Saturday, February 05, 2011

A New Phase of Post-Adoption

Taevy dressed up as a "Vietnamese Girl" at Halloween
Well, we're experiencing something new with our oldest daughter, but I'm guessing it won't be the last time we have similar situations arise in our family.
Taevy is lonely. Poor baby, she just...is. Yes, she hopes to have more friends in general, but more than that she yearns to know other young adoptees like herself--especially the 9-12 year old crowd of Asian adoptees.
It all came to a head this evening even though I can look back over the last few months and see that this was coming. I've heard, "Mom, do you love Ghana more than Cambodia?" "Mom, why don't we have more Asians in Oklahoma?" "Mom, WHY aren't there more kids here from Cambodia?" "I think I might move to California when I grow up, because there are lots of Asians there." And the kicker...while watching hoarders..."Mom, why do they never show any Asian hoarders?" [That one actually cracked me up!]
So, this is the part where I get to feel really guilty for not doing a good enough job keeping Taevy involved in her own culture, or at least in the Asian community here. Ugh. People often ask how we "do it" having so many countries represented in one house. I guess the truth is we haven't done it well enough! For Taevy, books and photos and recognizing Cambodian holidays, and hearing how wonderful her birth country is, is not enough. She needs to know her people--and I can't really give her that. Around here the best I can do is "Asian"--not Khmer (Cambodian).
We are blessed that her little bestie was actually Samren's orphanage-mate and has several Khmer siblings. Taevy LOVES it at her friend's home. I know it is partly because she loves her friend so much, but it is also because that home is full of kids that live a much more Khmer/Vietnamese culture in their home than we could ever provide (older adoptees who remember their language, etc.). I'm so thankful she has this family, but even that is not enough.
Tonight she asked if we could move to Colorado because I had told her once there were lots of Khmer people in Colorado. Huh?! Turns out she was remembering when I told her about the Khmer Heritage Camp that happens in Colorado each year. Umm...guess who will be trying to figure out how to make it there this summer? =-)
I love my daughter so very much. I always thought I was providing everything she needed, but that just isn't the truth. She is at the point in her life now where she truly needs to have friends who can identify with her unique background. It's going to be WORK to provide that for her because in our state Asian culture does not abound. However, we can do better than we've been doing.
Have any of you experienced this sort of thing with your "tween" daughters? Any tips for the newbie? Has anybody ever considered making a yahoo group for these girls (from any country) that so desire to connect with other adoptees of the same age? I know Taevy would be really into that.

7 comments:

Heather 7:48 AM  

Ugh, the tween/teen stuff STINKS! Between adoption stuff/cultural stuff/homeschool stuff/ conservative lifestyle, I think our kids have a much, much harder row to sow. It's hard enough to find friends that you fit in with when you're 12, but when you reduce the pool of friends by lifestyle, then homeschool, then adoption, then culture. . .What's left? I feel your pain sis. And I don't have any practical suggestions since we're struggling with this as well. Sophia's not content to know other black kids in our area because 1. their lifestyle is so different, she has nothing in common, but a bigger concern for her is 2. She doesn't consider herself "black", she's Ethiopian. I'm curious to hear what others suggest here.

On another note, did Sophia email Taevy back? I know she was working on it, but I didn't check to see if she sent it correctly.

Bingaling 9:29 AM  

Do you have any colleges or universities close to you? At our university we have a fairly big asian population and each group often holds cultural events that are open to the public (this holds true for all cultural groups represented on campus). Going to some of these events might give her a good opportunity to connect to her culture. She may or may not meet someone her own age, but you might meet someone who could help provide some of that culture that she longs for. Maybe you'd meet someone who would be willing to give her Cambodian cooking lessons or something like that.

Coley 12:40 PM  

Anita:
Sissy is only 6 but now that she's in the 1st grade we have noticed that she does talk a lot about the "tan" kids in her school. She has many Asian friends and a greater majority of Hispanic friends....at this point, she doesn't care about specifics, as long as she sees their similarity on the surface right now. I'm not sure what we would do if we didn't live in a place that offers such a diverse setting. I'm sure she'd already be feeling like Taevy. Have you guys thought about moving? ;-)

mrsbroccoliguy 12:48 PM  

R has been feeling this need too, though she doesn't put it into so many words. We did go to CO. heritage camp last year and she totally clicked with one girl and I was so sad that they live completely on opposite sides of the country from one another! (They email each other, but of course it's not the same!)

I think R would like a yahoo group. I'm nervous about online stuff, but if it could be done safely, I think a preteen group could be a good thing.

Venegas Family 2:28 PM  

Anita,
I am wondering about utilizing technology better. This has been on my mind a lot because of Abi and Joseph's ages. I think they are going to need more connections with their culture than we have in Grand Junction. We are actually considering moving in a couple years for that very reason. But, we are hoping to utilize skype and more online groups like you suggested as well. We will of course seek out adoption groups etc in our community but with the size of our community I don't think it is going to be enough. Cynthia and I have plans for Rebecca, Abi and Joseph to "talk and see" each other regularly on skype. I plan to reach out to others as well. I know it's not a perfect answer but maybe helpful.
You're such a good Mom to identify this! I for one thank you for this post because it has been on my mind with my own kids!
Melinda

Grace 1:27 AM  

I don't know about the adoption side of things, but I can definitely relate to that as an Asian-American! I remember feeling just like that when I was around that age-- lonely and different. And this even with my whole family being Chinese and attending a Chinese church! Yes, it is helpful having people who are similar to me. No, it's never really going to be enough. We moved to California in my teen years, and it still wasn't "enough", because there, I realized how different I was from other Chinese people. I didn't fit in there either. Being around other Asians probably was helpful in that it helped me to figure out what being a hyphenated American really means to me-- what it means to be both, but not all of both, my particular combination of cultures, what I identify with, what I don't... But actually, being in Ghana also helped me to understand my "hyphenated-ness"! I found myself navigating my dual cultures while interacting with Ghanaian culture. It's an experience that brings out all three cultures in interesting ways. That's when I started appreciating being "different" :)

I guess I don't have anything helpful to say... God will bring people and experiences that will shape and define us, and help us to understand ourselves more. But, the struggle will still be part of it!

Cora 11:49 PM  

I hope she is able to go to the camp. Sounds like she would really like it.
Are there any fundraisers that she could do? I remember sell candy bars to go to church camp.

Take Care, Cora