According To Addie

Angry adoptee

Tama Janowitz, My Canidate for Mother of the Year

Can you believe this wonderful woman has been blocking comments from adoptees?

I can’t either. It must be a mistake, so I’m going to allow adoptees to comment here.

The Real Thing

My husband Tim and I adopted our daughter Willow, who is now 12, from China when she was 9 months old. We were told by the adoption agency that once the process was complete and the three of us were back home, many people would stop to inquire about our daughter’s Mongolian features or why she did not look like us.

It may be that having a child of a different ethnic background from yourself is more difficult in other parts of the country. And certainly that may lead to problems. But In my neighborhood in Brooklyn I see black women with half-Asian, half-black kids and I see kids with dark skin and blond hair — the mother is white, the father is not. There are Indian fathers and Caucasian mothers with their offspring. There are families with two dads. There are also Hasidic families with ten kids and Muslim women dressed in full burkas who have dressed their daughters the same way.

So here in New York City, we haven’t attracted too much attention.

Well, O.K., sometimes.

It is true when she was a baby, if I took her out on my own, sometimes people did ask me, “Is the father Chinese?” If I said “yes” the usual response was “Good for you!” This puzzled me, so then I just said, “Either Chinese, or some black dude – who can remember?”

But as always, if you don’t have one kind of problem, you will automatically be given another.

There are more than enough for seconds! Even fifths!

One thing I figure, whether adopted, mixed race, religious, non-religious, whether your child is biological, whether you send her to Hebrew school or piano lessons – there is no one who does not resent his or her parents, We all have this in common. Indeed, it may be what makes us human.

Everyone feels they are doing the best possible job as a parent. But apart from the most obvious types of abuse, there is little that is clear-cut in regard to child rearing. Some discipline their kids and refuse to allow them to go to school dressed in a tutu. Others allow them to eat McDonald’s. Even if your house is tidy, this could be a mistake in child-rearing! So could being a vegetarian! Or serving meat!

A girlfriend who is now on the waiting list for a child from Ethiopia says that the talk of her adoption group is a recently published book in which many Midwestern Asian adoptees now entering their 30s and 40s complain bitterly about being treated as if they did not come from a different cultural background. They feel that this treatment was an attempt to blot out their differences, and because of this, they resent their adoptive parents.

So in a way it is kind of nice to know as a parent of a child, biological or otherwise – whatever you do is going to be wrong. Like I say to Willow: “Well, you know, if you were still in China you would be working in a factory for 14 hours a day with only limited bathroom breaks!”

And she says — as has been said by children since time immemorial — “So what, I don’t care. I would rather do that than be here anyway.”

My friend has a biological kid who said one day, “I hate you.” She cried and cried and told the child how deeply hurt she was.

I have heard those words, too, and my child is not biological. Like, I care? Hate me or love me, I am her mother and she knows it and since she is not getting a reaction out of me she almost immediately revises her opinion.

Is it my fault she is still angry because I kept coming home with another dog? I would have been thrilled, if I was a kid, to have six poodles! How was I supposed to know she would turn out to be the type who didn’t like dogs? And she says even if she did like dogs, she only likes mixed breeds!

“You should keep a list of everything I’ve done to you,” I have often suggested, “That way, later, you can read it to your therapist. Otherwise you might forget.”

Sometimes I think, Well, maybe I should be more of a disciplinarian. But what am I going to do, lock her in her room? She has an ensuite bath, a computer, cell phone and a Game Boy and if I say, I will take those away she says, “So what, who cares?”

Same with TV privileges. “Go watch TV!” I tell her.

“No, I don’t want to.”

“You will watch TV, young lady.” It’s no use.

I know that there are some women who have given birth who believe that the type of love they have for their child is more intense, more real, than the love I have for my kid, because they hatched it themselves. This argument makes no sense to me. After all, the fathers (until recently) never could be sure that it was their sperm that made them the dad.

You might as well say, “Listen, Daddy-O, you had ten minutes max of involvement in the creation biz, and you didn’t even get to pre-approve the winning sperm, And if your kid is the product of the fastest sperm in the bunch, that is just plain pitiful. How could you care about the child?”

However I would no more say this than ask someone with a baby if they were certain the father was human.

I also know women who never really bonded with their kid – biological, or adopted.

I figure, Willow, she’s my kid, she just got here differently. I don’t remember floating around in my mother’s womb, or coming out of the vaginal canal – but I still know that person is my mother, even if she is a little off.

And my kid knows I’m her real mother.

Not biological, but real. It doesn’t get any realer than this.

Have at it folks.


26 thoughts on “Tama Janowitz, My Canidate for Mother of the Year

  1. She’s trying to be all funny and cool, but she’s just an asshole.
    Contrary to popular belief, it’s people like HER that give adoption a bad name.

    Jeez, what a jerk.

  2. She’s not a real mother.

    She’s a real bitch.

    How in the hell does someone like that pass a homestudy? Oh yeah, because it’s not about the kids, it’s about the benjamins.

    Poor Willow. But she seems like a smart girl; no doubt she’ll leave this trash in the gutter where it belongs when she grows up.

  3. Pingback: The New York Times censors adult adoptees on adoption blog at Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture

  4. OK, since they quite taking comments this morning I can’t send these to Ms. Janowitz. So I guess it was kind of an exercise in futility.

    Oh well, so is the life of a bastard.

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  6. What a naive poor excuse for an adoptive parent. I’d rather be compared to Angelina Jolie than this woman ANYDAY.

    Her “joke”, if thats what she think’s it is, is a sick and horrible thing to say to her daughter. She wonders why her daughter screams “I hate you”.

    This comment: “Hate me or love me, I am her mother and she knows it and since she is not getting a reaction out of me she almost immediately revises her opinion.” bothered me too. She says that her daughter “revises her opinion”, but honestly, her daughter probably just gives up trying to get through to her thick headed mother. Poor child.

    I REALLY hope that Tana was having an off day when she wrote this piece. I would like to think most adoptive parents are much more culturally sensitive, but maybe I’m living in a fantasy.

    All I can do is keep reading and keep educating myself so that I can be a good mother to my children and NEVER say something so horrible to them.


    I feel so sorry for this adoptee. She’s going to be royally screwed in the head when this adopter is done with her.
    She certainly gives adopters a very very bad name.

  8. Goodness. Judgmental much, folks?

    Her sense of humor is different from yours and suddenly she’s an “abuser” and “not a real mother.” Your worlds all must be terribly sheltered, which I imagine must be nice at times, but doesn’t all that piety begin to itch after a while?

  9. Michelle,

    I’m sure you’re probably right, I’m sheltered enough to see taunting your child for fun and profit to be kind of low. I must just be over pious and out of touch. Is subjecting your child to this kind of thing considered good parenting these days? Hmmmmmm……..

  10. I lost count of how many times this psycho narcissist points out that her daughter is “mine.” I guess she can’t really see her as a human being, just as an object to use for the perpetuation of her insanity. Boy, don’t I wish I didn’t know what that was like. You can’t ever own a child.

  11. ddie and Anon,
    “Good parenting” and “owning a child” just seems to go together in this world of adoption.
    Just too sad for words.

  12. Tama is an author, peeps, so Willow is growing up in a urban literary household, she’s probably a precociously sensitive girl and not offended. I don’t think it naturally follows that Tama’s “not a real mother” or “a bitch” simply from what she writes. The relationship between a mother and daughter can emcompass irony and humor for those children mature enough to see it for what it is, it can for them be deemed a mark of resepct to be included on the humor, perhaps the profession, of their mother.

  13. Dammit, Joy you beat me to it.

    I guess I’ll just our relationship will just have to encompass the irony and humor of that.

    I find it kind of endearing that our Whoahorsey can use “peeps” and “precociously sensitive” all in one sentence, must be from a literary household. Huh?

  14. Like I say to Willow: “Well, you know, if you were still in China you would be working in a factory for 14 hours a day with only limited bathroom breaks!”

    Oh. My. Fucking. God.

    I could not read past this line. This is my first venture into adoption blogs for several months, and I think that phrase right there is enough to send me hiding back under my blanket. I can’t deal… Just. Can’t. Deal.

    Shaking head in pity for Willow and the thousands of others like her. Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting.

  15. Who are these potty mouthed mothers who are leaving comments! You have the right to say what you like, I just hope you all don’t use this kind of profanity in front of your kids. Who is the worse mother?

  16. Ok folks, here I go, probably in the line of fire. My take on this, as and Adoptive Mother of 3 and an Adoptee myself: The way I interpreted Tama’s article was that there are so many different schools fo thought on how to raise your child, adopted or not. No one really knows the right way. No matter what, we are all going to make mistakes and those mistakes will probably lead our kids to be angry at us later on in life (we were too lenient, too strict). If you don’t inundate your adopted child with his culture of origin you might be screwed at the end, and if you overcompensate all over the place by immersing them in their original culture this may have it’s own repurcussions. So, Tama was simply saying, in a gruff way, mind you, that we all make mistakes and this is what being a real mom is. Adoptive mom are not perfect and neither are bio moms. Also, I’ve noticed adoptive parents to be oversensitive about everything because they, or WE, have to PROVE our parenthood a bit more to others and ourselves.
    And you know what, I came from a poor Greek town before my adoption and my parents told me that my life would have probably been bleak, also if I hadn’t been adopted. There’s always a touch of insecurity on the part of adoptive parents that our children might pine for their situation of origin. I think everyone should just calm down.
    Now, start throwing stuff at me, i’m ready.

  17. What are you guys talking about? She sounds like she’s a typical NYC mother whose daughter is picking up on her style of humor and throwing it back at her, as she would expect. Tama is obsessing on whether she’s as a good mother as a biological mother, and she sees evidence all around her that she’s on par.
    Tama’s snarky comment about what her daughter’s life in China would be is, sadly, true. Tama might not even have said that to her daughter (remember, she’s paid to come up with text for the NY Times; get real, people) but it’s an entirely accurate statement. Do not judge it unless you’ve been around China for years and have a Chinese sister-in-law who will confirm. Reading the comments, I know most of you do not know China.

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