After watching X-Men: Apocalypse, I was curious about the actress who played Jubilee. She
was Asian American, and because there are so few Asian American actors getting speaking roles in Hollywood, at least speaking roles that aren’t racist, I was immediately intrigued. Lana Condor, 19, plays Jubilee in the film. She has a bright personality and has gotten different acting roles post X-Men. I’m happy for her. I want her to succeed and show that Asian American women can be beautiful, but also smart, funny, creative, daring, brave, and perhaps one day, star in their own movie. A part of Condor’s life that hasn’t been addressed in many of interviews is the fact that she is adopted from Vietnam. She was adopted as an infant by higher up at Yahoo and currently lives in California. She deferred enrollment to Loyola to continue her dream of being actress. She teeters on this interesting line, she’s privileged financially, but underprivileged racially and through gender, she’s at the crossroads of many identities.
I’m going to talk about her in relation to her adoption, especially interracial and international adoption. As an international adoptee myself, looking at Lana’s story is incredible. It’s the rags to riches story that has been pushed down our throats by multiple movies about orphans. How they start out poor, and then adopted into rich families, or making their fortune for themselves. For me, Anne of Anne of Green Gables, and Harry Potter come to mind. Though they may not end up wealthy, they do the best with what they have and either are adopted into a loving family, as with the case of Anne, or make a family of their own, in the case of Harry. Both of their birth parents, who are dead, are romanticized figures in the books. Harry and Anne are fictionally living the romanticized orphan story, while Lana lives it. Though, I’m sure she has problems of her own, as an insider looking out, this is what I see. We don’t get a say in what kind of family we’re adopted in, just like biological children have no choice what family they are born into. We have no control over their wealth, their race, sexual orientation, gender etc. But I hope that when she does address her adoption, she address that her story is a rare reality. Not all children are adopted into wealthy families and given all the opportunities to achieve their dreams. And I’m sure she knows that, but I hope the media doesn’t distort it and call it a “Cinderella” story. Because even though adopted kids can get adopted into financially well off families, and go from nothing to everything seemingly overnight, doesn’t necessarily mean the other children who are left in middle class homes, have sucky lives. Lastly, some kids who are adopted in rich families can have abusive family members, and kids who are in poor situations can have extremely loving families. Money means security, but not necessarily that the adopted child has a “perfect” life.
With adoption it’s easy to see privilege more easily because it seems as though the adopted children, who were orphans in “3rd world countries” and grew up in orphanages, have “worse” backgrounds compared to their new U.S. home. This is because the U.S. is seen as the ultimate “advanced” country in the world. So, “anything would be better than that place.” But in reality, there is no better or worse country, everything is subjective. Yes, basic human rights should be met, but after that, people can be happy anywhere, with whatever position they’re in. The U.S. didn’t “save” these children; they were saved by the orphanage workers who took care of the children in their most vital stages of life. Those people from the “third world” helped raise the American citizens you see before you.
Lastly, we don’t choose the life we have now. It’s out of our hands. The same goes for those who were born and raised with their biological family. No individual is born knowing what kind of family they have or will have. It’s easier to see a “Cinderella story” with adoption stories because the country the child is adopted from is usually a “third world” country or the family they came from was “bad” or “died tragically.” Therefore, the adoptive family and the country they come from is seen as the “savior,” when this is just not true. Many adopted children, including myself, wonder what life could have been like if they were never adopted, if they had stayed in the orphanage, in their “home country.” But that’s a life we’ll never know, and that’s just something we grow to accept. Some people are luckier than others when they’re adopted. Just like some people are lucky to be born rich, and others are just lucky to have food on the table that day. It’s unfair, and horrible, and that’s just life. Internationally adopted kids are lucky to be adopted, but not lucky in the sense that their adopted family “rescued” them, as an act of charity, but lucky that a family took them in as an equal to be loved and cherished like any biological kid would. Most are lucky that they were given the privilege of having an able body and mind at birth, so prospective adoptive parents wouldn’t turn them away (save for a few adoptive parents who do adopt those individuals who do have varying abilities). They were lucky that they got adopted at all. Lucky that orphanage workers and strangers helped them to have the lives they have today. Even after adoption, some children have miserable lives due to poverty, abusive parents/adults/peers. So no, adoption is not the ultimate charity, but it is something that should never be taken lightly.
21 year old college senior. English major. Adopted from China as a baby living in the US ever since. Feminist and kill joy with a cause.