Friday, October 15, 2010

Being Adopted & Latina in the U.S.

You may, by now, have heard about the 13 year old girl from Florida who has been accused of putting insecticide in the food consumed by family members.  She has been arrested and is in a treatment facility.  Her family adopted her four years ago from Mexico.  When reading various news sources, I can't help but notice how insensitively this issue has been handled in the media.

The most notable things about how this issue is being discussed in the news are:
  • Some have referred to her as "a Mexican girl" while also discussing deportation in the same article.
  • Her "adopted" label is used frequently and her relationship with this family is constantly qualified with adoption.
  • The list of the family's good deeds towards this child are spelled out (adopting her after she was "abandoned" in Mexico, sending her to a private school, and "provided love and a home for the girl" (Fox News).
Yes, she is Mexican.  But she is also a United States citizen.  Referring to her as "a Mexican girl" and then noting that she cannot be deported because adoption made her a citizen has gived license to hateful comments in response both about race and adoption.  Online commenters have speculated that adoption from Mexico is some sort of scheme developed by this child to legally "hop the border."  Other online commenters wonder why adoption is standing in the way of her being sent back.

To me, the fact that she is adopted being repeatedly mentioned and that her status within this family being qualified with adoption has little to do with just letting readers know some facts about her life and more to do with associating and explaining her harmful behavior with being adopted.  Few online commenters on the articles I've read needed further explanation before diving into judgmental, generalizing remarks about adopted persons.

The lists of good deeds by her family only to be met with deviance from this child?  Only gives way to more "adoptees need to be grateful they were saved" comments.

Adoptees are being put in a position to not only be seen as abnormal individuals for being adopted but also are being put into a country who will treat them differently based on their race or ethnicity.  It bothers me that on one side of adoption, there are people starry eyed, proclaiming "race doesn't matter!" "Being adopted doesn't matter!"  "Get over it!"  Yet the second an adoptee, specifically one belonging to a racial minority group in the U.S., does something wrong, racist and adoptist remarks fly left and right.

How rude, racist, and adoptist can society be before it's allowed to "matter" to us?