48 thoughts on “The tea ceremony is always important

  1. Although I still see some things that bug me about this I feel it’s a step in the right direction, at the very least the kids can meet other adoptees who they can relate to. It doesn’t change the fact I still believe these issues can be averted by phasing out interracial adoptions but this may never happen. And I still don’t think white ap’s will ever be able to fully understand.

    btw are they learning traditional Chinese tea ceremony from “kyle stewart”? If you’re an ap and are offended by why I would see concern in this then you’re part of the problem too, sorry.

  2. I probably can’t analyze this properly, because I’m jealous. I’ve never participated in a tea ceremony, and I probably never will. I haven’t celebrated a Dragon Boat Festival either, or planted Chinese vegetables.

  3. I thought it was very weird that they seemed so obsessed with the orphanage director. When the girls are thinking of someone far away who loves them, that’s who it should be????

  4. Meeting other adoptees is a plus. That should mean a lot to these girls in the long run. The lanterns, the songs and the moon cakes probably won’t mean anything to them until each one of them visits and tries to understand the nation and the people they were taken from. But, even then, it might not mean much considering the time and the distance that separates them.

  5. To JS 718. I don’t know in this case, but I have two Chinese friends married to American men who have taken their husbands last names, and given themselves what they call an “American” first name. Thus when you hear their name you may perceive they are not of Asian descent when in fact they grew up in China. Not what I would do or recommend, but I have seen two who have done it. In another scenario, which could also happen for a man… Another friend’s daughter has first and last name are “American” but her mom is from China and dad is ABC with his grandfather having changed his name to an “American name” when he came over in the 50’s. As a result, she has no Chinese name, even though both of her parents are 100% Chinese, and she speaks fluent Mandarin…

  6. Not even to mention my other friend whose daughter married an American. I think some people assume all Asians who have non Asian names are adopted.

    and regarding this article, it is good that at least the girls have some exposure to other Asians. Some adoptees have none at all. Not so good that it sounds a little bit (actually a lot) nauseating…

  7. hey MA, I understand completely. The same is an issue for in/ir adoptees who are born abroad and are almost always renamed to have a different first and last name. The confusion and prejudice based on the difference of name and face must be very frustrating. And I’m sure there are other examples as to why an Asian person might have a european last name. If this is the case that’s one thing. But how often do you see white people as experts of co-opted culture… ha forget experts, how about saviors. This can be especially damaging to a young adoptee who is learning about their heritage but fail to associate anyone knowledgeable of the culture or any role models as people of their own race. If you want to instill pride and a true interest of the culture of your adopted kids let them see that people who look like them can be knowledgeable and successful, and this goes beyond tea ceremonies. I know I’ve shifted the topic a bit but I hope you get my point.

    Also on a side rant, I understand it’s your friends choice to take their husbands names I’ve seen people do the same. but I can’t respect those decisions I think it’s usually due to a lack of understanding of race dynamics in america.

  8. Uh (looks around nervously) I think this daisy troop is kinda… cool (ducks head and runs for cover.)

  9. Note to Resistance. Sigh. I was hoping it was one my scenarios. But alas no. An old white guy teaching Chinese culture! How great….

  10. *pelts flower with fortune cookies*

    I kinda wondered why they didn’t make it a troop of Chinese girls instead of just adopted Chinese girls. Or just adopted girls. While I think it’s good for adopted kids to know each other, I tend to think it would be better if Chinese adopted kids could also know non-Chinese kids who were adopted and non-adopted Chinese kids.

  11. Yikes. Yikes. Yikes. I don’t even know where to begin, I’m just so embarrassed for all of the adults involved. The article should be required reading for people considering transracial/transnational adoption, along with an assignment to pick out at least ten things that are wrong with this picture. Total absence of adults of color, save for the token restaurant worker? Check. Jewelry (worn, no less, by the adoptive parent) with Chinese characters? Check. Requisite mention of the adoptee fear of other Chinese people? Check. White people appropriating (and even worse, teaching others about) historic cultural rituals? The self-congratulatory manner in which the adoptive parents wax sentimental about how their children have enriched their lives? Big fat check.

  12. @ theberberediaries

    LOL. I’m surprised there was no “chopsticks in the hair” thing.

    Memo to all adoptive parents: Asian eating utensils should not be used as hair grooming implements.

    And the funny thing is that the person teaching this tea ceremony is relatively well-intentioned and benign compared to those adoptive parents who wanted to have plastic surgery on their child to take care of that pesky Asian eye “problem.”

  13. Now that you put it that way, I am no longer jealous. I don’t want to be sent to Kyle Stewart.

    I just want to learn about the tea ceremony, Dragon Boat festival, and Chinese vegetables. I thought the tea ceremony is for weddings? Why are these little kids learning about the tea ceremony, when most Chinese people learn how to do it when/if they get married (I assume)?

  14. I don’t want to trade places with the transnational adoptee Girl Scouts, but isn’t it better that they have these experiences along with other Chinese adoptees than go to regular Girl Scouts? Yes, perhaps they are learning Chinese cultural rituals in an artificial setting directed by white people, but it’s not the case that all non-adopted Chinese people would learn these things by default.

  15. I would argue yes, you would feel less alienated as a result of learning about the tea ceremony, since I feel alienated as a result of not learning about the same tea ceremony. I’m a non-adopted Asian and I feel uneasy in both the “Asian” and “Caucasian” worlds. The former is due to a language barrier and hence cultural barrier; the latter is due to being racialized.

  16. @Restructure, my daughter’s Chinese school has a dragon boat race every year. Not too far from NYC. I’m sure if you call in advance you’ll be made welcome. Oddly they have omitted the chopstick hairstyle from the curriculum. I am fairly sure there is no tea ceremony.

    but really, it’s easy for me to poke fun – but I’ve been able to find settings that are a bit more natural, in which my daughter spends significant time with same-age, same-country adoptees and lots of nonadopted Asian kids too. If that is not available, surely this is much better than being “the only” in your regular Girl Scout etc group?

    what I actually really want is for my daughter to learn Chinese martial arts. I think they are wonderful as sport and potentially empowering to know she has something to fall back on for self-defense, should it ever be needed. Oddly Tae Kwon Do classes are everywhere around here, but I can’t find Chinese martial arts classes within an easy drive.

  17. @resistance, locally here, I’ve found that there is an uncomfortable answer to your inquiry about why not a troupe of adopted and nonadopted Chinese girls. Within the greater Chinese community here, there is open prejudice against the adoptees – I would say maybe a third of recently arrived families, much less but present among families here a longer time.

    I missed my best opportunity to find out more about it. We had a local high school girl (family in US when she was a little child), coming to tutor Mandarin, and my daughter adored her. When I asked her about whether it was true that there was some prejudice against the adoptees, her answer was, “Of course!” I was too shocked to ask for details and too uncomfortable – it was obvious she shared this attitude – to ever have her back here.

  18. @Lori – There are dragon boat races near where I live, and I know people who participate in the races, but I do not feel comfortable with some of them, yet I do not want to show up alone and awkward.

    I think I understand now. I personally don’t know that much about the tea ceremony, so I don’t know how complex it is and whether it can be taught correctly or appropriately by Kyle Stewart.

  19. Visiting tea house and learning about tea ceremony seem to be one of the most popular tourist things to do when you visit Hong Kong or mainland China. Hey, they want you to spend money, ok!

    It’s like wine tasting. Most people do not grow up learning about wine tasting. Is it a culture? Sure. Is it something everyone does. Not really. Is it a good thing to know? Sure. It doesn’t hurt to know more than the average Joe.

  20. Can a white person teach Chinese tea ceremony property? Depends on who you ask. A Chinese tea ceremony expert will probably disapprove. Personally I am glad someone is showing interest because I don’t care. Tea is tea :-)

  21. Hey Lori, there will be prejudice everywhere. You don’t think white people aren’t also prejudiced against your Chinese daughter? Adoptees of others cultures face the same issues, it’s part of adoption unfortunately. As an AP I think it’s important for you to understand these issues when adopting. You can’t remove yourself or your child from Chinese culture because of this. Also I don’t think it’s fair to say all Chinese people think this way, especially Chinese Americans who grow up in the same environment as your daughter.

  22. js718, I was answering resistance’s comment specifically – giving a reason why the troupe might not include nonadopted as well as adopted girls.

    I neither said nor thought _any_ of the other things you imply. So I’m not sure why you wrote them?

    Locally, about a third of recent immigrant Chinese families, and many fewer but a few American-born Chinese adults, in my observation, are openly prejudiced against the adopted kids. My daughter (who is preK age) is as involved in Chinese culture as I can find a way to do – but I have made certain choices, such as which specific Chinese school she attends, with the thought in mind that while I can, I will limit her exposure to Chinese people who will look down on her for who she is. I assure you that I equally try to defend and shield my daughter from white people who, for somewhat different reasons, look down on her for who she is. We have been fortunate in having a Chinese school available which has many Chinese children who are being raised by their bio parents as well as many adopted Chinese children, and a few children who are not ethnically Chinese.

    As my daughter gets older, yes, she will have to navigate a wider world including people who look down on her for various reasons. But while she is this young, I make use of such control over those interactions as I have.

  23. What did I imply? My comment was based on what you typed, if I read that out of context that then maybe you didn’t explain it as well as you intended, or I just didn’t understand it clearly. Either way I dont feel anything I typed was offensive or out of line.

  24. Actually, and not to shift topics too far, I’m pretty curious what types of prejudices Chinese would have against Chinese adoptees.
    I know for some older generation of Koreans they have some mixed feelings for adoptees due to shame, adoptees represent a symbol of infidelity or poverty. Or they’re disappointed that the adoptee is not in tune with the culture. Although with the younger generations I find there are less issues. Often 2nd and later gen Korean Americans have similar issues as adoptees feeling stuck between two worlds, although for adoptees I imagine the feeling is amplified.

  25. js718,
    I feel like I must be living in a different world than Lori, I have never really limited my kids from Chinese people, and dang, I actually can not report getting the sense that Chinese people didn’t like my kids, actually, my kids get invited to friends houses, I went to a teacher’s house this summer, just me and her, she treated me to lunch, she had an entire room devoted to tea, she let me taste the fermented tea she had, I can only say good things, we have had a very positive experience.
    On the other hand, white ap’s, they come in, try to take over, insist they know better ways of teaching, speak in an odd, slow voice when trying to demand a “better” method of instruction or of doing things in general, it’s embarrAssing, really.
    As to the groups that cater to China adoptees, I can’t stand a bunch of white people trying to teach Chinese culture, that is impossible, actually quite silly, almost Kafka like, yet, these same people seem to reject, perhaps they don’t even know it, other non-white adopted children, I hardly ever have anything to do with that group anymore. We got pretty good at avoiding them:))

  26. js718, the people from the Chinese mainland who’ve discussed this with me (who vehemently indicate that they do not feel this way themselves) indicate that the reasons would be
    -prejudice against poorer people and the children of unwed mothers. Most of the non-special needs children who are adopted fall in one, or both, of these categories of people. The immigrants to the US may be poor here, but in China they had to be sufficiently well off to be able to leave the country, far from as poor as these children’s parents are perceived to be
    -prejudice against the ethnic group of these children. Many of the children are not Han Chinese. Guangxi and Guangdong, two of the provinces that send many adoptive children to the US, are very multiethnic. Guangxi province is about 60% Han Chinese, 40% minority, 50+ different minorities, with the largest single ethnic minority related to the Thai peoples. Asian v Asian ethnic prejudice definitely is a potent force in the Asian countries. example – Miao, the Chinese word for the Hmong, translates apparently as something like “ratlike thief”. I’ve also heard this sort of thing from Chinese friends, regarding their parents’ attitudes to choice of spouse for example.

    I haven’t heard anything either way about their attitudes toward culture loss among children.

    I never said you were offensive or out of line – just that your comments seemed directed at APs in general and not, that I could see, related to what I’d written. For example, I’m not sure where writing about Chinese school turns into keeping my daughter away from Chinese people and culture, and I’m not sure where saying a third of a specific subgroup feels this way turned into my saying that all Chinese people feel a certain way. But maybe that wasn’t directed specifically at what I wrote and you were making rhetorical points?

  27. Hmm, I suppose my comment was more generalized.

    Also, believe me I know there is a lot of racism between Asians in Asia and it sucks. It translates in America as well, although sometimes differently. I think the only reason is may not be as strong in America has to do with the face that Asians get lumped together despite being of different national/ethnic backgrounds. They’re all the same in America.

  28. js718,
    sure, there are conflicts, and racism between Asians in Asia, and perhaps this may carry over into the states, however, I really find that when people spend a lot of time together, on a regular basis, those sort of bias diminish, and I agree, since the perception is Asian, rather than Chinese or Korean or Japanese in the US, those differences diminish too.

  29. js718, I have found (most of this is from close friends, some from people I wouldn’t call really close but I know them well enough that we’ve talked about things like what their parents were thinking when they were choosing a spouse) that there is plenty of racism among Asians in the US. This isn’t surprising to me, because most of the Asians I know either came themselves or are the first US born generation. Quote a friend who came here from mainland China as an adult – “I can’t believe anyone likes Japanese people”. At the same time, something I noticed the most in college – there was definitely also a sense of common ground as Asians, and a lot of people were exploring what it felt like to be Asian in a big Asian community after coming from areas where no one else looked like them.

    I think maybe part of our different perceptions here has to do with the parts of the country, rural v urban etc too, that we are living in as we type? Because here, in the area outlying NYC, I don’t know that Asians are all lumped together. My impression is not, although obviously my sample is the people I know and is not at all random.

  30. Forget about teaching tea ceremonies, these (White) Adoptive Parents should start giving lectures about racism–not their own of course but “intra-Asian racism.”

    After all, that topic would be much more politically comfortable and divert attention from uncomfortable issues like these parents imposing plastic surgery on their adopted kids as a form of racial cleansing; Western cultural appropriation of the “Orient”; and of course the racist and classist American Empire that ultimately enables these adoptive parents to have the wealth, privilege, and power to adopt children from unenlightened developing nations like China in the first place.

    Adoptive Parents: the benevolent saviors of “disadvantaged” colored children the world over.

    It’s the Western Civilizing Mission in a new guise.

  31. Lxy, you’re absolutely right. APs are far more tuned into “intra-(people of their child’s race)-racism” than racism of the boring ol’ white people variety. I once attended a transracial parenting workshop where one mother shared with the group how her daughter (whose lovely birth name had been changed to a meaningless “exotic”-sounding one) was the only black person for miles around but that everyone was so nice to her. Funny how stares from people of color are always perceived to be negative or disapproving of transracial adoption, while stares from white people are friendly and curious.

    This same woman then went on to complain how when she took her daughter to get her hair braided at an African-American salon, the workers there were rude to her. Having met the woman, I’m pretty certain that the workers were rude because she was pretentious, entitled, and clueless; their coolness had nothing to do with their views of transracial adoption and everything to do with her, and perhaps the fact that she couldn’t be bothered to learn how to do her own child’s hair. She seemed utterly disappointed that she did not get the praise she felt she deserved for not only adopting an orphan, but for getting the poor child’s hair done professionally.

  32. and now it is time to observe that I have much to learn about how others see what I say…. thank you. Really. And sorry – I have obviously yet again managed to be offensive unintentionally.

  33. @Lori,
    I really do enjoy reading your posts, you are open and honest about your thoughts and experience.

  34. Yeah, if we can just talk about racism among Asians, then we won’t have to talk about how and why some white people hate non-white. I also get a feeling that some people just believe what they want to believe. Why is it easier to believe in racism among Asians but find it so hard to understand white privileges?

  35. overseaschinese,
    thanks, you make a really good point, i think white people probably do find it easier, and also an out, that way the uncomfortable emotions that the power structure of privilege carry can be avoided.

  36. I have found that prejudice against Chinese adoptees depends on the people, some are/some aren’t.

    Someone made some kind of remark about Chinese immigrants being poor here but must have been wealthy to be able to leave China. This is odd considering the fact that a large percentage of Chinese where I live a have PhD, and are highly educated researchers.

    I think some adoptive parents don’t realize how they turn people off by being very controlling. When people are learning about a culture, you should allow yourself to be taught, not try to control everything…

  37. @Ma:”I think some adoptive parents don’t realize how they turn people off by being very controlling. When people are learning about a culture, you should allow yourself to be taught, not try to control everything…”

    thank you for summing it up so nicely:))
    @Resistance, yes, I think that it is a general thing, to such a degree that some kids are told they are adopted, but are instructed not to tell anyone else, as they WILL get snide cruel remarks from other people or kids, especially in school. Then, as you have posted many times, the media, including books, films, ect, all paint a distorted picture most of the time.

  38. “I think some adoptive parents don’t realize how they turn people off by being very controlling. When people are learning about a culture, you should allow yourself to be taught, not try to control everything…”

    White people not trying to control (i.e. colonize and possess) everything.

    That day would be quite a historic achievement–right up there with world peace and ending hunger.

  39. just wanted to say especially to resistance –

    it is true that, as far as our interactions at playgrounds, prejudice against adopted people would explain absolutely everything.

    a different prejudice from racism, but does it come from some of the same internal psychology? I don’t know.

    –sorry for coming back to this after the thread had died.

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