Saturday, February 18, 2012

Not Alone: No Instant Connection to Child's Birth Country

In my last post I mentioned that I'd like to be able to revisit Vietnam because the circumstances surrounding my time there sort of prevented me from falling in love with the country like I did with Cambodia and Ghana. In the comments of that message someone else commented that they also had a difficult time connecting with their child's birth country and were glad to know they weren't alone. This makes me wonder, how common is this?

I know that this isn't something that I write about much because I want to be very respectful of my son. I don't want him to think that I don't see beauty in his birth country. I do. I don't want him to think that I don't love where he comes from. I do. But I suppose it's a bit like attachment. Some parents have an instant attachment with their kids; others have to sort of work at it.

Before I visited Vietnam I was *so* excited to put my feet on that soil! And looking back, I definitely have some very sweet and beautiful memories from our time there. It's the over all FEELING of the experience that I've had to work on. I really have had to continue to read about the see it through the eyes of others to fully appreciate it. I think that if I were to go back I would have a totally different feeling. It would all come together. I already have an amazing child from this country. I have lots of head knowledge about the beauty of the land and culture. The only thing missing is actual first hand experience to tie it all together. It will happen.

I'm sure it's not just "K" and I who didn't have an instant connection to our child's birth country. Anybody else want to join in the conversation? It looks like with K and I it was major stress that prevented us from "attaching" to the country like we thought we would. What caused you not to "attach?"



Cindy 7:22 AM  

I do not yet have an easy connection with Uganda. I was living next to a man who is far from being a decent human being and my interactions with him and the US NGO he represents took a lot of the joy out of my time in country.
Like you I cannot wait to go back and just be there. Not deal with the ethics of adoption there (which get worse with every new story) not to deal with NGO's who refuse to help one another and spend their time tearing each other apart....just to be there. Hoping I can do it soon :-)

fullplatemom 8:12 AM  

I actually feel the same way about Ghana that you do about Vietnam. My experience there was so filled with corruption and heartbreaking deception, that I find myself actually angry at my kid's birth country. Slowly, those feelings are healing and someday I hope to go back and get to see all the beauty. I never left the confines of the Em@assy or the orphanage. Not a great way to feel good about your child's homeland.


exmish 1:23 PM  

I'm with FPM for the same reasons. I finally had something beautiful come out of Ghana (as opposed to just pain) but I think those feelings of appreciation will only come over time as I continue to see good things coming from there...

A. Gillispie 1:39 PM  

Wow. This really is a subject that needs to be spoken about more, eh? We need to add this to adoption education course! "What to do if..."

I especially hate to hear of my fellow Ghana moms having this issue since I obviously haven't had that problem. I think the FIRST experience must be incredibly important. I've certainly experienced a ton of corruption and nastiness, but my first experiences were rather wonderful. FPM and Exmish, I know your stories and I TRULY believe ya'll went through trauma with your LH stuff. Really trauma; the kind that haunts you; the kind that might come with little PTSD letters. That's not easy to get over.

Cindy, you didn't go through the same situation as the other ladies, but you have made it a personal responsibility to learn about adoption corruption to the Nth degree. Others are so cruel to you, and I think that must keep you on edge. I pray that you get back there soon and are able to just BE THERE, with no other worries.

Adam and Amanda 9:31 PM  

Hi! First time poster here, but this subject hits home with me. Our son was adopted from Vietnam, and we TOTALLY fell in love with the country. Right now we are in the process of bringing out daughter home from South Korea. We have been waiting for 7 months with no end in sight, simply because their government is choosing to withold EPs. It is maddening, and I've realized that this is significantly affecting the way I view my daughter's birth country. I want to love this country as much as I love Vietnam. Hopefully I will in time. I definitely think this is any area that we could use more parent education on.

Jenni 1:47 PM  

The reason it was so easy to fall in love with Ghana was that we got to know people outside of our adoption journey. My husband was invited to a wedding during a trip and spent a lot of time with Ghanaians who were hospitable and warm. I know this doesn't always happen, but we also need to stretch ourselves when traveling to a birth country and not just do what is the easiest (i.e. only stay near the Emb@ssy or only focus on bringing a child home). We owe it to our children to embrace and learn about their culture and maintain some ties to their country. Sorry if I sound harsh but after reading blogs of adult adoptees who speak of their loss of culture, I think we as APs need to focus on this more?

A. Gillispie 5:15 PM  

Jenni, I think there's a lot of truth in your comment. Sometimes it is the agency/orphanage that keeps families from being able to really experience the culture beyond adoption procedures. They put a tight hold on what a family can/cannot do. It ends up keeping a family from exploring beyond the very minimum of the country's culture. And then other times families are just in such a stressful adoption situation there is just honestly no way to sit back and enjoy the country/culture--they are too busy just trying to survive. Sounds like this is definitely something we should all be talking about more in our adoption education classes, or even in our adoption lists amongst adoptive parents!

CarrieT 5:22 PM  

Good topic! Adam and Amanda, having adopted 4 from S. Korea back in the day when wait between referral and travel was only 3 months, I can totally see how it is easier for me to embrace Korea and how for you, and many other long, LOOOOOONG waiting families now, it is much harder. I pray that things speed up in Korea sometime soon. I don't know if this is expected, but I pray it does nevertheless!

When I read these comments though it does NOT sound like any of you really have problems with the country or culture or certainly not with the people in general (Ghanians--is that the word? Koreans, Vietnamese, etc.) Rather it is just hard to get past corruption and governmental red tape that made the adoption difficult and drawn out. And maybe an experience or 2 with individuals who were rude, etc. and this effected your stay in-country.

I think maybe you moms/dads are being too hard on yourselves! We teach our kids that every country/culture has kind, caring people and rude, angry people. We teach our kids that every culture has things to be proud of and things in their history that are negative.

I hope each of you can travel back to the country you are talking about and have a tremendous experience there that goes smoothly and where you meet lots of neat people and make lots of positive memories, but I still think that in the mean time you shouldn't be too hard on yourselves. Until then, you respect your child's birthland because he/she comes from there and you work to learn more about it along with your child, and all of you are doing that!

I don't feel like I am expressing myself well, but I just say don't be too hard on yourselves!

Carrie T.