Sunday, February 22, 2009

Seriously messed up

MSNBC gives an update on ten-year-old Anna He, an American-born girl daughter of Chinese parents born in Tennessee when her father was studying at the University of Memphis.

Her parents ran into hard times stemming from a serious legal matter and the infant daughter was put into the care and legal custody of a Caucasian family, the Bakers, who later decided Anna's parents had essentially abandoned her and tried to adopt her.

The ensuing legal battle lasted until Anna was eight, but eventually Anna's biological parents got custody. Anna, her parents, and her American-born younger sister and younger brother all went back to China, where Anna is miserable, struggling in a boarding school where almost nobody speaks English. She has gone from a straight-A student to one getting C's and B's. Meanwhile, her biological parents are separated, with the mother accusing the father of infidelity and physical abuse. 

The saga of Anna He touches on a lot of different issues, including mistreatment of minorities and immigrants by the US court system, interracial adoption, the treatment of girls in China, etc. 

One wonders if Anna would have been better off had she stayed with the Bakers, the Caucasian family with no ties to China, the land of Anna's heritage. Or, for that matter, would she have been better off if the courts had treated Anna like a US citizen needing help instead of the daughter of non-immigrants on student visas. 

There are no easy answers, but now this poor girl is in a disastrous situation not at all of her own making. It's a case of too many people loving her but not enough really caring about her.

Similar issues are perennial concerns with Koreans and overseas adoptions. Are the children better off in a new environment with parents who have little or no understanding of their adoptive child's homeland, or should keeping them in Korea (or China, Vietnam, Romania, Russia, etc.) be a priority?

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