Friday, January 20, 2006

Which One is Chinese?

For starters, thank you to all of you who posted such sweet messages, both here and at my email address... you are all right: Jack is an amazing kid and we'll be fine (except of course, that I am dead).

I have a question I would like to throw out there... to what extent do you think the adoption of a Chinese (or any internationally adopted child) child will defines a family?

I ask because just yesterday we were asked to be interviewed for an article in the OC Register on Chinese adoption/Chinese New Year... we declined. Hugh and I just decided that we are a family, NOT a family/with-adopted-child (like model/actress) and we really feel that, now that we have been home a year, our focus is more on Eva as our daughter... not as: EVA-OUR-CHINESE-KID.

Now, I am a huge advocate of international adoption (duh!) and I hate to miss any opportunity to shove how great it is down people's throats, but, especially in light of some of our issues with Jack, we really felt that we had to pass on this particular situation.

I worry about always singling Eva out because she is Chinese... I really want people to look at us and see our family... maybe I am naive and that will never happen, but, I do know that, in our home, I need the attention to be on all my kids... this is probably a very different issue for folks without kids already...

I am sure they will find a great family to focus on and I may be a little put out when I read the article, but, I know that this one small thing is a big step towards "normalizing" our life.


Northern Stargirl said...

Balance is something we spend much of our lives looking for.

Ana NYC said...

Your family and friends DO see Eva as simply your daughter. For people that don't know you, they're going to see that Eva is Chinese. I think most people will figure it out.

Remember the woman that asked Jake where Eva's from and he said Laguna? Didn't that give you a funny story to write about? Mabye that woman has an adopted child or knows someone that does and that's why she asked. Or maybe she doesn't... but people are curious or just nosey, you won't know people's motives when questions are asked. I'm sure that won't be the last time someone says something to you or Jake or Jack or your hubby.

I have faith in you that you'll know how to answer people and weed out the idiots!

Anonymous said...

We have also had a difficult time finding the right harmony for both our biological and our adoptive child. While it is so easy to always focus on the things that make our daughter different, I have come to a point where I no longer wish to focus on how she came to our family. I think she and my son both are tired of having her differences pointed out. However, if I read your post correctly, you felt that this was not the time for you to be focusing on your daughter's heritage and her adoption and I congratulate you for that. Many people feel that they must embrace be ambassadors at all times for adoption and it is smart to know when you just need to be a family.

Kathryn M.
Seattle, WA

Anonymous said...

I applaude you, Kristin. You guys made the right decision.
The above poster said it perfectly.

The bottom line is that you are a family. No matter how that came to be.

Thanks for opening my eyes to another potential issue when our Sarah arrives.


collene said...

Kristen --

Since I'm also an adoptive parent and we met in China, Doll, may I suggest that you take the verb away from Eva and rather than all too often referring to your darling daughter as an "adopted child," re-phrase it so to say you're an adoptive parent of a Chinese daughter. This is not about being politically correct. It's about a slight twist of words we learned through our home study we find empowering to the parent/family and child.

We thought very much about the issues you address long before we went to China. Our feeling is that we have forever changed the face and ethnicity of our family through adoption. We want to celebrate that and therefore celebrate what is different and wonderful about Gianna Wan-Fen Kennedy.

Long before we went to China we began embracing so many lovely things of Eastern philosophy. We don't do it because we were told to do it, or to be P.C., but because it feels right to us. And in learning to give meaning to things that long ago we might not have noticed on a daily bases we also have found the answer about balance.

Of course a mother loves all her children the whether they came from China or her body, but the fact is that our daughters did come from China, they did come from another woman's belly, they did come in our hearts and there are so many lovely lessons the whole family can embrace from learning the balance of what's different and wonderful on their own and in a positive way.

Eva does look different than her brothers and that's the most wonderful thing in the world to embrace and celebrate.

As for how much are you identified as an adoptive parent / family, as a former publicist my suggestion is to keep the beauty of the blending off the pages of local papers until and unless you feel 100% solid in finding the balance that's right for you and your family.

This is my view...not intended to sound preachy.


Kristin said...

My feeling is that already having biological kids brings up different issues. While I like the idea behind the change from adopted child to adopted parent, for me it becomes more confusing as I am then an adopted and a bio parent...

I love Eva's heritage and my feelings for her birth mother swing from profound admiration and thankfullness to actual anger at her abandonment of "our" daughter... however, as much as we, as a family, do feel Chinese to an extent... (Jake brought in noodles for "Heritage Food Day") we have to remember that we can't let the fact that she is Chinese dictate the definiton of our family...

As I said, there are different issues to be dealt with when there are already children in the family, and right now, a big focus on us as an adoptive family is not what any of us want... we are too busy just being a family!

Tori said...

This is a tough one Kiki...
My thought it that you have grown impatient with all the questions and the comments.... (you do not suffer fools gladly - much like your father). You will however ALWAYS get comments and you would get them with or without Eva. Eva - by virtue of her ethnicity - will just get you more comments. You are not the kind of family that go unnoticed (with or without Eva). You are very beautiful, each and every one and so people will take a look and some idiots will have to get their say.
You just have to realise that though you want her to simply blend in with the surrounding family, she will always stand out to the outside world. And like Anne Marie said people are curious and sadly there is nothing you can do about it.
Your friends and family single her out for a lot of reasons... For me Eva is special becuase of the agonizing wait and the call you gave me - with tears of joy - when you got her photo, and the fact that she's a girl and you never had one of those before and because of her Ladyship's fiesty nature and her attachment to you....bla bla... I could go on. I also have stories for the others and reasons and for you and Hugh too.
Eva is just in the metaphorical spotlight right now in light of her newness, uniqueness and her sex.
You guys are doing fantastically well at being a family - you just have to be prepared to answer questions about your family...if you feel like it... and if you don't, tell everybody to fuck right off....

Kristin said...


You hit the nail on the head... "metaphorical spotlight" is the perfect description...


Nicki said...

The thought which entered my mind as I read the Blog and the posts....
A woman in Mommy and Me last year asked me "if I knew" before I delivered. Hmm. "knew" I thought to myself, knew I was having a baby, yes... knew she was a girl...maybe that is what she meant, so I answered, "no, we wanted it to be a surprise". The sheer look of confusion on her face lead me to realize I had completely misunderstood her question. When asked to repeat it, she said the same thing. The silly lightbulb slowly flickered on in my brain as she gestured toward my bright eyed daughter on the scooter...she was referrring to the Down syndrome. Silly me I figured the only thing she could have meant was the gender. Caught off guard as I was bc I simply forgot that others will see DS first in her, this woman read my face/mind and quickly explained her older daughter had special needs as well. We stop seeing our children as others do, with their labels, bc their labels only define them for a moment for us. As soon as they enter our families they are our children, our hearts, not our "adopted" or "special needs" child, as others may introduce them. I am not implying that anyone intends to identify us or our children in a derogatory manner, but only that we all need definitions and road marks to help us along the way to relate to and identify with people we meet and places we go.

I often question my involvement with all things Down syndrome, and as we have discussed lately, my need to just be a mom of 2 kids. But I am not just a mom of 2 kids. I need to be involved and educated, in a balanced and healthy way, to support Audrey, just as I will become involved with something (God help me if it is soccor or art or world music appreciation with my 2 left feet and my 2 left hands) which involves Will. You have been consistent and diligent in this way with your boys and will do the same for EvaJun. Eventually the tag of being an adoptive family, adopted parent, adopted child, will fade, and you will continue to just be EvaJun's mom, EvaJun's family, Audra's best friend, and she will simply be your daughter- as it was meant to be.

By leading such a simple, uncomplicated, normal life in a simple little beach town in sunny southern california, you just might find yourselves again, the poster family for international adoption- like it or not, which may result in changing the life of one lucky little girl or boy. Now how does that make you feel?

Anonymous said...

Kristen --

"Abandonment" is a legal term only for what our babies biological mother's did.

I never ever feel anger for these mothers but only the highest level of compassion and adimiration for these women who didn't abandon our babies, but rather made the best plan that they could in a situation (country) that doesn't allow for many options.

If our girls were truly abandoned. We wouldn't have them in our arms, lives and families.

Our daughter will hear that term as she grows up I'm sure, but when she does she will know that it is a legal term and doesn't describe the breadth of courage of a mother who took her to full term and gave birth and likely kissed her and watched painfully from the shadows as she placed her baby in a place where she could see her start her path to a life where she would be loved and cherisehd.

Kristin said...

Dear Anonymous,

While I appreciate your sentimental outlook on your daughter's abandonment, the bottom line is that you have no idea if anything you have said is true. You don't know that your child's birth mother was some great and nobel woman. You know nothing. Absolutely nothing. I think to romanticize her as this poor person hiding and weeping in the shadows only serves to hurt your daughter in the long run.

We plan on telling Eva that as sad as we are that we have no history about her birthparents, we are profoundly grateful that they cared enough about her to ensure her immediate care. Someone took her to the orphanage the very day she was born and to us, that person is our hero. We have no idea if that person was her mother. However, the person who brought her brand new self, on a freezing December morning to the gates of the Guixi SWI is someone that I will always keep in my prayers.

If I could let Eva's birth family know that she is healthy and loved and adored I would. If I could tell them how funny she is and how stubborn and how clever I would. If I could meet them and see where she gets her beauty and her courage, I would. But I can't. And, if sometimes I get angry when I think of someone leaving my precious child in a box in the cold, well, I am OK with that and you know what, my guess is that at some point Eva is going to have an issue with the facts surrounding her abandonment and if I have sugar-coated the situation in fairy dust and sparkly memories, then she sure as hell won't think that she can come to me with her questions or her sorrow.

We have to realize that no matter how tidy and sweet we want this to be, there are real issues here that can't be swept under the rug with love and kisses.

Tori said...

Hey K

I returned to this post because I really enjoyed the discussion. I especially loved to hear about Nik's feelings on the subject. I don't think that I have ever heard her talk so openly about our beloved Audrey. You are both great mothers and fan-fucking-tastic role models for your angels.

Girls have bitchy moments as they grow up it has to be said (and I should know) but even on their worst days, they want their mommies to be there for them (even if they pretend they don't)and they want them to give them the full story and the facts as they stand. I say this because there is nothing I would have liked more than a mom who said 'period' and 'sex' rather than whistling!

Anyway - where I'm going with this is to really re-emphasize the not sugar coating of the facts...

"honey periods don't hurt. it's just you becoming a woman...."

LIE They hurt, they suck and they are deeply annoying...

"Eva, your birth mommy probably came in the darkenss of night on a trusty steed (donkey?), or on foot through the rice fields, clutching you to her breast with sobbs emitting into the night that noone could hear, and on nearing the gates of Guixi SWI, found a good shadowy place to come back to later... while tentatively placing the baby down weeping softly...
bla bla bla

LIE We don't know who or what she was or why or anything just like you say Kristin. We can only tell Eva that the best legacy that her birth mommy gave her was a fantastic personality and the opportunity to live a wonderful life somewhere where she could be accepted and loved unconditionally and without fear and repercussion.

Chances are that that explanation might not be enough some days and she will secretly plan her trip to China under her bedcovers - no doubt with Jack and Maia assisting. Luckily though Hannah and Audrey will tattle and we'll put an end to it - at least till she's 18!

The long and short of it is that you and Hugh will always be the ones that will be there for her. And she will know that.

Now excuse me... I have to go and weep somewhere in the shadows.