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The Colour of Difference

The Colour of Difference

Journeys in transracial adoption

Edited by Sarah Armstrong and Petrina Slaytor

CONTENTSREVIEWSEXTRACTS

Accounts of the experience of cross-cultural adoption, by adoptees. These accounts are introduced by Sarah Armstrong, who introduces the project, the issues around cross-cultural adoption, themes arising through the first person accounts and provides statistics on the scale of cross-cultural adoption.

"The aim of the project was to draw together the experiences of both Australian-born transracial adoptees and intercountry adoptees ... Of the nine Australian-born adoptees, there were those of Aboriginal, Chinese, Maori, African, Spanish descent. The countries of origin for the 18 intercountry adoptees were Vietnam, Bangladesh, Fiji, New Zealand (Maori), Burundi, Korea, Colombia, Sri Lanka, India and Canada (North American Indian).

The writing of The Colour of Difference has been about discovery and openness and not about blame. The adoptees who gave their stories to us so generously and honestly, with all their various experiences of adoption, wanted the book to be a positive and true reflection of their lives in Australia. Some of them, as you will read, had experienced unkindness or abuse in their adoptive families. The majority had been treated with love and real efforts had been made to incorporate them and their culture into the adoptive family. The participants, as a group, said that they were 'just trying to be honest' in writing their stories, not trying to blame their adoptive families, who were generally perceived to be 'doing their best'. ...
The participants of this book are keenly aware of how their lives might have been. They bear the burden of gratefulness, often to parents who would be appalled to think that their children feel such an emotion. In the public eye, this kind of adoption was, and perhaps still is, a 'good thing' to have done, an altruistic gesture. The New South Wales Law Reform Commission, in their Report 81: Review of the Adoption of Children Act 1965 (NSW) state:

Approaching intercountry adoption as a form of aid carries with it a danger of placing on the child an implied burden of being grateful for having been 'saved'. This can lead to a situation in which the child may feel that his gratitude can never equal what has been done for him and the debt becomes impossible to repay."

-- Taken from the Introduction.

Post Adoption Resource Centre
The Post Adoption Resource Centre (PARC), a service of The Benevolent Society, is a Sydney based counselling and information service for people affected by adoption in New South Wales, throughout Australia and internationally. PARC was established in 1991 to coincide with the implementation of the New South Wales Adoption Information Act (1990), which gave rights to information and contact to adoptees and birth relatives. Since that time, PARC has conducted more than 43,000 telephone counselling calls and has provided direct counselling, intermediary and groupwork services to a further 13,000 people. PARC's services are available to anyone affected by adoption.


CONTENTS

Acknowledgements
About the Post Adoption Resource Centre
List of Contributors
Glossary

Introduction
Amara
Analee
Anne-Louise
Bev
Binta
Buffy
Cecily
Damian
Daniel
Dario
Deborah
Erika
Helen
Jane
Janice
Jenny
Joe
Kim
Kynan
Maggie
Michael
Ngita
Nina
Olivia
Rashida
Sam
Ungh-Thanh

Appendix A
Reading List/ Contacts List

REVIEWS

An important book. It makes a vital and indeed unique contribution to what is as yet a somewhat limited literature …
The book is engrossing from the first page to the last, conveying as it does moving and at times disturbing stories of the personal journeys of people, adopted as infants, some born in third world countries or born in Australia of parents of other cultures. The book goes right to the heart of the experiences of the 27 adopted people who are its subject. …
The great value of the book is that no one reading it will ever again be able to assume that intercountry or transracial adoption is a simple matter of placing needy children from a third world country or from another culture, where their roots are deep, with parents willing to love them and give them a good home in Australia thereafter to live "happy ever after". To prospective adoptive parents the book will give an invaluable insight and understanding of the needs and feelings of children adopted under these circumstances. …
The success of the book rests on the courage of the adoptees in telling their intimate stories and the skill of the telling …

Australian Social Workers Journal, 2002

This powerful book is filled with poignant tales of love, rejection and discovery. … The 27 adoptees each give voice to a unique experience related to adoption into a family of a different racial background, including the trials and tribulations along the way. … The authors capture the essence of their experiences, which will undoubtedly help others who are going through a similar experience.
I would recommend this book to social workers, health care providers, therapists and anyone interested in adoption. People who have been through the adoption process will also enjoy this reader-friendly book as an outlet for unresolved issues and as a validation to how important each of us are in this world.

Journal of Family Studies, October 2002

A valuable and ground-breaking text that fills an important gap in the existing literature. … The Colour of Difference provides invaluable insights into the experience of transracial adoption. Written in accessible form, the book is highly recommended for transracially adopted teenagers and adults as well as the host of professionals and adoptive parents with an interest in transracial adoption. As Ungh-Thanh, a Vietnamese intercountry adoptee, states: 'Hopefully this book will allow other interracial adoptees to feel that there are those of us out there who understand what you feel. You are not alone.' (p.188) I only wish that there existed a UK equivalent written by UK-based transracially adopted adults. Until that time, I advocate reading this book …

Adoption and Fostering UK, 2002


EXTRACTS

Daniel's story

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Cecily's story

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Published September 2001
Publisher The Federation Press
Paperback/210pp
ISBN 9781862873971
Australian RRP $29.95
Direct Price $27.50
International Price $27.50
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