Friday, October 29, 2010

On My Nightstand

I just finished another wonderful adoption book called Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other: In Praise of Adoption by Scott Simon (NPR host).

There are few adoption books written by men, so I wanted to be sure to check this book out so, if approved by me, could be added to my adoption resource list.

Here are some excerpts:

"[. . .] while adoption is a miracle, miracles finally take their places in our lives alongside more mundane things on our shelves and blend together. Adoption is a fact of life, not a trauma to overcome" (50).

Note: That last sentence has been rolling around in my mind for days. What do you think? Is adoption a fact of life, as the author says, and NOT a trauma to overcome?

After discussing the ways in which he and his wife embrace and integrate Chinese culture into their lives, the author shares, "But while our daughters' ethnicity is one of the first labels that can be fixed on them, it does not account for and outweigh everything else that they are" (64).

Note: I found this very interesting, because sometimes my focus is SO much on helping my daughter be as black as possible, even though she is, in some ways, white (by association). But in essence, my daughter is a person first, not a BLACK person. I work hard to make sure her hair is "right," that she knows about Rosa Parks and MLK, that we find black angels and black Santas to decorate with for Christmas, etc. And maybe these things matter, and maybe they don't matter a lot. I don't really know, but I want to try and give it a good shot. Shrug.

"Adoptions don't cut off children from learning about their culture (or, in our family's case, and millions more, cultures), lineage, or heritage. They widen the human stream that sustains heritage" (80).

Note: I love how diverse our family is, simply because of its makeup (my family, husband's family, and now our family, built through adoption), its ethnicity black-white-white-black, and its unit (different and beautiful).

"There are times when our daughters have a difficult time with change: saying goodbye, or even goodnight, moving (if even, as we have, across the street), graduating from kindergarten, or ice cream shops that suddenly run out of the sprinkles that they had counted on having. Tantrums are a time-tested way of letting the world, as well as your parents, know that you'd like to call a halt to the rotation of the earth and the momentum of history for one damn minute and make the world pay attention to you. This kind of behavior is scarcely unique to children who have been adopted. But some of these ordinary anxieties might pinch a nerve with children who feel that they have been rejected in life before they had a chance to prove how lovable they are" (128).

Note: I have done little research on international and foster care adoption, but the author's last line speaks volumes to me.

The author's wife shares with her daughter (in regards to growing up): "When you're young, you want to be like everyone else. I know. People used to make fun of my hair, my clothes, my accent [French]. But when you're older, you'll see that it's good to be different. You don't want to be like everybody else. The things that make you different make you more interesting. We went all the way around the world to get you. When you're older---just a little older---you'll realize that everything you think is a problem now is actually something good. They'll be your strong points. And you will be strong" (136-137).

Note: I haven't done as much research yet on adoptees as I would like to. This passage confused me some. (The author had previously discussed the primal wound, the idea that children who are adopted have a wound because they are not with their biological parents). I once started to read a book, a very popular book, called Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Parents Knew, and got so consumed with guilt and confusion that I took it back to the library unfinished. The book was negative (though perhaps realistic?)---stating, in sum, that adopted kids are all a little jacked from the get-go because they aren't with their biological parents. STAB to an adoptive parent's heart, because I try really hard to promote adoption openness (reading books, visiting with my daughter's birth family, promoting racial awareness, etc.)---but I realize that my efforts, no matter how well-meaning and successful, do not eradicate the fact that my daughter will always have a piece of her that is somewhere else.

"Pregnancies can be accidental," says Stephen Segaller (an adoptee). "Adoptions never are. Those of us who are adopted have every reason to feel snug and secure. Loved above and beyond, really" (149).

Note: Interesting. Clearly one person's opinion. But interesting.

"Those of us who have been adopted, or have adopted or want to adopt children, must believe in a world in which the tumblers of the universe can click in unfathomable ways that deliver strangers into our lives. The tectonic plates shift, the radiation belt springs a small hole, and children from the other side of the world, or the other side of the street, can wind up feeling utterly right in our arms" (177).

Note: I call this God. :)

As I mentioned earlier this month, I have stepped away from my beloved online adoption forum (one I was beyond addicted to) to instead learn about adoption on my own terms. This book has provided me with another tiny piece of adoption education---a place where I can challenge my beliefs, question my practices, and above all, appreciate the beautiful child I have.

3 comments:

Shelley said...

I love the last quote you posted. It reminds me of our pastor's words to the congregation just before E was baptized. It was beautiful and so similar to what this author said.

Linda said...

I haven't read the book, but a couple of comments on the quotes you have above and based on talking to real live transracially adopted adults...some whose experiences were painful and some whose experiences were not:

"Adoption is a fact of life, not a trauma to overcome"...I think this is easier to say when you're not the one who's been adopted. My own child has asked "Why me?", etc. I think it can be a painful struggle for some adoptees to have all these questions for which there are no answers and for us (the ones who are not adopted) to state the above quote. I find it shameful to push something that makes me feel better on to someone else's experience. I'm not living it, my child is.

"Adoptions don't cut off children from learning about their culture (or, in our family's case, and millions more, cultures), lineage, or heritage. They widen the human stream that sustains heritage." Again, if I'm reading this quote correctly...and, yes, it's out of context with the whole book...I don't agree. Yes, you can take your child to cultural events, but visiting a culture and living a culture are two different things...and, please don't misunderstand, because I'm all for exposing our children to cultural events because something is better than nothing and pretending that they're not who they are is simply wrong. If you as the parent are not the same ethnicity as your child, you will never fully understand what it means to be African or Asian or Hispanic...and adoption while wonderful does, I sometimes think, rob our children of something culturally important.

"When you're young, you want to be like everyone else. I know. People used to make fun of my hair, my clothes, my accent [French]." My problem with this quote...of course, one can change one's hair, one's clothes and one's accent...I used to have an English accent myself; however, one can never change the color of one's skin...so, let's be real when talking to our children. We can't pretend that skin color is such a simple thing as clothes, etc.

Just some things typed quickly as I felt a bit irritated by the simplicity and unrealistic attitute in some of the quotes. Sorry, this book may have meant something to you but I find it irksome to me.... :)

Linda said...

P.S. Sorry about the crankiness in my earlier comments. When one isn't feeling well...the one being me...one tends to be cranky and perhaps I read some of the author's comments (and your comments) out of context and not in the right light.

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