Monday, August 24, 2009

Birth Culture

I came across an interesting article in the Boston Globe today about embracing birth culture with adoptees. I thought some of the adoptive parents who read our blog would find it interesting.

The article is written by a Taiwanese adoptee who warns parents not to go too far with celebrating or idealizing their child's native culture or it may have damaging effects. Back when international adoption started to become more common in the 70s and 80s adoptive parents were told to bring their children up as "American" and not to confuse them with their birth culture.

When these adoptees became adults social workers realized that not teaching adoptees about their birth culture was damaging to adoptees. Some adoptees felt that because of the way they looked they did not really fit into American culture and they also did not fit it with their native culture because they know nothing about it.

So adoption experts switched gears and social workers now stress (as ours did) the importance of birth culture in our children's lives. The author of the article warns adoptive parents not to just focus on the fun parts of birth culture like food and music. But to also to discuss the more difficult topics like racial stereotypes and bullying.

Overall though the author advises adoptive parents to just "relax". Find a happy middle ground and give your kids the space when they need it. Grace is a bit young to start with any real birth culture type stuff but is nice to have articles like this to refer to for later on. If you are interested in the article it is linked below.

Boston Globe


The Gang's Momma said...

Thanks for the link. I'll go back and read it during nap time! It is a hard question to answer when they are so little, and we talk a lot about how to go about incorporating her birth culture in an honoring way. With lots of talking and no real answers yet. I wish our local community of adopters was a bit more active. I just don't have the time or energy to rally them up myself (what, with five kids and two new homeschoolers and all :) )

Brigit & Dave said...

Thanks. I will read that article. Our daughter has been home with us for 2 years from China. We haven't really done too much. Just Chinese New Year. I have been trying to learn about the different holidays, and culture, but it is hard to find the resources. I find the show Ni Hao, Kai Lan very helpful right now. Altough she perfers Dora at this point. At least she'll learn some Latin culture?

Two Pearls said...

Thanks for the article - I missed this one! We're going to try to visit the Derry Chinese School's open house in a few weeks. We heard that they have programs for kids as young as three and thought it might be fun to try some. I'll let you know! I think the open house is on Sept 12th?

Jenna said...

Thanks for the link. I have a hard time reading anything from this particular woman because I've read her blog, and she is REALLY angry- especially at adoptive parents. I absolutely see her point in this article though, and I think it is a very good one for those of us adopting to remember- to incorporate culture AND race into our kid's lives in an organic way- less forced and stilted.

Her blog is more overtly angry especially when it comes to adoptive parents. I actually was surprised at how kind she was to her parents, because on her blog, she's a lot less kind to them. Maybe she's found some healing?

A thought I have- and with Jen being a teacher, I'm sure you are all over this- is using children's books to open the conversation. I think they are an invaluable resource in opening conversations about culture, race, being different, being American, whatever......there are books that touch on all that at every level. I've started a collection already. Barefoot Books is a GREAT place to find these resources. I think it is even important to have books that talk about the experience of people/kids of a variety of races- not just Asian. Books are going to be invaluable to us as we live in VERY caucasian southern NH. It's going to be very difficult to find "organic" ways to interact with other Asian Americans.

Just my thoughts as an oh-I-hope-to-be-an-adoptive-mom-soon parent! :)