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“Discrimination and stereotypes toward specific Asian and Pacific Islander groups exist, and are manifest in the preferences of adopting families. Prejudice towards whites…ranges from subtle to blatant.” My Conversation With Charlie de Morais Teixeira

If you haven’t noticed, I have a love/hate relationship with Minnesota. I’m leaning toward the hater side this week, especially after my talk with Charlie de Morais Teixeira and this relentless weather. I need Land of Gazillion Adoptees – Hawai’i! You know, like they do on the TV with all of those CSI shows. My wife, I’m sure, would be happy with a commuter marriage, right?  Yeah… Not happening. *sigh*

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Land of Gazillion Adoptees: You live in Hawai’i. Would you mind describing your lovely state to us folks who live here in the tundra?

Charlie: Beyond the endless rainbows and hypnotic crashing waves, Hawai’i is the place  where many Asian American transplants say they like to live because they don’t “stick out.” When folks ask us where we’re from, for example, they’re asking from where on the mainland do we hail.

With that said, however, racism persists in the rainbow state. Discrimination and stereotypes toward specific Asian and Pacific Islander groups exist, and are manifest in the preferences of adopting families. Prejudice towards whites (or haoles, as they’re called locally) ranges from subtle to blatant.

But if you’re looking just to have fun, Korean Adoptees of Hawai’i (KAHI) can bring you to the spiciest Korean eats and to the softest of sands. So please be sure to look us up if you’re coming here!

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: You’re working on an interesting research project. Would you mind giving an overview?

Charlie: The birth of this project – looking at adult transnational adoptees and their American parents – came from my oft-strained and estranged relations with my own parents. The project seeks to interview adults per se because they will bring a broader perspective (from childhood through adolescence to adulthood, and for some on to parenthood) with regards to adoption, racial/ethnic, and cultural identity.

Via our on-line survey and through collecting oral histories, my mother and I have been asking how families have negotiated these changing/evolving understandings. Some of the questions we’re searching for are:

  • Would a child growing up in Hawai’i have a profoundly different experience than a child growing up in Michigan (as I did)?
  • What resources have been available to parents?
  • How did adoptees and parents find “peace” with themselves and between each other?

At the very least, we hope this project will help make other adoptees and parents feel less alone. I sincerely thank KAHI, our primary sponsor, and the numerous individuals who have helped us and contributed all the way.

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: How can MN adoptees get involved?

Charlie: It would be great if MN adoptees could continue to spread the word about our project. So far, we’ve collected 350 surveys and our big goal is 500. We’ll also be coming to MN in 2012.  So, if people are interested in being interviewed, they could contact us. Finally, I would hope that the MN adoptee community would continue to be collaborative with all of the various research and writing projects going on. It’s exciting times!

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Awesome.  Thanks, Charlie!  And to you, dear reader, please feel free to reach out to Charlie through the project website, which can be found here.  Otherwise, Charlie is currently in the mainland and will be at the KAAN Conference next week.  Seek her out in person if you’re in Atlanta for the shindig. And if you haven’t filled out the survey, I encourage you to do so. I have, and it’s very user-friendly and straightforward.

Peace out.

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