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Asian Orphan Diasporas – 55,000 little girls, born in China, growing up in North America

Posted March 27, 2006 by Jean Miyake Downey

Recently I went to a heart-rending talk by Fern Schumer Chapman, author of Motherland: Beyond the Holocaust: A Daughter's Journey to Reclaim the Past, about her relationship with her mother and their journey to reconnect with their family history in Germany. Her mother was a Holocaust orphan, one of thousands of Jewish children sent away by their parents, who were unable to also immigrate themselves because very few countries (count out the United States and Australia – the latter cited not anti-Semitism, but the fear of anti-Semitism developing in Australia as the reason for rejecting Jews) would accept Jews. The children on the "Kindertransport," organized by the British Jewish Refugee Committee, now adults in their 70's and 80's, ended up in any country that would accept them. Many passed the trauma of family and cultural separation down to their own children. Later, attempting to help heal themselves and each other, they formed ongoing support groups that are still documenting collective and individual histories.

Chapman's memoir doesn't only resonate with descendants of European Holocaust orphans, but with international adoptees throughout the world. They are turning to the stories of each other's geographical and psychological journeys, to make sense of the emotions that accompany separation from their "motherlands," and many other related issues, submerged during childhood, that come up later, often in layers over time, calling out for attention, integration, and healing.

International adoption, especially in the United States, is one of the smaller engines in global multicultural social change. And most of this migratory movement is from Asia to North America....

....There are even more difficult issues that accompany cross-border adoptions, including the illegal trafficking of babies for adoption and the rights of the children being affected by these movements. For a discussion of these larger and interrelated political, legal, moral, and cultural issues, the website of the International Reference Centre for the Rights of Children Deprived of Their Family (ISS/IRC), a program created by the General Secretariat of the International Social Service (ISS), has an excellent overview....

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