Ahh, no guys, "kinning," according to the big Scandinavian academic who came up with the word, means the process by which an adopted person becomes part of the adoptive family....
It has nothing to do with the original, first, birth family. Quite the opposite. In fact, if you had been listening to the folks talking at the Second International Conference on Adoption and Culture at the University of Pittsburgh last fall (2007) you correctly would assume that the adopted person became so totally integrated into the new family that the old family...shucks, hardly matters at all. The adoptee point of view--about how maybe adoption is not that great--was relegated to the creative sessions...since we did not have academic papers to present.
By the time I heard the "kinning" paper presented, I knew what was coming.
Of course, I remember the time that my daughter Jane told me how she knew she was home: when my husband told her that her footfall on the stairway was just like mine. Heavy. She told me not long ago that she had been criticized for years...Jane, can't you just walk quieter?
Well, um, no she couldn't. It was an inherited thing.
There may have been more mothers at the Pitt conference, but Carol Schaefer, Mary Anne Cohen and Shelia Ganz and I were the only ones that I'm aware of who attended. Although Carol and I read at the opening session, which was good, Shelia and Mary Anne read at the late night and very poorly attended session for poetry and other original contributions. It was an academic conference, and our contributions were...not in the mainstream of what this conference was about. I was so glad to have the company of other birth mothers (along with Marley, my favorite bastardette), especially at the conference dinner.
However, I did have some nice interactions with several adoptees who seemed glad to have us there. Mostly, it felt like a conference of adoptive-mother academics who were hell-bent to "prove" that the original culture did not matter. But Marianne Novy, the adoptee academic at Pitt who was the main organizer, did invite Emily Prager to speak. And Emily raises hackles in some adoption families (and among those I know) because she did immerse her Chinese child as much as possible in the Chinese culture when they were living in the states, and then moved to Shanghai, where she and Lulu live now. Emily's book, WuHu Diary, is an interesting read. It's about taking her daughter back to China when she was five to see if they could track down her birth mother, or at least more information. They could not.
As a side note, Emily spent a part of her own youth in China with her father, who was a military attache there. And he is a close friend of mine, so I've known Emily since long before she adopted. Lulu, he says, the little girl in question (Emily kept the Chinese name she had been given) intends to come back to the states when she is older. She is just going into high school in Shanghai this fall. As for Lulu, it is almost certain that she will never be able to connect to her first family. She was left on a bridge near a police station, with a note from her birth mother, as I recall from the book.
But if I mention Emily...to another friend who also has a Chinese daughter...she sees red and does not contain her disdain. Which is what happened when I simply said I was going to be away the weekend of the conference, and that Emily was speaking.
This is not to say that these parents aren't good parents, they are; or that the girls who were adopted here are certainly better off than if they were languishing in a Chinese orphanage; or that adoptees do not form strong lifelong bonds with their new families, the only ones they grow up knowing.
But how one views or reacts to the nuances of "adoption and culture" is skewed by one's frame of reference. Absolument.