5 Months Out

Sorry, a couple days late in posting. No September post. Ah, well.

Anyway, it’s now about 5 months since we were officially LID with the CCAA. Several eople with February and March LIDs have posted on other sites that they were asked for more information by the Review Room staff. (Sometimes the CCAA wants some clarification on what is in your dossier.) The significance of these inquiries is that we know Feb and March folks are in review (i.e. the dossiers for those months are currently being reviewed for acceptance.) CCAA still hasn’t posted that they finished all of January, which just means someone with an LID in that month needs to get their collective sh*t together and reply. LOL! It’s kinda exciting because this means they may be getting close to review of our dossier and then we’ll know for sure that we are (eventually) going to be parents! Yey!

Unfortunately the September batch of referrals only went through August 9th of 2005. So were are still a LONG way from seeing our daughter’s face. A lot of rumors abounding but a couple of sources I find trustworthy have said they have reason to believe the speed up should start soon. Both sources think CCAA should begin doing full months’ worth of dossiers by the end of the year (one source says at latest by January.) I am cautiously optimistic. We’re not likely to see a referal before summer of 2007 however. I was still holding out for a spring referal but that just doesn’t look like it is mathmatically possible unless the CCAA really steps up the pace. We shall see.
So last time I said that a lot of thoughts got knocked loose by reading the blogs of adults who were adopted trans-racially and/or internationally. Here’s a post about one of the many lines-of-thought that was sparked for me. I’m not 100% certain this is a coherant post. I am clear it’s a pretty touchy post, being about race and all. So hang in there with me. The opinions expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of my husband and certainly aren’t representative any particular group to which I happen to belong. I know that for most of you the following is an unnecessary statement but for anyone who is not Family or Friend: I will ruthlessly delete with malice aforethought any comment that is in the mind of this blogger a flame. You have every right to disagree or think I’m silly or stupid or whatever but be polite in your disagreement. This is My House, mine and my husband’s and our eventual children and I won’t tolerate any attack against myself or my family here. I’m sorry that I even feel the need to say that. You just wouldn’t believe the comments some people leave on other people’s blogs. I don’t care how strongly you believe that someone is wrong. Say it in a civil way or step the f*ck off.

OK, back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

As I mentioned reading the different perspectives in these blogs has been enlightening and a little hard to read at times. Many of these folks express a lot of pain and feelings of isolation from both American culture and that of their country of birth. The thing that gets my hackles up is that – on some of these blogs, not all, maybe not even most – there seems to be a certain amount of anti-transracial adoption and anti-international adoption sentiment expressed. Maybe I am being overly sensitive. Maybe I feel threatened as a potential adoptive parent. But I don’t think that’s it. Or at least not all of it.

Let me ‘splain. No, is too much. Let me sum up.

In case you were not aware, I am not white. I usually tell people I am Dutch-Indonesian. More accurately I am Indonesian with some Dutch blood on my father’s side and French and English (near as we can tell) on my mother’s side. (With a couple of notable exceptions I tend not to claim much of my mother’s family for reasons that will become clear in a second.) For most of my adult life I’ve identified as Asian American although my upbringing was largely white middle-class American. My father came to this country when he was 16, and although he did struggle with attempting to maintain some of the culture(s) with which he was raised, he came pretty firmly down on the side of assimilation.

I haven’t always agreed with that decision. Not sure I do even still. As a teenager and young adult I was starved for knowledge and understanding of my heritage. I still cling to those customs I do know and the ones I learned from slogging through library books and letters and conversations with my Dutch-Indonesian relatives. I still wish to this day that I could actually speak and understand more than a smattering of Dutch and in college I seriously thought about transferring to the only UC school at the time that offered Indonesian.

In addition, I was faced with racism from both “sides” of the racial divide. I’ve been called just about every racial slur there is by kids at school, random people on the street, as well as biological relatives. (I kid you not my great-uncle more than once called me a half-breed to my face! I won’t even mention the things said supposedly out of my hearing. This is why I often fail to acknowledge my mother’s side of the family. Sally and Richard being the notable and wonderful exceptions.) And on the other hand I have been told that I am not in fact Asian by members of Asian/Pacific Islander American support groups! Seems I forgot to get my Asian card stamped somewhere in all this time.

To add to all of that angst I was also an Air Force brat. So in all of my formative years I was never any closer than several hours’ drive from my father’s nearest relative (themselves scattered across the country and the globe.) And forget about a Dutch-Indonesian community I could create ties with. I didn’t even have the advantage of the Internet to try to make connections with others in my situation. Till I was in my 20s I didn’t even know there were other people (outside of my brothers and much younger cousins) in the same situation.

Point is, I’ve felt that alienation and isolation. I’ve been rejected by people who should love and embrace me as family solely on the basis of my race. I have felt the desire to have been raised in some other place and in some other manner and (occasionally) by some other people. I’ve been denied access to my “own” culture and felt dissatisfied by what I did get. So their blogs are hard for me to read because the feelings they express are also uncomfortably familiar.

This clash of cultures – if one wishes to call it that – is nothing new. It’s been going on since… well, since we started defining ourselves as tribes probably. My father’s mother and father are products of Dutch Colonialism. You wanna talk serious issues of racial and cultural identify talk to these folks. My Opa insisted that he was Dutch whenever I tried to press him for information about Indonesian customs etc., depite the evidence of his own mirror. But I’ve come to understand he had every right to indentify himself this way. Who am I to tell him differently?

So really what I am trying to say here is, yes, these feelings are valid. Yes, transracially and internationally adopted children will have a lot of struggles in their lives. Yes, I know that my daughter’s life will be influenced by an “otherness” probably more profound than my own. But those facts are certainly not unique to international/transracial adoption. And they certainly don’t mean her life is ruined from the time she’s placed in my arms because I am not Chinese. Or that it is would be better if she had stayed in China. Anymore than it would be better if my father never immigrated or married my mother. Or had us kids. Get it?

We cannot know to what extent these issues will shape Lorelei’s life and identity. I cannot spare her the pain of racism or dismiss the potential for feelings of isolation from “white” society. I hope we can mitigate this by helping her form a community that is multi-cultural with access to whatever aspects of her culture of birth we can reasonably provide (as non-Chinese.) My hope is that she never has to long for or struggle to get for a small glimpse of that very important piece of her self. But I also hope that we don’t go overboard the other way. Because I don’t want her rejecting out of hand her heritage because we pushed too hard.

Again, I also hope my daughter doesn’t read this post someday and think what an unenlightened idiot of a mother she’s got. Heh.

As a certain comedian used to say: “that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.”




3 Responses to “5 Months Out”

  1. Deb says:

    Just wanted to say, that a kid can feel isolated and different while culturally the same as most of the people around them.
    Give your child all the love and understanding you can and that will go a long way no matter how she reacts to the world around her and it reacts to her.
    Of course I already know Lorelai will be a well loved child.

  2. Aaron says:

    Racism sucks, but I don’t think it will ever go away. At least not for a long time.

    I think that it’s possible to have a “tribe” of support, even if it’s not of people of your own race/culture. It would be nice if our own family supported this, but the difference between humans and most animals is that we can make our own family.

    If you are interested in Dutch-Indo history, have you read Greg Van Eekhout’s story “Native Aliens” in the anthology So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy ?

    hugs from one of your “other” family members

  3. Tina says:

    The two of you are going to be incredible parents. You’ve gone farther into research to gain understanding than anyone I’ve ever known. Beyond that, you have a chosen family around you that will love and charish Lorelei as our own because she is our own. We all want to protect each of our children from the harsh realities of the outside world. There will be no doubt in her mind where home is, how loved she is, and that the majority of people out there are just ignorant f**ks. She will have the blessing of an education most never even dream of, not to mention all the stuff we’ll teach her that’s not often found in books. I wish I could say get all the worrying out of your system now, but I bet it wouldn’t do any good. My guess is that when she’s in her teens and early twenties and reading all of this…. “MOM, you are such a freak. I’ve always felt loved and knew I could get any information I needed. You and Dad have always been open and honest. Geez… what were you thinking.”

    The two, to be three, of you are an incredible family. Don’t forget it. There are so many happy stories out there… they just often don’t feel the need to blog. Don’t let the unhappies taint such an awesome experience as parenthood. Your teenagers will do that enough 😉

    I love you and am very eager to see my new niece. Hang in there!

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