Losing Identity

Why do certain people assume losing your identity is like losing your car keys? If all else fails you can go have another set made which will work just as good as the original?!?

I had a conversation with an adoptive mom once regarding the daughter they had adopted from China. She said they planned to take a trip to China with their daughter to see where she had come from. I told her how great I thought that was and asked if they were going to the village where she was born. She said that was out of the question because it was 8 hours away from the orphanage they planned to visit.

How far is it to China anyway? Am I crazy to think going to the orphanage would be helpful but a trip to the village you were born would be far more healing? She said there was no paper trail for her daughter, it would be impossible to find her birth parents so why visit the village? Deeeeeppppp breathhhhhh.

We talked of adoption and she said her daughter sees no difference in herself from her parents. HONESTLY , I could see it in her eyes, she truly believed this!!! She went on to tell a story; Once they were talking and their daughter said to a relative who had just had a baby “she looks just like us!” Amom beamed with pride as she relived this monumental moment and I sat there thinking do you HAVE any mirrors in your house? Seriously. Holy crap. What, I wonder are they going to do when they go to China? I wonder if they will go.

I knew I had to find a way to be as diplomatic as possible. I just calmly mentioned that it was entirely possible that her daughter indeed does have questions regarding her unique identity but that she remains silent for fear of hurting them. That often times adoptees will supress the desire to ask questions for fear of angering or hurting their parents. Nobody wants to intentionally hurt the ones they love, nor do they wish to risk the possibility of rejection or abandonment a second time. Interestingly the afather, stunned, said that he had NEVER considered this. Mom just sat there looking like a deer caught in the headlights. It was obvious she wasn’t havin’ any of it. She was comfortable where she sat with the issue and that was all there was to her reality.

A few weeks ago I called them and left a message. It has bothered me for several months and I just thought perhaps it was sort of a heavy thing to just dump on these unsuspecting parents. Maybe they might have questions regarding what I had said and that I was available if they ever wanted to talk. No big surprise my call was not returned.

I worry for this girl. It’s not that I don’t think these people are just the best parents and that she is provided an abundance of love and well-being. They truly did seem like outstanding parents. But I worry about her sense of self and the ability to embrace her entire identity in a healthy way without the fear of hurting the two most important people in her life.

I can understand wanting to feel like the child you love more than anything unquestionably regards you as MOM but how do we get through to our parents that to embrace our entire identity is not in any way to diminish their importance in our lives? That the parts of us that were created prior to our adoption help to comprise who we are today?

I read an article last week about a group of mothers who adopted children from China. They get together to embrace Chinese culture with their kids through food, crafts, celebrations etc… I thought that too was really cool.

Then I read on and this woman says something to the effect that in China girls are not valued like boys. Often times a poor farmer will give up his daughter because they simply cannot afford the 5 or 600 dollars (US equivalent) the govt. requires they pay for newborns. Where do they get the money if it’s a boy?

I have read this before but two thoughts came to mind. First I was thinking “gosh I hope they don’t keep this article for their daughter’s scrapbook” and second I was thinking I wonder how many (even if it were one or two) of these poor farming families would have kept their daughters if someone had offered to assist them financially to do so.

I only went there with my thinking because I know how much international adoptions cost. Is it completely off the mark to think that there are poor families that suffer immeasurably at the loss of their daughters over 600.00 or does the view of their society on the importance of a boy trump all natural instinct?

I guess if it were my adopted child I would just want to make sure that they knew at some point that it may have been an excruciatingly painful decision for their birthparents to have made and that their value has no monetary amount to be placed on it.

I would want them to know that their original culture comprises a large part of their identity and that fact doesn’t make me afraid or hurt. It would be a huge part of why I love them simply because it’s a huge part of who they are.



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5 responses to “Losing Identity

  1. You make some incredibly good points here. I am curious if the woman had a thing for red threads too? Like it has nothing to do with farmers being poor it’s all about a red thread theory and the whole adoption situation was just meant to happen….
    And why does it have to be scary to think that a child from a different country would feel different? Of course they would feel different, why is that a negative thing? argh….did you ask her what the weather is like in la la land? I guess you are more polite than me….

  2. Mia

    LOL Well this was during Thanksgiving dinner at a relatives house so I had to keep my cool. I have to admit that the wine table became terribly appealing after our conversation.

    I myself am a firm believer in the Doris Day theory of life but it’s not fair to manipulate events and then toss them into the theory, that’s cheating!

    Oh well……..kay sarahhhh sarahhhh.

  3. Yes, Yes, Yes… as I’m sure is no surprise to you… THIS is the very CORE of my fears about adopting from China.

    Although… you should know… that the story about the money to pay for a newborn is not QUITE the reality. It’s close… but not quite. A newborn boy is seen as a long-term asset to a family… someone who will make money for the family and is perceived as a greater family investment. Baby boys are matters of survival in rural China… or at least… that’s what they believe. So while parents will have to pay whatever ‘fee’ for any newborn child… many of these families don’t want to make that investment in a GIRL if they can only have one child. Do you see what I mean??

  4. Mia

    Oh yes, I definately do se what you mean. I understand the concept, it’s disgustingly logical actually. I guess the point that I feel is overlooked is that our blessed and somewhat spoiled society seems to believe that this decision comes easily for the people involved. I don’t buy that. I think the mother and father who abandons their daughter for the sake of the family’s future welfare actually does suffer. I think there is a level of compassion missing from us that needs to be addressed. Again I think it has to do with trying to be understanding of another’s situation. If we cannot find this compassion we certainly will not have the ability to pass that sense of self to our adopted children which is paramount to emotional strength. We can’t pass onto our children that this is a choice that was made easily for their family. What does that say to the little girls about their self worth? It’s the wrong message to send.

  5. I really like this post. I am reading all your old posts, LOL, and I realize I had found you back in Feb. but I lost the link and now I am re-finding you. (!)

    I have the same confusion about talking to parents adopting from China. I lived there for two years and I know how much those parents love their children and dote on their daughters. I just can’t fathom Americans thinking their Chinese daughters are not as Chinese as everyone else. “Deer in the headlights” look is right. And I often struggle over what to say in those conversations, worry about coming on too strong or not saying anything at all. It is so awkward and painful, and at the same time I have a lot of joy in adoption too (being an adoptive mother) so I am really confused! And biased and invested. So who am I to tell them their child’s first parents miss them? What about my sons’ first parents? Oy.

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