Thursday, February 21, 2008
Introduction to Asian Foreign Adoption
For much of mainstream America and especially for avid celebrity stalkers, the name Maddox Jolie-Pit invokes the image of the adorable mohawk-wearing six-year-old child of international superstars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. But Maddox is no ordinary child receiving his X and Y chromosomes respectively from his legal parents like his sister Shiloh. Maddox, who was adopted from Cambodia by his famous family, represents the growing trend in American culture: Asian foreign adoption.
According to K.A. Condit in her paper “Familial Legacies: Rethinking Transnational Asian Adoption in the 21st Century,” between 1990 and 2005, international adoption rates have more than tripled with 42.75% coming from East or Southeast Asian countries (http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p113665_index.html). Condit presents a fascinating argument in which it is suggested that foreign adoption is significantly shaping and rapidly changing Asian American culture and the relationship between Asians and Asian Americans with the greater American mass society. Condit compares the fact that historically, Asian Americans did not received the same rights and were not as respected as their white American counterparts (for example, regarding immigration exclusion under the Chinese Exclusionary Act, and more recently, anti-interracial marriage laws legally permitted in a few states until 2000) with the notion that now, the number of foreign adoptions from Asia has skyrocketed in popularity. The writer also argues that the presence of Asians in American foreign adoption is forever altering the concept of the American nuclear family since “the Asian American adoptee appears to occupy a highly contested and contradictory space” (http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p113665_index.html).
In addition, foreign adoption is shifting the fundamental perceptions and stereotypes of the face of “Asian America.” Unlike in the past where Asians had to fight to gain their American citizenship and naturalization, now when Asian children are officially adopted, they automatically gain U.S. citizenship (http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/info/info_457.html). This suggests there has been a change in popular opinion in which American society now embraces the idea of foreign, non-white peoples joining into general society. The presence of Asian foreign adoption is dramatically changing cultural and familial practices as well. Adoption is no longer a taboo subject and adoption in which the parents and adoptive children are not the same race is also becoming more accepted. Hundreds and hundreds of adoption organizations and family support groups have formed to aid families in the often lengthy and highly expensive process. The heightened popularity of Asian foreign adoption represents a visible shift in the increasing overall acceptance of Asians in American society and its effect on society will be more prominent in the years to come.