Mike Seate of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Doesn't Approve Of Your Family's Skin Color

Adoption

Mike Seate has strong feelings about the proper racial makeup of your family.

That's hardly surprising in and of itself. There are plenty of people who have strong feelings about what some folks still call "race-mixing." Their views have fallen out of fashion, so they're mostly confined to writing poorly spelled screeds on web sites and marching in the occasional white-sheeted parade.

What makes Mike's views notable is that he's a columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and it publishes his tripe.

See, Mike has concluded that international adoption is just about making a fashion statement, and that there is no reason to adopt some Asian kid. Mike has concluded that knows everything there is to know about adoption from watching a couple of movies.

As you may have realized by this point, Mike is a willfully ignorant ass.

Let's discuss just a few of the reasons Mike is an ass.

1. The "Latest Trend": What-I-See-Must-Be-A-Trend Journalism

There's a shallow and lazy school of journalism that I refer to as "trendoid." You see it regrettably often in the pages of everything from the New York Times to entertainment rags. It's essence is narcissism: the journalist, having noticed that some friends and acquaintances are doing a particular activity, or having noticed that activity portrayed on TV or in movies, concludes that there is a new major trend of doing that activity. The journalist savors his position at the center of the universe; what he perceives must be universal. Factual research into whether this activity is actually prevalent — or into whether the activity has actually been going on for years and the journalist has just been to wrapped up in herself to notice it — is not required, and would in fact detract from the breathless "OMG a trend!" tone of the piece.

(This is related to, but distinct from, the New York Times tradition of running pieces delivered in a Marlin-Perkins-hosting-Wild-Kingdom tone of safari-going fascination that some people are conservative. In New York! But I digress.)

Anyway, Seate's column is a prime example of this stew of self-centered and lazy ignorance. Seate concludes that adoption of Asian kids is the "latest fad" based on watching two movies. No, really.

In "Then She Found Me," Helen Hunt portrays a neurotic mess of a woman who screws up every relationship in her life and can't tell good men from rotten ones. Unable to conceive a child naturally, Hunt's character decides to reward herself with something guaranteed to make her character and the audience smile: a Chinese baby girl.
. . . .
One week later, I suffered through an afternoon screening of the glitzy handbag commercial cleverly disguised as a major motion picture known as "Sex and the City." In that one, Charlotte, one member of the quartet of ditzy, clothes-obsessed main characters, couldn't conceive a child naturally.

The solution? She adopts one of those adorable Chinese babies you've heard so much about — forcing viewers to spend much of the next 90 minutes of film watching these four screwed-up women as they screw up some kid who would be better off in a rice paddy 7,000 miles from any of them.

(The "rice paddy" line is a dead giveaway for Seate's views on Asians, by the way. Imagine, for a moment, if I wrote a column saying that white folks should not adopt African-American kids because "they'd be better off shooting hoops in some project.")

Naturally, Seate's got no data to back up his point that adopting Asian kids is the "latest fad." If he had been a journalist, rather than a piss-poor spleen-venter, he might have done some homework and realized that he's full of shit. International adoption by Americans has been trending up in the long term. But that's the long term — over 16 years. It's hard to make a credible argument that something that has been growing steadily since before Clinton was in office is either "the latest" or a "fad." Moreover, in the last couple of years the trend has been going the other direction. In 2006 and 2007 — the years that a reasonable person might look at to determine if something is, indeed, the latest fad — international adoptions in the U.S. dropped by a significant amount. Once again, it's had to argue that something is the "latest fad" if it had been going up steadily until the last two years and then began trending down.

No, what Mike Seate means is that it's the latest thing that's risen to his notice. But what does or does not rise to Mike Seate's notice is hardly a matter of public interest.

2. The "Fashionable" Slur: If I Can't Imagine Adopting An Asian Kid, You Must Be Doing It For Bad Reasons

Next up in the Mike Seate prejudiced idiocy hit parade, the increasingly popular "it's fashionable!" slur. Most international adoptive parents have heard this one at one point or another, either with a reference just that blunt or with a giggly comment about Brad and Angelina. Seate goes in full bore in the column:

Call me cynical, but since when did Asian children become "must have" fashion accessories for upper middle-class Americans?

Along with Calloway golf clubs and season tickets to football games, paying $30,000 to $40,000 to adopt an exotic baby is suddenly viewed as the most chic purchase this side of a pair of Manolo Blahnik pumps.

If Mike Seate interviewed a single person who adopted internationally before writing that, I'll cut off my right nut with a spork. For people like Mike Seate, it's enough that they can't imagine adopting a foreign kid in general or an Asian kid in particular. They can't imagine embracing a radically different culture and loving a child who doesn't look like them. So they assume that only a person with base motives could possibly want to adopt a child from Asia. That's how someone like Mike Seate can call tens of thousands of Americans shallow and fashion-obsessed without meeting even one of them. Mike Seate doesn't know me. He doesn't know how my family reached the decision to adopt first from Korea and then from China. But Mike Seate wouldn't care. Once again, it's pure narcissism: If I don't know about it, and I can't grasp it, it can't be important.

Note that Seate is not content to classify parents he's never met or talked to. He classifies the babies as well:

That's a shame. Because if people really wanted to adopt children because of a desire to become parents, they'd just adopt babies, not fashion statements.

You see, Asian babies aren't real babies. At least not to Seate.

3. There Can't Be Any Reason, Because I Don't Know Any Reason

To a pretend "journalist" like Mike Seate, a fact doesn't exist unless he already knows it or unless he can learn it by watching whatever is on TV that day. In this case, Mike's abject ignorance is focused on American adoption. Mike isn't familiar with the reasons that people might adopt internationally, so they don't exist:

There is no, and let me repeat, no reason that any American family should be looking outside our own borders for kids to adopt when tens of thousands of American kids languish in foster care. Unless, of course, these families are only interested in Asian kids because A) it's what everybody else says to do, and B) they expect a quiet, studious child who will be a math whiz and excels at the cello.

(First, note again how gleefully Mike Seate trades in racism with his eager use of the cello-and-math stereotype. Sooner or later one must ask: does Mike Seate really care deeply about African-American kids in the U.S., or does he just have an issue with Asians?)

Once again, Mike doesn't bother to inquire or research. Some people reacting to his column have tried to educate him (and far more politely than he deserves, but he responds with contempt, calling their explanations "dubious" and characterizing their responses as "weeping and wailing." He blusters that people have to pay "tens of thousands in bribes to be paid to Chinese officials" (there's Mike's attitudes towards Asians again) without any support. No support will be forthcoming — I didn't pay any bribes in China, let alone "tens of thousands." Mike's talking out of his ass — or, more appropriately, out of his spleen.

Had Mike educated himself — had he interviewed even one set of adoptive parents — and had he been capable of considering the answers fairly, here are some of the reasons for adopting internationally that he might have heard about:

  • Cultural Affinity: We know many families in which one or both parent is Asian. We even know some in which one of the parents was an Asian adoptee himself or herself. International adoption is a way for these families to connect with their birth cultures. Many such parents have the joy of passing along cultural elements like language, history, literature, food, and celebrations to their children, ensuring that they learn about their birth culture. Indeed, many white parents feel a deep connection to Asian culture. But somehow, I don't think Mike Seate was thinking about Asian parents.
  • Youth: At least in some states and counties, you can't count on adopting an infant unless you go through the expensive and completely unpredictable domestic private adoption route. There's no telling whether or not you'll be matched with an infant through domestic public adoption. Many parents want to adopt an infant. They want to influence the child's earliest development, which can be crucial for healthy attachment. They want to experience parenthood as completely as possible. People like Mike Seate tend to begrudge them this; such people think that adoptive parents should just be happy with whatever they can get.
  • Timing and Certainty: Right now adoption from many Asian countries is very slow. But there have been times when international adoption was the most prompt option. Our son came home within a year of our initial application. By contrast, domestic adoption (whether private or public) can be quick or can be slow — it's unpredictable. Similarly, for qualified couples, international adoption is as close to a sure thing as you can get — there may be bumps in the road, but if you meet the criteria, it's going to happen. By contrast, there are simply no guarantees in domestic adoption.
  • Change of Mind and Heartbreak: In international adoption, parental rights have been terminated before the baby is placed with the adoptive parents. (There are legitimate concerns about how this is done in some countries, and debates about the ethics of the process, but that does not appear to be Seate's concern). Once you get the baby, the baby isn't (save in the most extreme cases involving unreliable agencies) going to be taken back. There's no such guarantee for domestic adoption in the American legal system. In private adoptions, mothers routinely change their mind after giving birth — it's happened to two different couples I know. In public adoptions, some states allow late-coming changes of mind by parents, and previously unidentified fathers can come out of the woodwork claiming rights. It's a risk, and one that many parents are simply not willing to take — particularly when parents have arrived at adoption through the hellishly uncertain and disappointing process of fertility treatment.
  • Hostility Towards Some Transracial Adoption: Mike Seate's column demonstrates the cultural catch-22 that white adoptive parents face: if you don't adopt an African-American baby, people like Mike Seate will call you a shallow racist, and if you do, other people will accuse you of cultural genocide. Until relatively recently the National Association of Black Social Workers took the official position that white adoption of African-American children was cultural genocide and decried it in the harshest terms possible. This issue was much in the news just last month (although not, apparently, enough to penetrate Mike Seale's consciousness) when various social worker groups renewed calls for race-consciousness in adoption placement in the wake of a study claiming that black children suffer because adoption agencies can't force whites to take classes on how to raise them properly. The issue was also the source of much controversy in the 1990s, when Congress passed laws requiring race-neutrality in adoption placements over the vigorous dissent of many social worker groups (again, a debate and issue of national prominence that apparently when unnoticed by "journalist" Mike Seate. ) I know that I could love any child regardless of the color of that child's skin. But like many other adoptive parents, I find the decades-old consistent hostility towards transracial adoption expressed by prominent social worker groups to be chilling. Those are the people who will be evaluating my suitability as a parent, evaluating how a child is doing in my custody, recommending whether or not I should be allowed to adopt the child. It's a major deterrent to white adoption of African-American children. Now, Mike Seate isn't responsible for all of that simply because he is African-American. But he's responsible for being ignorant of it when he shoots off his mouth about white adoption of African-American kids.
  • Cultural Resources: Though I disagree with the groups that say that whites shouldn't adopt African-Americans as bright-line rule, I agree with them on one point: adoptive parents have a moral obligation not to ignore their kids' ethnicity, and an obligation to expose them to their birth culture and to equip them with resources for dealing with how America will treat them based on the color of their skin. Many parents, like me, feel better equipped to do this for Asian kids than for African-American kids. I live in a neighborhood with a very sizable Asian community; at my son's school, nearly 40% of the class is Korean like him. There are two Korean groceries in walking distance, places to take Korean language lessons, and Korean churches. There's a wealth of Chinese resources for my youngest daughter. And because of the places we grew up, the schools we went to, and the places we work, we have more Asian friends (potential role models and confidants for the kids) than African-American ones. It would be far more difficult for me to raise an African-American child responsibly — that is, not to simply pretend the kid was white. i simply don't have the same resources.

These are just a few of the reasons, and just off of the top of my head. Other adoptive parents could name many others. But Mike Seate doesn't care.

4. Only American Kids Have Genuine Need

Seate's angry because there are kids in the American foster care system who need homes:

Never mind that thousands of babies of other races — most of them black — go without foster homes and adoptions here and elsewhere in this country every year. It doesn't cost tens of thousands of dollars to adopt a black, Latino or mixed-race child.

Seate's right, there are kids in need here. But Seate is proceeding from a hidden yet familiar premise: only American kids are needy in a way we should care about. This is a variation on a nationalistic theme we heard after the terrible Asian tsunami a few years back; many expressed anger that people and governments were sending money to foreigners instead of using it here.

People are people. The world is a better place when a child has a home, no matter what that child's skin color or where she was born. Asian kids aren't somehow racially better suited to orphanages than African-Americans. They're humans. They have feelings like anyone else. The view of Seate and his ilk that some kids should be first in line as a matter of right because they're American is obnoxious. "America first" is an ethos — but it's not the only one.

By the way, there's something else utterly banal and typical about Seate's views on adoptive parents duty:

I have no children of my own, but . . . .

Yep. Seate feels free to mouth off about how badly African-American kids need parents, and to lecture adoptive parents about their moral obligations to choose kids of the correct skin color. But he doesn't walk the walk. Seate seems to have a steady job as a columnist, at least until the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review realizes what an ignorant racist dick he is (assuming they would care). He could adopt one of these needy kids. But does he? No. Like so many who criticize others for not adopting from the foster care system, he's all about talk. No doubt he thinks that pontificating on the issue is his contribution.

Increasingly I have very low expectations for the media. By being so transparently racist and willfully ignorant, Mike Seate manages to fall short of even those. Mike Seate, you fail at journalism and at life.

Edited to add:

Seate is following a pattern typical of columnists who like to write racist crap: (1) write something offensive, (2) wait for responses — some angry, some profane, some reasonable — to flood in, (3) cherry-pick the most profane or ignorant or racist responses, and (4) selectively quote those responses to represent the whole, and don the martyr's garb. "Oh, poor me — how unfairly these people are treating me!" Seate's doing that right now. He's big on accusing adoptive parents of racism — based on selective quotation of a few of many responses his bigoted column drew — but because he's a coward, he'll never address his own racism, embodied in his fondness for quips like the rice paddy reference. What a loser.

Via.

Second edit: Welcome to the over a thousand people who have visited to read this post. If you are interested in adoption issues, check out our coverage of the subject. We've also got an adoption discussion forum dedicated to discussion of serious adoption issues — if you'd like to join, register for the forums and send Ken a PM or email.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

47 Comments

46 Comments

  1. Grandy  •  Jun 23, 2008 @6:07 am

    I wasn't aware there was a way to raise a black child properly that some how differed from "how to raise a child properly" (philosophical questions inherent in the latter aside).

    Also, every time I feel like I've accomplished very little in life and perhaps don't deserve to be where I am (or anywhere at all), I remember that people like Mike Seate get paid to do what they do. And the I don't feel so bad.

  2. Derrick  •  Jun 23, 2008 @6:29 am

    FATALITY

  3. J.W. Hamner  •  Jun 23, 2008 @7:00 am

    Wow, that's a serious take down and I understand why you did it, but for me all you had to do was type "Pittsburgh Tribune-Review" and I would be convinced it was BS.

    That's a Richard Mellon Scaife rag.

  4. David  •  Jun 23, 2008 @7:43 am

    Not only that, but he's also a hypocrite on matters of diversity.

    His vitae:

    About Mike Seate

    Mike's writing career started in the late 1990s, writing concert reviews from some of the Pittsburgh night clubs where he worked as a bouncer.

    From there, Mike developed a nose for news and human interest stories, which landed him a column at the Tribune-Review. He's been writing about the grittier side of local life ever since, focusing on touchy subjects such as racism, economic strife, crime and the police, transportation, pop culture trends and, occasionally, the absurdity of modern politics.

    Mike's professional background: Mike has authored 10 books on motorcycling and keeps a close-up view of the city by riding his bike through various neighborhoods on a daily basis.

    As a Trib columnist, Mike has won an award or two while his offbeat opinions have helped him amass a stack of hate mail as tall as Shaquille O'Neal.

    Most recently, Mike has collected more than nine hours of angry phone calls from readers, many of which he hopes to compile into a comedy CD tentatively titled "He Hate Me."

  5. Ansley  •  Jun 23, 2008 @9:39 am
  6. Patrick  •  Jun 23, 2008 @9:52 am

    Ansley, your blog appears to have a password protection in place. Assuming you don't wish to lift that for privacy or other reasons, would you like to post the text for the link as a comment here?

  7. Jim  •  Jun 23, 2008 @11:20 am

    I could have over looked Mike's original post about the adoptions being a fad, because to me it was more like he was taking on Hollywood and their portrail of "Chinese Adoptions" as the in thing. But when I read his blog about his posts, he shows just how little he knows and where he is coming from!! Bias journalism at it's worst!! and then some. The man needs to get at least some of his facts straight before he starts spouting this garbage.
    – Jim

  8. Ansley  •  Jun 23, 2008 @11:26 am

    No, Patrick, I'm just showing Ken I linked him like he asked. ;)

  9. Mary Ellen  •  Jun 23, 2008 @11:43 am

    Ken, as always, you rock! This so-called writer Mike Seate is definitely not going to respond to you. He obviously can't handle the truth!

  10. PLW  •  Jun 23, 2008 @12:14 pm

    Daniel Radosh (of anti-caption fame) has an awesome story and the trend story trend.

    http://www.radosh.net/writing/trends.html

  11. Patrick  •  Jun 23, 2008 @1:14 pm

    Grandy points out that Mike Seate has an ill-informed opinion on almost everything under the sun.

  12. The M  •  Jun 23, 2008 @3:37 pm

    That firejoemorgan article is pure gold.

  13. Patrick  •  Jun 23, 2008 @4:00 pm

    Isn't it? This passage took my breath away:

    "We don't call 2006 Moto GP champ Nicky Hayden a bum when he crashes, because many of us know what it feels like to be thrown off a motorcycle at triple-digit speeds."

    EVERY person I've ever met who was thrown off a motorcycle at triple digit speeds, I didn't meet. That's because within seconds after being thrown off a motorcycle at triple digit speeds, he ceased to be a person, and became something else.

    Usually his name changed from, for instance, John Smith, to "the Estate of John Smith."

    Seate is the funniest writer in America today, and he doesn't know it.

  14. Grandy  •  Jun 23, 2008 @4:24 pm

    FireJoeMorgan is one of my five favorite sites on the internet, ever. If I could ever do snark half as cleverly as they do it, I'd found a school of warrior monks who employed snark-fu and just spread my wisdom.

  15. Jamie  •  Jun 24, 2008 @6:17 am

    I am so glad to read something like this after the twaddle Seate is trying to pass off as journalism. I did send him an email response to point out his obvious racism but of course was lumped in with the weeping and wailing.

  16. Shannon Braddock  •  Jun 24, 2008 @7:28 am

    Thank you. I was going to send a response myself – as the mother of a child adopted from Korea – but you said it all. In the original article I read I didn't see the part about him having no kids, just assumed it since he's seen 2 movies in the recent past.

  17. Chrsitine Fors  •  Jun 24, 2008 @7:59 am

    Hats off to you, Ken! We parents in the "International Adoption Community" stand behind your FANTASTIC rebuttal to Seate's moronic "article" about adopting Asian children! As a single-mother of 3 adopted children from China( 2 girls and 1 boy!), and also a public school teacher!, I wholeheartedly appreciate EVERYTHING you said about attempting to adopt domestically. I "looked into" adopting from the foster care system in my county and I wasn't going to be "chosen" due to being single. Good friends of mine paid for the pregnancy & birthing costs, brought home a "local" baby girl only to have to return her to her birthmother 3 days later. They said it was worse than burying a child. One year later they brought home a healthy baby girl from China. That was in 1997.
    BTW- Adoption from China is the LEAST expensive of ALL international adoptions. Vietnam and Cambodia are closed. Russia is unstable and way too expensive. Guatemala is too corrupt, etc.
    Thanks, again, for your rebuttal. One great thing about teaching the "youth of today" is that I am able to educate them and enable them to see that families come in all different colors! Now if we could only educate the moronic generation of Mike Seate!

  18. Elizabeth  •  Jun 24, 2008 @9:49 am

    Your remarks about adopting Asian children is so shameful to us. My first question to you is how many domestic children have you adopted? If none then don't ever make a comment about how easy it would be to adopt domestically. To adopt domestically is about 10,000 more then to adopt from China. If you have never adopted then don't ever make comments on those that have. You have no clue on the remarks you made about Asian children. You have shamed yourself with the comments you have made. I hope your career in journalism is no longer there for you after these terrible comments about little boys and girls that need a place to call home.

  19. Ioana  •  Jun 24, 2008 @9:51 am

    While I agree with most of your rebuke, it also makes me realize how biased people are once they chose one adoption path… as someone who adopted domestically, through an agency, and across cultural lines, I'm a bit miffed at the portrayal of domestic adoption in this rebuttal. It took us about one year to adopt, and yes, the process was an emotional roller-coaster. But there was no uncertainty about it, and my adoption is just about as final as it gets. As I'm considering a second adoption — and looking again at all options on the table, it's wrong to characterize international adoption as the safe option — what with all the changes in Guatemala, Vietnam, Bulgaria and Romania, navigating around corrupt officials in Ukraine or Russia, or assessing alcohol risks in Korea and time commitment in China?!!! Instead, one may consider their own family situation, age and income, as well as their ability to deal with open adoption or with the outcome of our urban blights. This decision is, in the end, a very personal navigation around issues of risk, commitment and self-knowledge. Whoever fails to see the personal aspect of this process also fails to capture the very essence of the adoption process.

  20. Ken  •  Jun 24, 2008 @9:51 am

    Uh — Elizabeth, was that directed to Mike Seate? Do you grasp that you are not on the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review web site, and that this is a site criticizing him?

  21. Elizabeth  •  Jun 24, 2008 @9:52 am

    This comment was for Mike Seate sorry if I posted in the wrong place.

  22. Elizabeth  •  Jun 24, 2008 @10:04 am

    Ken
    Yes I realized it after I sent it. I got his direct email and sent it to him. Thank you

  23. Ken  •  Jun 24, 2008 @10:06 am

    loana:

    as someone who adopted domestically, through an agency, and across cultural lines, I’m a bit miffed at the portrayal of domestic adoption in this rebuttal. It took us about one year to adopt, and yes, the process was an emotional roller-coaster. But there was no uncertainty about it, and my adoption is just about as final as it gets.

    I think my description of domestic adoption was pretty heavily qualified with "can be" — though I probably could have further qualified the last sentence of that section with "in some domestic adoptions there are no guarantees." Part of the ambiguity is that adoption laws vary wildly from state to state, so that it's very hard to generalize nationally. But certainly international adoption is not a cure-all to uncertainty. Your description of "a very personal navigation around issues of risk" is an excellent insight. Different forms of adoption carry different risks. A parent's willingness to incur any particular risk depends upon that parent's life experiences. For instance, many people (my family included) are completely unwilling to engage in the sort of "beauty contest" persuade-the-birth-mother-to-pick-us scenario involved in some private adoptions. That's a personal risk tolerance. And while in your jurisdiction your process may not have been uncertain, that's not the case for every domestic adoption (and also not the case for international adoptions with less reputable agencies or countries where the adoption program is unstable or questionable).

  24. Beth  •  Jun 24, 2008 @10:30 am

    Ken,

    You managed to say most of what I was thinking/feeling and then some.

    Like I stated on the Holt BB:

    Your family is beautiful however (and from wherever) it has been created. Don't let someone else mar that beauty.

  25. Denise  •  Jun 24, 2008 @12:32 pm

    Ken: I hope you sent your rebuttal to Mike Seate. I think you very eloquently said what so many people wanted to say. Mike Seate is a moron!

  26. Ken  •  Jun 24, 2008 @12:45 pm

    Denise:

    Yes, I sent it to Mr. Seate. Specifically, I send it as a cc to an email to all of the editors.

    Here's the email:

    [Comment on Column] Congratulations on Your Commitment To Diversity

    Dear editors,

    Congrats on your commitment to diversity! So few newspapers take steps to ensure they have an ignorant bigot on staff. But you've gone the extra mile and done so by giving Mike Seate a column.

    Mike's latest — a piquant mix of utter ignorance of his subject matter and abject racism — really shows what strides you've made towards giving your readers a mix of both decent people and loathsome racists:

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu … 73477.html

    "She adopts one of those adorable Chinese babies you've heard so much about — forcing viewers to spend much of the next 90 minutes of film watching these four screwed-up women as they screw up some kid who would be better off in a rice paddy 7,000 miles from any of them."

    Because Asian people live on rice paddies! That's hilarious! Way to raise the level of journalism!

    I was just so impressed about the quality of journalism at your paper, and the quality of people you bring in, that I just had to blog about it:

    http://www.popehat.com/2008/06/23/mike- … kin-color/

    Now, my blog only gets a couple of thousand readers a day on a good day. Your paper gets what, a couple of times that? But don't worry — thanks to the miracle of search engine optimization, and an active group of fellow adoption bloggers, Mr. Seate can rest assured that his name will get out there. Within a couple of weeks, when anyone Googles his name, the first page will be filled with posts pointing out what funny thoughts he has about Asians and rice paddies.

    It will define him. Permanently.

    Ken
    Blogger, http://www.popehat.com

  27. Christine  •  Jun 24, 2008 @3:52 pm

    I am SO with you on this response to this ignorant bigot. I would add just a little more ranting.
    It occurs to me that of the thousands spent on services required to bring home our lovely daughter, the VAST majority was spent right here in the good ole USA! The orphanage donation was nothing compared to the travel expenses (to US based airlines), home-study fees, agency fees….etc. Honestly, given that our child lived in an orphanage for 3 years, and had 2 different surgeries (hundreds of miles away from the orphanage), I would dare to say that our donation hardly covered the cost of her care.
    Additionally, while the foster care system in the US is hardly perfect, it does provide for education, ongoing medical and dental care, and other services to prepare the kids for life. Orphans in many countries, including China, are NOT guaranteed any of these benefits (and usually do not receive them).
    Lastly, parents of internationally adoptive children are NOT responsible for the kids in US foster care. What possible logic makes me more responsible for their plight than my pregnant neighbor, or my childless sister, or Mike Seate himself? Simply because I choose to adopt a child means that I should only adopt a child of their choosing (even though they are obviously unwilling to do it themselves)?
    Unbelievable. Racist. Reprehensible.

  28. Ken  •  Jun 24, 2008 @4:02 pm

    Good points, Christine, especially your last one. Many people who raise the "you should be adopting REAL AMERICAN babies" arguments are in effect imposing greater communal obligations on people because they can't have, or haven't had, biological children.

    But you could argue just as credibly that it's selfish to conceive and bear a biological child when there are kids in foster care. Yet even nimrods like Seate don't make that argument — because their views are based on the hidden premise that the infertile or those who don't bear children for medical or philosophical reasons are second-class citizens.

    For that matter, one could just as easily ask Mike Seate how he can ethically pursue an expensive hobby like attending sporting events or racing motorcyles when children languish in foster care. If, that is, one were a lout who felt entitled to dictate the family choices of others.

  29. Christine  •  Jun 24, 2008 @7:04 pm

    Okay, so I am not a sports fan really, but the blog response to Seate's sports article was hilarious. I seriously laughed til I cried. Clearly, Seate is a moronic asshat with more wind than wisdom. For anyone that missed this little treasure, you should check out the link from Patrick, response #11. Seriously…go…now!

  30. Denise  •  Jun 25, 2008 @6:22 am

    Mr. Seate doesn't understand that children here, although many of them have it terrible, can go to college with help from the government and can look forward to food on the table. We have adopted children from China and have fostered children here in the States. We even adopted one of them. But, if we hadn't adopted our son, he would still have a roof over his head and a shot at a decent life without us. The same is not true for our daughters. Children are children; red and yellow black and white. They're all beautiful and they all deserve a family. Mr. Seate sending garbage out on which children are deserving and which ones aren't is nothing short of disgusting. I don't understand why this rag that calls itself a newspaper would allow a ding-dong like Seate to spew such ignorance. Honestly, a letter should be sent to their advertisers like Dollar Bank and a few others I saw on their website to let them know the kind of racism they are supporting. Hit them where it hurts. If I had an extra 5 minutes in my day, I'd put a letter out to every media director in Pittsburgh and tell them what kind of vile "journalism" the Tribune is producing…..

  31. Frank Harris  •  Jun 25, 2008 @5:04 pm

    I owe Seate one thing — my research led me to your hilarious blog.
    Here follows I letter I sent Seate today. I sent it for my own benefit, without any expectation of any impact on Seate; for, to paraphrase the old adage, "Beauty is only skin deep, but stupid goes clear to the bone."

    Mr. Seate,

    First, I guess I should thank you for recognizing my wife and me as trendsetters in your recent column. Little did we know, when we started our adoption paperwork over 13 years ago, that one day a sage from Pittsburgh would finally realize that we deserved credit for being at the forefront of the “latest fad.” Hula hoops, pet rocks, mood rings, and us – what an honor! But please don’t limit the fad to the US. The adoptions of children from Chinese orphanages by folks from Australia, England, Sweden, Belgium, and dozens of other countries – we deserve credit for all of them. Of course, as I’m sure you aware from all the research you doubtless did for your column, international adoptions from China have actually been declining for several years. Stupid Hollywood chick-flick producers, noticing the “latest fad” only after it’s been going on for almost 20 years, and has apparently already passed its statistical peak! How unobservant can they be?!

    Second, we apparently owe some Chinese bureaucrats a ton of bribe money. Your research indicates that we should have had to pay “tens of thousands of dollars” in bribes, and that the total cost to adopt there should have been thirty to forty thousand dollars. Oddly enough, that’s about what it would have cost us to try to adopt a healthy infant here in the US, with no guarantee of success; whereas the total expense for our adoption, including travel to and from China, and 12 days there, was less than $13,000.00. I’ve met lots of folks who have paid more than that just for a vacation trip of that duration. And although total costs can vary by agency, and by where a child lives in China, I’ve never heard of anyone whose adoption cost more than $20,000. So obviously, somebody forgot to include “bribe money” in with the home study fees, airplane tickets, hotel bills, and so forth, for a lot of us. Can you tell me to whom your research indicates bribes are being paid, so that I can make sure that money starts reaching the proper people?

    Third, I would like to apologize for not adopting a black child. We looked into it, but were told that many black social workers would deem that as contributing to cultural and ethnic genocide. The implication was that such genocide was a bad thing. If only we’d thought to ask you about it, with your vast experience as father to so many former foster children of various races (some of whom, I am sure, you adopted in spite of significant mental and physical health issues), you could have straightened us out. And I must admit, we were concerned about possible racist comments – for instance, that someone might tell us that our adopted black child would be “better off in a cotton field in the Delta”, or that someone would accuse us of adopting a black child because we wanted “a child who was good at basketball and had a good sense of rhythm.” I know, I know — it’s hard to believe that there are still racist morons out there who would say such hateful things; but it’s amazing how ignorant some people still are. And would you believe it – some of them are so unashamed of their racism that they will actually publish it in a newspaper! Predictably, if you call them on it, they will whine that you are being oversensitive, and then accuse you of being prejudiced yourself. But of course you and I know what’s really going on there. I mean, there’s nothing more hilarious than watching some pathetically obvious bigot try to play the race card in his own favor – am I right or am I right?!? Ha, ha!

    Keep up the carefully nuanced and researched journalism! The Pulitzer Prize committee can’t ignore you forever!

    Frank P. Harris

  32. Ken  •  Jun 25, 2008 @5:10 pm

    Frank wins the thread. That letter owned. Especially the last paragraph. Well done.

  33. Ken  •  Jun 25, 2008 @5:48 pm

    Mike Seate is so awesome, I've decided to make a hobby out of him.

  34. Denise  •  Jun 25, 2008 @6:35 pm

    Frank Harris Rocks!!! I am literally laughing off the edge of my chair. If there happened to be any intelligent people at the Pittsburgh Tribune, which I'm not counting on, you and Ken would have job offers already!

  35. Tinler  •  Jun 26, 2008 @12:03 pm

    Dang, I wish I could "write with a bite" as well as Ken and Frank P. Harris! My response to Mr. Seate's column was this:

    There is no, and let me repeat, no reason that any American family should be having biological kids when tens of thousands of American kids languish in foster care.

    Hmmm…I wonder why Mr. Seate doesn't take on the far more widespread American fashion trend of bearing biological children instead of adopting chidren from U.S. foster care?

  36. irked  •  Jun 29, 2008 @4:46 am

    Well, I think this piece is as biased as Mr. Seate's. As a mother of two children adopted internationally, one from China and one from Ethiopia, there is a HUGE bias toward Asian children in the adoption community. Many of the reasons are not listed here and are indeed racially based. Visit any adoption board and see the responses such as,"my family just wouldn't accept a black child." That's just a bunch of racist hogwash and I don't see that view presented in this rebuttal and we all certainly know it exists here in good ol' America. I can understand people shying away from the domestic system, but Ethiopia and places like Hati have stable programs in place. I am not saying these children are anymore deserving but to say the only option of adopting a black child is domestically is false.

  37. Ken  •  Jun 29, 2008 @7:59 am

    "irked", there's no question that racism influences some adoptive parents in their decisions — whether or not to adopt internationally, whether or not to adopt from the public system, whether or not to be open to a child of a different ethnicity. But it's a sign of bad faith to assume racism when someone makes a different choice than you do. The point of this response to Seate is that there is a wide array of factors that go into the choice of from where to adopt, and Seate is arguing from apparent ignorance.

    Many of the decision points I suggest above would apply with equal force to someone adopting from Ethiopia or Haiti. But Seate was not sneering at people adopting from those countries, but was singling out people adopting from Asia.

    By the way, I am not the one saying that adopting a black child is the only option in the domestic system. Mike Seate is the one suggesting that by talking only about black and brown kids in the domestic system.

  38. irked  •  Jun 29, 2008 @11:54 am

    I think the problem would be solved if people weren't given the choice to decide race when adopting. This silliness needs to STOP! How do we expect our children to do better when we ourselves are bigots? How can expect the world to be kind and unprejudiced against your Asian child when you (general) yourself are a practicing racism against other groups? All children need the same, love. People need to be careful b/c karma isn't nice and it would be sad if it is our children that has to pay the price for our blatant ignorance.

  39. Patrick  •  Jun 29, 2008 @2:01 pm

    Irked taking away the adoptive parents' choice would require some implausible overhauls in the system, such as an international body overseeing all overseas adoptions, making the decision for the parents.

    That's never going to happen.

  40. Ken  •  Jun 29, 2008 @2:13 pm

    Irked, I can't really agree.

    First of all, I don't believe in judging the adoption choices other people make, and I certainly don't believe in involving the government in policing their hearts. I have a friend who wanted to adopt from Korea because she was adopted from Korea. Does that make her racist or evil? If Mike Seate were more of a principled doer than an unprincipled talker, he might want to adopt an African-American baby from foster care out of concern and solidarity for a need in the African-American community. Would you judge him for that? Another family might recognize that they don't know any African-Americans, or any Asians, and might not have cultural resources available related to that group, and might therefore not feel equipped to raise a baby from that group in a responsible way (that is, in a way that doesn't ignore the baby's heritage and the different treatment the baby will experience in the world because of it.) That's not racist. Nor is it racist to be uncomfortable adopting a baby of a particular ethnicity when powerful social worker groups — with members who may be assessing your suitability as a parent — proclaim that it would be cultural genocide for you to do so.

    Second, your proposal would necessarily mean that people would not only be prevented from choosing their baby's ethnicity; they'd be prevented, apparently by the trans-national bureaucracy Patrick suggests, from choosing the country they'd like to adopt from.

  41. Christine  •  Jun 30, 2008 @7:52 pm

    Irked, It occurs to me that while people do sometimes make decisions which are racist on the surface, such as acknowledging that their extended family might be more accepting of one over another, that these decisions are sometimes made with welfare of the child in mind. My own family would not have concerns with race, but I know of many families which would. Why would someone willingly bring an innocent child into an extended family which will not be accepting when they have the choice to give a home to a child who will be loved and accepted by the whole family? It is the family at fault, but the child would become the victim. That seems incredibly irresponsible.

  42. Bonnie  •  Jul 2, 2008 @12:46 pm

    Ken and Frank P Harris:
    I applaud you for your comments. As a waiting adoptive parent and human being, I found Mike Seale's article ridiculous and offensive, and I have enjoyed reading others' rebuttals. Both of your responses were excellent, and Mr. Harris, you cracked me up! The Pittsburgh paper should print both ofyour articles.

  43. irked  •  Jul 4, 2008 @5:41 pm

    Christine,
    My question is why would a family bring another ethnic child into a racist family at all? Is it okay to spread that diseased hate onto another generation of children, and an ethnic child at that? We all have to stand against hate. It would be no more accepting for me to ccept my families hate of my Chinese child than it would be for my Ethiopian one.

  44. Don  •  May 31, 2009 @10:59 am

    Glad to see this proper response to Mike Seate's idiotic article. China adoption was the most affordable route for us. It's purely and 100% about LOVE. Our adopted daughter is the love of our lives. We found the domestic adoption route way too expensive and could take years. You have to pass the audition with the birth mom…she could milk you endlessly for money….change her mind at the last minute…the bio dad could pop up out of nowhere and reverse the whole thing…The birth mom might always be a factor to deal with….Too messy. China had the most solid and stable adoption program. Our adopted daughter is every bit as dear to us and loved as a biological one would have been. She ain't some (thing)…or fashion statement. Some people are beyond ignorant.

  45. Benjamin Gradler  •  Jun 29, 2009 @8:20 pm

    Now, if you REALLY want to read some good stuff on the history of Mike Seate's career as a talentless hack/whore, you have to read Iron Horse magazine issues #133 through #150.
    There is nothing Seate fears more than the editorials in these issues of Iron Horse which expose his complete lack of integrity and scruples as a human being.

    You see, in the mid-nineties, Seate used his carefully cultivated image as a "biker" to con the editor of Iron Horse magazine into letting him submit some articles which were printed in Iron Horse.
    Contrary to what Mike Seate claims, he was never an employee of Iron Horse magazine or it's publisher and never recieved any compensation for his sporadic submissions to the magazine, but he has claimed this in his editorials for other publications, including chronologically stretching his "career" with the magazine by seven fold. He wrote a few articles for it over a year and a half, but claimed elsewhere to have written for it for "several years".

    Now to the good part, after he betrayed the trust of the staff of Iron Horse magazine, which actually treated him like gold and like a true friend until they stuck it in their ass and they saw he was a piece of human garbage, they followed his writings elsewhere for a few years and called him on every lie and dumb-ass remark he made. You can find the back issues with this documentation of Seate's scam on ebay easily.

    Iron Horse issues #133,136,138,139,140,149 and 150 all have in-depth critiques of Seate, catching him in various lie's and incompetent acts, and these critiques hold no punches.

    I am have been involved with motorcycles for almost fifty years, my father was a dealer for British motorcycles in the late fifties and early sixties, I love British bikes and all people who enjoy motorcycling. Mike Seate is a horrible cancer to the world of motorcycling. The disinformation he has spouted in motorcycling periodicals and books, the contribution he has made into whoring the sport to pop hipsters, is damage that I can only hope will turn back and eat him alive someday.

    Seate slathers himself with every pop-culture cliche, latches onto any part of life that is real and turns it into a whore-house, bleeding the life out of it for his own personal gain, destroying it, all the while looking for the next victim to walk by that he can bullshit into his web of mediocrity…..

  46. Dustin  •  Dec 2, 2010 @3:53 pm

    The entire adoption process is so damn frustrating. Drives a lot of people to tears trying to have a family. And Seate roosts on some summit deeming some babies to be valid and some to be trophies like fancy shoes.

    What a little shit.

    While I agree an intelligent parent will prepare a child for a life where his race is taken into account, I don't think it should be that much more difficult to raise a black child (if you aren't black). We live in the information age.

    The ideal would be for the child to know a lot of mentors that are black, but the ideal isn't the big issue when we're talking about children and would-be parents in need. I see no issue with adopting an Asian either. But the reason people adopt out of country is that it is indeed a nightmare to adopt a child domestically, at least some times. I've seen a hearing pushed back twice while a biological father whines that he could choose one of his two sons he's abandoned for years (and the system balks at him for that).

    It's too raw an issue for anyone to start preaching at people trying to put a family together in a fucked up world.

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