Today, almost all parents who adopt internationally try to cultivate some kind of connection to their child’s birth land. Efforts range from throwing some ramen noodles in a salad to remodeling the interior of their homes to an Asian motif and spending thousands of dollars to send their children to language schools and heritage camps on another continent.
Parents do these things hoping to help their children adjust to the sometimes tricky duality of their existence. Yet I worry that some parents are now taking things too far: Going to extremes to idealize the native culture might be as damaging to an adoptee as ignoring it. Asian-American activists have for decades fought the idea that you are born with a culture - that if you look Asian, you must eat with chopsticks, wear different clothing, speak a different language; that you are different and thereby less American. Parents, to some extent, are asking children to conform to those expectations. And without adequate acknowledgement of the reality that actually is - their experience in America - I suspect that children might have an even harder time figuring out where they belong.
1 month ago