Friday, September 18, 2009

Challenges Unique to International Adoption

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.


day by day said...

awww...very sweet pictures! My girls seem to really enjoy their Chinese school...and I am happy to say I am learning quite a bit from
it myself. : )

Shay Ankerich said...

What a wonderful opportunity! I know if we still lived in Atlanta, I would have EK in Chinese school. No such thing here. We try to do some of the same things you mentioned. I hope the girls learn so much! Love your pics!

Leah and Maya said...

I think most people that adopt internationally feel just like you do. Ther eis only so much we can do we also live in a small town etc. Although spanish is more widely spoken then Chinese (depending on where you live). Always a struggle, becasue they are little americans that we are also trying to teach them of the culture they were born to.

mommy24treasures said...

such sweet pics. This sounds like a great opportunity for them.
I know they will enjoy.

Kelly And Allison said...

Beautiful pictures. Lovely! I share the same feeling. I am Chinese and yet my girls speak very little Chinese. My older one spoke Chinese when she was little because she had a Chinese nanny. She forgot all of them once started pre-school. I tried Chinese school and that didn't work because they are not in a Chinese environment. It works when both parents are Chinese. What I did find is travels to China help make the connection. They now knows their grandparents live in China and they understand that's a different language and culture and try to understand more now. As they get older will help.

Ladyblog said...

Thanks for the well wishes!

Donna said...

I agree with you completely. As our girls get older, they'll make up their own mind about how much of their ethnicity to embrace. They might choose to "just be American". We have several Chinese friends who made that choice and don't speak any language to their children other than English. But we don't want to make that decision for our kids so we'll ensure that they're fluent in Mandarin before they're 18. You'd think we'd have plenty of language schools around here but we don't. We're still looking for one that caters to Kindergarten age students. Until then, we're pushing the Mandarin cartoon videos and they're really learning a lot from them!

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