Thoughts: Long-term Effects of Child Separation at the Border

The detainment, imprisonment, and separation of families at the border are not the first time the United States has participated in such acts. Our nation is founded on the premises of family separation and relocation that have affected millions of people of color both in the United States and across the globe. As you may have seen, there are already several articles that have pointed this information out and spoken to the extreme trauma, harm, and evil that is being done to these children. There are no processes in place to reunite the children with their parents, and the United States is just not prepared to humanely take care of the thousands of children that are flooding the Department of Children and Families.

While Trump has decided to sign an executive order to end child separation, it still gives me pause for the children that are still being affected by this policy, especially those who cannot speak for themselves. As an adoptee, as a person who was separated from their birth mother, and as a person who was institutionalized for the majority of their first year of life, this pains me like no other. The harmful effects lead to so much more than people can fathom, even for those that are adopted into homes that love them.

Unfortunately, there is a high probability that they will not. While there are orgnaizations that are working towards reuniting families, resources can only go so far. Without help, finding parents for a child is nearly impossible. Many of these children are unfamiliar with the intricate bureaucratic systems of the dependency system in the United States or speak English. Many of them will get trapped in a system that is already failing our most vulnerable youth.

As someone who has researched and learned more about the Foster Care System over the past five years in the United States, this is an issue that is far, far more damaging than is currently being reported. I do not claim to be an expert, nor do I have “credentials” that would assert me as such, but I do have knowledge that I think is highly applicable to what is occurring now.

Many children that enter the dependency system, especially older children, do not get adopted. Instead, they bounce around from place to place until they age out of the system altogether, ultimately funneling the youth, primarily youth of color and LGBTQ+ identified youth, to prison. The United State already has a pandemic of mass incarceration. They are placed in a system that is overcrowded, underfunded, and ultimately destined to fail. Even though the vast majority of youth in care wish to attend higher education, only 55% enroll in programs, and only 8% of students complete their programs due to barriers of financial support, housing stability, and more.

The worst part is, the violence does not end here. The cycle of foster care and violence can affect a family for generations. However, some non-profits and communities have been able to work with youth and young adults to disrupt these systems and have positive results. However, this is not enough. We need more people, institutions, and local governments.

 

What can you do to help?

1. Call your representatives. Demand change in immigration policy that protects children and families. Keep calling. Once a day. Once a week. Just keep calling. Get your friends and families to call.
2. While adoption can be positive, your first step should be to advocate for family preservation. No family should be separated because of circumstances outside of their control.
3. Donate your time and money to organizations that focus on assisting youth throughout their time in foster care, age out of foster care, and are no longer supported by the government through services. The support should not end once the foster care alumni reach an arbitrary number. A non-profit like, Educate Tomorrow focusing on a continuum of care.
4. Educate yourself on the inequity that that affects low-income communities and communities of color.
5. Make your own damn list of how to be more involved.

Advertisements

Change in the Huff Post

So, I’m not going to pretend that I’m the reason why the Huff Post has added Asian Voices to their navigation bar, but I’ll still pretend that it still had some factor when I submitted my pitch to them and proceeded to get rejected.

I’m just happy that it exists now. Huff Post, will you please consider accepting some of my other articles, or nah?

My Body Draft ii

CN: adoption, allusion to sexual abuse and self-harm, nudity,

My body has been commodified from the moment I was born. For one reason or another, I was abandoned/relinquished/rejected/given a better life, given a different life. My birth date on the certificate says that it’s October 29. My adoption papers say I was found December 15 and officially admitted January 15. I don’t know where my body is.

My body materializes when I’m estimated to be 10 months old. My mother hands over a briefcase of cash, and I am hers. There are bruises all over my body and patches of hair over my head. I don’t hesitate to go for the bottle.

 

You’re a slob

You’re lazy

You’re a pig

You’re fat

 

My body is available to everyone and anyone who wants to look at it. I wear a blue shirt, I’m the shape of a blueberry. My boobs are big for an Asian. He said he’s never been with a Chubby Asian girl.

 

You’re too dark to be Chinese

Have you ever thought about getting surgery for your eyes?

How do you Blind Fold an Asian? With floss.

Why is your face so flat?

Do you see in widescreen or normal?

 

My body wants control. It has scars that are over 10 years old. Hair turns different colors, get a nose piercing, let it close. Get a tattoo, it’s more permanent. It wakes up in the middle of the night and is no longer clothed. Someone is sleeping on the couch outside of my room.

 

At least hair isn’t permanent

I don’t want to see the nose piercing

I paid good money for you

You better not get a tattoo

 

My body is the least of my priorities. I don’t listen to it. Other people matter more. Development of type ii diabetes at age 22. I’m embarrassed by my nipples. They’re not soft and pink. Maybe that’s why I don’t like people looking at my body. Maybe that’s why I don’t like to look at my body.

 

Officially Welcome to the Gladieux Family

Asian’s are genetically predisposed to developing type ii diabetes

 

My body doesn’t work the way that it is supposed to. I’m listening.

 

 

IMG_0766.jpeg

Images of my Body

 

Some News

I woke up Monday morning with an email notification from my Nurse reviewing my Peace Corps application. What I thought was going to be information in regards to my TB spot test because I had uploaded it to the wrong file. While the first message confirmed about the test and that it was no longer a concern to worry about, the second message informed me that I was no longer able to serve in the Peace Corps. I closed my eyes and my laptop and breathed in deeply. Eric was there, and he looked at me and stopped what he was doing and immediately asked me what was wrong. I gave him my laptop, my password, and he read the message and covered his mouth.

I was unable to serve and had to withdraw my invitation due to my inability to pass the medical clearance. Due to recent physical diagnosis and previous mental diagnosis, I would need to spend the next year stabilizing both before I could apply again. My heart is broken. While I had my reservations about the Peace Corps as a neocolonial form of power and domination, it does do less harm than other forms of capitalistic ventures. I wanted to go to China, and I wanted to go with a lifelong dream of joining the Peace Corps.

I don’t think that anyone can prepare you to adjust to this kind of new reality. The closeness of being accepted, but suddenly due to certain genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and lack of access to health care throughout the majority of your life, to not have it anymore, hurts. I’d like to joke and say I still have my health, but even that has come into a bit of a question for me. To some extent, I feel like a failure. To another, I feel like a liar. Neither is true, at least this is what my doctors, and mother, and friends tell me.

I’m bad at processing my feelings, at least I’m bad at letting them exist in their primal state. I like to add other facts and statistics and bring in other world events and phenomena. Sitting with my feelings is hard and complicated and messy and something I’ve avoided my entire life, but maybe a list will help. So, here it goes.

1. I am sad
2. I am disappointed
3. I blame myself
4. I blame my shitty genetics from my biological parents whom I will probably never meet
5. I feel guilty for blaming things that they cannot control
6. I blame the working class environment growing up
7. I feel guilty for not being grateful enough for what I had
8. Capitalism sucks
9. I am scared. I have never had to wait longer than a few weeks to a month in limbo. I get anxious, and the unknown terrifies me
10. I am not resentful. I know that what has happened is not in control. I understand the desire for stability in volunteers, and I understand the necessity of stability to live.
11. Ya girl’s looking for a job, so please hire me.
12. I’m just sad. There’s no other feeling left to say.

Thoughts on #nationaladoptionmonth

It’s a week into November, and on several of the online communities I am a part of, #nationaladoptionmonth has been trending. I remember learning about this month several years ago under the Obama Administration, and now I am reminded it again under the Trump Administration. This is the first year I have ever read the proclamation from the Executive Branch, and I take issue with several statements that have been made.

First, I would like to discuss how Trump views Adoption.

 

 “My Administration recognizes the profound importance of adoption for the American family. Adoption is a life-changing and life-affirming act that signals that no child in America — born or unborn — is unwanted or unloved.”

 

Adoption is indeed a life-changing commitment. However, I am unsure if it is particularly life-affirming. In the past few months alone, there have been reports of children that have been killed or severely neglected by their adoptive parents. Adoption does not always promise a better life, but it promises a different life. I recognize that I use international adoption as an example, and I recognize that I am an international adoptee. My experiences do not apply to “no child in America,” yet here I am due to the (un)fortunate experiences of globalization and the adoption industry. This removal provides me a particular insight on adoption in how Trump discusses that no child is unwanted or unloved.

 

Earlier this year, Trump decisively declared a crackdown on immigration and the deportation of anyone who came to the United States undocumented. However, it is incredibly important to note that most of the undocumented immigrants that are residing in the United States were here legally at one point. Some were seeking asylum, refugees from wars that the United States participated in, or simply students. Language barriers, lack of support and opportunity, and just general hassle of complicated bureaucratic systems can prevent individuals from attaining legal status.

Many children that are in the system are not unloved or unwanted. They are part of families that are systematically discriminated against and oppressed. Yes, there are circumstances in which biological families relinquish children or horrendous parenting misdeeds, but those are not the only reasons how a child ends up in in the System. For example, before the sudden complete repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, Tump stated that DREAMers could stay, but their parents had to go. This is at the core root of how to separate a child from their family. These children are not unwanted or unloved, but they would be placed in a system

Trump later states in the proclamation:

“We must continue to remove barriers to adoption whenever we can so that the love and care of prospective adoptive parents can be directed to children waiting for their permanent homes. This year’s National Adoption Month, we focus on our commitment to helping older youth experience the transformative value of permanency and love.”

He’s right. Adopting older youth and providing the care and value of permanency of love is great if that was the only thing that mattered in an adoption. Speaking as someone who was adopted as an infant and has no history of my past, I still struggle with the value of permanency. If you add documentation into the mix, legal separation from a family you’ve known your entire life, and more…I can only imagine the trauma that may come from it. Older children that are waiting on permeant homes are not always orphans or in desperate need of loving supportive parental figures. They’re in desperate need of the family that was just deported.

The irony of this all is that Adoption is usually celebrated in a way that brings people together. It’s supposed to build families and have happy endings. But adoption does not always end like that. Adoption, more often than not, means the breaking of another family. There are several policies across the Trump administration that contributes to this. Cutting of family planning resources like planned parenthood, the deportation of undocumented immigrants, and so much more tears apart families more often than bring them together. The stigma of adoption still lingers. The prioritization of biological families still reigns supreme. It is not so simple to just say, let us adopt more youth. There is a shame if you cannot take care of the family you create.

Look, I’m not sure what the right answers are when it comes to a lot of these things. I do not have the educational background or the experience to say what is wrong and what is right. Nor do I think that this is an attack on Trump. Under President Obama, there were more deportations than any other President of the United States in modern history. There is a failure to address the deportation of international adoptees under both administrations. Adoption is a particularly hard subject for a lot of people. I am not pro-adoption nor am I particularly anti-adoption. I just think we need to begin to have an honest conversation about adoption in this country and around the world. Adoption ties into so many other factors and is the result of many poorly planned policies that do not always have the desired impact. We need to support young parents who decide to keep children; we need to be able to have realistic sex education for everything (inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community), we need to have better school systems, we need to acknowledge that adoption is not a solution.

I’m not an expert by any means, but I do come from the perspective of an international Chinese adoptee who has had both an incredibly positive and negative experience with adoption. I know I cannot separate my personal feelings when speaking on this topic, but I do not see that as any less deserving of consideration. I urge us to dive deeper into this topic and recognize that yes, adoption can be an amazing and beautiful thing, but it is also an indication of things that are much more insidious going on within a country.

A Letter to my mom

I spent a long time thinking about this topic, how to approach it, and how to write about it. I worried about whether or not I would offend people, or if what I am saying makes sense. In the end, the only relationship and experience I can write about is between my mother and I. I hope that this letter can help people, particularly white Americans with children of color, understand more about how one transnational, transracial, Chinese American adoptee feels about the state of our nation.

__________________________

Dear Mom,

We just finished our conversation about Charlottesville, and it was a lot. Speaking about race with you can be exhausting and even a waste of time. It can be frustrating, especially when you tell me that I shouldn’t get mad. But, how can I not? How can I not be angry and hurt and betrayed when there are white supremacists that walk through the streets telling me that my life does not matter. How can I not fear for my life when there are men and women who say that I do not belong in their America when I did not come here by choice? How do I say that another white person is who brought me to their America? You brought me here.

You tell me it’s better to pick and choose my battles, and that people will not listen to me when I am angry. This is probably true. As a woman, as an Asian American woman, my voice will often go unheard more often than yours. This is why I need you to speak up for me. I need you to take up some of the battles for me. And sometimes, you have. When I was younger, you told me a story about how when you went to church with me when I was a baby; a pastor had said the word “Gook.” You told me how that shook you to your core. You said that in church, it was one of the only spaces you felt you could let your guard down. You told me that space was violated. A few weeks later, you interrupted a church meeting, with all white men, and said that you had gotten a pastor a present. That present was a dictionary, and you told him that he should learn better words and that he should be ashamed.

When I brought this up, you looked ssurprizedthat I remembered. I also remembered how a few months ago, you told your older friends that they shouldn’t say Indians, but rather Native Americans. It is moments like these, that means the most to me. It is moments like these, which are what make me proud most proud of you. However, there are also moments when I am ashamed. You will make comments, intentionally or not, that are often racist.

One thing that has affected me my entire life has been your comments about the color of my skin. You would joke and say, “you look like you have been working in the rice paddy fields all day.” You would tell me that you ruined my skin and that I used to be a cream color. When I came home for the first time after my semester in the North East, you had commented how light I had gotten. You expressed happiness, but I thought that I looked sick. I didn’t believe that I radiated the way I did when I was out in the sun.

Having you, a white American whose ancestry reaches back to the American Revolution, as my mom has taught me a lot of things, and I know that I have shown you a lot of things. You now listen to what I have to say and take into consideration about the world around us. You use the correct pronouns for my friends, and you catch yourself when you’re about to say something homophobic. I don’t expect you to march in the streets. But I do expect you to talk to your friends. I expect you not only stand up for me; I expect you to stand up to any form of bigotry. I love you, and you are my hero in so many ways. Probably in more ways than I have ever articulated to you, but this does not mean I cannot be critical of you as you are critical of me. You are my mom, and you will always be my mom. Do better. Be better.

 

Love,
Your radical little girl

like daddy like son

Cont. of “The One”

Sometimes Harold likes to take a walk around the block. He notices that Mrs. Lee’s garden is in full bloom and that baby birds are learning to fledge. He sees Mr. Wilson’s dogs lay in the sun. Sandy isn’t outside, but that’s okay. She’s probably out with her mama grocery shopping. Maybe when they get back, Harold can go over for some ice cream. Ms. Armstrong was always so kind and always smelled nice. Harold wished that he had a mom like that.

When Harold asked his daddy how he was born, his daddy always tells him he was born out of pure love. When Harold asks where his mama is, his daddy always lowers himself to eye level and places his right pointer finger on Harold’s chest and say that she’s right there in his heart. There are pictures of her and his father around the house. They’re happy and smiling. Harold thinks that his daddy should smile like that more often, but he doesn’t know how.

Harold notices that his father looks at Sandy’s mama in a funny way. Frank crinkles his nose and always comments that the Lord don’t make them the same no more. Harold asks his daddy what he means by that, and his father looks down filled with sad eyes.

“Well, your mama was an angle. Complete angel. That lady over there is no good. No husband and no one to take care of her and that girl over there. It’s a wonder how she’s able to afford that house over there. She’s probably a slut.”

Harold doesn’t know what a slut is, but he knows that it’s not good. Suddenly, he doesn’t like the way that Ms. Armstrong smells. She’s always wearing those low cut dresses and wearing too much makeup. Harold hopes that Sandy doesn’t grow up to be like her mom, but maybe it’s too late.

“Your Mama is a slut!”

“NO, SHE’S NOT!”

Sandy slapped Harold across the face and ran into her house. They haven’t spoken in a few days, but Harold knows she’ll come around. Every time they get in a fight, all he has to do is keep following her around until she gives in. He pushes her to the ground because that’s how boys are told to let girls know they like them. Maybe he’ll just go over and pretend to like Ms. Armstrong to save Sandy. After all, if there’s no man in the house, Harold thinks, who’s going to keep Sandy in line?

Trains

Watching the yellow train pass by just as soon as she made it to the platform, Sarah shrugged in defeat. Puffing a little air out of her mouth to blow a lock of hair off of her face she was reminded of her motto: never run for any man or any form of public transportation. And 96% of the time, she followed that rule. Gazing around at the crowded platform, she let herself be absorbed into the horde of commuters. After a few bumps, she found herself against a cool concrete wall that came up right below her chest. It served to protect anyone who might fall between the divide of the platform and rest of the terminal. Turning her body away from the crowd, she let her arms dangle off of the ledge of the concrete wall and rested her chin upon it. The objects were the usual things that you would see abandoned and pushed off to the side: a plastic water bottle, a crushed paper cup, an empty chip bag, a blue ribbon, a condom? Sarah looked closer and examined the long translucent tubular shape. How did a condom outside of its wrapper end up here? Sarah thought for a moment, knowing that she had a decent chunk of time to waste until the next yellow train arrived (approximately 12 minutes), and began to think about how wrapper-less condom could have ended up there.

Sally’s body was damp with perspiration due to the unseasonably warm weather. The hem of her ocean blue checkered uniform clung to the back of her thighs. However, despite this, her hair was pulled up neatly in a high pony tail, and a navy blue ribbon tied into a bow held it up. Not a single strand was out of place. She cradled her astronomy notebook in the nook of her left arm and prepared her subway ticket to tap into the terminal. “HEY SALLY!” she could hear Johnny yell, 20 feet away. She rolled her eyes and breathed in deeply in preparation for whatever Johnny had in store for her today. She paused right before the gate and watched him push his way through the crowd to get to her. If she was damp, Johnny was outright soaked. His tie was loose, and there were large wet patches all over his white button down shirt, no longer crisp from the beginning of the day. 10 feet before he reached her, Sally turned to continue her way through the gate and waited for him to rummage through his messenger bag to get his ticket out.

 

“Hey, how’s it going, Sally O’Malley?” Johnny asked, winded.

“You know I hate it when you say, O’Malley. It’s not even my last name.” Sally retorted.

“Yeah, but you know it rhymes. Hey, guess what I found last night in my dad’s dresser?” he asked reaching into his bag before she could guess.

Between his pointer and middle finger, was a shiny wrapper with serrated edges. “Durex” was written all over the package and a prominent circle protruded out.

“You did not steal a condom from your father!” exclaimed Sally.

“I did” he smiled mischievously. “Don’t you want to see it?”

Johnny took the wrapper between his teeth and tugged on it until it tore. Clear liquid oozed out as he took out the ring from the pouch.

“It’s not as long as I was expecting it to be…” he said as he examined the ring.

“You’re supposed to stretch it out” Sally replied with her face scrunched up.

Together they pulled the condom apart, Johnny holding onto the stiffer ring structure and Sally pulling the tip out. They take a moment and look at the stretched condom.

“The Yellow Train is approaching the platform. Please step back and let passengers exit the doors before you enter the train.”

“Oh shoot!” Sally yelled, “That’s my train!” in a hurry, she tugged the condom from Johnny’s hand by accident and ran to the platform. Realizing she was running with a moist condom through the station, she flung it into the air hoping it wouldn’t hit anyone in the face. Her hair began to loosen from the tight pony tail, and with one last stride, she was able to jump onto the train before the doors closed, but not without losing her long navy blue ribbon that now lay limply on the floor outside of the train. A man in a black suit stepped on it while he was shouting loudly into his phone.

 

When Sarah was satisfied with her story, she looked up only to see a little girl staring at her from the window of a yellow train departing from the platform.

The One

Frank met Linda on a warm summer day at the local pool. Well, met isn’t the correct word. He saw her. He saw her from behind the wheel of his 1976 Jeep Cherokee. Her hair was longer then, legs leaner, soft porcelain skin. She had a youthful glow. Linda stood atop of a lifeguard stand, pointing at a bratty boy with sandy hair and bright blue swim trunks. It was then he knew—he had found the one.

It took several weeks of talking to himself in the mirror before he could introduce himself. He would stand there, shoulders back, and run his hand through his thinning hair line. There was nothing particularly handsome, but there wasn’t anything particularly damaging. Frank knew that he was an average man, but average was good. Average meant that he could just blend in. Frank enjoyed being able to blend it

Linda was the opposite. She was the life of the party, and although she didn’t have a very pretty face, all of the boys would crowd around her. Linda was eighteen and fresh out of high school. She hadn’t noticed Frank at first. He was just another older man who would come and lay out in the sun and doze off. Then, one day when she was switching out with Franny, Frank approached her. It was strange at first, but she took a liking to him. His eyes were soft and kind, and his voice was never raised. He was safe.

The two went to drive-in movies, shared milkshakes, swam in the shallow waters off the Florida Keys. They talked about the birds and the way the clouds moved across the sky. They talked about sea shells and the salt that collected on the back of leaves on white mangroves. They talked about how she felt stifled by her family and how she was never going to turn out like her mom.

Lately, Linda has been looking rather dull. Her hair has been shaved off, and her skin looks sickly. Scabs encrust her wrists and ankles. They fall off prematurely, and blood drips down onto the floor. Has it been several weeks, or months, or years? She’s not sure anymore. Her body aches, and she’s not sure if the last period she missed was because of the physical stress or if she’s pregnant again. She prays that she’s not—she doesn’t even know what happened to her last.

Frank is happy. He has a wife and a child, and there’s nothing more in the world he can ask for. Work has been steady, and although Linda gets on his case now and then, nothing can come between the love they have for one another. Afterall, he always knew she was the one.

 

8.12.17

I worry a lot

I worry about a lot of things, but mostly I worry about making my opinions public to the world. There is a part of me that comes up with so many stories I want to write and the opinions I have about certain things, but there is a deeply rooted concern about publishing those ideas online. On the one hand, I desperately want to talk to people about these topics and ideas, but on the other, I also don’t want to be crushed by public scrutiny. I know, I’m not perfect. No one is. Everyone is problematic, and as long as I grow and learn from mistakes and acknowledge them, it doesn’t seem like enough. I’m a huge advocate for learning about new things through dialogue and conversations, yet I’m really terrified of putting mine out into the universe. It’s easier to do it in person, but everything always seems so one-sided on the internet. There are obviously going to be trolls, assholes, and everything else. On a rational level, it’s easy to know that it doesn’t matter what strangers say to you, but it never truly changes how I feel. I just hope that one day, I’ll become think-skinned enough follow-through.