Archive for April, 2006

Journey from the Fall

Inspired by actual events, Journey from the Fall follows one family's fight for freedom in the wake of war-torn Vietnam, communist political prison camps, and the mass exodus of boat people.

April 30th, 1975
Against his wife's wishes, Long Nguyen chooses to stay in Vietnam and fight for his beloved country. Knowing that his decision may separate him from his family forever, he asks his wife, Mai, to leave their homeland for safer shores. Together with her son and mother-in-law, Mai reluctantly boards a tiny fishing boat bound for America and they begin a perilous journey across the sea, with nothing but hope to keep them alive.

Meanwhile, as the city of Saigon falls under communist rule, Long is captured and imprisoned in a series of re-education camps. There, he endures solitary confinement and witnesses the death of his friends, spiraling him downwards into a deep despair. Believing his family is dead, Long's faith is revived when a mysterious visitor brings news of their survival in the new world. In one moment his fate becomes clear, and he sets in motion a dangerous plan to escape and join his family in freedom.

Journey from the Fall is dedicated to the millions of boat people and survivors of the communist re-education camps. This is their story.

This movie will be shown at Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and at The Asian American Film Festival in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ohhh, I'm jealous!

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Post-adoption depression

When Michele Zembow, 45 and single, adopted a 15- month-old girl, Kaydi, from China five years ago, the two fell in love instantly.

"I had an anxious type of depression," said Zembow, a psychologist in Maplewood, New Jersey. "I felt like I had this romanticized, idealized version of what it would be like that was not at all true."

Many adoptive parents feel delirious with happiness when bringing home their child. Yet for some, this joy can be short-lived and dissolve into what experts call post-adoption depression. For some, it is simply a low mood, for others a full-fledged plunge into despair. Post-adoption depression is recognized among adoption professionals, but there is no research on the syndrome. It is not adequately addressed by many adoption agencies, say experts, and is not widely understood by the public, including those who embark on adoption.

On one hand this leaves me screamng, "Again, it's about you! Welcome to reality." And she's a psychologist. Hmmm… On the other hand, it just goes to show you what a poor job of preparation adoption agencies, society and some aparents themselves do when it comes to the realities of adoption.

I could rant but I'll save it for another day. Really though, who ends up the real loser here if aparents fail to get it together? So much for better off.

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The Elusive Vietnamese

I was in a contemplative mood when I woke up this morning. After doing two loads of dishes and four loads of laundry, I'm just in a mood. I talked to my friend "Su" the other day and was telling her about my blogging adventures. Su is Korean. I met her a few years back when I lived in Florida and we became fast friends. It didn't hit me till later that Su was Asian. Don't ask me why. I just woke up one day and realized OMG Su is Asian. Maybe it's because I had resigned myself to the fact that I would forever be a useless piece of lint left to drift upon wind.

Finding Su re-opened that old desire and since then I've been tentatively searching for a nearby Vietnamese community. I don't know why but Vietnamese have always seemed like a rare bird that I've had to hunt down and then approach with extreme care. Previous attempts have always failed for one reason or another which makes me even more skittish when it comes to the "approach" part.

Lately, distance is proving an obstacle. I've hunted through organizations like VAN, but they're on the other side of the country as are most of their meetups. I have four young children at home and am pretty much stuck at home base. I started googling for Vietnamese organizations in my area and found a students organization. Hmmmm…I'm too old. I found a business organization…I don't own one. I found a Vietnamese Catholic organization…well….nah.

Perhaps I should take out an ad in the paper: Severely culturally challenged, MVF looking for Vietnamese with which to interact, extremely shy with a slight twinkie problem but is working on it.

Nahhh…sounds too desperate and knowing my luck, I'd only get calls from dudes suffering from yellow fever. I know, I know, stop moaning and just get out there. That, however is easier said than done. There is the Vietnamese policeman that sometimes directs traffic for my kids' elementary school. Maybe I should just holler at him one day and ask, "Hey, where are all the other Vietnamese?" I really was tempted to but the last time I saw him, he took one look at me and didn't seem to know whether to wave at me or arrest me. That darn hijab does it every time.

There's a woman who's son attends the same elementary school. She has a daughter that she adopted from China. I approached her last year during the school olympics and spoke to her but only briefly. She always seems a little uncomfortable around me. I don't know if it's the hijab or what. I worry about her daughter. The fatalistic part of me sees her future but the hopeful part of me thinks she might fare better than I. The small town I live in is friendly and much more diverse than the one where I grew up. There's an active Chinese community in the city nearby.

However, adoptee support groups seem almost non-existent here though there seems to be plenty for adoptive parents. They're not the same things. I think transracial adoptees need separate, supportive space just for themselves, away from their parents because just as we can't fit into all their nooks and crannies, aparents can't fit into all of ours. Just as there will always be a gap between myself and other Vietnamese, there is also a gap between my parents and I. It's an inner thing where there really aren't any tangible lines. There are just some realms that I can neither follow or lead them into. Our meeting place must always be somewhere in the middle. Just as I am stuck inbetween, in a way, so are they.

Then again, maybe I'm just overcomplicating things. Maybe it's like that between all parents and all children. These days, I'm sorely short on answers. And the hunt continues…

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In reply

Jaye was kind enough to forward this to me. Out of respect for her, I'm posting my reply here. Jeanine writes:

sume – I read these blogs (Jaye's, Ji-in's, Julia's JAM, any others they have listed) in hopes that I will learn something that will help me be a better mother to my daughters. Why do you read the blogs of adoptive mothers? don't you already know what you might find there? is that sado-masochistic?

Actually, no, I don't always know what I'll find. Even after the cheesy China doll article, I started reading her blog with the thought in mind that reporters and editors sometimes spin what they're reporting. It was the writer of the article that chose the offensive China doll title, not the aparents. I went to read the blog out of curiosity, not because I wanted to read yet another aparent's testimonial to herself.

My comment on Jaye's blog was referring to aparents who say they go to learn, but then will jump down an adoptee's throat, try to invalidate or trivialize their pain or try to get adoptees to write parenting manuals. There are also some who read and comment as if they're seeking some kind of "approval" which is ridiculous.

There are two distinct differences in what I do as compared to what some aparents do. I don't "troll" aparents' blogs or shower them with emails like the ones brought up in Jaye's comments. If I have something to say I do it on my own blog with links. I don't pass protect those entries or hide them unlike some aparents, who do it behind the safe walls of groups. Ji-in didn't do it until she was harassed so much she couldn't stand it. I was not a member of any exclusive group that links offensive aparent blogs so I had no idea what to expect. Me going to read a blog out of curiosity it totally different than an aparent who's been pre-warned that a linked adoptee might be a bit pissed but goes anyway. What do they do? Write defensive sometimes even condescending comments and/or emails.

I can't speak for any of the Korean adoptees or any adoptee other than myself. Any of them are welcome to come and put in their two-cents worth, but yeah, I get a little upset when I see them being harassed even after they've made it clear that they're just blogging. I don't know how many times it's been said that they have blogs, not forums. OMG, Jaye had to lose her cookies to make herself clear. Each one of them blog for their own reasons, each are unique in what they get from it and how far they're willing to go. They're individual human beings for God's sake not fortune cookies.

Let me again make it clear that I don't see aparents in general as evil. I don't lump aparents into one large group of nasties. I've received emails from parents who share their stories and sometimes even ask questions. The difference between them and others is that they were neither demanding, clueless or defensive. I wrote a post entitled Parents are Parents in reply to an email sent to me from a very lovely couple who'd adopted a little girl from Vietnam. We keep in touch from time to time and I've come to think of them as friends. Heck, I'd adopt them if I could. They're genuine, realistic and unpretentious and they never asked me for anything more than I was willing or able to give because they read my blog and they HEARD me.

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I had a strange conversation with a friend of mine yesterday. I'd told her about all the cool adoptee blogs out there and that I'd decided to start one of my own. She asked me what I wrote about and I told her it was just a space for me to write down some of my experiences and feelings as an adoptee. Her and I had never talked about my adoption much. She had no idea about all the pent up emotions and baggage.

She asked me if this was common to which I replied, " Yeah, see? I'm not a lunatic." The subject turned to "angry adoptees" and my black humor set in. I told her maybe I should kick it up a notch lest people begin to see a limited picture of "happy Vietnamese and Chinese adoptees" as opposed to "angry Korean adoptees". Would it become like some kind of breeding thing where Korean adoptees were seen as pit-bulls and Vietnamese and Chinese adoptees were seen as lapdogs? Would adoptees be graded on their "disposition" as well as availability, ease of acquisition and cost?

I began to wonder if some aparents weren't having discussions within the safe confines of their yahoo groups of what "kind" of adoptee is the "best". I know it sounds extreme and paranoid, but after reading some of that China Doll blog, I don't take much for granted. Pretty much all that can be said has been said about that monstrosity and my two-cents wouldn't sound much different. Obviously, some aparents have no idea how hurtful their words can be or how badly they can reflect on them as people.

The China doll article (thanks DianaH from TTR comments) made me sick for all the obvious reasons, but knowing how newspapers edit and spin, I didn't let it reflect too much on the aparents. Out of curiosity I went to read the blog and didn't think it was all that bad until I got to this, "I hate to admit but at the height of my frustration, feverish myself, and with a sick baby I had to bite my tongue not to tell them all where to go. I am an experienced mom with 3 healthy kids and am really in no mood to take wives tale advice from a country that seems to think it is OK to throw away their little girls."

Is that what she's going to tell little "Anna", that she was a throw-away? Or will she have the privilege of reading it on her blog when she's older? I'm not going to talk about how condescending and arrogant that sounds, not to mention what it would say to "Anna" about the people from which she came. Broadbrushing an entire people is a no-no and it might shock her to someday realize, "Anna" just might begin to see herself as Chinese. *gasp I bet she'll be really grateful to know how much they suffered to save their poor, abandoned, China doll baby from her retched, backwards people.

*Okay, I take it back. A lot about the blog bothers me. I guess you'll just have to see for yourselves.

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