December 12, 2018

The Fraught Language of Adoption

““When you think of someone as your gift from God, maybe you can never see them as anyone else,” writes Nicole Chung in the opening pages of All You Can Ever Know, her new memoir about growing up as a Korean American adopted by white parents in Oregon. Throughout Chung’s childhood, her deeply religious parents told her that God had meant for the three of them to be a family, and so when Chung was just an infant, she’d arrived in their home as their miracle daughter.

But as Chung, a writer, grew older and started a family of her own, she began to wonder more and more about the actual logistics of her parents’ “miracle.” As she prepared for the arrival of her own child, she couldn’t shake lingering questions about her background: Who were the Korean immigrants who’d been on the losing end of her adoptive parents’ gain, and why had they given her up?

The ensuing conflict between Chung’s loyalty to the beloved family narrative and desperate curiosity about her origins is the central tension at the heart of her memoir, a bittersweet story about Chung’s experiences finding her birth parents after a “closed” adoption, meaning that unlike in an “open” adoption, she had no contact with them growing up. It’s a story that resonates with me closely: I, too, am an adopted Asian American daughter of white parents. I spoke to Chung about the complicated language and word choices that follow adoptees throughout life, and the politics of having two families that are both your “real” family.””

Read more

JJ Best Of The Web

"Like many Western analyses of the Middle East, they reduce Iraq’s complex internal conflicts to catchall explainers of ‘sectarianism’ and ‘tribalism’ – presuming that some groups of people are intrinsically primed for antagonism."

" he's a loser in the precise sense that his singular accomplishment in American public life has been to lose a Senate race to the stupendously unpopular Republican Ted Cruz."

"While applauding the social impetus, Israelis are divided in opinions on an American-based initiative and question its grammatical integrity."

A look at the networks that churn out nonstop, formulaic Christmas movies; the actors who star in all of them; and the fans who can't stop watching.

"The Department of Homeland Security wants to use credit scores to determine immigration cases. That sets a dangerous precedent."

"Traffic. Congestion. Pollution. Hours-long commutes. What if you could leave it all behind and trade it in for an environmentally friendly and energy-efficient personal copter—all without a pilot’s license?"

"“But Qutb saw something else. The dancers in front of him were tragic lost souls. They believed they were free, but in reality they were trapped by their own selfish and greedy desires.”"

Cliches can be used as a political tool. "Prefabricated language helps everybody from prime ministers to CEOs disguise what they really want to say."

"Santa is nothing but stress for families who don’t believe in him. Trying to keep other kids from finding out the truth can cause a holiday-season-long headache."

"Umami is hard to describe in words. In the New Yorker, Hannah Goldfield defines it as “that deep, dark, meaty intensity that distinguishes seared beef, soy sauce, ripe tomato, Parmesan cheese, anchovies, and mushrooms..."

"The designer babies have thus been called the “future-we-should-not-want” for each new reproductive technology or intervention. But the babies never came and are nowhere close. I am not surprised."

"Thousands of secular Israelis became newly observant and joined Haredi communities in the 1970s and ’80s. Now, their children and grandchildren are searching for a place of their own."