This blog chronicles the miracles and struggles of our daughters, Emily and Olivia. Emily was born 15 weeks early and had many complications, but she continues to amaze us! Olivia, born in China with heart complications, is also beating the odds. She joined her forever family (us!) when she was four years old and has been doing wonderfully! UPDATE: We started homeschooling August 2009 :)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

When did the tide turn?

When Olivia first joined our family, she went by "Tan Tan" and was quick to correct us if we tried to call her Olivia. Then, for a while, we used both names interchangeably or combined. I'm not sure when she started wanting to be just "Olivia," but yesterday when I said, "Tan Tan, do you want more milk?" she gave me an exasperated look and said very emphatically, "Name's O-LIV-IA, NOT Tan Tan!" I have mixed feelings about that. While I'm glad she accepts her new name, I'd kind of hoped she wouldn't reject her Chinese name/identity in the process. I can't say I'm surprised because it's a common scenario shared amongst adoptive, but it's a little sad. Sad in that as she becomes Americanized, her Chinese-ness is rapidly disappearing. It was inevitable since she's no longer immersed in Chinese language or culture, but for four of her four and half years she was fully Chinese. Now her former identity is all but forgotten. Don't get me wrong, I firmly hope that her life will be better here with a family in the land of opportunities vs. an orphan in China. But unfortunately it cost her a lot. Her entire self identity.

Right now she doesn't seem to notice or mind, but later in life (pre-teen + years) many adoptees--especially trans racial adoptees who don't look like the rest of the family--struggle with identity. She may feel Caucasian on the inside with an exterior that doesn't match. Some adult adoptees describe feeling like they don't belong in either world since they identify with their Caucasian family, but the face in the mirror reminds them that they're not...and yet, they don't feel very Asian either, having grown up without the language or culture of their homeland. Therein lies a big challenge for trans racial adoptive families. We want to somehow strike a delicate balance between letting her be a normal American kid while still celebrating her heritage and culture so that she can retain some semblance of her Chinese identity. This has been reported to be a difficult proposition when they desperately just want to fit in--some just wishing they were blond-haired and blue-eyed. We, as her parents, need to maintain an interest in Chinese culture (without cramming it down her throat) to let her always know that her heritage is something to be proud of, not something to be obliterated from her life. She has had too much obliterated already.

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