Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Chinese Adoptee Blogger

Mei-Ling has discovered a new voice blogging -- Tai Dong Huai, a Chinese adoptee. Her blog, Great Wall of Chinet (gotta like that title!), is rudimentary, but she lists some of her writings at other websites. Here's a taste:

On the last Thursday of every month, at exactly 7:00 P.M., my adoptive mom would get me ready for our OCD meeting. She'd dress me in a red, too-tight, traditional cheongsam, braid my hair into a single, thick braid, and hand me a pair of Chinese slippers.

"You look terrif," she'd say.

"You forgot to bind my feet," I'd tell her with a straight face.

OCD—"Our Chinese Daughters"—was started by one of the area's adoptive mothers in order that we, Asian teenagers with dreams of waking up blond and round-eyed, would instead embrace our own culture. There were six mother–daughter pairs, and we rotated houses. The event was described—someone actually had stationery made up -- as an evening of "lively discourse, lukewarm coffee, and lots 'o' hugs." The hosting couple was expected to do a few things: provide some sort of Far Eastern cuisine, come up with a discussion topic, and run the rest of the family out of the house.

At thirteen, I would have rather stayed home and drank bleach.

Click here to read more. Definitely check her out!


Mei-Ling said...

I wasn't the original linker - I received an e-mail from a lurker who reads one of my blogs and then they mentioned they had seen a Youtube link of videos by me at chinaadoptcanada.com/forum and then I went there and noticed someone else had posted a link to Dong Huai's stories...

So I figured it would be a good idea to expose her writings in the public.

Actually, I cheered when I found out if she was a Chinese adoptee. Seriously. It's about TIME.

malinda said...

Well, I'm certainly glad you publicized her at your blog -- I wouldn't have found her otherwise! So thanks, Mei-Ling!

Adoption from mainland China really started in about 1992, so we're on the cusp of hearing more from those early adoptees, I'm hoping.

I found an interview with Dong Huai on line -- can't quite remember where now -- and she said she was 5 when she was adopted, so depending on when she was adopted, I bet she has a few years on those earliest adoptees.

I'm really looking forward to her blogging. What she's been writing so far is labeled fiction, and it'll be interesting to see how much is really autobiographical.

Wendy said...

I think we will be hearing much more as well. It will be very interesting in these next five/ten years as most of the Chinese adoptees come of age and we will finally hear their voices. At least I hope so.

Thanks for the link!

Anonymous said...

Adoptive parents are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Korean adoptees complain that their parents didn't do anything to try to keep their birth culture alive. We're told that we need to send our kids to Chinese school to learn Chinese language and culture, so that they won't be fish out of water when they leave their adoptive homes. Yet here is proof that parents who have made an honest effort to provide Chinese culture to their daughters, being held up as examples of what not to do. Seriously, she would rather stay at home and drink bleach? Give that a try and let us know how it works for you. Foot binding may look a whole lot better, after your throat skin grafts are finished.

malinda said...

Anon, yes, sometimes it seems like you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. But of course that's not limited to ADOPTIVE parenting, is it?!

I think you miss the point of the story, though. The fact that she HATED the cultural attempts at age 13 doesn't mean she is unappreciative now. Think of the things your parents forced you to do at 13 -- were you appreciative then? Are you appreciative now?

Mei-Ling said...

Anonymous, I understand your frustration. It's so hard to know what to do. I've been reading some AP blogs; some say their kids embrace it fully, others state their kids want nothing to do with it.

Problem is, if the ones who are interested in it end up being pushed "over the line" about the culture, they may end up disliking it. And the ones who don't embrace it at all are the ones who may end up caring the most as adults.

It's a tough call. Kids change over time.

Also, not to deter you or anything, but APs cannnot really keep birth culture alive. The most they can do is an imitation unless they happen to live in an Asian-dominated town or city. That's not to say they shouldn't TRY to keep the link as "authentic" as is humanly possible given the circumstances, but honestly... kids CAN tell if the parents are truly interested, and they can also tell if the culture is caricature or if it came from a genuine link of Chinese heritage.

Wendy said...

Okay, I don't understand anon. Why are you so defensive? I think jumping to "well, your life could have been" is right back to the white priviledge and savior mentality that we are trying to fight.
It can feel that you just cannot do it "right", but it does not mean we don't do what we think is best for our kids by providing opportunities and moving beyond the very insulated white parents/asian kids celebrations where children are dressed up in costumes that no one wheres in China anymore. Those events have their place, but they cannot be the end of it. They cannot be instead of real experiences with Chinese people and Chinese Americans.
All gatherings of adopted girls do not have to be at holidays or full of dressed up dolls (which they are not). My daughter likes to wear her silks on occassion, but she also likes to wear her "real" China clothes that her foster mother sends her--very fashionable and super cute! It is not that you shouldn't have "immitated culture" as it does have some merits; it just can't be the only example of what an ap group would call "Chinese" culture. It isn't.

Mei-Ling said...

You know, exploring more of what Wendy said...

I remember my mom bought me a Chinese outfit. The silk traditional style, you know what I mean.

And my friend came over for a visit and she noticed the silk outfit, and she said, "Hey, that's pretty cool. Are you going to wear it?"

I said, "Probably not. Even though it's nice to look at, I'd never wear it outside."

And she said, "Why not? You're Asian. It would go perfectly with you. Besides, isn't that what Asians do?"

And I said, "Um... no. Modern Asia never wears silk traditional outfits. The ONLY time they wear those things is probably at New Year's, and even then, sparingly. Asia is very modernized. People don't wear stuff like this, it looks silly."

It looks nice and all, and lovely to touch and feel, but it is NOT culture. It's caricature and will make you stand out even in an Asian crowd during a festivity.

Wendy said...

Can you tell I have pneumonia--I meant wears, not wheres!

Wendy said...

I agree Mei-ling. Oftentimes AP's don't research, read, connect with the people/the culture, or even the foster parents, or go to China beyond their adoption trip--I can tell you that you are very insulated from "real" citizens on that journey. imo-- these are the reasons "immitated" culture is oftentimes seen as enough; the reason people refuse to believe there are less children abandoned, that China is not what it was 5 yrs, 10 yrs, or for that even 1 yr ago; the reason they perpetuate traditions that were held exclusively for a segment of Han Chinese society--not many of our daughter's heritage; and the continuation of the idea that the children are "better off" in America pervades.
Don't get me wrong, there are cases where children are receiving medical care that would not be available to them or would not be adopted by local families due to physical/mental differences, but equating the West to better is just wrong and believing that there are not families in China who want to adopt, but are passed by due to foreign dollars is fueled by the false constructs created by adoption agencies, churches, and the Acommunity.

I am sorry if this is long-winded or not clear--I am sick.

Lisa said...

OK I am a few days behind here reading on the blog. I'd like to add that, Malinda, I really appreciate the research you do to give different perspectives.
To Anon I would say - relax, don't get so uptight. I read your pain and angst. We try our best to be good parents, and that is all we can be. Reading, talking with our children, and formulating our OWN ideas and philosophies are imperative. We can follow their lead, as each child has his / her own needs.
And, this IS the internet - people can be dishonest or blog truthfully from the deepest of their hearts. All this information is what YOU make of it. I feel cliche, but I truly understand where Anon is coming from emotionally.
Happy New Year!