The month of December will be devoted to SHOWCASING the artistic endeavors of adoptees. ADULTS AND CHILDREN are welcome to submit.

We are looking for:

* VISUAL ART–painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, cartoons, scrapbooking, needlework, more (jpg)

* PERFORMANCE ART–singing, dancing, acting , comedy, choreography, directing, musical composition (video link)

* WRITTEN ART–poetry only (Word document)

No, art does not have to touch upon the subject of adoption.
This is the time for adoptees to SHARE THEIR TALENTS with others.

Submit to marishaandluanne@gmail.com.

Videos need to be YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu, Flickr, DailyMotion, Viddler, Blip.tv, TED Talks, or Videolog. We will embed onto the blog.

Other than our right to publish your art on this blog, you keep the rights to your artwork. THIS IS NOT A CONTEST OR COMPETITION. It’s a chance to show off your work. Therefore, whether your piece(s) is selected or not is not a reflection on talent, but on other factors, including space.


Teen Adoptees are “Somewhere Between”

by Marisha







What an experience I had seeing the award-winning documentary Somewhere Between, about the lives of four American teen adoptees who were born in China!  Although I was adopted as a baby from Korea, nothing I’ve seen or heard about adoption has ever opened me up in such a vulnerable way.  I can’t put myself at a distance and be as objective about the film as I would like; however, this review is my best attempt to do so.

I saw the film, which was directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton, at the Nuart Theatre in West LA last week.  It has moved on to San Francisco and will air in theatres across the country.

The dictionary defines the word “adopt” as “taking into one’s family through legal means and raising as one’s own child.” In the wrong mindset, adoption can seem negative, foreign, not appealing. To raise a child not of one’s own blood. To invite a mysterious, difficult journey, that is both emotionally and physically grueling. But for others, adoption is nothing short of beautiful. A palette of amazing unknowns, the trust in destiny that brings a child in need to a family who can provide. Hearts ever loving, ever forgiving, willing to love a child and disregard all other standards of what makes a family. To understand what goes through the minds of (some) adoptees is like a Rubik’s Cube. The answers are hard to find, but it is possible to gain knowledge and solve the puzzle. This film showed just that and more.

I didn’t know what to expect of the film. To be quite honest, I felt it would only scratch the surface of adoption and focus on the glitz and glamour of the emotional roller coasters. Instead, what I found was a very emotional story–and very deep raw discoveries, not only for the girls, but for myself .

The film followed the lives of four girls who were all adopted from different provinces of China. They all shared different stories, different family lives. They had different interests, different religious backgrounds. But they did share one commonality– their adoption.

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Screening Map

In case you live too far from screening cities, these are the stories of the girls.

We first see Fang Lee, a fifteen year old girl with a maturity beyond her years. She lives in Berkeley CA with her sister, who is also adopted, and two very loving parents, Hanni and Alan. Fang was adopted as a toddler  and spoke fluent Chinese by the time she was adopted in 1998. Her parents embraced that skill and kept the Chinese language alive during her childhood.  She speaks both Chinese and English equally, although her father doesn’t speak any Chinese. Fang travels with her family once a year to China, to keep the memory of her birth city alive.

She speaks of her memories of her birth parents. Her birth dad chopped firewood and her birth mother grew vegetables.  They lived in a shack with only one bed. She remembers her birth mother pierced her ears. Then she tells the heartbreaking story of how she was abandoned. Her mother told her she was going to visit her grandparents and that her stepbrother would take care of her until she returned. Her stepbrother took her into the village and brought her to a little stoop. He sat her down and told her he was going to get some stuff and to not move until he came back for her. She watched him walk away–and he never came back.

Fang is asked if she is mad at her birth parents. She strongly responds no because she believes in fate, in destiny. That the decisions of her birth parents only brought her one step closer to the life she was given. And that the decisions of her adopted parents gave her the life she now has. This is how I feel about my own life.

Next we travel to Newport, Massachusetts, and meet Jenna Cook, also fifteen, who was adopted from China in 1992. She has a sister, Sara, also adopted, with their two moms Peggy and Carol. Jenna was the most artistic of the four girls, something I have in common with her.  She has 11 years of figure skating under her belt, as well as two national competitions. She plays guitar and at one point in the film sings the song “Country Roads” acoustically. She is in crew at school at the Phillips Exeter Academy and holds the leadership position of coxswain. Jenna is a leader, pushing the envelope.  She stays enthusiastic and yet calm. Holding that position has taught her strength and power and the importance of unity and teamwork. She talks a lot about being aware that she is living in a white world and refers herself as a “banana,” meaning “white on the inside, yellow on the outside.” I loved this, because I too make that same joke with “Twinkie” haha.

Her boyfriend is from South Korea.  She says something which struck a chord in me about the comfort she has with her boyfriend’s mother. She feels that being around someone with the same “Asian” exterior is a similarity which makes her feel as if she belongs.  It creates a sense of familiarity.

The third girl, Ann Boccuti, fourteen, lives in Pennsylvania and  is a member of color guard and plays the piano. Cathy and Bob are her parents, and she has an older brother who is biologically related to her parents.  Her issues of being adopted have become more apparent as she gets older.  She says that although her hobbies are known as “reject” hobbies, she doesn’t care. Ann was adopted from an orphanage in China and talks about how her adopted parents thought that she was going to be a “special needs” child because she had cross-shaped legs and crossed eyes. But her father had faith and she grew up fine. She expresses disinterest in finding her birth parents, but wants to visit the Chinese orphanage that she was adopted from one day.

Her story intersects with her friend Haley Butler, thirteen, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She was adopted at six months old on February 22, 1995, from China. She has a younger sister who is also adopted and an older sister, Heidi, who is Caucasian and was crowned Miss Tennessee. Haley loves pageants and followed her sister’s footsteps into the pageant world. Religion is a huge part of the Butler family and Haley claims that even if she lived in China, she would find her way to Christianity.

Her mother Jeannie helps kids with the Annabelle’s Wish Orphanage and makes it her goal to help as many orphaned kids as she can. The family has been to China 22 times and has helped over 2000 children. It was quite amazing to watch.

Haley’s story was the most incredible to watch. She had this deep dream to find her birth parents and decided to take action. So she creates a poster with all the information she has on her adoption and birth parents and goes to China to the province she was from, where she posts the poster in the village. Miraculously, a man comes forward claiming to be her birth father and hours later she meets him and two of her three birth siblings. This part of the film was particularly emotional. They proceed to do a DNA test and three months later they discover that he is her birth father. So Haley and her family plan a trip to China to meet her birth mother, her other brother, and to find the answers to what led her to the adoption.

She is really nervous/excited to meet her birth mom because her birth mom chose not to come to the first meeting. This meeting is set up in a hotel room in China with lots of picture books depicting Haley’s American upbringing. The whole family meets and Jane, the translator, helps the two families converse. Haley’s birth mother is emotional and won’t let go of her when she first meets Haley. The family learns that Haley’s birth dad did not want to give Haley up, but her mother could not provide for all four of her children. When he went to work one day, she wrapped Haley in a basket and gave her to a family friend without her birth dad knowing. The parents had thought the family friends were going to raise her, but instead they had taken Haley to an orphanage instead. (The Chinese culture values boys over girls.  The One Child Policy has had a tremendous effect on availability of girls for adoption).

The two families then venture to Haley’s birth hometown, where they have a beautiful traditional Chinese feast. Haley’s family promises to visit every year.

I was mesmerized by this story, especially how she finds her birth parents so quickly in such a big country. It is such an overwhelming situation, and I was so proud of Haley for how she handled it. Maybe it helps that she is still so young. Or maybe she doesn’t understand yet the magnitude of what has occurred?  Her story brought me to tears, because I too hope that when I start searching in Korea, it will come that easily.  However, the odds are against that for most of us international adoptees.  My only reservation about the film is that some teens might watch this movie and get unrealistic expectations about finding their birth parents.

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These four girls are extraordinary, and their stories plucked a lot of emotional strings in my own life. Three of the girls are now college students and Haley must be close to eighteen.  I wish them all well on this new phase of their lives.

There were many special and some very difficult moments in this film.  The biggest moment was when Jenna goes to Spain to speak at a convention for the parents of adoptees. The word “abandon” is brought up.  They want Jenna to elaborate on her feelings toward the word. She is brought to tears, saying the word is “negative” and that she was placed into a better life because of it.

I really connected with her when she spoke of how adoption has negatively affected her. She speaks of “perfectionist tendencies, fear of failure, and having to compensate for not feeling good enough.” She is happy about her better life, but can’t help those moments and small thoughts of abandonment. It struck me so hard because I, too, have felt all those feelings throughout my life. The “A Word” has always been an emotional one for me, and I am so glad this film touched on it. It is important for people to know.  The discussion of issues in “Somewhere Between” can even help the non-adoptee understand the adoptee in his or her life.

Funny moments throughout the film were the reactions they got from strangers and friends about their adoptions. One of my favorites was when Haley and her little sister and mom were at a salon. A lady next to them said to her sister, “Congratulations on coming to America. Aren’t you so lucky you were able to come here?” My first reaction was wanting to punch the woman, but that of course is the ignorance we have talked about previously on this blog. The girls were asked: “Aren’t you good at math? Do you speak English? Where is your real family?” I thought the girls handled these questions the way I would–with comedy and poise. They understand that they have nothing to apologize for and their maturity and understanding shows by taking these comments with a grain of salt.

Fang inspired me with a story of one trip to a Chinese orphanage where she saw this little girl with cerebral palsy wearing a pink dress. She describes her as ‘looking like a statue but had life in her eyes.” When she returned to the United States, she raised $5000 for her which paid for intensive physical therapy. Fang visited her every year and eventually found her a home with a wonderful family in America who had another adoptee with cerebral palsy. It was an emotional adoption and showed the true beauty of how amazing an adoption is and how incredible Fang is for helping this beautiful little girl in need find a home. She has truly inspired me to want to go back to Korea myself one day and help other children.

The last story I want to share disturbed me so much that it will stay with me forever. Haley travels to Amsterdam, Holland, and meets with an older South Korean adoptee named Hilbrand Westra.  He is one of the people trying to get the rights for adoptees to be able to retrieve their adoption and birth files. Haley asks why this hasn’t been able to happen yet, and he gives a very chilling response. He explains that in Korea, especially, the files for the adoptees were a lot of times falsified, fraudulent, and hidden because a lot of children were not, in fact, orphans. They were children with able families who wrote up fake documents to make agencies believe that they were “orphans.” I can’t tell you how emotional I got in the theatre. I never believed I was an orphan because my paperwork shows that my birth mother was unmarried and unable to raise me, but the idea that the story I have been told may be false, makes me believe that my hopes of finding my birth family is farther and farther from being possible.

All in all, this was an INCREDIBLE movie to see. It really delved into the tough questions and was raw and real. Adoptees share a commonality, a similar journey from a murky past to a different future. We all share self-doubt towards our adoption and the word “abandon” hits an emotional chord for all of us. Adoptees know their stories are unique and that there is no “normal” for them. But most of us  embrace that and understand that adoption has led us to a beautiful life with beautiful families. The film talks about destiny, and that is really what it is. Proof that God did not overlook us, but took the time to give our lives meaning. We feel special, blessed. I think our identities will always be questioned at certain times, and we will feel stuck between the known and the unknown. But through that comes great strength. I leave you with this quote from Fang’s art teacher: “The past reflects from the present, but the present takes us from the past.” Thank you for reading and please see the film if you get the chance! x

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What Do You Want to Know? A Reunion Story

by Danielle Fairlee

I always knew I was adopted. I don’t remember not knowing. Each year on my birthday, my mom Valerie would say to me, “Your birth mother is thinking of you today.”

Growing up, I never yearned to search for my birth mom. I was content in my life and always busy with school/work/activities/life. But when I got engaged, Valerie said, “Wouldn’t it be lovely if your mother could be at your wedding?” Of course, back then, we didn’t have Google like we do now. So I looked into joining a national adoption reunion registry, but there was a small fee that didn’t work with my “salad days”-budget. So searching went on the back burner.

Cut to years later, when my twin boys were born. My husband and I were asked all the time, “Do twins run in your family?”  We knew they didn’t run in his family, but what about mine? We had no clue. So we responded with a simple, “They do now!”  Again, I pondered searching, but didn’t get far.

What I had all along, that many of my fellow adoptees don’t have, was my birth mom’s full name. My adoption had been handled quickly, via a doctor and an attorney, and somehow my parents were given this information. I also knew her age and that she wasn’t from my home state of California.

Turns out, when I finally decided to search in earnest eight years ago, that was all I needed.

In my research, I learned I had to be respectful of my birth mom’s life. (What if she was married, with a spouse or children who didn’t know about her past?) I also had to be prepared for anything I would find. Thankfully, I was blessed to be in a good place in life – I had a happy marriage, a stable home, healthy children. I knew I could handle whatever I uncovered.

An experienced searcher told me sad stories of adoptees who discovered birth parents who were impoverished, mentally ill, or even dead. Cushioning me for what I might discover, she gently shared stories of women who refused or denied their birth children, setting off years of depression on the part of the adoptees.  But somehow I knew this would be OK. I was ready.

A few days later, I plugged my birth mom’s name into an Internet site dedicated to background searches. I knew the odds were slim that she would still have her maiden name, but nonetheless, I tried.  Within seconds I had several hits, including various similar spellings.  Among them was an exact match to her full name — a woman with the correct age, still living in the same community where I was born. Right away, Valerie said, “That’s her. She waited for you.”

So I crafted a carefully worded letter. Addressing her by name, I asked if she could possibly be the woman of the same name whom I first met on my birth date, at the hospital where I was born. If she wasn’t that person, she was welcome to let me know. But if she was the one I was seeking, I invited her to please contact me at my home address or via email. That was all. Nothing else. I sent the letter by return receipt mail.

A week later, I got back the notice with her signature, proving she’d received my letter. Something told me to keep that card.

A few days after that, I received an email from her.

Yes, she said, I am the woman you are looking for. “What do you want to know?” she asked.

That simple exchange began a beautiful reunion that continues today.  And yes, twins do run in my family. Turns out I have twin aunts. How about that?

Danielle with her handsome twin sons

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Danielle Fairlee is a freelance writer and publicist in Los Angeles. She and her husband are the proud parents of college-aged twin sons and two rescue dogs. She looks forward to sharing more about her reunion story.

I’m Not an Asian Mom

by Luanne

Cover of "Invisible Man (Modern Library)&...

Cover of Invisible Man (Modern Library)

From the moment I entered Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man I understood the importance of a story told from the “I” perspective.  When I say “entered,” I mean that as I started to read, I penetrated a different and unknown world.  I became the “I”:

I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe; nor am I one of those Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids–and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination–indeed, everything and anything except me.

Ellison had taken me with him through his own distorting mirrors (I am this ignored person) and made me an African-American man in the early part of the 20th century.  Outside the book, I still was and would always be a white woman, born three years after the book was first published.

While I was shown how to see the world of Invisible Man and how to feel invisible by Ellison’s narration, the truth is that I wasn’t at all Ellison’s protagonist.  The book opened my mind to the reality of other worlds, but it didn’t really teach me how to think through the world with the eyes of an African-American man.  My responses and reactions to events remained those of a white woman.  It undoubtedly made me more sympathetic, but I can’t truly understand.

As the mom of two Korean kids, adopted as infants, I need to remember this.  Just because their issues have become my issues as I’ve raised them, doesn’t mean that I have walked in their shoes.

As a reader and curious person, I tried to give my kids a grounded, but open and questioning environment.  Nevertheless, I should have recognized early on that what I could not give them was a way to see the world as Asian Americans with Asian parents.

What do I mean by that?  I suspect that there are ways that minority parents teach their children, consciously and unconsciously, what it means to be a minority in our culture.

Panel Discussion

I thought of this recently when I watched a video of the debate at the La Jolla Playhouse over casting decisions regarding Asian Americans.  Andy Lowe, one of the founders of the San Diego Asian American Repertory Theater, said that his Chinese mother warned him to be on his best behavior because he was the first example of his race people in their neighborhood might meet.  Although it’s true that sometimes my kids were the only Asians in their classrooms or activities, I certainly never gave them a warning of how to act as Asian Americans. I’m sure I was more concerned how they would be treated than by how they would comport themselves as examples of their race or ethnicity.

Here’s a fictional example that relates to my point.  On an episode of Glee (sorry, but I do love the show) Mike Chang’s father has this exchange with Tina:

Mr. Chang: You want to be a performer, too? . . . [Your parents] are not honest with you.  . . . This path you’ve chosen . . . there’ll be such heartache, so few opportunities for you.

Tina:  I know.  I’ve heard the jokes.  I better hope they do a musical of Joy Luck Club and Memoirs of a Geisha.

After this kind of warning, it’s up to Tina and Mike if they go after their dreams anyway, but suffice it to say that they’ve been warned by someone of their own race.

My kids have trudged naively into the world around them, not protected by warnings from parents who have gone there before them.  I’m not suggesting that this is such a bad thing, but as a parent by adoption it’s something I need to remember.

Very interesting take on Matthew Salesses’ article.


What is She REALLY Thinking?

Although Marisha and Luanne started this blog project together and have always had an open dialogue about life, there were still some questions Luanne had for Marisha about adoption. So she asked her.

These are Marisha’s answers to Luanne’s questions. For the following dialogue we switched to the names “Mother” and “Daughter.”

MOTHER: Did people ask you questions or say things about being adopted or Korean when I wasn’t around?

DAUGHTER: The most common question I got was “Where are your real parents?” or “Is it weird not knowing who your real family is?” I believe that your real family is made up of those who raise you, love you, and support you. Yes, I have “birth parents,” but my “adopted parents” are my REAL parents. I liked to give comical responses.  Like they would ask “So when did you know you looked different from your parents?” I would respond, “Well, we didn’t keep mirrors in the house, so I thought I was white my whole life.” Haha, it was actually pretty fun to mess with people.

MOTHER: When do you think you really understood what being adopted meant?

DAUGHTER: I have had many people ask me, “So when did you know you were adopted?” To be honest, I don’t remember a specific time where I looked in the mirror and understood it. I feel as if I have always known, and that there have never been any questions about it. Still, I think I fully started to understand and think about my adoption in high school. I was such a passionate dancer and when singing and acting came into the picture, I had to delve into all aspects of my psyche. It was a very defining couple of years for me as a growing woman–and as a Korean adoptee.

MOTHER: When did you realize that you had a birth mother and what did you think about her?

DAUGHTER: I knew from the beginning because you would tell me the story a lot. I knew that she was young and came from a very poor family. My birth dad came from a somewhat wealthy family, and I understood that their families did not support them getting married. I knew she gave me the ultimate gift–the gift of life. I am extremely grateful for her, but sometimes I felt a little empty not knowing who she is, her name, what she looked like or what she was feeling during that time. There have been moments where I feel abandoned, and I think it manifested in different ways in my life which took a lot of time for me to understand. I have never hated her. It will always be a long, narrow tunnel of non-closure.

MOTHER: When did you realize you and Marc had different birth parents? How did you learn it?

DAUGHTER: Haha. Well, my brother and I used to have verbal arguments to prove that we were more American than the other. Marc learned that his skull had some American features or something like that . . . .

MOTHER: Ah, yes, the infamous skull story. The doctor who told us that needs to have his skull examined.

DAUGHTER: You best believe he wouldn’t let me hear the end of it!! People say that Marc and I look alike, but I feel we differ a lot in looks. We have both understood we are not “blood related,” but I never needed a blood connection to feel close to my brother.

MOTHER: Now that you are both adults, I do think you look more alike than you used to as children. Maybe it’s from growing up in the same house. Haha. Just like you and I both do the “haha” thing. Do you think you will ever go to Korea in hopes of finding someone or something?

DAUGHTER: I would love to go to Korea. Marc and Dad went with our Tae Kwon Do Master when I was really young. I want to travel there, but I have this idea that I want to be in the right place with myself first. I imagine it to be overwhelming to step foot in Seoul, Korea, where I was born. I think that finding my birth parents would be nearly impossible because of the story I know and the fact that they didn’t really leave anything to be found. But I plan to go in my late 20s or 30s and start exploring my birth culture.

MOTHER: Would you feel supported by Dad and me if you go to Korea for that purpose?

DAUGHTER: Absolutely. Without a doubt.

MOTHER: I’m just asking for conjecture here. A little imagination. If you had grown up in the same town in California with Asian parents, do you think you would have looked at your opportunities in life differently?

DAUGHTER: I don’t know actually! The Asian culture is so meticulous, so cultured, and based on respect. The work ethic and manners in the Asian cultures are remarkable from what I have seen from a couple of my Asian friends. BUT, I can’t speak for the “what if ” because I was given the best life a woman could ask for and you and Dad have instilled in me a strong sense of morals and amazing visions of the world that I respect and cherish.

MOTHER: If you had Asian parents do you think you would be a performer?

DAUGHTER: I believe I was born to do this, so I would have to say yes, haha. I believe my talents had to have come from my birth parents. I imagine my birth mom was a dancer and my dad was a singer and that they met on the stage. That might be fantasy . . . . But, hey, it’s a good one!

MOTHER: Do you ever have feelings that you and Marc and Dad and I were destined to be together as a family? Or do you think it was random?

DAUGHTER: Nothing is random. I believe in cosmic destinies. Sounds corny and weird, but none of this happened by accident. I mean look back to your first blog post about our family, Mum, about picking out the t-shirt on my birth day. It’s all incredible!

MOTHER: If you have questions for me, go ahead.

DAUGHTER: I’ll think of some!

Broken Connections, Lingering Questions

by Lisa DeNike Ercolano

We were deep in the paper chase that forms the backbone of any international adoption when a well-intentioned colleague made an offhand remark:

“One good thing, at least: you’ll never have to worry about her birthparents just showing up and trying to take her back, like you sometimes hear about.”

I am sure she intended to be comforting, but instead, her comment pierced my heart.

Of course, when we decided to adopt from China, we knew the reality – that in the People’s Republic, children come to “social welfare institutions” (read: orphanages) primarily through one route (and excuse me for using what some adoptive parents consider the “a” word): abandonment.

Babies and children there are often left — without even a note revealing the child’s birth date – in crowded places, such as train or bus stations or busy marketplaces. One orphanage worker told me that it can sometimes feel as if these babies and children – usually wrapped warmly (and clearly, lovingly) in layers of acrylic knit blankets and clothing — materialized out of nowhere.

Some adoptive parents are like my colleague above, and consider this an advantage: the babies’ backgrounds are all clean and pristine, with no messy ties to their old lives and parents. I understand that feeling, having seen more than my share of those “Lifetime” movies featuring a child growing up happily in an adoptive home until the long lost birthparent (usually a drug addict, prostitute or psychopath) shows up and terrorizes the family trying to get her child back. But the truth is, those cases are few and far between and only make the news because they are so unusual and sensational.

To my way of thinking, returning birth parents are not a real danger, but questions that linger in the heart of an adopted person are. It makes me feel terrible, for instance, to know that my daughter, adopted at the age of six months from China, will likely always wonder about things that most children take for granted, from her mother and father’s name to how they look to what they do for a living, not to mention why they couldn’t keep her and raise her. I look at her and wonder whose smile she has, where she got her incredible talent as a dancer (I have two left feet and my husband does, too!), and whether her outgoing, sociable personality is typical of her extended family in China.

Unfortunately, we probably will never know.

Juliet’s dance move at the beach

Normalcy: A Play about A White Couple Adopting an African American Child

The Play Cast Creative Media Reviews Tickets Blog

A steady stream of national and local disasters. So steady we’ve grown inured to them. And with each comes the inevitable chorus of “Things must change. We must change. We need to do better. We need to be better.” And that lasts a while, right up until the subsequent and equally inevitable call for “a return to normalcy”.

When confronted with the option of making hard choices that may benefit society, or returning to the personal comfort of what we know, what is the right thing to do?

Bennett Windheim’s play, Normalcy – which begins previews Labor Day weekend at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater on 42nd Street  – tackles themes of identity, race, terrorism, nationalism, manifest destiny, marriage and the media, all through the lens of one affluent white couple’s attempt to make the hard choice – adopting a black child or, as one character says, “saving one life from falling through the cracks” – and the unexpected and unintended consequences that it has on their happy and complacent lives.

via The Play.

Gratitude & Adoption Comedy

by Luanne

What an unexpected thrill it was to check our inbox and find an email waiting from WordPress editor Cheri Lucas telling Marisha and me that one of our blog’s posts, “What Does ‘Miss Saigon’ Have to Do with It?,” had been Freshly Pressed.  That was such a wonderful two month birthday present for the blog.  Starting a project like this has been daunting and, quite frankly, a lot of hard work.  Sometimes I’ve felt like giving up.  I admit it.  One good thing is that WordPress allows me to schedule posts early enough in the morning for the east coast 2nd cup of coffee while I’m still asleep in Arizona.  Maybe you thought I was up posting at 5AM?  [Insert snort of sheepish laughter here].

Every single “like” or comment or “follow” is noticed and appreciated more than you could ever know.  I want to thank our first readers and our newest blog followers and everybody in between.  You are what makes it worthwhile to share our stories and to provide a forum for others to share their own.

Now I’m bursting to share something else—a project I find so unique and exciting.  A big Thank You to Lisa DeNike Ercolano for bringing it to my attention.

Artist Jessica Emmett and writer Bert Ballard collaborate on a comic strip project called Adopted the Comic.   Jess was adopted by a British couple and brought up in an ex-pat community in Hong Kong.  She now lives in the UK with her husband.  Her birthmother was a Vietnamese refugee.  Bert was evacuated from Vietnam during Operation Babylift in 1975 and grew up in the United States.  He’s an adoption researcher and has helped form two adoptee-led organizations.  He’s married with three children.  His son was adopted from Vietnam.

What I love about their work is how much it reflects the experiences of my family, as well as the humor we’ve found in our own lives.  Both of my kids have a strong flair for comedy, and I think it springs from their transracial and international adoptions.  Here are a couple of Jess-and-Bert’s cartoons which speak for themselves.

You can follow Jessica and Bert on Facebook here.  Their website is here.

I hope you enjoy their humor as much as I do.

Aren’t You Asians All Good at Math?

by Nina Schidlovsky

I looked at the piece of paper in my hand and my heart lurched. A big fat D+ laughed at me in red marker. If I turned the page to the side it looked like the Cheshire cat grinning with a little bow tie—mocking me and tormenting me to no end.

My classmate behind me scooted forward and loomed over my shoulder. “Aren’t you Asians all good at math?” He snorted.

“I’m not that kind of Asian.” I retorted—trying to keep the tears from welling up. “I’m the fun kind—the singing, dancing, laughing, beauty pageant kind.”

“Whatever,” he said. “I still think it’s weird you suck at math. You know? Since you’re Asian and all?” With that, he gathered his notebook, battered textbook, TI-83 and plodded out of the room.

Asian and all? What was that supposed to mean?

Math was never my strong subject. It had even been a struggle since elementary school. One of my teachers would draw an ice cream cone on our quizzes and reward us with ice cream if we did well. I never saw an ice cream cone. All I saw was sad face after sad face after sad face.

People don’t always fit into the mold we want them to. I think it scares people when they can’t place individuals into groups that they are associated with. Jamaicans smoke weed. Southern girls are white trash. Asians are good at math.

So just the for the record: even though I am Asian, I suck at math. I’m terrible at chess. And I never wanted to be a concert violinist. Oh, and I am an excellent driver who uses her turn signal.


Nina Schidlovsky grew up in Bei Jing, Hong Kong, Hawaii, and Maryland. She now teaches martial arts and is working on her first children’s book which her aunt is illustrating. She lives in Maryland and is the proud owner of her lizard, Toothless, and her sugar glider named Archer.

Nina’s last piece, “Taxi Driver,” can be found here.

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