Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Returning Home to China

PunditMom, who usually blogs here, appears in the Idaho Statesman talking about a return trip to China with her now-10-year-old daughter adopted from Hunan:

PunditGirl has confessed that one reason she's excited about this trip is the fact that for the first time in her life she will be surrounded by people who look like her. "Now you and Daddy will be the ones who look different," she's repeatedly told us, her chest puffing up with pride at the thought of a whole country full of people who share her skin tone and facial features. We've made many efforts to make sure that her world has Asian friends and families in it, but our neighborhood is not the most diverse in the world, so for better or worse, she sees many more Caucasian people than Asian.

Aside from her apparent joy at being the one who will not look different from everyone else, there's also a good dose of anxiety that's showing itself. "What if China Mom and China Dad show up and decide they want me back?" A question full of so many things - the longing for her birth parents to take back a decision they made ten years ago, the need to know that, as her parents, we would never allow anyone to take her from us, and the age-appropriate fantasy about what her life would be like if she had grown up in the country where she was born.

* * *

I'm anxious, too. As an adult, I'm logically able to understand the historical reasons that so many Chinese girls have been available for adoption. When I look at PunditGirl's face or watch her wake up in the morning all warm and snuggly from her sleep or watch her race across the soccer field determined not to let the boys outrun her, I can't imagine being the mother of any other child. But I know for her, no matter how much she nods and says she understands why China Mom and China Dad couldn't keep her, I also know that the thought remains in her head, "But maybe they could have if they'd tried a little bit harder. Maybe they would have kept me if I'd been a better baby."

I'm bracing myself for the possible emotional fallout of these thoughts colliding with the reality she sees in China. PunditGirl has struggled with questions about attachment and permanence - I'm not sure if this trip will help heal those issues or exacerbate them. But in my heart and my gut I think this is the right time to make this first journey to where she was born - to see the baby home and possibly to visit her "finding place" (I think I'm going to need more tissues than I can carry with me for that moment).
If you're interested, you can read about our return trip to Zoe's and Maya's hometown here (heading to Guiping), here (at Guiping SWI), here (finding places), here (seeing Maya's foster family), and here (arriving in Nanning).


Victoria said...

Thank you for posting this, and for reposting your own experiences. We are returning next month (!) with our 6 year-old and will also be visiting the family who fostered her until she was 10 months of age. May I ask, did you have a prepared set of questions, translated, that you had your guide ask them, or did you just "wing it"? I'm trying to figure out how to prepare for this experience...

Von said...

I believe one of the difficulties can be in conversing but I'm sure you've prepared for that.Of course there will be things you have and haven't prepared for but you'll do your very best, all any parent can do. Good luck and good wishes.

Anonymous said...

As someone who is living in China with their Chinese born daughter, I think it's important to understand that while our children will "look" like the majority of people, nothing else is the same.

Our kids' way of walking, talking, dressing etc will immediately mark them as being from overseas ... and if they don't speak Chinese, they are further exposed.

Finally, when our children are with their parents (assuming caucasian), they will stand out in a big way. We joke about the "stop & gawk" factor in our daily lives, although it isn't that funny and it does get old.

It's not an easy place to be necessarily for our kids ... as good as it for them to go back.