Monday, April 17, 2006

Another Open Letter to Clear the Air...


Dear World,

I am an adoptive parent. My daughter was born in China and she is Chinese by nationality. This is obvious if you look at her. She is a beautiful Chinese girl and she is my daughter and I love her as much as I love my biological children.

I know we "got" a pretty one, but I don't think we need to talk about that anymore. This is partly our fault as Hugh and I are so in love with Eva and her beauty takes our breath away and we talk about how gorgeous she is with abandon because we have nothing to do with her genetics and therefore we haven't felt like we were bragging. I know for a fact that each family we traveled with feels as though they were blessed with the most lovely and perfect child in all of China and we all know how incredibly fortunate we are to have these children in our lives.

We didn't save anybody. We grew our family through adoption. We are doing the best we can. Also, shut up about her loss of culture. If you honestly believe that she would have been better off growing up in an orphanage you are off your fucking rocker. The people of China love and adore their children and to let westerners come in and adopt and take these children out of this proud and strong culture shows a tremendous amount of faith in us and our commitment to raise these children to be proud of not only where they came from and the country of their birth, but also to be proud of where they are going.

We support domestic adoption and we support children staying with their birth parents, but, we don't live in a perfect world and sometimes, just sometimes, life isn't the Utopia we feel is should be and we therefore must solve problems as they arise. A child cannot languish in an orphanage, no matter how well staffed or how lovely, while the world figures out the population crisis.

Every adoptive parent I know has anguished over the loss her child's birth family has suffered and there is a sadness at knowing they will never experience the joy that is your daughter. We don't believe that Moon Cakes and dance class make up for not growing up in China, but we do think that they are a start.

Also, our daughter does not look just like any other Asian child you know. This is because Chinese children do not all look alike.

I would also appreciate if Eva were not referred to as "Chinese" with every introduction. Pointing out that she is the "Chinese grandchild", "Chinese daughter", "from China" is annoying and also kind of obvious. If you persist I shall begin to introduce you as, "Old Bat/Dumb Bunny/Ignoramus/Village Idiot".

In closing I would strongly like to suggest that, when discussing any adopted child, you strike the word, "own" as in "your own" or "their own" from your vocabulary. People will start to compare you Jessica Simpson and that is never a good thing.

Thank you for listening, world, it was time for me to say something.

Your Friend,

Kristin

***

P.S., if you are reading this and thinking, "Oh, she is talking about me", you can put your hair shirt away because I am not. This is a very general letter about things that have been brewing in my head since we came home with Eva.

***

After reading Jen, and being referred over to Pomegranate, I do feel the need (and I can't believe I forgot) to mention that we didn't adopt because we wanted a girl. I find that statement insulting to my sons as it implies that, if I had given birth to a girl we wouldn't have had to adopt... simply not true. If you adopted a girl because you really wanted one, good for you... I am all for following your dreams, I am just telling you how it is in our family.

35 comments:

Recovering Wino said...

You're scaring me..I know it's bad...but just how bad do I have to be prepared for?

Jenn said...

Well said....err written.
and she is beautiful =o)

Is it really like that? I mean people actually think that being in an orphanige is BETTER? HOW?

ciodude said...

Some people are amazing... ly stupid. I wish many joys to your entire family (defined not by hair or skin color, eye shape, other genetics, culture, place of birth, or other such descriptors, but by pure, unadulterated love).

eastcoastermomma said...

To Jen- It can be very frustrating at times because a lot of these comments come from people close to the family and they are said out of ignorance. My grandmother is the hardest and we have given up any hope of sensitizing her to correct language and context. There is also a real trend towards making white adoptive parents out to be the bad guy. Kristen is right when she says that a. parents agonize over the birth family's loss. It is never easy, but then, neither is life.

eastcoastermomma said...

Oops! I want to clarify that this is my situation with my family and friends. Kristen's post seems to be more general as she has addressed it to "the world"!

Northern Stargirl said...

Well said, Kristin!

We struggle with these same issues and although I know we will probably always have to make allowances for well meaning strangers and even some family members, it feels good to vent about the inanity of it all!

BTW, I loved the photos of the kids with their rabbit ears.

f said...

Whoo-hoo K., stirring up the pot, per usual.

krista said...

That was a wonderufl post. Good for people to stumble on it and actually take a second to think about the power their language holds. (And how some things have underlying assumptions and meanings that are hurtful)

Kim M. said...

Well said. I guess there is a lot to think about that we have to still face yet. Good and Bad. Thank you for your letter! I may have to refer to it more, than once I think.

Stephanie said...

Great post. I am worried about how people will look at my children once I travel to China to bring number two home. I hope that the fact of having one biological daughter and one adopted daughter doesn't get made into such a big deal. It sure isn't with us!

Stephanie said...

FYI - You have been tagged. Please check out my blog. Stephanie

jennster said...

she is beautiful and i think it's wonderful that you adopted!!

Wendy said...

I agree with everything you wrote. Boy, girl it's all good!

Joannah said...

That's really powerful, Kristen. Thanks for the insight.

Margaret said...

Hear, hear.

Aimee said...

Well said. I feel the same way. Next time someone pisses me off, maybe I can send them this post.

Tori said...

Nice one my friend...
I love this picture of EJ. It's one of the best I've seen.
I think it's hard for the ignorant ones in any situation that doesn't seem 'the norm'...
People who aren't in the know about the correct lingo to use are very insulting to those in the know.
Often they mean no harm... often they should just shut the hell up...
You write eloquently as usual...
Your Stalker
(just out on bail right now...
have new Stalking charges pending though so better blog while I still have the chance...)

Gracencameronsmomy said...

Hear, Hear! Can I copy this and pass it out to strangers who stare and tell me how "lucky" she is?? right in front of her? Great post!
Lisa

J.D. said...

Kristin,

That was a totally beautiful letter, and good for you to get that all out.

I know you must get the strangest looks in the market or out in public or wherever, because people by nature are small-minded. It's something you have to educate or work your way out of. My younger sister used to get stares when she would take a little black baby that she was babysitting (wasn't even hers!) to the store with her.

People who talk about her "loss of culture" have absolutely no idea what they're talking about. If anything, she's "gaining a culture" by growing up here in America. It varies depending on where you are in China, but a lot of places, it ain't great for a child to grow up in. Here at least she can be taught the values of a loving relationship by two parents who really want her. And as she grows up, she'll decide which cultures she wants to incorporate in her life (isn't that what teenage rebellion is all about anyway?!)

Anyone who thinks a child would be better off growing up in an orphanage has lost their ever-loving mind. I've been in ones here in America, and even here in the land of the free, it ain't no picnic. It's probably the worst way for a child to have to grow up, but thank God that they're there for the children. And thank God for parents who are willing to love these children and take them in as their own.

I have yet to understand why the Chinese child has to be constantly called the Chinese child, because I never hear anyone referring to their "white child." She's a human child. That's all that should matter.

And Kris, she is a cutie pie...is that the same as beautiful? Because it's hard to say she's not pinchably cute :)

Good letter, Kristin...glad you got that out. I wish you'd submit it to some adoption websites or journals and have them publish it!

--J.D.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Very well said! I've often thought about adopting a child, so I thank you for a glimpse into the lives of someone who has adopted and so obviously loves it.

All three of your children are beautiful (my God, its staggering!) and you are a lucky woman.

Sandy said...

Thank you sister!!! Well said!! I agree with everything you said, and lately it has especially been bothering me when people say I'm adopting because I want a daughter specifically. Thanks for sharing.

LindaJ said...

Well said!!!! I'm right there with you!!! i have posted almost the same post to my blog!! It must be a village idiot thing!!

Johnny said...

Good letter.

I don't see how people can say that a 12 year old child sitting in an orphanage and finally getting adopted is a better case than a 1 year old in an orphanage.

People who believe otherwise about adoption (than we do) should practice what THEY preach.

Anonymous said...

I really value this post, thank you. I too, like many who have commented before me, have a few people to whom this letter could be shown - I hope you don't mind if I print it out for future reference!?

I look forward to reading your blog every day and hate when you don't update regularly.

Kristin said...

I want to thank all of you for these positive and wonderful comments... it is great to be involved in this community of support... I had no idea when I began to blog that I would make friends!

Perrin said...

This post...just well said. Thank you from one mommy to another.

Jodi said...

I just stumbled onto your blog as well. That was a very very good letter. I have a niece who is half black and she has always been very pretty and outgoing and just lights up a room. We love her and would love her no matter her color or gender. Anyway, we use to get looks & questions all the time too. It's so rude. When my boys were born people actually asked me how I felt about them having a half African American cousin. I was without words in response. Then I would smile and say, "I am glad K. is in our family because then the boys will know that our family comes in all shapes/sizes/and colors!" GOOD LORD. How can people be some dumb?
I think it is wonderful you chose to adopt and i hope that more people will adopt a child from anywhere where a child needs a home. You know what I mean?
Good post!

B.J. said...

Thank you! I hear random things, and always wonder what it's going to be like when I am finally in a position to start my family and adopt. Regardless of where my future children will be born (or are already born!), they are all just children. I may have to keep this as backup material in the future!

It's also nice to see that there seems to be a community out there for support and a little hands on guidance. Go comment's section! I may be needing you one day! :)

M3 (Mary-Mia) said...

Great post Kristin! Agree with all - just one tiny thing where I differ. I hate, hate, hate when people say "this is xxx, my chinese daughter" or "this is xxx, my grandaughter from china," but, and I'm probably weird in this way, for some reason it doesn't bug me at all to talk about "waiting for my child from China" or "waiting for my grandaughter from China." Somehow that is ok with me. Maybe it's because it's giving a nod to the process somehow, or maybe because at this waiting stage of the game it's all about China, or maybe because we really are talking about a process instead of a specific child at this point. Whatever, that's my quirk. :-)

Kristin said...

Mary Mia,

I agree with you! I am speaking more from the view that Eva has been home with us for 17 months and when members of our extended family still have to tag her with "Chinese" it gets old... on the other hand, I don't mind at all the conversations about China or adoption or even, as my MIL is prone to say, "well, my granddaughter is from China and she is..."... it was, let's just say, a REALLY long Easter brunch.

Melissa said...

That was a freaking wonderful post. Not sure how I got here, but I'm glad I did. People don't tend to think before they speak. I am not adopted, nor have I adopted children, but I can't stand when someone says, "their two adopted children". Birth or not, they are your children. Plain as that. And just so you know, your daughter is beautiful.

Ninotchka said...

Wonderful post. Bravo.

J. said...

Excellent!
So here's a view for you from an adoptee:
It's part of everyday life for us to grow up feeling just a little alienated. That's just the way it is, and not the fault of anyone. While I was growing up, I was always introduced as "this is my daughter xxx" and I guess I just took that for granted because, well hell yeah, I AM my Mother's daughter.
In later years, a boyfriend introduced me to his niece as "this is xxx, so and so's adopted daughter".
Wow.
I often wonder how apart she must've felt being introduced that way constantly.

You are on the total right track. She is your daughter, and a gift to be cherished.

Again, great post hon. I came over from Kristen's site.

Lisa said...

Yeay YOU. Well said.

We are thinking about international adoption too. But just in the "thinking" phase. We don't know of any one else personally that has done so...

Anonymous said...

As a fellow adoptive mom whose daugther is from China, truer words were never written. Absolutely beautiful. As for the person whose blog I read who doesn't think we will give our daughters enough of their culture,because her parents did not, shame on you! What a ridiculous assumption. We are proud of her heritage and will do everything possible for her to identify with it in the midst of being raised by caucasian parents--and more than FCC events and Asian festivals. We are lucky, in the Dallas area we have so many ways to get her involved to learn about her heritage.