Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Kinship Conference #5 – some pictures and a few comments

ASAC 2014 029 Below is a brief description of some of the activities I attended at the 5th conference of the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture. ASAC is the only adoption conference (outside of Bastard Nation’s) that I really enjoy and look forward two.  This is my third presentation.  I also presented at #1 at the University of Tampa, and #3 at MIT. . Getting into the intellectual side of adoption makes me look at things very differently, and if I had my druthers I’d be in academia.  And it’s a good bunch of people.

I fear I am not a good note taker or conference blogger, but I tried to get a couple lines in about most of the panels I attended. My own panel, Roundtable on Wayne Carp’s Jean Paton and the Struggle to Reform American Adoption was held late Saturday afternoon.  Members included Marianne Novy English, U. of Pittsburgh, Elizabeth Samuel, University School of Law, and of course Wayne, all discussing Jean Paton. My presentation was “A Radical Looks at a Radical.”  It’s in pretty rough form, but if I ever get around to fixing it up I’ll post it here.

I got a new digital camera and this was the first time I used it.  I had some trouble figuring it out, so the pictures aren’t all that great sometimes but I wanted to include them.


After three planes to get to Talahassee  I was  too tired to attend the Thursday evening poetry reading by Jackie Kay, so I started out the conference today. (Day 2–the first full day.)

Laura Briggs, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, U Mass, Amherst and the author of Somebody’s Children: The Politics of Transracial and Transnational Adoption blew it right out of  the water with her address:  “From Baby Veronica to CHIFF: Questions of Power, Race  and Justice in Transracial and Transnational Adoption.  “”Adoption is a very cynical solution” to the needs of the world’s children.”  I first met Laura at ASAC at Tampa and admire her work tremendously.  It’s people like Laura who make this fight worthwhile. And she also gave a shout out to Bastard Nation!

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Laura Briggs: “You can’t possibly have a system of adoption that excludes the possibility of abuse.”

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Friday morning started out with Kathryn Mariner, Anthology, U. of Chicago, giving a fascinating discussion of adoptive parent preparation and “education.”  Adoption is more than a journey; it’s become a New Age experience. Spa music, meditation, breathing exercises, adoptin doulas, infertility coaches.   I had no idea waiting for baybee is so stressful.  No, three’s more to adoption preparation than that, but this is what will stick with me.It’s a good thing I wa adopted when I was, since my dad would certainly have walked out on it.

Sayres Rudy, Political Science ,Bryn Mawr, College, “You Must be So Sad: : Flesh and Blood Liberalism, Compulsory Adoptee Nostalgia, and (Bio)Political Conduct.” .  The title of this presentation alone was enough to make me attend. I was glad to learn I’m not the only one who never fantasized about what my life “should” have been. . Loss is taught; you know loss, but don’t feel it.” I am not a sociopath, and neither is Sayres.

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Sayres Rudy and Kathryn Mariner

Next up:  Sara Fieldson, History, Yeshiva University, “Parent to the World: American Child Sponsorshup Programs in the Cold War Era.:  I knew little about the history of international adoption, so this was a grewt  IA  101 primer. Seems IA has a long and ideological history in the US.  Adoption  v Guns.Adoptoin promotes democracy.  US government ill-equipped to create family bonds but NGO’s were well positioned. to do so.   Ties to the US will be created by parents who love their children and send them here.

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Sara Fieldson:.  The Communists made us adopt:  Americans build families. Communists destroy them.

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Child Sponsorsip and American Global Power

Ming-Syuan Jhong, History Texas Tech, (title different that what appeared in program, and I don’t have the exact title now.  Discussion of lawsuits brought by biological parents s to return Vietnamese children brought to US during Operation Babylift.

Gretchen Sisson, Sociology, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, U. of California at San Francisco. “Narratives of Adoption Redemption in Anti-Abortion Media.” Analysis of Aoption-abortion  in film and TV.  Adoptino compensates for other losses (death of friend, abortion); adoptee as replacement; karmic reshuffling. Anti-abortion movies are really bad.

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Ming-Syuan Jhong, Sara Fieldson, and Gretchen Sisson.

LUNCH with

Wayne Carp, author of Jean Peyton and the Struggle to Reform American Adoptiond LeAnne Field, U. of Michigan Press

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Phyllis Charles, Child Welfare Information Gateway, US Children’s Bureau


Emily Hipchen, author of Coming Apart Together

Emily Hipchen, English, U. of West Georgia, author of adoption memoir, “Coming Apart Together”

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Eric Walker, ASAC conference director, Chair, English Dept, Florida State


Kim Park Nelson, American Multicultural Studies, Minnesota State University Moorhead. “War Orphans and Helping Ourselves with an Analysis of American Newspaper Coverage of Korean Adoption from 1952.”  Presentation of Park Nelson’s study of news accounts and changing narratives in IA in selected cities.  Rescue (war, cold war, disability); celebration of multiculturalism to transnational consumerism. “Adoption enriches yourself.”

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Kim Park Nelson

Jae Ran Kim, Social Work, University of Minnesota, “Narratives of Rescue and Assimilation.”  I apologize Jae Ran.  I can’t read my notes on  most of your  presentation. My handwriting llooks like I was writing with my left hand, though I wasn’t.

Kimberley McKee and Jae Ran Kim

Kimberley McKee and Jae Ran Kim

Kimberly McKee, Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies, Grinnell College, “Le’ts Not Get Hysterical: Was He Ever Her Father?”  Great deconstruction of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen claims (both have serious problems!) and Son Yi.  Redefinition of incest as molestation by psychological family member.

Banquet with

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Elizabeth Samuels, University of Baltimore School of Law, LeAnn Fields


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Joyce McQuire Pavao, Pre–Post Adoption Consulting and Training, Cambridge, MA.

Bonus for Bastard Natiionals:  Florida State Men in Kilts

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I’m going to Jacksonville tomorrow to spend some time with my sister and her family, and will return home by Greyhound.  THAT’s how much I hate to fly–or rather how much I hate the airport experience.

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