First things first.

Fortune cookies are not Chinese.

“Exposure” is not enough.  And it makes “culture” sound like chicken pox.

The internet may offer people more opportunities to learn.  But you can lead an idiot to a web page, but you can’t make him think. 

“Isn’t especially diverse” in a town that’s 96 percent white.  Now that’s like saying I’m not especially kind to adoptive parents.

“Diversity” does not mean stuff.  Diversity does not mean people of another color whom you proudly proclaim look different from you.  (As opposed to all of us being different from each other.)  Diversity means being challenged by meaningful difference and figuring out a way to gracefully deal.

And “inviting diversity” is easier if you aren’t living in a town that’s 96 percent white.  GD and all that.

Tangrams will not help your kid become Chinese American.  Neither will tea rituals.  Not only that, but white people shouldn’t be teaching their idea of what Chinese people are like.  Why aren’t any actual Chinese people involved in the teaching of Chinese culture in the adoption community?

Cultural immersion is not possible when you are not living within that culture.

And I’m not so sure that children feel the benefit of being part of a broader community, especially when their parents teach them that we’re scary and dangerous and not good enough to treat like equals.

But hey, it’s 2010.

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8 thoughts on “First things first.

  1. Very poignant post. Unfortunately, I have also tried to talk to these adoptive parents. About exposing children to culture in terms of daily exposure to people of their child’s culture- so that that child can learn culture/belonging from his or her own people and/or just questioning the fact that maybe they don’t even have the right to adopt children out of another culture and immerse them in their own just because they want to. I think that no matter what, they have their minds made up and they have a wall up to prevent any new information from rattling their well constructed cages. Their belief in their inherent right to parent and their right to parent the way that they want to tends to trump anything else in their minds. It breaks my heart, but sadly, I don’t think they will ever change. But I admire you for trying.

  2. “Louie hopes that adoptive parents are not criticized excessively, especially when few Americans find these sorts of subjects pleasant.

    ‘They are trying their best,’ she said, ‘but the truth is, [the kids are the ones who suffer from their inadequacy]“.

    There, fixed it for them.

  3. Personally, I find most of the adoptive parents I meet very scary. The rationalizations that they emit make no sense.

    I am very hard on myself about these issues because I knew from day one that I had to tear down my own perspective and let it rebuild. But it is often very difficult to know the best direction to go in. I have the same doubts about the direction you believe someone in my position should go in.

    And I don’t even hide it very well from my sons. I need them to know that I understand what we have here and that my loyalty to them is strong enough that I can be very uncomfortable for their sake.

    I can’t speak for other APs, but my heart on this comes from responsibility. Not some “right” to parent my sons. It is something I actually could give up if I truly believed that would be better off. But how could that be?

    So I focus on how much I care about their well being and try to fill their lives with rich and outgoing experiences so that they may have as wide a perspective as possible.

    Do we care about Korean culture? Yes. What does that mean? I do not know. I do know that they enjoy seeing Korean faces. And they do so usually without my physically being there. Is this exposure? No, but I do think it helps their self image. They display a lot of pride in who they are and where they come from. But where they go with that is really going to be up to them.

  4. “I can’t speak for other APs, but my heart on this comes from responsibility. Not some “right” to parent my sons. It is something I actually could give up if I truly believed that would be better off. But how could that be?”
    ________
    Ed, I loved reading your post, as always, but this little snippet really stands out for me, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  5. I realize I likely come off as some sort of nut. And I don’t actually like to talk about this stuff very much because I don’t feel that there is any group of people that I can rely on to be perfectly honest. Other APs? No. Adoptees? I trust their stories and their feelings. But I don’t trust them to be as brutal with me as I would like. And willing to take these issues to the matt. For real.

    It is also because I always have to recover from it because I can’t get over the difference between what I did and how I feel about doing such a thing. I can’t let myself feel guilt, but I have to accept the truth of it anyway without causing my children to think I am not 100% behind them.

    I’ve seen that happen by the way. Parent’s losing that connection to an adopted child. I almost think it is common and a maybe a bigger problem than race and culture are. Because if you lose that for a second, your child will doubt you forever.

  6. It is also because I always have to recover from it because I can’t get over the difference between what I did and how I feel about doing such a thing. I can’t let myself feel guilt, but I have to accept the truth of it anyway without causing my children to think I am not 100% behind them.

    Ed, would you explain what you mean by this? Thanks. Also, how do you think parents lose the connection to their child?

  7. Ed: You wrote:
    Do we care about Korean culture? Yes. What does that mean? I do not know. I do know that they enjoy seeing Korean faces. And they do so usually without my physically being there. Is this exposure? No, but I do think it helps their self image. They display a lot of pride in who they are and where they come from. But where they go with that is really going to be up to them.

    I am wondering what this means? To me, if you cannot give your kid regular exposure as a child to his community of heritage-which to me does not mean festivals but hanging out with other kids of his heritage and having traditional meals in their homes and being able to grow up with a sense of heritage- then one should not adopt kids of that race. You may be doing this, however, your indication of enjoying to see Korean faces- how often do they see Korean faces? I definitely think kids need to be raised up in their “overseas culture” so that they do not feel a stranger in that culture when they grow up. They can’t take it and run with it if they have not been given a base in that community.

  8. Pingback: Canada is multicultural, not anti-racist. « Restructure!

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