When we decided that we wanted to adopt our two daughters from China, we took it for granted that we needed to embrace and learn about their heritage and Chinese culture. We did this, all the while knowing, that we ourselves do not know much about being Chinese and we live in a community with only one other Chinese-American family (actually they are half Thai).
From my perspective, my girls are really only Chinese in their appearance and in their ancestry. They are not even Chinese-American in the sense that most Chinese-Americans either embrace both cultures, speak both languages, or are raised by Chinese and/or Chinese-Americans. How do I instill pride in their Chinese-ness when I am not an authority on this myself? Well, I do all I can to encourage and share in my daughters' enthusiasm for anything Chinese.
We try to associate with other Chinese families and other adoptive Chinese families as much as we can. Our girls have always had a Chinese doctor. We enjoy Chinese children's videos and movies. We celebrate Chinese holidays with Chinese American families. We have hosted two Chinese girls to live with us and attend the local high school. These two girls have become like sisters to our girls. Yet still, this just doesn't feel like enough education or exposure for my girls.
I am not in a position to move them to a different community where there will be lots of other faces like theirs, but we do have a couple of new opportunities knocking on our doorstep at this time.
There is a larger city to the south of us and the local Chinese community is offering Chinese language (and culture) lessons. Another lady will be offering Chinese traditional dance lessons. I hate making commitments, but these opportunities to learn and understand are way too important for me to pass them by. Ultimately, my girls will form their own opinions about who they are and how being of Chinese descent factors into that identity. But for now, I wish for them every opportunity to learn and appreciate this wonderful culture. After all, the more information they have, the better able they will be to form their own opinions.
Last Sunday was the first day of class and it will follow the regular school year. I took these pictures of the girls during the break in class.