Category Archives: Cultural Awareness

Global-Mindedness and Action

“The people of the world see each other and can protect each other.”

~ Jason Russel, “Kony 2012″

Joseph Kony has been the hot topic in our car-conversations since last week. At the constant urging of my kids I watched the 30-minute “Kony 2012” video this weekend, produced by filmmaker and activist Jason Russell. Released on the Internet on March 5th, “Kony 2012” has already been watched via YouTube by more than 74,000,000 at this posting. (There are no numbers representing how many times the video has been shared.) This is impressive.

The International Criminal Court indicted Ugandan guerilla group leader Joseph Kony for war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2005. The documentary was made for the group nonprofit Invisible Children, Inc. for the purpose of bringing attention to the mind-blowing and ignored atrocities that have and are said to continue to happen in Uganda, DR Congo, South Sudan, and Central African Republic, and arresting Kony and bringing abducted children home. (There are reports that Kony is no longer a threat and that his army numbers several hundred.)

Our youth are part of the campaign, demanding justice for the hundreds of thousands of people that Kony and the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) have emotionally and physically maimed or killed, many of them children (over 30,000 of them), who have been kidnapped and forced into becoming sex-slaves (girls) and child soldiers (boys) who have often been forced to kill their parents.

For those of you who may still be unaware of what our youth are rallying around, and the scope and power of social media, watch the embedded video or go here to learn more about the plans.

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Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Advocacy, Cultural Awareness, Family, In the News, Multicultural Families, Multiracial Families, The International Mom

Chinese New Year is Here!

We have been busy preparing for our second New Year celebration of 2011, Chinese New Year, which kicks off today, February 3rd. Aside from hanging scrolls, lanterns, and dragons around the house; we cleaned—to keep the good energy/spirits within our home, significantly encouraging good fortune for 2011. We will be making and eating an abundance of Chinese food (especially long noodles for a long life) this weekend when we get together and celebrate with families who have also adopted from China.

We’ve been doing this for years, ever since our oldest daughters joined our families. Most of our daughters are now teens and, if possible, more excited about this important cultural holiday because they understand and enjoy the significance as well as being actively involved in it. The girls help with the many dishes we will share and eat, but their favorite is the preparation and steaming of the dumplings. In fact, if the parents and younger kids don’t pay attention, they may miss tasting the fare because the girls tend to eat the dumplings soon as they’re ready.

For our family, Chinese New Year is just as important as Día de los Tres Reyes, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other cultural and religious events and holidays. And, for the first time ever, we’ve had conflicts for our time. There was no question as to what we should do; the other activities were dropped. As a multicultural family we made it clear that Chinese New Year was the priority.

This is the Year of the Rabbit, the fourth sign in the Chinese Zodiac. According to the Chinese Zodiac, people born in the year of the Rabbit are the luckiest. Their lives begin and end well. Rabbits are nimble, quick, cautious, and clever. Even though they may appear frail and gentle, they are strong-minded and willed.

The Chinese zodiac calendar follows a sexagesimal (sixty-year) life cycle. As I pointed out in an earlier post, Aubry begins her second celestial stem (“second twelve”) of her first life cycle this year.

2011 is the Golden Rabbit, a year in which we can catch our breath and focus on calm. We look forward to replenishing ourselves and our chi (energy) and living in the moment with those who bring immense joy and light into our lives. And, if you are also celebrating the Chinese New Year, Gong Xi Fa Cai!

恭喜發財 (Congratulations and Prosperity!)

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Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, China, Cultural Awareness, Family Celebrations, Identity, International Adoption, Multicultural Families, The International Mom, Traditions

Thankful

Like many I reflect on what it means to be thankful as we arrive at the American holiday and tradition of Thanksgiving. Weeks ago Mark traveled to China for business, his first trip back to the birth county of our daughters. I know my husband’s perspective was vastly different than those he traveled with, because his previous trips were with me and were profoundly emotional and sacred. His thoughts of how we became parents again, savoring the memories of meeting each of our girls (then infants), adopting them, spending concentrated time in their birth provinces, and arriving home, were ever present.

In the two-year span between the girls’ adoptions, China changed at a speed that stunned us. We knew it was likely we would have difficulty recognizing China when we would return in the future, with our entire crew.

Mark arrived home last week with conflicting feelings and few keepsakes because, as he said, “There is nothing you can’t get here (in the U.S.). China has become so westernized, that it has lost itself.”

I feel beyond sad. My daughters’ birth culture is changing or disappearing at an alarming rate. Their birth language (Mandarin) still remains—even as the trend to speak English picks up, as does the rich folklore and traditions. But westernization, “progress,” is everywhere.

There is so much to be thankful for—our health, our incredible family, friends…I could go on. But what I am also thankful for is travel. Parenting children of other races, ethnicities and culture takes some “doing.”  I am thankful we were able to travel when we did (it was required, although we would have gone even if it wasn’t). I am thankful we continue to travel with the kids instead of spending our vacations at amusement parks and U.S. resorts, enriching ourselves and our children with their birth cultures and other cultures too.

We have fought hard to keep those memoires—sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of China—for our girls, because we knew they would likely disappear before they again experienced the country of their births and because they are part of our daughters’ birth histories. While we watch the growth of China and her related aches and pains as she rapidly moves forward eclipsing her ancient history, we are excited at the prospect of doing more with her, but we also ache for what was, the visage hard to ignore.

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Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, China, Cultural Awareness, Identity, International Adoption, Multicultural Families, Racial Identity, The International Mom, Traditions, Travel