Thursday, March 4, 2010

Documentary Reveals Pain of Interracial Adoption and "Gratitude Complex"

The documentary, “Outside Looking In” by Phil Bertelsen, explores the issues of transracially adopted persons. Bertelson, who as adopted at four years of age by a white family and then raised in a mostly white New Jersey suburb.says "I didn't feel like I was seen or understood."

Like others in his situation, he reports feeling  estranged from the people around him who it is 
instinctively obvious from an early age are different from them, and yet cut off from their own racial identity and culture. He describes what he calls “gratitude complex.”

Tobias Hubinette, Korean born and adopted by Swedes, similarly has found that “assimilation becomes the ideal as the adoptee is stripped of name, language, religion and culture, while the bonds to the biological family and the country of origin are cut off. Adoptees who are consciously dissociating themselves from their country of origin and see themselves as whites are interpreted as examples of successful adjustments, while interest in cultural heritage and biological roots is seen as an indi-cation of poor mental health or condemned as expressions of biologism and Nationalism. Recently, proponents of inter-country adoption have also started to attack the "politically correct" ban on interracial adoption.”

Transracial parenting is not just an issue for the children, but also for the parents. In 2007 Lowri Turner, wrote in the Daily Mail:

“Don't get me wrong, I love her...

 “But when I turn to the mirror in my bedroom to admire us together, I am shocked. She seems so alien. With her long, dark eyelashes and shiny, dark brown hair, she doesn't look anything like me.

“I know that concentrating on how my daughter looks is shallow. She is a person in her own right, not an accessory to me. But still, I can't shake off the feeling of unease.

“I didn't realise how much her looking different would matter and, on a rational level, I know it shouldn't. But it does.

"’She's getting very dark, isn't she?’ This is what one of my friends recently said about my much adored - 12-week-old daughter.

“She didn't mean to be rude. But it was a comment that struck me with the force of a jab to the stomach. now I realise what a 'white' world I inhabit….

“Mixed-race children can receive a hostile welcome from both white and black communities.”
Lowri Turner says she loves her daughter but won-ders why she feels “so alien” and expresses concern that two “milky complexioned and golden haired” sons “will feel less of a kinship with their sister because she is dif-ferent, although there is no sign of that.”

Lowri did not adopt her transracial daughter. She birthed her in an interracial marriage. The child is fully her genetic offspring and yet these feelings of racial difference haunt her.

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