The complexity of transracial adoption can be enormous, especially when you consider ethnic and cultural ramifications for your child. What I mean is that no matter how committed you are (and studies prove how committed adoptive parents are), no matter how hard you try, —exposure to role models, food, music, art, language, festivals, traditions—you will fall short in fully connecting your child to her birth culture.
Your child is not being raised within her birth culture, or by those who are of it. She being raised by you, typically middle to upper class White parents in their culture, next to or on the peripheral of her birth culture. She is still a child of a different race and ethnicity than her adoptive parent(s); she will always be so. Sometimes the love we have for our child clouds this fact…
Parent-teacher conferences were last week, a fresh reminder of the above. My daughter’s Mandarin teacher (my daughter is Chinese; her teacher is from China) spoke highly of her abilities and also about the Chinese connection they share. She encouraged me to send my daughter to the local Chinese church program. Sending my daughter to the Chinese church on Sunday afternoons sounds great on the surface, doesn’t it? However, I only need to go just a smidge deeper into my heart and connect to the truth, the duality of what she faces day-in and day-out.
There is a huge gulf between my daughter and the Chinese children being raised by their Chinese and Chinese American birth parents. It is known as transracial adoption. My daughter feels it, and always has (although how she feels has changed as she becomes older), no matter how much we have exposed her to her birth history and culture. We have always been aware of it as well.
I need to always consider my child first. Attempt to look at life through her lens. So the questions are and continue to be: Where does she fit and how? How do I, as her parent, help her navigate that gulf?
Food for Thought: How do the developmental stages affect how your child feels about having been adopted transracially? What ideas do you have for helping your child navigate that gulf between her adoptive and birth statuses?
~ Photo by NliveN, LLC