I have a question. If you stumbled upon these words on an adoption blog, how would they leave you feeling? What taste do these words leave in your mouth?
I decided not to link the site. First, I am certain there are many more like this. Second, to protect this family, or more accurately- their newly adopted child. And persecuting them will serve no purpose anyway. What I'd like to do, simply, is to raise our awareness. And to perhaps highlight why adoption reform, agency policies/parent training/culture training, etc need dramatic revamping in this country.
I left a comment on one of their posts after reading their entire trip through China up until the present day. That comment was swiftly deleted (I have included it at the end of this post). I think I was pretty tame considering the anger that was brewing in my heart. But should my anger be directed at this family? Or should I hold those who approved their home study or failed to educate them accountable? Maybe all of the above. I will say education is crucial. I don't know how a home study agency or any agency allows parents to adopt from a country that they so openly and unreservedly disrespect. Nor can I ever begin to understand the outright objectification of anyone, much less a child- and an extremely vulnerable one at that.
These are just a few excerpts from this particular adoption blog.
"The Chinese raced to the lines... gobbling all the "delicious" livers, bones, skins, and other treats. Not many Americans ran to the buffet table. It's an experience. You can get some good pictures of the chicken heads amongst the chicken though. Eat up fellow friends!"
"I keep seeing super cute outfits on the people passing me by, but can't seem to find anything in the stores. Even the things I do find, that I might buy, are just as expensive, or more, than what we would find in America... that's frustrating. I do enjoy the bartering though. But, I will be grateful to get back to M*rshalls, R*ss, and TJ M*x."
'We went for a bite to eat and discovered at lunch that our baby can use chopsticks. That was quite amazing. I think I was drinking my “cappacino” and she picked up the chopsticks and started using them. I was in complete shock. I didn’t even think she could feed herself. She ate her whole bowl of noodles and “meat”… possibly pork. It smelled horrible... I thought I was going to vomit. She wouldn’t leave a drop behind. She wanted to eat the noodles that dropped on her dress, table, and maybe even floor. And, sharing… well, that’s not even an option. We are going to work on this, but we had many things to do so we opted out of our first lesson on sharing. Baba got her a strawberry sorbet… she wouldn’t eat it, and we couldn’t… ice is not an option for us sheltered and protected Americans."
"She can eat until the cows (or water buffalo) come home… and then, she can eat some more!
Mei Mei can out eat (my husband) and I. I once learned that our stomachs are as big as one fist when clenched. Mei Mei has a stomach the size of 3 adult fists. Every few bites we ask, “Bouwla?” Which means, “are you full?” She always shakes her head no. Each meal takes about 30 or more minutes. It’s completely exhausting at times."
"If she doesn't like something that she's eating, she readily shares it with Baba. If you try to take something of hers to share, she will scream or pout or stick out her lower lip... it's funny (right now). We're whipping her into shape though. "
"G's personality is fiesty and spunky. She is a strong-willed princess that wishes for her Baba to serve her, carry her, and give her his undivided attention. She has a number of facial expressions and can go from happy to mad or sad in the flip of a switch. She can cry on the spot or laugh on the spot."
"I am so tired of looking at Chinese food. I know I have shared several times about our food choices, but I am going to share again... duck tongue with ginger, boneless duck feet with ginger, tasty pork trotters, chilled marinated jellyfish with vinegar, roasted crispy pigeon, marinated goose liver with spring onions, double-boiled pork bone with olive and dragon's tongue leaf in soup, steamed loofah with dried whitebait and XO sauce, stewed pork knuckle and sea cucumber with shrimp roe. Had I stayed away from the plain noodles, fried rice, and steamed buns, I could have lost 20 pounds in the last 14 days."
"We are really tired of eating Chinese, but (my husband) really doesn't want to eat American fast food either."
"...today I got my first unsolicited kiss. In fact, I got several in a row. The tough love of yesterday paid off… she is a quick learner."
"After dinner, we went shopping for little Mei Mei to get her a pair of shoes. Her first American word was “shoes.” (My husband), being the nice guy, let her choose her own shoes. But, she chose some pink ones with baby Mickey on them… not going to work for Mama. Her clothes are princess clothes… nothing Mickey until we get to Disneyland. So, Mama chose a different pair... pink sandals with a diamond on them. She was so excited."
"Mama and baba finished our “cappacinos,” convinced Mei Mei that it was time to go, decided to let her take the rest of her noodles so that we could avoid the screaming fit (which has started as of this morning when she doesn’t get her way) and left with our guide D. Our little princess is going to learn (hopefully before leaving China) that throwing fits are not going to work well on her behalf."
"The first few days, there were times that I felt like I was plucking off the petals to a daisy and saying, "She loves me not, She loves me not, She loves me not" But now, I can say, "She loves me, She clearly, clearly loves me."
"T wanted to keep her sister a surprise. She had secretly hoped that (her little sister) would arrive during basketball season and she would just be able to bring her onto the court, but that didn't happen. So, she waited until it could. With Mei Mei's arrival home on July 31, 2010, (her big sister) began figuring out when she could get the majority of her girlfriends to our home. The girls started at the local ice skating rink, stopped for slurpees, and then came home and ate some hamburgers, chips and watermelon. T prepared her life video (birth to her family 16th party) for her friends to watch... and, at the very end, she added some words about the gift her parents gave her for her 16th birthday. (Of course, the truth is, if you read in one of the earliest posts, T had known for 16 years that God had two sisters for her). She ended her video with pictures of mama, baba, and mei mei and then pictures of her and her (new little sister). Before the video ended, baba brought in mei mei in her red Chinese outfit and holding a ladybug balloon."
I am baffled. Confused. How does a person, a family, choose to adopt from a country for which they haven't an inkling of appreciation? What purpose is there to adopt from a place you have no real interest in embracing? And in this case- did the adopter(s) truly believe they were only adopting a toddler? Only a child? Did they believe this 3.5 year old (or any child) came without a history, memories, an entire heritage and culture that is her own?
I shake my head and have to hold my anger in check. I grieve for what this child has lost: essentially, everything. And what gains has she been granted in this new life, with this new family? I see none, so far. Her laughter and her beautiful smile, I can't help but wonder, might only be a product of survival.
Here was my deleted response:
I am not sure how I stumbled upon your site, but have spent a long time reading it.
First, congratulations on your beautiful new daughter. As I read through your blog, I must admit to being very troubled by your characterization of your time spent in China. I find much of what you have to say very... demeaning to the Chinese culture and its people. Yes, China is wonderfully different than America. This is a country with a long and complex history, full of much to be admired and respected. While your daughter is now American, she will also always be- Chinese. I wonder if she will find it difficult to accept that part of herself if it is so obvious that her mother found little to enjoy in the country of her birth. I was in China recently adopting a 3.5 year old myself, and I have to say, while sometimes I found the food to be interesting, for the most part, it was deliciously different from American food. I wanted to immerse myself in my daughter's country, as much as I could. Some day, when your daughter reads your account of the time you spent in China, the most significant topics are focused on how terrible the food is and whether or not the shopping was good. How will she feel looking back on some of the words you've written here?
Also, I hope you are keeping in mind that your daughter does come to you with a rich history. As foreign as China has felt to you, everything your little girl is experiencing is that foreign to her. Her world is upended, and she doesn't have any way to process why or how that happened. Now is probably not the best time for "tough" love. She needs you to support her in her grief and fear, as well as her joys. At this point, she's in pure survival mode. She needs you to love her through it, not try to 'mold' her into the person you think she should be (a princess) rather than who she is.
I have stated so many times in my own writing: we adopt not just a child when we enter into international adoption. We adopt their culture, their history, their very heritage- along with their grief, their losses, and the love and happiness they both contain and bring to our relationship. We become guardians of that past and how we feel about it and their country could one day be internalized by our children.
I originally wasn't going to comment, but I hope you will take these words to heart. My daughter grieved for 9 days in China, and though it was by far the hardest thing we endured together, it was the most profound part of our journey as mother and daughter. As we shared our mutual grief/fears, a deep and lasting bond was created.
Great advice was given to me before we left: "Follow her lead". That didn't mean we withheld gentle discipline when needed, but it meant we listened to her cues. We listened to her needs, and set ourselves aside. We allowed her some sense of control in the chaos of all she was going through. Remember, your daughter, like mine, lost everything. What they need when they are in survival mode is some sense of control.
I am sorry you haven't been able to soak in the beauty of your daughter's country so you can one day share those memories with her. I hope when you get home, you will look back and be able to see beyond this narrow world view and appreciate China as it is: a beautiful, complicated, magical, troubled country- rich in a long history that has so much to offer this world. Perfect? No. But no country is, not even our own.
I wish you and your family the best.