amy in the bathroom of her Kansas City home.

Then and now: Just minutes after she was born in 1971, Amy Woodward-Davis was thrown in a burning pile of trash and has since undergone more than 200 surgeries to treat her life-threatening burns
Then and now: Just minutes after she was born in 1971, Amy Woodward-Davis was thrown in a burning pile of trash and has since undergone more than 200 surgeries to treat her life-threatening burns

Then and now: Just minutes after she was born in 1971, Amy Woodward-Davis was thrown in a burning pile of trash and has since undergone more than 200 surgeries to treat her life-threatening burns

She was discovered by her grandfather who thought he heard a crying kitten. When he looked in the backyard, he found that it was a newborn baby, wrapped in newspapers in a pile of burning trash.

The burns were so bad her race was not immediately clear.

The Houston Chronicle tells the story of how Amy, known at the time as 'baby girl x',  was treated and spent more than two decades in and out of Shriner's Hospital which specializes in treating burn victims.

Amy was adopted by Shriner's burn technician Lena Woodward and her husband after they spent a year as the young girl's foster parents.

At the age of 5, Amy became curious about why she was being teased by her classmates about her burns.

Mrs Woodward and her husband decided to explain the issue in the simplest of terms, saying that she used to have a bad mama who burned her but now she has a good mama who won't.

As time passed, that served as sufficient explanation for Amy, who was more focused on getting through her 200 surgeries and her schooling. When she was 21, Amy decided that she was done with having surgery.

Healing: Amy was adopted by a burn technician who worked with her at a specialty hospital where she was treated for 22 years Healing: Amy was adopted by a burn technician who worked with her at a specialty hospital where she was treated for 22 years

'I'm all right with myself,' she told The Chronicle.

'At some time in your life you have to be at ease with your mind on how you're going to look, and this is how I'm going to look.'

In 2009, when Shriner's announced a significant staff cut, Amy told ABC 13 that the hospital workers made her feel like she was at home during her 22 years as a patient, and that they helped her come to terms with what happened.

'I didn't look like this before and I know I didn't I had to get burned to look like this and I accept that. They did a wonderful job with me,' she said at the time.

Amy has since reconnected with both her biological mother and father, who was 19 and living in California at the time of Amy's birth.

Growing up: Amy learned she was adopted at age five, but it wasn't until this May that she finally met with her biological mother face-to-face, though she still won't answer why she threw her in the trash
Growing up: Amy learned she was adopted at age five, but it wasn't until this May that she finally met with her biological mother face-to-face, though she still won't answer why she threw her in the trash

Growing up: Amy learned she was adopted at age five, but it wasn't until this May that she finally met with her biological mother face-to-face, though she still won't answer why she threw her in the trash

In 2006, Amy spoke to her biological father for the first time. That phone call was the first time that her father learned that Amy existed.

Just this May, Amy took the biggest step towards resolution by visiting the family home where she was found burning in the backyard pile of trash.

Her biological mother and father, who have since married and had two other children, gave her a tour of the house but one room the skipped was the bathroom where Amy was born.

'I didn't want to face the fact that this is where I was born and nobody took my life seriously. I was born in this bathroom, and the next thing you know I was burned up,' she said.

During the visit, she and her mother exchanged glances and pleasantries but the looming question went unanswered: Amy has asked her mother several times what happened on the day of her birth, but her mother has never answered.

In that effort, Amy went into social services after completing her undergraduate and master's degrees and now works as an adoptions caseworker in Child Protective Services.

'I didn't get the closure, but I would love for the other kids who came behind me to get the closure,' Amy told The Chronicle.

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2204407/Woman-finally-meets-mother-threw-pile-burning-trash-just-minutes-born.html#ixzz28XPITEj1