An Asian American woman has thoughts about comments made by Kelly Ripa regarding actress Lana Condor’s adoption.
On May 11, Isla Vu (@findingvu), a Vietnamese American adoptee, posted a video on TikTok about her thoughts regarding a past interview between Kelly Ripa, Ryan Seacrest and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” actress Lana Condor during an episode of Live with Kelly and Ryan in 2021.
During the segment, Condor details her adoption and reveals that she and her brother, Arthur Condor, were adopted from Vietnam at “a really young age and brought to America.” Before COVID-19 hit, Condor had the opportunity to work with Michelle Obama’s foundation in Vietnam. Condor brought her family along on the trip and they ended up visiting the orphanage she and her brother are from.
Ripa responded to Condor’s story, saying that she was “very choked up about this.”
“They must look at you and just think, ‘My goodness, so much started right here, in this place where, you know, there’s so much hopelessness in the world, and yet so much hope to come out of that orphanage,” Ripa said. “And they knew the moment they saw you, right? It’s like you were born for them. You were just waiting.”
Vu recently shared her thoughts about the interview, namely Ripa’s comments. Before sharing her perspective, Vu acknowledges that Condor’s adoption experience is rightfully her own.
“This is in no way a criticism of Lana Condor and her adoption story and her perception on adoption,” Vu disclaims. “I just want to bring awareness to why conversations like this can feed the misperception that we have painted surrounding adoption.”
‘Adoption is trauma. Separation from biological parents is often trauma.’
“I realize that a lot of adoptive parents have this spiritual awakening and realization when they adopt children where they feel like it is just, it was meant to be and it was their calling and therefore the happenstance that this child just so happened to be on the market at the same time they were ready to be parents must mean it was some divine intervention and destiny and the universe put this child in their path for them,” she explains.
The reality is, a child’s displacement can actually be quite traumatic.
“Often, children who are displaced and torn from their families are done so under very traumatic circumstances,” she continues. “And it is important for us to change how we talk about adoption and the pictures we paint about adoption because we are setting ourselves up and future parents up for failure when we pretend that adoption is just rainbows and sunshine and happy ending stories.”
In a 2022 study, Dominic McSherry of Ulster University’s School of Psychology explored the correlation between adoption and psychological trauma, with regard to the “current debate in the field” about “whether adoption provides a pathway to healing for traumatised children, helping them recover from past psychological harm, or creates trauma for children through the very nature of being an adopted child.”
McSherry found, through a series of interviews with adoptive children who range in age, that “the relationship between adoption and trauma mainly reflects a picture of adversity and trauma occurring for these children prior to entry to care, with adoption them facilitating some degree of recovery over time.” This positive outcome, Vu argues, isn’t always the case, though. McSherry’s study also fails to address the experience of international adoptees.
“Adoption is trauma,” Vu asserts. “Separation from biological families is often trauma. And just because you know of a family who put their child in an objectively better position from the adoption process does not mean that is universal for everyone.”
Vu’s video has generated a conversation about adoption and the language surrounding it. Many TikTok users agree that Ripa’s comments were insensitive in nature, while others argue that she didn’t mean anything harmful by them.
“i don’t think she meant it like that tbh,” @smoltch commented, to which Vu replied, “intention vs impact tbh”
“Yes generally there is so much focus on the adoptive parents and not the birth parents and circumstances that led to this separation,” @dailyclarity wrote.
“the dehumanization is UNREAL. born FOR THEM? waiting FOR THEM? children deserve so much better. I am so sorry,” @rainbowsusie shared.
‘…in instances of cross-race rehoming, there is failure to adequately aid us in adjusting to vastly different cultures and coountries.’
Vu elaborated on her thoughts about adoption and its generalized perception in media. As an international adoptee herself, Vu speaks to what appears to be the glorification of adoptees and the erasure of their trauma.
“International Adoption is a multi million dollar industry and while there are many instances where it does provide a second chance to displaced children, it’s also in many instances done through illegal loopholes and there are many recorded cases of human trafficking. The adoption agency I was adopted through in 1997 was since shut down after several employees pleaded guilty of facilitating adoptions illegally. These are not isolated incidents,” Vu told In The Know by Yahoo via email.
In Vu’s case, her displacement as a child was a result of her biological father’s actions.
“The domestic abuse of my birth father led to his accidental death, leaving my mother financially incapable of keeping me, and leading to my separation from my twin sister, PhúÓng,” she explains. “There is not enough acknowledgment placed on the trauma that stems directly from separation from biological families, and in instances of international or cross-race rehoming, there is failure to adequately aid us in adjusting to vastly different cultures and countries. This can forever affect the quality of our lives and how we navigate the world.”
Vu, who launched a Go Fund Me to help her reunite with her long lost twin, Minh PhúÓng urges public figures to take caution when talking about adoption.
“While Condor has had a good experience and life because of adoption, many others are left wondering about our pasts and if we were even re-homed humanely/legally,” Vu adds. “These questions leave adoptees like me with identity loss and dysmorphia, feeling like I’m stuck between two races and cultures that both feel very foreign to me.”
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