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Stephanie Drenka


Dear Adoptive Parents of Overseas Adoptees: Wake Up!

Dear Adoptive Parents of Overseas Adoptees: Wake Up!

 

Disclaimer: Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog and read these scattered thoughts. Please believe that I never intended for this post to be condescending or generalize all adoptive parents. The title was born out of a sense of urgency due to the swiftness of political changes in the United States. I’ve appreciated all of the feedback received (both positive and negative), and hope that even if things that I’ve written aren’t agreeable to you, it makes you think about something you may not have considered before. We’re all in this together.

As a Korean adoptee, I’ve always considered myself privileged. My upbringing in a middle-class Caucasian household, where I wanted for little, gave me a sheltered perspective. That is, until I got to college and started learning about the history of Asians in America. For the first time, I began to consider my place within that context and fully comprehend the weight of being a minority in this country.

For any parents of internationally adopted children who have been tuning out news about Trump’s latest discriminatory executive order and fear-mongering speech or even voted for him, you’re in for a rude awakening. Your child is an immigrant!! Many of them are immigrants from Asian countries. I know that it was once considered politically correct to be “color-blind” and not see race, especially when it’s your son or daughter, but trust someone who has lived here for 30+ years — this country will always see them as foreigners.

If you’re not moved by the plight of strangers affected by this #MuslimBan, please open your eyes for the sake of your children. Stand up for them and be their voice if they’re too young. How will they feel when they learn about this persecution in school someday? What will you tell them about where you stood?

Just yesterday, CNBC published an article with the headline, “US-China war increasingly a ‘reality,’ Chinese army official says” (Steve Bannon has also said that he thinks it will happen in the next 5-10 years. Listen to how much contempt he has. It’s the new yellow peril.)

Do you have adopted children from China? Or any other East Asian country, because let’s face it– we all look the same to some people. Imagine if Trump decides that China is our next enemy, and his new executive orders suddenly apply to anyone born there. Will you register your child as “Chinese”? (Don’t forget that Japanese American citizens were interned during WWII) What would you do if you were out of the country for a family vacation, and when you return, your 11 month old baby or 5 year old child is detained and kept from seeing you? These are real things that are happening in this country, and they are setting a DANGEROUS precedent. Protect your child from anti-immigration activity from the federal government.

When Trump talks about Making America Great again, do you ever wonder how far back he’s referring? If you haven’t studied The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, please read this. Make no mistake– these immigration laws are rooted in racism. Just because they’re not directed at your children at this moment, does not mean they won’t be next on Trump’s warpath. What will he leave in his wake? I shudder at the thought.

If you think alt-right rhetoric about foreigners taking jobs away from America or too many Asian CEOs in Silicon Valley won’t affect your children someday, set aside a moment to learn Who Killed Vincent Chin. You may feel like your children are protected from this or perhaps have never experienced any form of racism or discrimination (that’s awesome, and I *hope* it continues). But you cannot deny or ignore these things that have happened, because it makes it all the more difficult for people to take hate crimes against Asian Americans seriously or believe that they are possible. Vincent Chin matters.

Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because it's not a problem to you personally.

To the people (both adoptive parents and adoptees) who have told me that we shouldn’t refer to ourselves as people of color or a minority– you are dividing us from our allies. The LA Riots are an example of what happens when there is mistrust and disconnect between minority groups. We are stronger together, and that is precisely what people like Donald Trump fear. I am a proud woman of color and will stand with groups that have been marginalized for their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation because I would hope for the same show of solidarity in return. Denying our oppression also erases our resistance. Teach them this oft overlooked history, so they can feel proud of fellow Asian Americans leaders who fought (and continue to fight) for their visibility and acceptance here.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Asian-American experience and/or teaching your kids about things like the Model Minority and Perpetual Foreigner stereotypes, I highly recommend reading Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White by Frank H. Wu. It’s the book that inspired me to change my minor from Political Science to Asian American Studies.

It is the privilege of white women that helped elect Trump, and it is those voices that have even the slightest hope of saving us from his destruction now. Regardless of your views up until this point– even if you voted for him and celebrated his victory– his actions this past week have shown that he has absolutely no regard for outsiders. Choose empathy over politics, and put yourself in your child’s shoes. They need you. We, as a community of adoptees, need you.

Wake up. Be vigilant. Protect your children. Resist. Stay woke. Thank you for listening ❤️

44 comments

  • Amy

    January 30, 2017

    YES!! Thank you for articulating this so well!! I am very concerned for my 2 Chinese adopted children. I know they do not have an easy road in front of them. I’m always hopeful attitudes toward differences will change, but it’s apparent to me things will probably be getting worse over the next 4 years (at least). It’s disheartening, but I will keep my eyes open and do my best to protect and prepare my children.

    • Stephanie Drenka

      January 30, 2017

      Thanks so much for reading, Amy! So glad that your kids have you to look out for them. I’m afraid there may be some tough conversations for parents to have with their children in the coming months/years, but the best thing will be for them to feel like they can come to you with their concerns and questions. And the chance to network with other adoptees, if possible. That’s one thing I wish I had growing up.

  • Kelli

    January 30, 2017

    Thank you so much for this! I am mom to two young children from China and I’ve been saying some of these very same things to adoptive parents for the last few months (in response to political rhetoric during the campaign and since).

    So many adoptive parents have said “I (the “grand “I”) went through the process LEGALLY, MY child is a US Citizen!” – they are not getting that this administration seems to care much more about the color of ones skin or the country of their heritage than the legality of their statsus.
    Thank you for writing this!

    • Stephanie Drenka

      January 30, 2017

      i know… i don’t think people understand that japanese americans who were interned WERE citizens. their citizenship didn’t matter, because the country was so afraid — which is exactly what trump is trying to do to us now– make us fear so that we won’t question the measures he takes to “protect” us.

  • Sara

    January 30, 2017

    This is trivial in comparison to so much else, but my family has found that the CoC can be needed in some unexpected situations. My 24-yo Korean son would not have been able to take advantage of some study and employment opportunities without it; his U.S. passport was also required but was not sufficient. These things were not necessities or issues of safety, but he very much wanted to do them and would not have been able to without the CoC.

    • Stephanie Drenka

      January 30, 2017

      oh! that is really helpful to know. even now that i’m 30 and in my own house, my parents have all of my paperwork (except passport). i need to get copies for my home.

      • Stephanie Drenka

        January 30, 2017

        Hi Molly! College was actually the safest I ever felt, because I found a group of diverse friends and got involved with Asian American organizations for the first time. Help her find her tribe, and she will flourish. There are lots of adoptee communities on FB for her, if she ever needs people who understand where she’s coming from.

    • ktd404

      February 2, 2017

      What is CoC?

  • Anne

    January 30, 2017

    Thank you so much for writing this. Hopefully it will prompt more adoptive parents to finalize the necessary paperwork to protect their child(ren). Perhaps it will also open some eyes to what is currently going on. My son, born in Guatemala and a U.S. citizen, has expressed fear of being separated from us.

    • Stephanie Drenka

      January 30, 2017

      oh no– what a terrible fear for him to experience. i hope as time goes by, he feels more and more secure.

  • Julie

    January 30, 2017

    Thank you for sharing this perspective. Three of my children were born in Asia and adopted when younger, and this has been on my mind heavily, in the days leading to Trump’s nomination, in the campaign that followed, and each day now. I have started checking in with them about “comments” and about their American-ness and making sure they are clear on who they are and are not should they experience that ugliness firsthand. With these beloved children as part of our family, that makes all of us first-generation immigrant family, and those of us who enjoy the privilege of being middle-class white people absolutely need to use that advantage to speak for our children and those like them, who do not come with that privilege automatically granted.

    • Stephanie Drenka

      January 30, 2017

      Thank you, Julie! I love that — you’re all a first-generation immigrant family– and in it together!

  • Susan W

    January 30, 2017

    Also, adoptees must contact social security to change he designation showing then as alien residents to naturalized citizens This will come up when they apply for school, jobs, insurance, etc. this happens because most of us applied for social security numbers first (for tax returns) before citizenship was finalized. Also if you haven’t already done so apply for a state birth certificate (our state (PA) will issue one showing there Korea birthplace but it is a PA birth certificate making things much easier.

    • Linda L.

      January 31, 2017

      This is an important point. I didn’t realize until my daughter was about to start her college freshman year that her social security card was the original one designated “alien resident.” I thought her certificate of citizenship was enough. It was a simple matter to have the updated card issued and her college kept her slot open until we received it. Another point I overlooked was re-adoption, and I hope that doesn’t bite us in the butt one day. The US government accepts (or accepted in 1995) Chinese adoption as legal and that was valid in most U.S. states including NY and NJ. So I chose not to re-adopt and never got the NYS back up proof of birth. Now that my daughter is 22, I’ve thought that unnecessary but am going to look into it. Her SS #, U.S. passport, driver’s license, and CoC may not be enough one day.

    • Susan Roeder

      January 31, 2017

      Is there an easy way to determine their status is SS? Would it be noted on their SS card if they were still a resident alien in the system? We adopted in 1997. We have the Certificate of Citizenship and Certificate of Foreign Birth issued by Hawaii.

      • Rachele Fox

        February 1, 2017

        I am asking the same question as Susan above. How do you find out the status of your adopted childs social security number? If designated as alien or citizen? And what is the process to change it to citizen ? We have birth certificate from US and US passport.

  • Amy

    January 30, 2017

    This is so scary. I adopted my daughter in 2001 from China. I have a birth certificate for her from Texas. She has a passport. I was told I did not need to get a naturalization certificate. With a birth certificate and a passport do I need to do this for her as well? We’ll go to the social security office right away.

    • Jennifer

      January 31, 2017

      Your child does need a Certificate of Citizenship. Since you were able to obtain the passport and birth certificate, you may have gotten one since your adoption was after 2000, http://immigration.findlaw.com/citizenship/u-s-citizenship-for-a-foreign-born-adopted-child.html Our adoption was in 2005 and it was automatically sent to us, but I don’t know when they started doing that.

      • J. ELLIS

        January 31, 2017

        Ours was automatically sent as well. Have ss card, same kind d I have, no designation re birth country. It’s good to be alert and informed, but let’s not give in to mass hysteria. PRESIDENT Trump signed this 90 day exec order to increase screening and vetting of people entering this country from hotbed countries identified by former President Obama. Obama’s hold period was of longer duration. Not one word from media or protest from anyone. If there had been a grace period before Trump initiated the order, like we will start in two weeks, can you imagine the flood of people trying to enter the US. Those with ill intent would be stomping at the gates! I will prob be the lone pro Trump voice here, and have been cursed at, called names and been the recipient of shaming by many people, adoptive parents, friends and strangers, on facebook. I feel we are all entitled to our opinion, and I read all your concerns with understanding. As Ronald Reagan said, Trust but Verify. And yes, if you did not automatically get the COC from Homeland Security, then make it happen.

        • Rachele Fox

          February 1, 2017

          Agree! Thank you for your post. Blessings to All! We ALL have hearts for children.

        • Alex Green

          February 1, 2017

          You are entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to live free of consequences. Your actions have enabled an assault on my child’s citizenship, and they are shameful. You ought to be embarrassed.

          Responsible adoptive parents of children of color understand that our kids are facing a crisis, and act to support them as they find their place in this new, overtly prejudiced America in which loudmouthed fools feel entitled to disregard all common sense and ethics in the name of partisanship. Shame would be a good start.

          I truly hope your children don’t have to suffer directly, in front of your eyes, in order for you to finally understand that you supported a racist xenophobe for a job he has no clue how to do, and people are suffering. Iranian children love their mothers as much as yours probably love you.

    • Linda L.

      January 31, 2017

      Check the designation on her social security card. Since you adopted after the US changed the laws and granted automatic citizenship to international adoptees of US citizens, your child’s SS card may not be designated “alien resident.” I don’t know if there’s another document besides a passport and Texas birth certificate that she might need someday but I’d look into it if I were you.

  • Patricia Adams

    January 31, 2017

    Hi Thanks for this! I have 2 children from China and 1 from Cambodia. My girls from China have a CoC but my son was naturalized automatically and I never received a CoC. The forms from the State Dept. is for a replacement document. Does anyone know if there is another form for requesting the certificate?

  • Bethany

    January 31, 2017

    I am praying against fear for all!
    2 Timothy 1:7New King James Version (NKJV)

    7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

  • Beth

    January 31, 2017

    Hi Stephanie – thank you for your article! I’m a mom to two wonderful daughters born in China (21 and 14 years old), and I worry continually now that we have this new…ahem… administration. I’ve been worried about the possibility of war with China since the campaign, although at that time I just thought it would be trade war and he’d just say awful things about Chinese people to rile up his minions. The fact that our kids are legal immigrants will not stop all the racism they’ll experience out in the world away from us. They should not have to pull out documents to prove their right to be in the country they’ve lived in for almost their entire lives – but we’re not taking any chances. My younger daughter’s CofC is in process (she fell into that time period where they were not being issued automatically), as we thought until last summer that her passport was sufficient. I started to get nervous hearing all the vile rhetoric that was coming out of trump’s campaign, and got the paperwork started during the fall. Hard to believe, but there ARE still parents out there who think none of this applies to THEIR kids…

    Beth

  • Barbara

    January 31, 2017

    Excellent and helpful post, Stephanie! You make many good points and express yourself so well. One thing though: Many people do not think it’s politically correct to be “color-blind” and not see race; quite the contrary. Seeing race and acknowledging and respecting and honoring all kinds of people, embracing differences—that is politically correct to me. And, I hope, to many others. Thank you for your post!!

    Barbara, adoptive mom to a beloved 21-year-old Chinese-American woman

    • Stephanie Drenka

      January 31, 2017

      Hi Barbara-
      Yes, you nailed it! I wish everyone treated race like you do. Thanks so much for being a wonderful example.

  • Valerie

    January 31, 2017

    I brought home our child in 2,000! At the time bill Clinton made that automatic citizenship law-it just so happens that my spouse paid and actually paid for documentation to make her a US Citizen …ps we were called to city court and she was actually sworn in at a ceremonial thing! I am ever hopeful and will now check her papers thank u …I must tell u that my child has had several meltdowns saying she’s scared she will be a deported child and we said no you are not an illegal ? Am I ignorant or can her fears become real? I would just freak the f out if I ever lost her ?❤️?

    • Alex Green

      February 1, 2017

      We know that our kids are suffering from the empowerment of racist fools at all levels of our society. That’s already happened and affecting her. Can she be deported? Well, one stated goal of the Republican party is to take away birthright citizenship. Can they do that? Only if we let them. So let’s not. Think before you vote.

      • Stephanie Drenka

        February 2, 2017

        International adoptees wouldn’t be affected by birthright citizenship.

  • Jane Holland

    January 31, 2017

    Thank you for sharing your voice! It is so important that you be heard. We live in a very blue state but our kids get asked if they are getting sent back now that Trump is in office. (They were born in China) News somehow gets down to them at ages 6 and 10. I thought we were advancing as a culture…. it’s hard to accept setbacks but, maybe this is the push our country needed to expose underlying ugliness and work towards real change????
    We must stay hopeful and committed to this change.

  • Sarah

    January 31, 2017

    I am an adoptive mother to an amazing 6 year old Korean-American boy. What is happening hits home as who knows where it will stop. We were not told at first the importance of the CoC. We have submitted our application already…in October? But I worry with the new administration, can they do something so that we will not receive it? I will always stand up for immigrants. My son is one….how can you not.

  • Lydia B.

    January 31, 2017

    Thank you for writing this. It’s eloquently worded and informative without an ounce of forcefulness. It’s not completed to understand, either. Refreshing. You have such a unique perspective on this issue, but still quite similar to my own. I was adopted in 1988, when I was four months old. My parents are both caucasian and I have always had a pretty cushioned life. “Fortunate” is an understatement. This entire thing is heartbreaking and mind boggling to watch. Your input has helped to keep me informed and motivated me (even more) to take action. (TOTALLY unrelated, but any time I hear about another Korean adoptee, I always wonder if we could be family!)

  • Kathy

    February 1, 2017

    OMG- All of this crosses my mind everyday! Our children are immigrants and my daughter is descended from Muslim people. I misplaced my son’s certificate of citizenship and can’t afford to replace it right now. He is 15 and my daughter is 16 so we talk about all of this and let them voice their concerns. Thank you for your blog.

  • Terra Kindred

    February 1, 2017

    Get over yourself. You’re having an identity crisis. Yes you are of Asian descent. Yes you will always stand out, just like blacks will stand out. You should be a good American citizen all the time. What does that mean, do you know? I went to my work site and was doing work in my vehicle when the owner came up to me and asked me how long I’d been here. I said about 45 minutes. He said oh you don’t have an accent. I speak such good English the Koreans ask me to speak English because my accent is so bad when I speak Korean. Carter, Clinton, & Obama banned immigrants for a time. Get over it. Your identity is American. Period. Parents raise them as such. When I look in the mirror I expect a Caucasian to look back at me and am very disappointed to see an old Korean lady. Spew culture and tradition and not this political hatred.

  • Bethany

    February 1, 2017

    This is wonderful. I am a Korean adoptee. I was adopted at 9 months old and I am now 31 with a two year old half Korean daughter. What’s happening right now is something I’ve anticipated with horror for a long time. Thank you for showing your support and for being brave enough to speak up. What I know of the world is that history repeats itself and fear can make legal documents moot. It is refreshing and encouraging to know there are advocates out there. If this situation continues it will touch more lives than anyone could foresee and its terrifying. It really is so important to anticipate these things and be prepared and educated. And thanks for the book recommendations. The last persons post devastates me to my core.

  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    February 2, 2017

    I just stumbled across your blog and wow, this blog post was so powerful. What you’re saying is so, so real. I’m surprised I never thought of it before. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  • Kate

    March 9, 2017

    Thank you, Stephanie. I’m terrified for my children, both adopted from China. You speak so well to the fears that are ever-present in my mind. My kids are scared, too, which is devastating. Adoptive parents need to wake up. How anyone could think their whiteness would protect their Asian children from the hate, racism, and xenophobia of our current regime is beyond me. The links you provided are so very helpful. Thank you for your voice at a time when we so desperately need it.

  • Susan Li

    March 28, 2017

    I came from China. I am so proud of you, all parents, families with children from China, you save thousands and thousands Children’s life who were born in China but no right to be burn at that time. All Chinese mothers are deeply appreciate your support and love love to the children. I understand stand it is hard for them. So do my children, they know they are belong to USA since they are little, when they grow up, in their 20s, they feel that they are in the gap position between USA and China. I read one paper which wrote by the Chinese young man, who immigrated when he was little. He suggests the Chinese people do not immigrate to USA, because the difficulties and hard time he has been through, even end up he is excellent person and successful in his career. Let’s united together, protect help our children grow up. Let them feel that every one are equal in USA.

  • Susan Li

    March 28, 2017

    Spelling correction above comment. …. to be “burn” at that time…, should be “born”; I understand “stand”, should be “that”, thanks.

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