API(A) Visibility Project (set 1 of 6)
The Asian Pacific Islander (American), API(A) Visibility Project seeks to dispel stereotypes and myths targeting Asian Americans that continue to marginalize, oppress, and ultimately invisibilize the current condition of Asian Americans. We hope that this project will open the eyes of its viewers and challenge how people view and think of Asian Americans.
The participants in the project are current API(A) identified undergraduate students and professors at the University Of California, Davis.
The project is led by BRIDGE: Pilipin@ Outreach & Retention at the Student Recruitment and Retention Center (SRRC), in partnership with the Cross Cultural Center at UC Davis for the annual Asian Pacific Culture Week (APCW).
Hey! Found this Tumblr and wanted to know if any of you were in my situation!!
**Asian adoptees who might have been adopted into another Asian culture and struggle to keep identity and history present.
Hey! I was born in China and adopted at 15 months to a Filipino mom and an American dad. Most of my life, I have grown up Filipino. about 90% of my friends are Filipino, my family is Filipino, my culture is Filipino. However, as I am introduced to many new people every day, the answer of “What is your nationality?” becomes harder and harder. Yes, I am Chinese. I can speak Mandarin and know the culture and food well. But I might consider myself Filipino. My friends (even the Chinese and Pinoy ones) consider me Filipino. I speak Tagalog, I eat Filipino food every day, I simply love the Philippines and everything about it. Often, I answer that I am a Chinese Filipino. Other times, I just say I’m Chinese. While it is important to keep birth history alive, it is also imperative that we (I) maintain the culture and ethnicity of the country that embraced you as its own without losing your roots.
On January 24th, 1990, I was abandoned as a newborn in the village of Mabuli in the municipality of Tabogon on the island of Cebu, Philippines. I was immediately placed in the Department of Social Welfare Childrens’ Shelter in Cebu City and stayed there for two years. Then, I was placed in the Torres foster family home where I lived for one year. At age 3, I was adopted through Bethany Christian Adoption Services into a white Caucasian American family in Metro Detroit, Michigan. My story contrasts with that of many Asian adoptees. My unique stature as an adopted Filipino American in Michigan has met struggles with racism and clashing values, reconciliation of cultural identities, and finding value of the existences of ethnic and cultural spaces. Currently, I work within the Filipino and Asian Pacific Islander communities.
Goals: The full-length documentary will encompass the development of my identity through the demographics and cultural spaces within the Detroit area, its positive aspects, and my firsthand experience in the Philippines being a Filipino adoptee; it contrasts with the socio-cultural stories of other Asian adoptions, which are often Korean or Chinese. Adoption has many different aspects that many people do not take into consideration. These include personal history of the adoptive child, prior ties to the birth mother or parents, the ties to the adoptive parents, nature vs. nurture, and larger socio-cultural histories that involve the adoptive child’s heritage/ethnic background. I’ll also highlight many critiques that do not reflect upon adoptive families but more so societies’ perceptions about adoption.
“One who doesn’t look back at where he or she came from will never get to his or her destination.” ~Jose Rizal, Philippine National Hero
Not only do I plan on making this documentary to create a perspective and story with Asian adoptions and non-Asian adoptions, but I would also like to share my story with those who have had similar identity struggles as me. Prior to the trip will incorporate attending Filipino Heritage Camp as a third year returning camp counselor for Filipino Adoptees. During my trip to the Philippines I’ll be meeting my foster family, the Torres family, for the very first time after 20 years and I will be searching for my birth family. There will also be testimonials of adoptive relatives, foster family, friends who I have grown up with, and mentors who have watched the evolution of my identities. I will be accompanied by Lorial Crowder, founder of the non-profit Filipino Adoptees Network, who will provide emotional support. As an educator and mentor in the Philippine-American community I teach a class known as Filipino Youth Initiative (FYI) which was founded by the Filipino American National Historical Society-Michigan Chapter (FANHS-MI). I am also a member of FANHS-MI.
Mentees learn and challenge their self reflection of identity, acknowledging and learning about ones’ roots and socio-cultural history, and the investigation of personal history through family interviews and storytelling. The goal for FYI class is the culmination in clarifying my students’ identities as Filipino Americans (FilAm). As an adoptee I find these elements from the class to be a large asset in my documentary. Prior to teaching and mentoring in the Philippine-American community, I was a student and mentee. Taking this class that was offered in the Filipino American community really helped me create a better understanding of what it means to be “Filipino”, and how, regardless of my adoption, bits and pieces of my life experience largely compares to the Filipino-American experience rather than contrast.
This documentary will, in part, be my story telling experience of how I reconciled my identities. I will do all the filming and editing. My travel time in the Philippines is estimated from August 6th- August 27th.
Last words: My lifelong question is one that is always reflected back at me when I see myself. One of the core-hitting aspects of this documentary to be.
I am currently in pre-production with my film, gathering snippets and pieces of some of the work I do in the Filipino-American and Asian-American communities here in Michigan. I am still a college student and always wanted to do a birth family search and reconnect with my foster family since I was a child. Before, I did not know that my foster family was still alive. Because of my involvement in the Filipino-American community, community members helped me find them through their connections to the Philippines. This project will be a much larger undertaking than I first conceived. What I first thought would be fairly easy will require a little more help. I’ll need help with a laptop because the one I have is unreliable in the poor condition it is in. Also, quality video editing software will provide with the best quality for the documentary I’ll be making. Travel expenses such as roundtrip airfare to the Filipino Heritage Camp which I will be attending in Colorado and then to the Philippines. Other expenses will be food and lodging, and between island travel. Most of the time I will be filming in Manila and the island of Cebu, my birth place. This trip is part of the “motherland tour” with the Filipino Adoptees Network (FAN); however, for those who would like to partake in a birth family search, which I’ll be doing, may do so and will be aided by the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB). When I finish this documentary, I hope to be able to aid in the distribution of my DVDs with whatever funds I have left. Your support will bring all of this to reality and is greatly appreciated! Risks and Challenges: Without your support and help in raising enough funds for my project, I will potentially be unable to complete my project and documentary. If I am able to reach my potential goal, the challenge becomes, like many adoption stories, coming back empty handed and still left with the same questions about my birth family. As painful as that potential outcome may be, knowing that I had all of your support in making this goal a reality and allowing me to share my story will make everything worthwhile. I thank you in advance for your support and I look forward to this next step in my documentary goals.
Risks and challengesLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
Potential risks and challenges will be promoting my project in a short amount of time. I plan on attending attending Filipino Heritage Camp just prior to the Motherland trip this August. This Kickstarter has been pushed back a month or two due to having my debit card delayed in coming in the mail.
Another risk is if I raise enough funds for this project and I am unable to purchase an airfare in time to Filipino Heritage Camp in Colorado and then to the Philippines.
Lastly, is the challenge of promoting my project. Also that I am still a college student as well and a Social Work major. I have left out chunks of information because I would like it to be presented in the documentary itself. However, I have made it apparent of the community work that I do which is described within the project description.
http://t.co/MtdLmGfDLc This is my Kickstarter. I am funding my documentary about my birth family search & importance ethnic spaces.— James Beni Wilson (@JamesBeniWilson) June 20, 2013
Q:Adopted at 10 months old and ever single day I feel as if it was my fault. I did something wrong to not want my parents to keep me. I don't know anything about me and I hate it. I self harm and I've come to the conclusion is that that's why. I have no one to connect to and talk to.
Q:Hi, I just discovered this blog. I'm Chinese and was adopted at 9 months. I live in the US. I won't give my life's story but just something I realized recently about being adopted. Even though I have no emotional/cultural/etc. connection with my birth parents or Chinese culture and I've never felt unloved by my parents or ANY of that stuff, it turns out that even despite all my beliefs I still ended up trying to be "the best child ever" for my parents like I felt guilty. Anybody else?
Students of color are allowed to enter the classroom but never on an equal footing. When they walk in, they are subject to the same racial stereotypes and expectations that exist in the larger society. Students of color do not have the advantage of walking into a classroom as individuals; they walk in as black, brown, or red persons with all the connotations such racialization raises in the classroom. They do not walk into a classroom where the curriculum embraces their histories. They walk into a classroom where their histories and cultures are distorted, where they feel confused about their own identities, vulnerabilities, and oppressions. There is no level of liberal reforms that can alter these experiences for students of color without directly challenging the larger systems in society.
My story is unique, yet it is nothing new.
Born almost 26 years ago, in a small clinic outside the bustling city of Seoul, a young woman gave birth to me. Less than three pounds in weight, two months early (I suppose this was a good indication of how I’d be later in life - I’m so impatient!), I was certainly not an easy burden to bear. According to the file I’ve read time and time again, my biological mother was somewhere around 21-years-old, single, and unwed. She was 5’0” and 110 pounds. She met my biological father and, under the guise of having a future together, had a whirlwind romance that ended when he left her - and left her with me, growing inside of her. He was tall, and skinny, and spoke in a traditional Seoul dialect, so the paper says. I’ve never thought much about him.
She wore no sort of physical binding to conceal her pregnancy, and she suffered no morning sickness - something that always seemed like a glimmer of hope for me when I finally decide to have children. I always grew up with the understanding that my name, Chae-Won, was one she had given me, but I believe the adoption agency in South Korea gave me that name. I don’t know what she called me or if she called me anything at all.
I was put into foster care two months after being born, two months in which I can only assume my birth mother tried to take care of me and nurse me to health. My foster mother fed me, gave me things like tangerine juice, and saved me from succumbing to pneumonia. In the first picture my parents received of me, the hair at the top-rear of my head is sticking in every direction having been shaved to insert an IV due to the pneumonia.
My siblings and parents have often told me their versions of the story. My sister was nine, my brother was seven. Their accounts are somewhat different than my parents, but all of them recall the day they received my picture in the mail. I was tiny, my eyes almond-shaped and large with fright, placed on a tiny black-and-gold throne. At my feet, a placard read, “Kim, Chae-Won:” it was one of the only mementos of my Korean life I had with me when I finally arrived on January 15, 1988.
Growing up wasn’t necessarily easy when it came to being “different.” The only Asian child for most of my elementary school years meant a lot of unnecessary questions (the common “Who are your REAL parents?” amongst others), bullying (“The only reason you’re adopted is because your REAL parents didn’t love you!”), and general confusion at the fact that my parents were white. Maybe it’s only in retrospect, but I’ve always thought it is easier to spot an adopted child than it is an adopted adolescent or adult. I remember walking with my dad in the city once as a teenager, and I remember the amount of disgusted, horrified stares we got because people assumed this older, white gentleman was dating a young, teenage Asian girl. But when you’re a child, Asian, and with parents who are a different race, it seems generally understood that you’re adopted.
I’ve been met with a lot of insensitively curious people who come up to me out of the blue and ask me where I’m from. I usually respond with, “New York.” Then they retort with, “No, where are you REALLY from?” Never being one to lie, I will usually oblige with, “South Korea.” While I understand that we tend to have a natural curiosity about our fellow human beings, the question gets old very quickly. Why can’t you just accept that I may not be from another country, just because I look different than you? For other Asians who ask me where I’m from, I understand that they are trying to establish a connection, a rapport based on similar origins. But I am afraid I can’t offer much in that realm since I know only a handful of words in Korean, have no knowledge of Korean culture, and am really alienated from the country in which I was born.
For fellow adoptees, I would like to say that you may come to a point in your life where you question your entire existence. I know that this journey started for me when I was about sixteen years old. I finally began to wonder about my biological family, where I fit in, where I belonged. I have yet to find the answers to those questions, but I am beginning to understand and accept that maybe there aren’t answers. Maybe, for adopted children or bi-racial children, there is no ONE place for us to fit in. Maybe we’re an amalgamation of different cultures, different people, and maybe that’s completely okay. Maybe the rest of the world hasn’t caught up to the idea that we don’t have to fit into a neat, little box - that we can be a mosaic of cultures, and a beautiful one at that. Whenever this journey starts for you, I wish for you peace. I wish for you acceptance. I wish for you strength and happiness. The world will try to take those things away from you; please, don’t ever let them.
For adoptive parents, I want to stress to you that you have know your children will face struggles. They will question their identities. And it doesn’t mean that they don’t love you, respect you, or want to be a part of your - THEIR - family. Please be supportive of them as they discover the meaning of who They are. And please acknowledge the fact that yes, they are different. They were born somewhere else, they are a different race, they will experience things you will never understand first-hand. Be there for them. Love them regardless. But don’t be color-blind. Don’t pretend like they are the same as you, because they aren’t. Acknowledge that they will deal with ignorant people (like the man who argued that my sister and I couldn’t be sisters because we didn’t look alike), but that they can still be a whole person. Support them on their journey, on their exploration of the world and the world according to them. Don’t be afraid when they want to know where they’ve come from or the woman who gave them away. Hug them when they cry about feeling abandoned. Love them all the same.