A reader writes:
The two stories about unadopting a child reminded me of a series of articles about adoption I read in the New York Times last spring, in the aftermath of the Tennessee mother who returned her adopted child to Russia on a one-way flight. This article has some touching and informative interviews with families who have encountered unbelievable difficulties after adopting. But what left the most lasting impression on me was the Ranch for Kids Project, which provides adopted children from Russia with some respite. Video from the NYT here.
Another passes along more material:
I watched the film "Daughter from Danang" on American Experience several years ago. It is a very moving documentary about a bi-racial girl, given up by a Vietnamese woman in the "Orphan Airlift" of the 1970s. Her father was an American (white) Navy official. The adopted girl is raised in the South, "101% American," in circumstances that are far from ideal, and returns to Vietnam to meet her birth mother and half-siblings as an adult. To say she experiences culture shock is an understatement.
In intimate, beautifully shot sequences in Danang, the film follows mother and daughter over the course of their one-week reunion. And in painful, difficult scenes, viewers see the women's many hopes and expectations dashed as it becomes apparent that the cultural gulf between them is much larger than either ever imagined. In a final, wrenching confrontation, the gap seems unbridgeable.
In some ways, this story is an argument both for and against an immersion in "cultural heritage" - when the adoptive family is of a different race and culture from the adopted child. However, I think it is more about the tragedy of inequality; the Vietnamese family are terribly poor with few opportunities. If her family had been educated and middle class, the cultural shock would have been much less. Her adoptive mother is also a very questionable parent - you are left to ponder why she chose to adopt anyone, much less a non-white child. Sad all around.