1. Audrey
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    Audrey New Member

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    Writing about an adopted child?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Audrey, Mar 15, 2013.

    Hello!
    I am currently drafting a YA novel where the protagonist is adopted. She is Thai, but was adopted by a Caucasian couple as a small child and grew up thinking she was also Caucasian. Her status as an adopted child does not have a major influence on the overall plot, but I want to try to portray as realistic a portrayal of such a situation. I have no knowledge of adoption, and I grew up in a very happy house with my birth parents, so I have little to go on.
     
  2. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is a wealth of information on the internet and in fictional literature, about these issues. You need to spend some time researching it on Google. I have one recommendation, a film called "Secrets and Lies" by Mike Leigh. A superb film, funny with a happy ending, that seriously and originally explores the issue of adoption, from several people's point of view.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what info do you need, that you can't get by googling?... there are many websites dvoted to adoption and forums where adopters and adoptees hang out... that's where you should go...

    and you can do an amazon search for memoirs about cross-racial and foreign adoptions that will give you a good view of it from the inside...
     
  4. molark
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    molark Member

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    excellent film!
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    What sort of information do you need? I'd actually be careful about turning to fiction, because so many portrayals of adoptees in fictional works are the subjects of a lot of criticism by adoptees and others in the adoption community.

    There are a wide variety of experiences by adoptees -- some are very influenced by the fact that they are adopted and pay significant attention to issues affecting others in their race and in their own particular birth-culture and country. Others hardly think about it at all -- some don't think about it ever, and some don't think about it until after they either become parents themselves or are contemplating becoming parents. So there's no "typical" way that a teen would think about these issues. (Although growing up thinking they are also caucasian is a common experience I have read about from adoptees. Some say it's jarring to look in a mirror. Others grow tired of having names that lead people to expect them to look different from how they do -- i.e. an Asian woman whose name is Heidi Anderson, who gets sick of people saying "oh, I was expecting you to look different..." But again, everyone thinks about these things differently -- some shrug it off easily, others ruminate on it a lot and it's an issue for them.)

    I am a white American woman who adopted a child of another race from another country. So I have some experience with this issue directly (albeit from the parental side - not from the adoptee side). I have also read a lot about this subject and am involved in an ongoing basis with groups (in-person and online) that deal with adoption in general, and with trans-racial, international adoptions.

    One place to start would be to research groups and websites maintained by Korean adult adoptees. (I think the acronym for a group related to them is KAAN, but I'm not certain.) Korean adoptees have a lot of insight because they have been around the longest, in a sense -- the US started programs for adoptions from Korea shortly after the Korean War, when there were significant numbers of children who were fathered by American soldiers who were not married to the Korean women who became pregnant. So there are greater numbers of people who were adopted from Korea as babies to the U.S. and other primarily white countries, who have had significant life experience growing up this way. The largest group of current teen-agers are probably girls adopted from China, and there are a lot of sites and books dealing with issues that affect them.
     
  6. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    It my favourite film (as much as it is possible to choose only one). I love Mike Leigh's films, they are so honest.
     
  7. Sved
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    Sved Senior Member

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    Well I'm korean but was adopted by caucasian parents. I always knew I was adopted even as a small child. A look in the mirror fixed that part :)
     
  8. Audrey
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    Audrey New Member

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    Haha, thanks guys. I will check out Secrets and Lies.
    My main concern is I don't want to stereotype or over characterize the relationship.
     
  9. Sved
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    Sved Senior Member

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    Looking back with adult eyes, on my childhood friends. I would suggest many of their relationships with the parents could be described as stereotypcial in their own way even if they weren't adopted :)
     

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