Monday, November 10, 2008

New York City?!??!???

In Zoe's latest version of her birth parent dream sequence, the angel put a dream in her head that her birth parents are going to New York City!

Where did that come from? Well, our friend from Xiamen, SiBo's mom, is in New York City doing post-graduate work at New York University Law School. Aha! If SHE can come to NYC, then maybe Zoe's birth parents can, too, is how the reasoning goes in Zoe's mind. When I asked her if she thought her birth parents could come to NYC because SiBo's mom did, Zoe's answer, "Maybe . . . ."

I never know whether to inject a dose of realism into Zoe's more extreme fantasies. Most of the time I can just say that I don't know if it did/could happen that way, and that's what I said about the NYC fantasy. But the reality, of course, is that there's a vast difference between a China scholar and law professor getting a student visa and having the Chinese pay for her studies and the likely situation of Zoe's birth family -- poor farmers in rural China. So, should I explain that difference to her? I don't know . . . .
*fyi, the photo is of Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, NYC


Ann BF said...

You know -- it might not be as far fetched as you think...did you know that most (like 75% or more) of the Chinese restaurant workers in the US (many who arrive illegally BTW, with no visa) are from the Fujian province? This I have learned from a northern Chinese woman here in Buffalo I am now tutoring who was trafficked and is cooeprating with law enforcement...she also told me that NYC Chinatown is mostly Guangdongese and Fujianese...and all the northern Chinese live in Flushing. Could our kids birth parents work illegally in the US? You never know....

LouiseL said...

I wonder if your daughter could possibly "wind you up" by talking about adoption incessantly? It seems a bit inappropriate for her age? It may be a way for her to get attention. You seem a bit obsessed with the whole thing. I understand being culturally sensitive - but I venture to say that each time either girl opens their mouth to discuss adoption your eyes light up with delight and a long lesson appears? I would relax if I were you, you seem to be a good enough mother. That's all we can be.

Wendy said...

Ugh, Zoe is very age appropriate in her discussions.

I wonder if she is working through ideas to meet them or in the fantasy mode (as you know comes and goes). I think I would do as you are doing, continue with the "you never know" or "anything is possible" answers. We don't know do we, so that is what we can say. Revisiting the typical life of the Guangxi/Guiping family may help to get the more than likely reality to her, but with the movement in China it is very possible they are in another province for work or still in the city/countryside in the surrounding area.

Since we spoke with the police officer that found M, she has really wanted to meet him (he has even come into her pretend play). Her connection with the area is increasing and she is now working out what she wants to do when she meets her birthfamily. I have let her do that because the possibility is more real than it has been, but I also make sure that I reitterate that we don't know them and we may never (in a kind way and not at the time of her play). She will work through those scenerios regardless, I want her to feel comfortable enough to be vocal about them with us and near us. Our girls feelings are valid and they will always find ways of coping--we are lucky that our girls have found comfort in talking to us about their feelings and ideas instead of having to suffer in silence or work through these big issues on their own with parents that don't acknowledge these very typical and normal emotions/thoughts.

malinda said...

LOL! I've been expecting a comment like yours since the blog began, Louisel -- I'm frankly surprised that it took so long! I'm sure there are others who see it like you do. But I'm sorry to disappoint, but Zoe is perfectly normal, and so am I!

Adopted children typically begin thinking about their birth parents and asking the 'why' question, around age 7-12. Zoe's doctor, teacher, and mom all think she's normal and well-adjusted. Do some reading from adult adoptees and you'll see Zoe's story replicated on every page!

And no, she gets the same reaction from me whether she talks about adoption or schoolwork or ballet or Junie B. Jones books or First Communion coming up or her cousins or her loose tooth or whatever else happens to be on her mind. What I POST about are conversations about adoption, but those aren't the only conversations we're having, so I know the blog gives a skewed view of the prevalence of adoption talk in our house. That's why I say in the header, "That's not all we talk about -- but reading this blog, you'll think it's all we do!!!!!" You needn't worry -- Zoe and Maya get TONS of attention, they don't need to invent adoption talk to get it.

But that's not to say we're not doing a lot of adoption talk. We are. And I am extremely thankful that Zoe is talking about it, since that's the only way I can know what she's thinking. And I think all adoptive parents should strive for an atmosphere where their kids CAN talk about adoption issues.

You'll also notice if you pay attention, that the adoption talk comes in spurts. Zoe hasn't been talking about it much until her birthday came along, and that is also typical of adopted children, to have a heightened interest in their birth parents on or around their birthday.

"Being a good enough mother" for adopted kids is a little bit different from being a good enough mother for non-adopted kids. That's like saying "My child has ADHD or allergies or cancer, but all I can be is a good mother." Ignoring issues your child might face as an adoptee isn't being a good enough mother.

Every child is different and every adopted child is different. But I don't believe that any of them escape curiousity about their birth parents, the circumstances of their coming to be adopted, and what adoption means. The differences will be ones of degree and of openness. Zoe is very verbal and very open about her struggles to understand. And I am thankful for it.

This is not to say that kids Zoe's age who are not asking questions about their adoptions are abnormal in any way. If you are creating an atmosphere where adoption talk is openly encouraged, where YOU actually say the words "birth parents" even if your child isn't, and your child isn't talking, then it probably means only that that's the stage he/she is in.

Talking adoption with my kids is HARD WORK. But without talking about it, I'm left only to wonder what my kids are thinking about, worrying about, and not sharing. As hard as it is, it's better than the alternative!

Ann BF said...

I could not pass up a comment on this line of discussion...because as a child therapist I see all the time that kids will edit out material they think makes their parents uncomfortable or sad -- but can rearely be forced to talk about something they don't want to!!! That being said, certainly some children, like Zoe here in the blog, are more verbal or may ask more questions than others... My daughter, who like Zoe is seven, and has spent and extended time in her birth country recently (a year which finished in July), is not a very verbal child, yet her questions and concerns come thru in other ways -- such as her artwork and her devotion to all things China!!!
I think it is adoptive parents who in our haste to "smooth over" the sadness and cultural dislocation of adoption fail to attend to this stuff who are underreacting!! Probably because it can be a painful subject and even provoke our own feelings of loss or worry that we are somehow not good enough.. I have expereinced this a lot recently by feeling some awkwardness form other parents in th adoption community when they hear about the chance we had to give our daughter a first hand experience of her birth culture. It seems to tap some kind of defensiveness, and contrary to being interested in our experiences thery are avoidant of us....not the majority, just some...I find it interesting.

Wendy said...

Thank you Ann. I have experienced the same thing lately (by some). When I mention what we are doing or questions my daughter asks they get a glazed look and seem to want to move on. One man told me that her daughter is a part of them now so she has no need to learn about China and more than one parent has indicated that their child never thinks about their adoption--I think they are not paying attention. Just because a child doesn't come and say to you "I want to talk about my adoption now" (some of our kids do), does not mean they are not thinking about it or needing to work through.

Lisa said...

Wendy - obviously that man just can't move forward, and I hope he does so that his child's feelings are not dismissed. Have we EVER read from a child who was adopted that they could "really" care a less about their background / birth mother? If so, are they in denial? Or are there really people out there who are adopted and "could care a less"? It doesn't seem healthy, but, then that is my perspective.
ann bf - my daughter is alot like yours. Not as verbal when it comes to adoption discussions. The other day she said "why are we together?" I started with "because we are a family. you were born and needed a new mommy and I wanted to bring you home to be my baby...." I was interrupted by "Why is it always about China? I am not even talking about that." I never understood what she meant, because she got put out with me. But she loves all things China.