Introducing the Adoption Apparel Translator

I was adopted in what has come to be called the Baby Scoop Era, the period between the end of World War II and Roe v. Wade when girls were girls, boys were boys, sex education was lacking and little white babies were plentiful. Adoption could be–and often was–kept secret back then, though thankfully my own adoptive parents did not try to pull such a selfish and nasty stunt. However, in any case it certainly was never advertised.

So it’s odd now to see adoptive parents dressing up their adopted children in clothes that proclaim the child’s adoptee status with messages like “I grew in Mommy’s heart!” or the appalling “Mommy’s Lil’ Guatling” (seriously, wtf?). Not that they should be ashamed, of course (there’s already enough bullshit shame in adoption), but when people go out of their way to say something, there’s usually more to it than the literal message. There’s a metamessage (the message behind the message itself) or subtext of some kind.

Discourse on adoption is just loaded with metamessages and subtext, so we here at International Bastard Machines have been working on new translation technology to sniff ’em out. Today we are proud to announce the first test run of our Adoption Apparel Translator, a device that parses adoption slogans on baby clothes and teases out the subtle messages adoptive parents are really trying to send.

White people adopting from Asia have become so commonplace that the fact that the kid was adopted is probably the first guess people will make upon seeing the whole family together. Why do you suppose adoptive parents feel the need to point it out, then? Let’s fire up the Adoption Apparel Translator and see!

China Translation

Hmm! I think the AAT could be on to something, here. Googling around tells me that adoptions from China generally run between US $15,000 and $25,000 per ladybug. But is money the only factor? Let’s see…

Priceless Translation

A-ha! Insecurity over infertility still abounds! I guess adoption isn’t a solution to infertility after all. Now, everyone’s gonna know. And that might be a little hard if you haven’t come to terms with it yet…

Accident Translation

Do I even need to explain that one?

But I still feel like we’re missing something here. I think the AAT needs a little more fine tuning. Why would an affluent white couple need to put signs all over their non-white adopted child proclaiming his or her adoptee status to every person who sees them on the street? What message do they feel the need to convey so urgently? Is there some kind of social judgment they’re avoiding? Wait, the AAT is beeping at me, something’s coming through…

Guatemala Translation

Well, what do you know.


31 Responses to “Introducing the Adoption Apparel Translator”

  1. 1 imtina July 14, 2007 at 6:37 am

    My ‘favorite’ one was the image of an ultrasound with the outline of China instead of a baby.

    *smacks palm on forehead*

  2. 2 iBastard July 14, 2007 at 6:54 am

    Oh yeah, that one is horrible. Most of them are pretty tasteless, but there are some really terrible ones that clearly reflect the a-parents’ worst insecurities and narcissism.

  3. 3 Theresa July 14, 2007 at 11:50 am

    This is so, so, so funny.

    When I was a teenager there was a place in Chicago where you could get your own tshirts printed. Yeah, whoop te doo now but in the 70’s it was a big deal. My little sister had a tshirt printed up that said ‘I’m chosen! I’m adopted!’ and everyone oohed and aahed over it in the family. I considered making one that said ‘All that unsightly fucking and still no kid’ but I was already grounded at the time.

  4. 4 justenjoyhim July 14, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    B — your translations are hilarious!!

    And Theresa — all I can say is that I’m glad I didn’t have coffee in my mouth or I would have destroyed a keyboard and messed up a monitor. “All that unsightly fucking and still no kid” — HILARIOUS!! Maybe you and iBastard can open up an internet store together. I mean, your online names do go together, after all. 😉

  5. 5 Julie July 14, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    You one funny bastard!

  6. 6 joyjoy July 14, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    The Mexican one is the most disturbing, because I think there is really something to that , I mean even in domestics I see this as problematic, this underlying message that our families of origin are not good enough to associate with, just good enough to take their children, I remember seeing one amom going on and on about her child’s natural mother, and how she was a “large, unnattractive woman” and she loathed her visits.

  7. 7 iBastard July 14, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    Oh, I wasn’t just joking, I really do think that in many cases the labels on clothing are the parents’ way of saying daddy isn’t a cuckold and mommy didn’t have an interracial relationship.

  8. 8 Julie July 14, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    Well HELL that’s what makes it so funny – just in a very pathetic way.

  9. 9 dawn July 14, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    Along similar lines — there’s a t-shirt at a gay/lesbian parenting shop that says, “My daddy’s name is donor.”

    I think making kids be walking billboards for their parents’ reproductive lives is Ick.

  10. 10 elizabeth July 15, 2007 at 1:49 am


    I’m roaring with laughter here!

  11. 12 informedconsent July 15, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    “Mommy didn’t fuck a Mexican” may be the single best thing I have ever seen.

  12. 13 cynthia July 16, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    this is the funniest thing i have read all year.

  13. 14 stewie July 19, 2007 at 3:14 am

    Oh..thankheaven for you. Love it…can I send all my friends here? Although not thanks for snarfing sake out my nose. DAMN you are a brilliant bastard!

  14. 15 iBastard July 19, 2007 at 3:48 am

    All are welcome here. One stop shopping for lolz and tears.

  15. 16 Sig July 20, 2007 at 1:18 am

    My daughter is from Guatemala but you cannot tell (as she is rather light skinned). I do have a shirt that says “Guatemalan Princess” for her because I am damn proud of it! No one would accuse me with sleeping with a Mexican, but your take on it is disgusting.
    I am VERY proud of where she is from, I love her country and want to adopt more from there (go ahead and bash me, I have 7 kids and wear a shirt that says “Proud Mom to Many” Shame on me). I am also very proud of the fact that *I* am adopted and tell everyone that I was loved so much I had 3 dads (step dad too).

    I think you should get over your problems which you obviously have with adoption and while you are at it, get the stick out of your ass and shove it up mine because there’s nothing I love better than a good stick up my ass.

  16. 17 iBastard July 20, 2007 at 3:16 am

    Oooh, I think I touched a nerve. I think it’s hilarious that you felt the need to assure everyone who reads my blog that no one would accuse you of fucking a Mexican. Racist.

  17. 18 Julie July 20, 2007 at 3:31 am

    Holy crap. A racist with TRAs who likes a good stick up her ass. Betcha she’ll get it – from her TRAs. Hope she still likes it then!

  18. 19 imtina July 20, 2007 at 6:04 am

    I’m really happy for her that no one is going to accuse her of fucking a Mexican. I was really worried for her.

  19. 20 Theresa July 20, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    Oh thank god she’s light skinned.

    It’s so interesting the bits that people feel necessary to include on a stranger’s blog. What a bizarre person.

  20. 21 iBastard July 20, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    I think she’s trying to say that nobody would think her daughter was the result of an interracial union but she puts her in a “Guatemalan Princess” shirt because she’s proud of her daughter’s country of origin. They make great kids there and she’s eager to buy some more and fuck what UNICEF says about some of those kids being stolen. However, the fact that she flies into such a rage about it suggests she really is sensitive to the interracial issue, and the way she phrases everything reveals much about her thinking.

    She’s just another covertly racist international adopter, of which there seem to be quite a few.

    But most of all, she’s dumb enough to try to insult me on my own blog, even though she also has a WordPress blog and knows that comments can be edited. Oops, I guess she has a Blogspot blog, don’t know how I missed that. Anyhow, who knows what she was really trying to say, since she’s obviously completely stupid. (The only edit I made, by the way, was just adding the stuff in italics. Everything else was hers.)

  21. 22 Amy July 20, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    I don’t get good ones like this. Dang man you get all the good ones. ROFLMAO

  22. 23 Sig July 21, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Judging by the length of the comment I actually submitted, I may be operating under the assumption that iBastard actually reads my comments in their entirety instead of just getting to the first snide remark before deleting the text and rewriting. Who knows? Who cares?

    But one thing I do know for sure is that I can’t achieve an orgasm without being dressed in full Nazi military regalia.

  23. 24 joyjoy July 21, 2007 at 8:47 pm


    “No one would ever accuse me of sleeping with a Mexcian” wowie,

    Good enough to take their children but not good enough to fuck, isn’t that just the beauty of adoption?

  24. 25 Emily July 22, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    My (birth) daughter is of mixed parentage (white British and black Jamaican). From the looks we get I can tell people are wondering, and we get comments about her ‘olive skin’ and ‘dark eyes’ all the time. I wouldn’t dream of putting her in a shirt that ‘explained’ her heritage. Why should it be any different with adopted kids?

  25. 26 Ansley August 12, 2007 at 12:41 am

    You make a good point here! However, couldn’t the ‘priceless’ shirt be appropriate any child? I just don’t see how it applies exclusively to TRAs.

    Aren’t all children ‘priceless’, regardless of how they joined their family? If I put that shirt on my biological child, would you stil assume I had infertility issues,or that I was announcing my financial status to the world?

  26. 27 iBastard August 19, 2007 at 12:36 am

    Actually, Ansley, the “Priceless” shirt was sold specifically as “adoption apparel” by a Cafepress shop. I think if I actually saw the shirt in the real world with no knowledge of whether or not the child wearing it was adopted, I would probably just think, “WTF is wrong with you, putting that shirt on your child?” If, as you say, all children are priceless (they actually tend to cost $5,000 to $20,000 US) then putting one in a shirt that says so would be like putting one in a shirt that says “Child”, wouldn’t it?

  27. 28 Ansley March 11, 2008 at 8:10 am

    Actually, I did not say all things ‘priceless’ are also ‘child’, so my answer is no.

    I totally get you. I hate the shirts to.

    And I guess if you want to say all kids cost ‘x’ amount of dollars and are referring to hospital fees for bio kids; well then kids cost money and are ‘bought’ virtually everywhere (not just in the evil US).

    Just playing devils advocate. I’m with you.

    Speaking of, where you been?

  1. 1 In the spirit of the Grouchy Ladybug | this woman’s work Trackback on July 14, 2007 at 10:29 pm
  2. 2 New for your Guatemalan Prince or Princess! « iBastard Trackback on July 20, 2007 at 4:46 am
  3. 3 Making Me a Liar « My Sky ~ Multiracial Family Life Trackback on August 9, 2007 at 8:22 pm

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