Monday, January 08, 2007

The latest on Paula Zahn and her update on China adoptions

Here's the transcript of what was in the show tonight. I still find this show to be less than satisfactory. My thoughts here are done on the fly... so I may have more to contribute later.

Let's see... so Moldanado has done some research into why people adopt the way they do. OK... I took a statistics class, and the first thing you learn is that you can make your research come out the way you want it to simply by how you phrase your questions. And if you have an agenda, you can inadvertently make your data show what you want it to by either phrasing your questions so that you get the answer you expect or by how you interpret the data. DUH!

Secondly, we are told by Mr. Martin that the definition of a racist is someone who has power over another. OH.... so, since I have no power over you, Mr. Martin or of any other person of color, I can use racist terminology and I'm not a racist, according to what you say.

I would love to know what obscure dictionary Mr. Martin uses to get his definitions of racism. Websters says racism is:

1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

Perhaps Mr. Martin's problem is that he doesn't think he's a racist because of his his liberal mind bent, which makes him so superior in his thinking that he can use racist terms because he's proving some murky, vague point (which was never really clarified for me, since all they did was use offensive terms about Chinese, hispanic, and AA children.)

Martin said that the comments were taken out of context - that they were joking and making their point by using these comments. I'll remember that it's "just a joke" when someone refers to "tar babies" being adopted domestically or make other offensive comments about children of a certain race or ethnicity. I guess it's okay to make offensive comments if you're liberal and of a minority race or ethnicity. I would be crucified if I went on a national TV program and did the same thing they did.

What is even more offensive to me is the reference by Uygur to the fact that Moldanado told him you get a discount for adopting African-American children. A discount????? Well, for those of us stupid enough to spend $20K for a Chinese adoption, we now find that an AA child is viewed as a blue-light special to these "experts". It's the liberals who treat these children as commodities.

These children are children. Children - human beings - with feelings and lives and futures, no matter where they are from. Why don't these "experts" talk in depth about what it really takes to adopt a child here in the U.S. No, Mr, Martin, depending on the route you take, it is not necessarily easy to adopt in the U.S. Not by a long shot.

At least Mr Uygur had the decency to apologize for his statements being "overbroad" in attributing race as the only factor in why people adopt from China.

Ugh.... these people have no shame.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No one knows for certain just how many Chinese kids don't have a family, but 23 of them live here in the New Day Foster Home, on the outskirts of Beijing. And all of these children have special needs.

Doug Bush from Alabama is one of the American volunteers who run the home.

DOUG BUSH, NEW DAY FOSTER HOME: These children are -- are being adopted, for the most part, by families in America. VAUSE: It's been like that since New Day opened six years ago. Kids stay here, on average, 18 months. In fact, for childless couples across the United States, China has been a blessing. But, by May, the open door to Chinese kids may be closing a little, with the communist government imposing tough new criteria for hopeful parents. They must not be morbidly obese, must not have any facial deformities, and must not take antidepressants.

They need to have a net worth of $80,000 or more, and need to married couples, age between 30 and 50 -- so, no more singles allowed.

BUSH: The regulations will limit some families that I believe would make good -- good parents. But I do understand the reason for them.

VAUSE: China says, the new rules are meant to find the best parents for their homeless children. And with anecdotal evidence suggesting the number of orphans is decreasing, the authorities here can afford to be choosy.

KATE WEDGWOOD, CHINA PROGRAM DIRECTOR, SAVE THE CHILDREN: They're more stringent than, say, Vietnam or Guatemala, but less stringent than South Korea. And I think it's very normal for countries to have certain restrictions.

VAUSE (on camera): According to the U.S. State Department, last year, almost 7,000 Chinese kids found new homes in the United States, the most number of adoptions from any one country. And the main reason for that, this system is centrally controlled. And that means it's relatively efficient. It's predictable. And everyone knows the rules.

(voice-over): And, when those rules change, it may mean that a family somewhere will miss out on giving one of these kids a new home and a new life.

John Vause, CNN, Beijing.


ZAHN: And, as I mentioned, we got thousands of e-mails about this segment. Here's why.

On Friday, we set out to talk about discrimination and the proposed regulations, but our panelists went in a different direction.

Here's what radio host Roland Martin said about adopting Chinese children.


ROLAND MARTIN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE CHICAGO DEFENDER": What's the big deal with Chinese children? Enlighten me, please. Help me out.


ZAHN: You understand this better than anybody. Why don't we see more Americans adopting black foster children?

MARTIN: Well, that's -- I mean, that's my point.

ZAHN: Hispanic children?

MARTIN: I mean, I'm trying to figure out, what's the big deal with Chinese children?


MARTIN: Why the infatuation?

ZAHN: Well, do you think it's something with the -- the color of their skin? Is that what you're driving at?

MARTIN: I -- I don't know. I'm -- or maybe they think they can adopt a smart kid or something who is going to grow up to be a doctor.


MARTIN: I don't know. All they need to realize, that that's called training, not just inherent; it is going to happen because just they're born.

Angel, can you help me out?

MALDONADO: Yes, absolutely.

I mean, this is something that I have been looking into for -- for a long time. Americans do have this love affair with girls from China. There is this belief, this perception, as irrational as it might be, that, if you adopt a little girl from China, she's going to be intelligent. She's going to be more lovable.

MARTIN: So, there's nothing...


MARTIN: ... porcelain doll?


ZAHN: Radio host Cenk Uygur saw the question from a Muslim perception, which became clear as our conversation continued.


MARTIN: What is the infatuation with -- by Americans and other foreigners when it comes to adopting Chinese children?

That -- I mean, but that -- that is a real issue there. (CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: And -- and why do we avoid other children, and not just -- children who are here in America, who are looking for homes, and who just...

ZAHN: All right.

MARTIN: ... who, just like Chinese orphans, want a nice place to live.


ZAHN: But , realistically, how are you ever going to change that bias?

CENK UYGUR, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, you know, I think a lot of people are looking for Muslim children these days.

ZAHN: Yeah, right.


UYGUR: Yes. And, you know, because we started the Iraq war, and there's so many orphans. I'm sure they're getting a lot of Iraqi children, right?


UYGUR: No, of course. They are doing it because they think it's cute, and they're going to be smart. And it's really dumb, actually, of course.

And, so, Roland is right. It's all in the training. And -- and -- and it's a shame, because there's a -- all over the world, there's other kids that need to be adopted, especially in Africa.


ZAHN: Sound like racism to you?

Well, it did to some of the people who wrote to us.

Here's what Karen had to say: "How can you allow guests to make blanket statements that parents who adopt from China only want porcelain dolls who are smart and well-behaved? The comments made by all three panelists clearly show that they are racists and ignorant about issues concerning adoption, adoptive parents, and U.S. citizens in general, not to mention Asian-American stereotypes."

Another e-mail, this one from Alice, reads: "Please help educate our wonderful country, instead of providing racist and negative stereotypes to international adoptive parents. Believe me, nobody goes through an international adoption to have a porcelain doll. We just want to be parents. It is a difficult, expensive, intrusive process that truly weeds out those who want to parent from those wanting a child for vanity."

And then we got this one from Laurie: "If CNN would have invited someone from the adoption community to participate on the panel, perhaps the show would have had actual substance, rather than becoming a forum for verbal bashing of the parents of international adoptees."

We're going to hear from Cenk Uygur and Roland Martin in just a little bit.

But, tonight, we are now going to hear from someone in the adoption community. One of the people who contacted us about Friday's segment is David Youtz. He is the president of the Greater New York Chapter of Families With Children From China. He and his wife have adopted four girls from China, including triplets, who joined the family just last year. And he has spent several years living in China, teaching English and learning Chinese. He joins me now.

Thank you so much for being with us.


ZAHN: Thank you.

So, how insulting did you find those stereotypes that you just heard among our panelists?

YOUTZ: Well, as you heard, it stirred people up.

I think the -- the real difficulty was not so much that they were acting racist. I think they thought they were being funny, and -- and doing sort of a quick look at adoption.

The difficulty is that adoption is a very complex thing. And it really has to do with what's good for the child. And it's often very complex and difficult, far more, I think, than your panelists realize, to go ahead and form a family through international adoption.

ZAHN: Do you concede, though, that some of the stereotypes that they address do exist among some Americans?

YOUTZ: No, I don't think so.

You know, I think the key point here is that what parents in the United States want to do is form a family. And race is really not what's going on. The reason many, many Americans -- there are now something like 55,000 children who have been adopted by Americans into -- from China into American homes.

The reason that's been so popular, I think, is really the process. The process in China is very predictable. It's very consistent. It's quite fair. When you enter into it as an adoptive parent, you know roughly how long that process will take, what the paperwork is that you need, the costs. And, you know, it's a very clear and dependable process. And that's exactly what you want as an adoptive parent.

ZAHN: So, is it a less dependable process than -- that -- when Roland Martin talks about the need for Americans to adopt black children here in -- in our own country?

YOUTZ: Right.

ZAHN: Are you saying the process is so onerous with their adoption, it's just much easier to go to China, and -- and bring those little kids home?

YOUTZ: Well, it's a very personal decision when a -- you know, an adoptive parent or a couple decide they want to do.

It's a very personal choice on which direction they go. And I absolutely applaud anyone who wants to go through a domestic adoption. There are thousands and thousands of children in foster care. And let's hope that as many as possible end up in great homes.

But, for an individual family deciding, you don't just say, I'm going to save this child or that child. It's really all about forming a family. It's not about rescuing someone. And I think that's where the panelists went astray.

Let's close with this e-mail from an adoptive parent. Her name is Alice. She says: "It is a disservice to label adoptive parents so shallow in their decisions. It is also a disservice to imply that Chinese children are always tainted" -- or -- excuse me -- "talented and gifted. It's one of the unfortunate Asian stereotypes that all Asians are smart and hardworking. Can you imagine the pressure and expectations this puts on less able Chinese children?"

Does she have a point there?

YOUTZ: Oh, absolutely. She's exactly on the money.

And that, I think, was what truly upset people, was the -- the program, which was supposed to, you know, burst stereotypes ended up pushing along old, tired stereotypes. Asian children are children. And we love them because they become members of our family. We don't want to deal with the stereotypes.

ZAHN: We appreciate your coming on.

YOUTZ: Thanks, Paula.

ZAHN: Hope you felt you were able to -- to get your piece tonight.

YOUTZ: I am. And I'm glad you listened to us. Thank you.

ZAHN: OK. Thank you.

We're committed to bringing intolerance out into the open on this show, even if it means holding up a mirror to some of our own feelings. In a minute, I'm going to be joined by an "Out in the Open" panel. It includes two of my guests from Friday's controversial discussion about adopting Chinese babies.

And, then a little bit later on, do parents have a right to stunt their daughter's growth because she's severely disabled, so it will be easier for them to take care of her?

We will be back with that debate.


ZAHN: Another story we're bringing into the open tonight, a national trend that's affecting many historically black neighborhoods -- in a little bit, the changing face of South Central Los Angeles.

First, we're going to bring out into the open the passionate response we got to our discussion Friday about our segment on China's new proposed adoption rules.

Some of the things our panelists said really touched a raw nerve, got a lot of people very upset, even accusing our panelists of racism. We got thousands of e-mails about the segment.

And joining me now, two members of Friday's panel, Roland Martin, executive editor of "The Chicago Defender" newspaper, host of "The Roland S. Martin Show," and Cenk Uygur, a host of "The Young Turks" on the Air America Radio Network. Also with me, Ginny Gong, president of the Organization of Chinese Americans.

Welcome, all.

I want to start off with an e-mail, Roland, that I would like you to respond to.

MARTIN: Mmm-hmm.

ZAHN: And it says: "To imply that we, as adoptive parents, adopt Chinese babies because they are smarter than other races or cuter than other cases is just simply wrong. To say it is in the 'in thing' to do is just insulting. To ask why we don't adopt Muslim children, well, it is against the law in Muslim countries. How crazy to even make such a strange statement, that we are afraid of what would happen in a chemistry class."

Roland, first of all, what do you say to the charges that you were a racist by saying some of what you said on Friday?

MARTIN: Well, first and foremost, anybody who knows that definition of what being a racist means, having power over someone, that wouldn't apply.

What we were talking about -- frankly, we were debunking the stereotypes, making fun of those stereotypes, people who do that. Now, Angel Maldonado from Seton Hall University, had the research. And what she said, there is evidence there of individuals who make adoptions based upon race.

And, so, anybody who watches that, the question I asked was, what is the infatuation in America with adopting Chinese children? She gave her response, in terms of based upon -- in terms of how some people feel about Chinese girls. We then took off on that particular statement. Now...

ZAHN: But didn't you also make it clear, Roland, that there seemed to be a preference of these -- these Chinese babies, one of our guests referring to them as porcelain dolls, over black kids?

MARTIN: Well, no, no -- right. I -- first of all, the porcelain dolls statement was still in response to Angel's comment about them being -- you know, being the -- the cute girls.

I raised that question because, again, I asked, OK, if there is such demand in America for Chinese children, then what about American children? Now, the guest that you had on the air, you asked him the question about whites adopting African-American children. What did he say? He said, well, that's a personal preference as to how people want to put together their family.

ZAHN: But -- but, to be perfectly fair, Roland, he also made it clear that -- that the process in China is much more predictable than the process perhaps in other countries. And -- and -- and, although he didn't say that, I think you could extrapolate from that -- that maybe it's -- it's sometimes, in much cases, much tougher to adopt an African-American child than a Chinese child.

MARTIN: Well, are -- are you meaning in America? Because, again...

ZAHN: In America.

MARTIN: Well, again, and so, I also have e-mails from people who have actually adopted kids in America, and they say, it -- it is not that -- as difficult.


MARTIN: And, so, again, you -- you have (INAUDIBLE) on both.

The point there, we were not criticizing individuals, everyone who adopts a Chinese kid. We were talking about people who do adopt based upon stereotypes. We're criticizing those stereotypes.

ZAHN: Do you plead guilty, Cenk, to impugning the -- impugning the motives of Americans who adopt children from China?

UYGUR: I'm a talk show host, Paula, so I'm never guilty of anything, and I'm never wrong.



Listen, there is...


ZAHN: It must be great to be perfect.


UYGUR: There are two separate issues here. The charges of racism, I think, are absolutely ridiculous. We were pointing out a false stereotype, and saying how false it was.

Now, on the other hand, if you -- is race a factor in some people's decision to adopt children in different countries or in this country? Absolutely, it is. It would be ridiculous to say that it isn't for anybody.

For example, off the air, Professor Maldonado was talking about how you get a 25 percent discount if you adopt an African-American child, someone who has any African-American blood in them in America. You get a 50 percent discount if they're fully African-American.

And that's -- to say that that is -- that there's no supply-and- demand issues, that there's no race issues there is ridiculous.

ZAHN: All right.

UYGUR: On the other hand, was I overbroad in saying that that -- implying, in my one sentence, that that was the sole factor? Absolutely.

I was overbroad -- I think overbroad, to the point of being wrong. I think there are a lot of factors involved. I think there are a lot of great people who do adoption for many good reasons. And God bless them for it.

ZAHN: He actually admitted...


GONG: ... that he was wrong.

You said you weren't going to admit that tonight at the -- at the top of this interview.


ZAHN: So, Ginny, the bottom line here is -- is, clearly, our panel struck a nerve.

Are you satisfied with both Roland's and Cenk's explanation, that -- that what this simply was, was a discussion about stereotypes people have had for a very long time about adopting various races of babies?

GONG: I don't -- I don't know if the issue is whether I'm satisfied, because, certainly, it's the parents, I think, that, really, it hit a nerve with.

You know, for me, creating a family is a very difficult decision to make. And a lot of it is just the process that David talked about. And, also, you know, I think there is some kind of a concern, maybe, that, if someone was adopted here, you know, what if, down the line, the parents emerge and decided that they, you know, wanted to claim the child back?

I certainly think that that's a factor as well. But the process is streamlined, in that on the -- that it was quite liberal and quite fair, and that, if you really wanted to go through this process, there was some predictability to it. And I think that that's a piece of it.

MARTIN: You know -- you know, Paula, I received some e-mails from different people, who also were exhibiting their stereotypes, saying they did not want some crackhead baby mama to come back and get their children.

I know of individuals who are very good friends of mine who have adopted, and they're -- in America, African-American children. And they were white, as well, who were not concerned with that, as well.

And, so, people have different reasons as to why they adopt.

GONG: Right.

MARTIN: Absolutely.

But people who adopt because they want adopt, they want to do a family, that's fine. But to deny that people -- that race doesn't -- is not a factor, and you -- you can say, well, I have never heard it.

The evidence is there. And, so, if someone was offended by it, I'm sorry they were offended by these -- these stereotypes. The key is, are we being honest as to how people adopt? There are people who, frankly, may be more comfortable adopting a Chinese child vs. an African-American or an Hispanic child.

And, if the issue is, again, streamlining the process in America, well, then, we can work towards that. But just to say, well, it's easier there than here, you know, you -- you have to really question that, because other people have done it, and they have -- and they have been very fine with their choices in America.

ZAHN: Roland Martin, we have got to leave it there.

Cenk Uygur, Ginny Gong, thank you, all.


ZAHN: Glad to have you all on board tonight.

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