Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is it Really That Simple?

Great blog post at Shadow Between Two Worlds, an adult Asian adoptee who is blogging to help educate adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents. MeiLing also blogs at The Original Heping.

During a summer ago, I used to baby-sit my neighbour’s kids. . . . S and her brother J often remind me of the innocence and natural curiousity of kids (although I was never into Barbies), and so we don’t really have any ’serious’ discussions.Until one night, when I was tucking her into bed and she was telling me about her family portraits and fun events. . . .

S:Hey, ML, do you know what skin colour we are?
ML: Hmmm? O.o
S: What colour am I?
ML: White.
S: Oh. And Mommy and Daddy?
ML: White.
S: E’s white too, and so is J, right?
ML: Yeah.
S: *sits up in bed and looks at me, slightly puzzled* You’re not white, are you? What colour are you?
ML: I’m brown.
S: Oh. *pause* Then what colour are your mommy and daddy?
ML: They’re white. But they’re my parents and they love me too. *is debating on whether or not to mention adoption*
S: *smiles* Why are they white and you’re brown?
ML: *hesitates* Because… I had another set of parents but they couldn’t take care of me. So my mommy and daddy are my parents and they take care of me.

I find that what I said - in order to keep it age-appropriate, especially for a child who hasn’t been adopted - tends to echo the view by so many (prospective) adoptive parents, even today - before they’ve adopted.

This post isn’t meant to target parents; rather, I dwelled on it for a long time before actually writing it out, as it has been something that nagged at me for several weeks and questioned me to think, “If adoption is so complex, when we simplify it, are we minimizing our own emotions and thoughts involving it because we are afraid to go any deeper and face the truth?”

* * *

Isn’t that what the average adoptive parent tells their child - that their mother loved them so much but couldn’t take care of them, so another set of parents stepped in to take care of that child? Which of course may very well be the closest to the truth that a child can understand.
But is it really the final truth?

* * *
But when an adoptive parent tells their child “she loved you so much she gave you up”, of course they need to keep it simple and direct for their child’s understanding, but are they persuading themselves to think like that as well?

* * *
In a way, when I told S that my parents “loved me but couldn’t keep me”, a part of me felt stifled, as though that child (in me) that had been told “Your mother loved you so much she gave you up” yet again - as if I was internally telling myself to “be quiet and stop making this more of an issue of an internalized issue than you have to.”

It is not that simple, and as I approach adulthood, it has grown far more complex than I ever imagined.

Read more here. Very thought-provoking, isn't it? Adoptive parents of our era are so lucky to be able to hear the voices of adult adoptees, to learn from them what our children may experience as they grow older.


Anonymous said...


You linked to my blog. :) How did you manage to come across me (or should I say both blogs)?

Anyway, I'm quite flattered to know that you're helping to spread the word about Sister Heping - it's always good to keep reaching out about adoption and educating who we can.

malinda said...

LOL! It sometimes feels a little lonely out there in the blogospehere, doesn't it?! I get the same WOW feeling when someone links to me!

I'm not sure where I found you -- I'm just glad I did. :) It was probably on the blogroll of an adult adoptee's blog. I go looking at adoptee blogs all the time. If you read anything in your visit here, you know that my 7-year-old is grappling with the loss of her family in China. Anything I can learn about what she might be thinking and feeling is so helpful to me.

zoe'sfriendsyd said...

Very thought provoking. And nice to have Sisterheping visiting the blog. I am going to read more on the link - We "think" the birth family / birth mom loved our daughter, but how do we "know"? We are as honest as we can be, but I often wonder what she'll think herself as she gets older. We try so hard to present facts only and let her formulate her own thoughts. But when she says "Mom, do you think my birth mom loved me?" we love her so dearly, we can't imagine any other scenario. She was wrapped in adult clothing and placed at the gate of the orphanage (like Maya). And if the answer were different, how would we know? So we say "this is what we think...." and hope she'll feel open to us to discuss what SHE thinks and feels, too.
OK I am going to click on the link now....