Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Adopting Trans-Culturally

I hope this post doesn't offend anyone. This is just where I am in our adoption journey right now.

One of the things I have been mulling over quite a bit lately is the issue of adopting trans-culturally. In a sense, every adoption is trans-cultural because every one of us has our own culture that is a little bit different even from the family just down the street. For instance, the culture of our family incorporates pieces like born-again Christians, very active in church activities, Caucasian, middle class, stay-at-home mom, special needs, adoption, books and creativity are valued. For the extended family, Easter is spent at my mom's, Thanksgiving is at my aunt's, Christmas is at our house. Though my ethnic background is Swedish, as far as I know I don't practice any "Swedish" things--language, particular foods, holidays. I mostly describe myself as "Heinz 57 American"

So now, we are adopting a little girl "of color" and I cannot pretend that is insignificant. The fact that I think her brown skin, dark hair and dark eyes are beautiful does not magically make her comfortable in my "white" world. The fact that I don't know a single other person of her ethnicity doesn't really help either.

Like I said I've been thinking about this a lot. I took a class on it at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit in Minneapolis. An interesting thing at that class was differentiating between race, nationality, ethnicity and culture. I was pretty clueless. Race is genetic--Caucasian, Black, Asian, Native, and Hispanic/Latino (please forgive me if I don't call the categories by their correct names--I'm just a beginner here) Nationality is where you have your passport. Ethnicity--well, I don't remember the definition but it's like where your family's roots are--for me mostly Swedish because my grandfather was 100% Swedish and his family came here to the US from Sweden.

In Boise we talked about trans-racial/trans-cultural adoption, on-line I've been reading about it and as home-work I have twenty bazillion articles to read.

So anyway, we've been trying to learn more about Abby's country. The last couple of days our kids have been working on these really cool posters. I let each one go on-line and look up whatever they were interested in from Abby's country of origin. Then they printed off, glued and labeled corresponding pictures onto their respective piece of poster-board. I'd like to show pictures of their finished products but that would kind of give away the secret of where Abby lives now :) It's interesting to see how the personality and individuality of each child come out in their art: B. first wanted to know about storms in her country so got pictures of lightning, a tornado and a flood; then he went on to fancy cars, a helicopter, a military tank and a train; got photos of a fountain, a waterfall and a huge fish; and added in a picture of the flag, currency and a baby for good measure. J. was only interested in their military so chose pictures of soldiers, WW2 and more current military planes, ships and tanks all encircling a picture of the badge of honor. T's main interests were fancy cars and fashion. For the rest of her poster she wrote down numerous random and interesting facts about the country. And S. was really into the project so chose enough pictures for BOTH sides of her poster on a wide variety of subjects from babies to foods to fashion to money to the coat of arms.

1 comment:

  1. Cool! It sounds like your family is doing a great job preparing. It is hard to imagine, but a blonde, fair-skinned boy really stands out in our family and our area as well. We spent a great deal of time learning about his country, making ethnic foods, and learning his language.