‘Chinese, on the Inside’

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2014-03-05 01:44Z by Steven

‘Chinese, on the Inside’

The New York Times

Liz Mak, writer and multimedia producer
Oakland, California

Catie and Kimberly were adopted from China by a couple from Maine, who attempt to pass on a culture they’ve never known firsthand.

About a decade ago, Barbara Cough adopted two girls from China, Kimberly and Catie. Barbara and her partner, Marilyn Thomas, are raising the children in Portland, Me. I filmed the family last year when the girls (who are not biological sisters) were ages 9 and 11.

More than 80,000 girls have been adopted from China by Americans since 1991. In recent years, China has made adoptions by same-sex couples, already difficult, nearly impossible.

But at the time the girls were adopted, in 2003 and 2004, Barbara and Marilyn felt that adopting girls from China afforded them more protections as parents than domestic adoptions would have, given the complex rules around birth parents’ rights in America.

For Barbara, it was also a way to reconnect with her own history: her great-grandfather Daniel Cough was the first Chinese man in Maine to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. Though Barbara’s generation is only one-eighth Chinese, the family members proudly identify with their cultural heritage…

Read the opinion piece and watch the video here.

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The Mixed Marriage

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Family/Parenting, Interviews, New Media, Religion, United States on 2014-01-12 16:18Z by Steven

The Mixed Marriage

The New York Times

Interview by Lise Funderburg

Lise Funderburg, a journalist, interviewed Yael Ben-Zion, a photographer raised in Israel, about her new book, “Intermarried,” published by Kehrer, which features families from the Washington Heights neighborhood where she lives with her French husband and 5-year-old twins.

Q. What inspired this project?

A. I saw an Israeli television campaign that showed faces on trees and bus stops, like missing children ads. A voice-over said, “Have you seen these people? Fifty percent of young Jewish people outside of Israel marry non-Jews. We are losing them.” I happen to be married to a person who is not Jewish. And, so for me it was, “Aah, they’re losing me.” I’m not religious, but this campaign made me wonder more generally why people choose to live with someone who is not from their immediate social group, and what challenges they face.

Q. How did you establish your taxonomy for what qualified as mixed?

A. I wasn’t going to go in the street and ask couples if they were mixed. I didn’t grow up here; I didn’t even know what terminology to use. But I live in a very diverse Manhattan community that has an online parent list with more than 2,000 families on it. I put up an ad saying I was looking for couples that define themselves as mixed. I said it could be different religion, ethnicity or social background. I didn’t use the word race, because I wasn’t sure how politically correct that was. All the couples who responded are either interfaith or interracial or both, but my goal from the beginning wasn’t to create some statistical visual document. For example, I have hardly any Asian people, and I don’t think there are any Muslims, and the reason is that they didn’t approach me…

Read the entire interview and view the slide shows here.

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Posted in Arts, Books, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion, United States on 2014-01-12 15:59Z by Steven


Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg
128 pages
57 color ills.
24 x 29.5 cm
Hardcover ISBN 978-3-86828-418-8

Photography by: Yael Ben-Zion

Text by: Amy Chua, Maurice Berger, Yael Ben-Zion

Yael Ben-Zion uses photography and text to reflect on intermarriage.

Following her award-winning monograph 5683 miles away (Kehrer 2010), in Intermarried Yael Ben-Zion fixes her camera on another personal but politically charged theme: intermarriage. Ben-Zion initiated the project in 2009 by contacting an online parent group in Washington Heights, her Manhattan neighborhood, inviting couples who define themselves as “mixed” to participate. Her own marriage “mixed,” she was interested in the many challenges faced by couples who choose to share their lives regardless of their different origins, ethnicities, races or religions.

Through layered images and revealing texts (including excerpts from a questionnaire she asked her subjects to fill out), Intermarried weaves together fragments of reality to compose a subtle narrative that deals with the multifaceted issues posed by intermarriage.

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Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Family/Parenting, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Social Science, Social Work, United States on 2013-11-26 15:36Z by Steven


The New York Times

Natalie Angier

American households have never been more diverse, more surprising, more baffling. In this special issue of Science Times, NATALIE ANGIER takes stock of our changing definition of family.

Read the entire article here.

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One Thing I Can’t Pass On to My Daughter: White Privilege

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2013-10-25 03:09Z by Steven

One Thing I Can’t Pass On to My Daughter: White Privilege

Brain, Child: the magazine for thinking mothers

Martha Wood
Momsoap: Sometimes I froth at the Mouth

A while back, I met up for a play date with another white mother to children of color. As we sat chatting and watching our daughters play, I noticed something about her daughter, next to Annika, and no doubt, she noticed that same thing. And so I said it aloud. Something I’d never noticed about Annika before that day. And since, I have reflected upon it many, many times, wondering exactly what it meant.

“If you put our daughters in a group of black children, nobody would ever guess they were biracial.”

Both of our girls have skin tones similar to the average African American. Both brown eyes. Both, very thick, curly hair.

She nodded. Knowingly…

Read the entire article here.

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Purple Boots, Silver Stars … and White Parents

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Work, United States on 2013-10-15 01:11Z by Steven

Purple Boots, Silver Stars … and White Parents

The New York Times

Frank Ligtvoet, Founder
Adoptive Families With Children of African Heritage and Their Friends, New York, New York

“WHEN I wear my cap backwards, don’t copy me,” our 8-year-old son says to his 7-year-old sister. “O.K.,” she answers, “I will put it on sideways.”

Recently our African-American daughter, Rosa, had gone with an older black friend to Fulton Mall, a crowded commercial area in our Brooklyn neighborhood, where the shoppers are mostly black. Fulton Mall is not only about shopping, it’s also a place to flirt, talk, laugh and argue, and to listen in passing to gospel, soul, hip-hop and R & B.

Rosa had seen some purple canvas boots with silver stars and lost herself in an all-consuming desire to have them. Immediately. I bought them, a bit later. A day later. And to be “fair,” I bought our son, Joshua, who is also African-American, a pair of black and yellow basketball shorts. Pretty cool as well.

The next day they want to show off their new stuff and, somewhat to my surprise, they decide to do so at Fulton Mall. I am their white adoptive dad, and by now, at their age, they see the racial difference between us clearly and are not always comfortable with it in public. But they know they are too young to go alone to the mall. Before we leave, Rosa, who had always seemed indifferent to fashion, changes into tight jeans and a black short-sleeve T-shirt. Joshua twists his head to see how he looks from behind. He pushes his new shorts a bit lower over his hips, but doesn’t dare to go all the way saggy. And then — after they have their cap conversation — we go.

They walk ahead. I am kept at a distance, a distance that grows as we get closer to the mall. I respect that; I grin and play stranger.

Joshua walks with the wide, tentative yet supple steps he sees black teenage boys make, steps he has practiced at home in the mirror. I realize that this is the first time in their lives they are asserting their blackness in a black environment, maybe not in opposition to but in conscious separation from the whiteness of my male partner and me. And we are a bit proud of their budding racial independence, since it comes after years of their having expressed feelings that ranged from “I don’t want to be black” to “I hate white people.” Being black with us was safe now. Being black at Fulton Mall was sort of a test of how safe it was out there in the world. I take a picture with my phone to catch this moment, which they hate. Of course…

…In the case of transracial adoption, there is the force of horizontal identity, where the child looks for others with the same experience of being adopted, but the vertical identity is complicated as well. When we wake them up in the morning, our kids don’t see parents who look like them. For many young transracial adoptees, every time they look in the mirror it’s a shock to see that they are black or Asian and not white like their parents. (In most transracial families, the parents are white.) The children have to grow out of their internalized whiteness into their own racial identity. Some fail and suffer tremendously…

Read the entire opinion piece here.

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The Construction of Racial Identity in Children of Mixed Parentage: Mixed Metaphors

Posted in Books, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science on 2013-09-23 20:25Z by Steven

The Construction of Racial Identity in Children of Mixed Parentage: Mixed Metaphors

Jessica Kingsley Publishers
224 pages
234mm x 156mm / 9.25in x 6in
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-85302-376-7

Ilan Katz, Professor
Social Policy Research Center
University of New South Wales, Australia

For several decades the issues of race, identity and child development have been of major concern to policy makers and practitioners in social services. This book is a major contribution to this literature, and offers a radically new way of looking at some of these issues. Based on intensive research on interracial families with young children, the book reviews the previous literature relating to racial identity development, especially relating to biracial children, and shows it to be based on flawed assumptions.

Using intensive observations and in-depth interviews with parents of biracial children the author shows the many ways in which inter-racial families deal with issues of identity and difference. He concludes with a discussion of alternative conceptions of identity, race and development which will provide both practitioners and policy makers with new ways to think about these issues.


  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: The Interracial Debate
  • Chapter 3: Racial Attitudes and Marginality
  • Chapter 4: Theories of Identity Development
  • Chapter 5: Methodology
  • Chapter 6: The A Family
  • Chapter 7: The B Family
  • Chapter 8: The First Set of Interviews
  • Chapter 9: Second Set of Interviews
  • Chapter 10: Conclusions
  • Chapter 11: Revisiting the Theory
  • Appendix One: Mother’s Interviews
  • Appendix Two: Interview Transcript
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Overseas adoptions rise — for black American children

Posted in Articles, Europe, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2013-09-19 22:12Z by Steven

Overseas adoptions rise — for black American children

Cable News Network (CNN)

Sophie Brown

Editor’s note: In this series, CNN investigates international adoption, hearing from families, children and key experts on its decline, and whether the trend could — or should — be reversed.

(CNN) — Elisa van Meurs grew up with a Polish au pair, speaks fluent Dutch and English and loves horseback riding — her favorite horse is called Kiki but she also rides Pippi Longstocking, James Bond, and Robin Hood.

She plays tennis and ice hockey, and in the summer likes visiting her grandmother in the Swiss Alps.

“It’s really nice to go there because you can walk in the mountains and you can mountain bike … you can see Edelweiss sometimes,” said the 13-year-old, referring to the famous mountain flower that blooms above the tree line.

It’s a privileged life unlike that of her birth mother, a woman of African American descent from Indianapolis who had her first child at age 15. Her American family is “really nice but they don’t have a lot of money to do stuff,” said Elisa, who met her birth mother, and two siblings in 2011. “They were not so rich.”…

Escape from racism

When Susan, a Florida resident, chose to place her son for adoption in 2006, the social worker gave her three binders with information about three prospective families. But she only needed to see the first binder of a couple from the Netherlands to make her decision. “If my mother had lived, she’d look just like (the prospective Dutch mother),” recalled the 37 year old, who asked that her last name not be used. Her own mother died when she was two months old.

Susan also wanted her son to grow up far away from the life she knew. She was a 30-year-old prostitute addicted to crack beginning a prison sentence when she learned she was pregnant. She did not know whether the child’s father was a man who raped her “for hours” or a drug dealer whom she “had done something with” one time, she said. But both men were African American, and she believed the child would face discrimination growing up in the United States.

“There’s too much prejudice over here. The white people are going to hate him because he’s half black, and the majority of black people are going to hate on him because he’s half white,” said Susan, who is Caucasian. “And then he’ll have to do extra things to prove what kind of a Negro he is, and extra things to prove what kind of a honky he is and I don’t want that. I did not want that for my kid.”

Even her own daughter, then aged 11, said “she would never accept that n***** child.”

Susan is not alone, says Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Donaldson Adoption Institute and author of “Adoption Nation.” Many birth mothers have a perception that their black or mixed-race children will not face the same race issues in the Netherlands as in the United States.

“In the United States, as much as Americans want to believe it’s not true, we are still a country where there is a least some degree of racial prejudice. The birth mothers’ perception of Holland, in particular, was that the same was not true in Holland. There’s that feeling that maybe we can escape those issues if (the child is) somewhere else.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Vietnam Legacy: Finding G.I. Fathers, and Children Left Behind

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-09-16 20:57Z by Steven

Vietnam Legacy: Finding G.I. Fathers, and Children Left Behind

The New York Times

James Dao, Military and Veterans Affairs Reporter

SALTILLO, Miss. — Soon after he departed Vietnam in 1970, Specialist James Copeland received a letter from his Vietnamese girlfriend. She was pregnant, she wrote, and he was the father.

He re-enlisted, hoping to be sent back. But the Army was drawing down and kept him stateside. By the time Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese in 1975, he had lost touch with the woman. He got a job at a plastics factory in northern Mississippi and raised a family. But a hard question lingered: did she really have his child?

“A lot of things we did in Vietnam I could put out of my mind,” said Mr. Copeland, 67. “But I couldn’t put that out.”

In 2011, Mr. Copeland decided to find the answer, acknowledging what many other veterans have denied, kept secret or tried to forget: that they left children behind in Vietnam…

Read the entire article here.

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Black Coral: A Daughter’s Apology To Her Asian Island Mother

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Interviews, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2013-09-06 01:07Z by Steven

Black Coral: A Daughter’s Apology To Her Asian Island Mother

Research at the National Archives and Beyond
BlogTalk Radio
Thursday, 2013-09-05, 21:00 EDT, (Friday, 2013-09-06, 01:00Z)

Bernice Bennett, Host

C. D. Holmes-Miller, Clergywoman, Theologian, Designer, Author

Mother with Clergywoman, Theologian, Communications Designer and author, The Rt. Reverend Dr. Cheryl D. Holmes-Miller aka Bishop Miller, M.S., MDiv.

She tells of her tumultuous, emotional teen agony of trying to accept her multiracial, multiethnic family as they struggle to fit in a “one box, one drop” racial category of being Negroes. Her coming of age story during the Civil Rights Movement leads to her back to the future 21st century revelations of her true heritage. Once taboo, her story is vogue and trending…her memoir is  a genuine catalyst for talking about race and culture, and those discussions start within the context of our families. She is the Senior Minister of The North Stamford Congregational Church in Stamford, Connecticut.

For more information, click here.

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