Barbie, as advertised in Adoptionland

Not too long ago I discovered a sales-pitch found only in Adoptionland, and I openly admit, I find this pitch incredibly offensive, for reasons I will gladly explain later, if asked.  For now, I wish to re-showcase the marketing tool used by a hotel in China and the toy company, Mattel.  There is an exclusive give-away given only to adopters who choose to adopt from and stay in China.  What's the "free" give-away?  A white Barbie Doll, named, Going Home Barbie.  As photos indicate, she can be found in her custom-made display box holding her obvious transracial (adopted) child.  This gift is for new adopters and their little adopted girls, lucky enough to stay at the White Swan Hotel, in Guangzhou... a region known to have babies sold through orphanages for foreign adoption.

Some orphanages in central China's Hunan Province had been selling babies to make money for many years, a Hunan based newspaper reported today. Police in Qidong County have caught more than 20 people this week, including the heads of some of the orphanages

The newspaper said a trader caught on Sunday told police orphanages bought babies from baby traders for about 800 yuan (US$98.89) to 1,200 yuan and resold them to other orphanages or families at a much higher price.

A social welfare institution in Hunan's provincial capital, Changsha, bought five babies for 60,000 yuan from an orphanage in Hengyang County on November 19, a man on the orphanage staff said. The two organizations have traded babies very frequently, the newspaper said.

It said the orphanage in Hengyang had sold babies to Changsha, Binzhou, Zhuzhou or Guangzhou for several years.

Because the national civil administration allocates funds to each orphanage based on how many babies it has, some orphanages bought babies to enlarge their numbers. After they got the public funds, they then sold the babies to earn more profits.

[From: Hunan orphanages sells babies, says report, 2005 ] 

According to one AP blog, Guangzhou is known to adopters for another reason....

“Going Home Barbie” is a gift to adoptive families who stay at the White Swan Hotel. Apparently, during the duration of your stay, Barbie will magically appear on your pillow. The doll has been issued on a donation basis from Mattel since 2001.

In addition to giving the Barbies, Mattel also sponsors this amazing playroom:

All of the products inside are Mattel.

Quite a few years ago, almost all of the 6,000 adoptive families stayed at the White Swan Hotel on Shamian Island because the U.S. consulate was located on the island. (U.S. citizens must exit through the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou while most other countries exit through Beijing.)

These days, the consulate is no longer on the island and there is an abundance of nice hotels for a much cheaper price. The White Swan Hotel ranges from $100 to $160 per night depending on the type of room requested.

The only reason to stay at the White Swan is to receive a “Going Home Barbie” aka “White Swan Barbie”.

Enter the tension.

1. The product is only available to adoptive families who stay at the White Swan Hotel.

2. Going Home Barbie is simply not for sale.

This lack of availability has made some adoptive families unhappy enough to create a petition pleading with Mattel to sell the Barbies.

Mattel hasn’t budged.

[From:  Introducing "Going Home Barbie", November, 2009 ]

Allow me to re-present the visual, like the disturbing repetitive brain-burp it has become in my mind. 

Ah... behold young teen-adult-turned 50 (this year) Going Home Barbie.  Note the adorable infant-sized orphan, held with love and forever bond.  While the not-to-be-separated duo cannot be bought at stores, they can be found on ebay... fetching  APs $200-$300 dollars (some even claim the proceeds will help the previous owners with a new transracial/transcultural adoption plan, in spite of over-the-top expensive adoption costs!)

Well, according to one of my fine beloved invaluable resources, I found more information about Barbie and the international adopter's interests, complete with a complaint about this passionate/excited interest made by a transracial adoptee.  It seems Barbie has gone ethnically and aesthetically culturally correct, with all the proper accessories, and educational accouterments a good Amother/daughter Go-Barbie Team could possibly want.  AND as good Chinese luck would have it, one does not have to purchase an exclusive Barbie Dolls of the World, like this China doll, to get these fine authentic made-for-girls-only Barbie clothing for the made in-China export newly gifted acquisition.  There is a free give-away, brought to the public by a popular blogging AP (she also happens to be seeking votes for a top 25 blogging contest...)

I surely can't resist when I find something China-themed for any of our dolls.  When I found this set of clothing and book of Barbie in China at  Tuesday Morning, I bought three extras.  If your kids are into Barbie, you can enter to win one!

[From:  Giveaway! Barbie in China Clothes & Book, June, 2011 ]

(Made-in-China Barbified orphan girl, all dolled-up)

Let's pretend no-longer-wanted adoptees are not traded into new Ahomes via adoption blogs, that way we won't have to see this online AP give-away as an ironic twist that's just too sick, even for me. 

Instead, let's play a good game with PAL (Positive Adoption Language) HAL (Honest Adoption Language) and all that is PC in Adoptionland's wide world-web of adoption marketing.  Let's see and envision how we can sell more orphan-related material to Adoptionland's favorite consumer, the desperate to please AP who shops on the Internet.

First, let's imagine 50 year old Barbie had a heart attack after she got the news that she has to give up the keys to her dream shop in Shanghai, because although China has a growing population of well-heeled women in it's fast growing economy, Mattel may have overestimated its cachet in China — and assumed Chinese women would embrace childish brands the way many women in Japan do with Hello Kitty.  

<sounding incorrect buzzing noise>

Not so much.  Therefore, it looks like Barbie's over-sized collection/over-stocked inventory in China must go... or at the very least, the quantity of unused products needs to be downsized.  All the extra unwanted over-produced immature girl-stuff must go, and hopefully it will go to buyers who actually like Barbie and all her cheaply-made high-end looking ensembles and accessories.  Otherwise into the trash or incinerator Barbie and clutter-making-stuff must go.

Selling culturally correct clothes and books to the curious adoptee is a marketing ploy that blows my mind, for reasons I can't even begin to list and count.... but I gotta admit, it's a really bloody brilliant idea!  It's especially smart for pro-adopters to buy into this ploy because the vast majority of American AP's will want to buy "authentic" items that represent their adopted child's original culture, but they will want to do this without the annoying PSA that just might/could promote the idea of family preservation and the need to keep children out of orphanages and with local families

So I have been thinking of my own sales-pitch and doll idea, since it looks like the ol Barbie Biz is gonna tank soon, anyway....

I was thinking Barbie's biggest sales-threat, Bratz dolls, should go more "Orphan" and feature a collection called The Wanna-Bes.  This collection of "I want to be adopted" orphan dolls can feature all the characteristics that really sell a foreign adoption plan.

For instance....Ethiopian Elsie can have dusty ragged clothing and a packet filled with falsified documents; Institutional Igoryok can come with empty vodka bottles and a safety helmet for all his head-banging antics that go with his unmentioned FAS.  Fostered/adopted Female (pronounced Fe-MAL) from Florida can come with 24 prescription bottles (for her emotional problems due to multiple moves) and old used garbage bags (she uses them as suitcases, each time she has to move from foster home to foster home).  Ursala from the Ukraine can come with her own camcorder, the perfect father's day gift for her new (sexually exploitive pedophile) Adad and twins Hennrick & Kiskeya from Haiti can come with their own rods and bibles for future home-school lessons and discipline. 

With choices and selection options like this, who WOULDN'T want to buy at least one or two cultural icons to mess around with on a long boring summer day?


Buyer Beware!!!!

I really cannot believe what I am reading. Sorry...nothing reeks of colonialism and white supremacy like having little Chinese adopted girls playing with their white Barbies dressed like ancient Chinese girls. With APs vying to enter the raffle to win the damn clothes! Ugh!!!

Kerry, the Barbie stuff, is in bad taste, I agree...but benign compared to other "must haves" in Adoptionland. This Barbie thing, because it is soooo sensitive to the child's culture (gag!) reminds me season is amongst us!

Time for adventures in ....Culture Camp Land!!!

Nothing like sticking a bunch of unknown kids in the middle of nowhere to "bond" just because "they look alike" and were born in the SAME country.
Seriously people?

It is summer, so 'tis the season for...... "Heritage Culture Camps for the ICA/Transracial Adoptee".

The List:

This is hilarious...nothing sounds more Guatemalan to me than...Flamenco music, a hot dog dinner, and making Mayan tshirts (Bwa-hahahahahaa!):

And the lists go on and on and get the picture.

I just don't get how learning about ancient life in a country does not make for learning how it is like NOW in that country...PEOPLE WAKE UP!!!!
I remember some Guate fest or other the AP held in NJ, it was so hilarious. The kids made...Mayan shields. Here is the best part, no self respecting Latino nor Guatemalan knows WTF is a "Mayan Shield". Those poor poor Guatemalan adoptees. This ancient knowledge is not just limited to Guatemalan adoptees, I am sure others have made name plates in hieroglyphics or Great Walls of Something or other.

I have to thank my parents for never dragging me to one of these culture camps. I would be embarassed as all HELL if my photo was on some dumb site making some Mayan shield. I would DIE if my friends saw it, mostly because it so damn dumb.

But wait, if APs want to spend more money...guess who came up with a brilliant idea about having a summer camp for Guatemalan kids RETURNING to visit and learn about Guatemala?

Nancy Bailey at ...Semillas de Amor. Her name might sound familiar, super google her on your PPL archives.

Founder and director of the uber-raided orphanage. Man this sucks!

Atleast that is better than

Atleast that is better than those ship cruises to Mexico to learn about other cultures, none of which were Mexican. Huh???
Identity issues anyone?

Big Spenders

As a parent myself, I know how easy it is to feel pressured to buy, buy, buy, for the kids.

The expenses can get ridiculous, especially if you are one who lives in a town where everyone is trying to keep up with The Joneses and all their appearances.

I used to be one of those moms who'd join a group of other local moms, so we could talk and the little ones could play.  I recall conversations about what our summer plans will be.  While most of my neighbors would go away to the beach for a couple of weeks, my summer plans always revolved around the house, the 4 kids, our slip-n-slide, and free events, like movies in the park, pubic library craft sessions, and long walks when the sun is not so strong.  I can only imagine myself if I sat in my Stepford Town Mother's Group and had to listen to a bunch of worried/excited moms discuss various "Heritage summer camps and themes" for the adopted brood.

I think such discussions would make me sick... quickly, as I have no stomach for those who try to sell over-priced gimmick crap to suckers.  I mean really... can't the parent of adopted children take a break from adoption and adoption issues already?  Can't the kids just be kids without all the adoption hype and the uber-white version of the adult's interpretation of foreign heritage and culture?  ...and don't parents know sometimes a good, lovely, nice summer camp name, like Tranquility Bay, is not at all like it reads on it's brochure for parents -- especially if it's focus is to 'help educate' the troubled adopted child?

As a kid, I HATED camp; I HATED the feeling of being sent away and group-living. (The only thing about camp I didn't hate was the food... and that's because I finally got 3 full meals a day!)  I would have hated summer-camp more if there was a goal and objective like "child will identify and understand age-appropriate adoption issues".  And I would have hated craft-time if my projects had to represent something from or about Canada.  Could there be anything more dull and uninspiring than always seeing the national flag on everything?  [I would have hated camp fun-time even more  it more if there were a 54-page student rule book I had to read and I knew parents signed a contract allowing staff to use handcuffs, mace and stun guns on the kids.]

The more I hear from APs the more I get the feeling that there are many groups and organizations that purposely keep an over-abundant focus on the international adoption experience....and I think this is done less for 'the kids', and more for the adults who can generating a nice business income, one that that relies on AP's sense of desperation and their money.  [To which I add, thank goodness for those adoption subsidy checks, eh?  See comment, "Giving Breaks" for my thoughts on adoption subsidies and the people who receive them.] 

This focus-on-the-adoption-and-the-adopted approach towards parenting can not only exploit the 'poor orphan' motif, but it can easily put even more pressure on average parents to spend spend spend, unnecessarily, out of guilt, fear, and "child's best interest" - a child who may or may not be a poor denied/deprived "orphan", damaged by institutional living and all that goes with adoption itself.

In all honesty, I would really hate being a young adoptee in this day and age, especially if adoption issues were all that my AP's were focused on!  [Some of this stuff gets really batty!  I mean, come-on, Heritage Camp... for the adopted child... in Tulsa, OKLAHOMA?]

How easy - or hard - is it to say no to such 'specialty' themes and all the big spending that (in-theory) might help the adopted child adjust to "normal" life and living?

Are there many AP's who find such organized events/excursions/opportunities to be  really helpful for the child who was adopted from another country?  ... and how many see much of this pay-for-extra-adoption services as being just too over the top?  I'm inclined to think all this buying-into stuff helps create financially strapped and emotionally tapped parents with spoiled brat kids, instead of a content parenting lifestyle with smart, well-rounded, secure, independent-thinking individuals, who happen to be kids.  It seems to me the adoption industry strips away good common sense, making it impossible for the adoptive parent to sit back and relax for a couple of weeks out of the year, for the sake of the child in that home.

<stepping off soap-box>

Thoughts?  Comments? 

Pound Pup Legacy