Category Archives: China

Honoring the Maternal Bonds of All Mothers

Mother’s Day. A day I share with millions of women all over the globe, although they may not be celebrating it. More  importantly I also share Mother’s Day with three other exceptionally special women I’ve never met. However, I know them quite well because they reside in and share my daily life.

These women and I hug in the mornings and evenings. And on the other days we’re together—“gifts” of extra time, like weekends and vacations, the hugs pile up into a yummy concoction of sweet feelings that last long after the physical closeness ceases.

These women engage me in wonderful, and often enlightening, conversation. They share their deepest wishes, wildest dreams, emotional injuries and profound pain, happiest moments, imaginative and silly stories, fantasized and real fears, and simple hopes.

We laugh together. We cry together. We learn together.

We love together.

We grow together.

These women, my children’s birth mothers, share the sacredness of their essence through their children. Through my children.

Through our children.

I want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to my children’s birth mothers, from me. Our children think of you and we talk about you. They know, love and respect you. Our children are doing well. They are safe. They are thriving. They are loved beyond what words can express. We wish you health, love and happiness.

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Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, China, Grief, Growing Tweens & Teens, Guatemala, Loss, The International Mom

Spotted! Multiracial Family in a City Near You

The reactions to our conspicuous family seem to be on the upswing lately. And the reactions seem to be more overt than usual. I feel like we’re seen as some new exotic zoo species.

In Chicago last week Mark and I were sure that we were going to be anointed or given some medal for being a multiracial family. We stopped in the south loop to grab a quick bite before spending the day on Michigan Avenue.  A couple, perhaps a decade up on us, sat next to our booth. We wouldn’t have noticed them in the busy loud diner if not for their fascinating behavior—abundant “approval ratings,” indicated by numerous big nods and even bigger smiles.

Still weak from the stomach flu, I regarded my untouched soup for most of the meal, praying they wouldn’t approach because I didn’t feel like conversing with them. They didn’t, however every time I looked up the couple nodded and smiled at me or at Mark—if they caught his eye. The kiddos were facing us, unaware that we were being considered for sainthood. I was relieved when they paid their check and scooted. We finished our meal about the same time; Mark and I silently agreed to wait a bit before asking for ours, hoping the couple weren’t lying in-wait outside the restaurant.

The other day I took A swimsuit shopping since she outgrew her one-piece by several sizes. In the outdoor mall area two guys just about tripped over themselves goggling my young chics, who were completely absorbed in messing round with each other and G, giddy and free from a long day at school.

Yes, they are beautiful (as any mama of her brood would attest), but what was interesting was the young men (high school- to college-aged) were so over-obvious that I just stopped walking and stood watching them watch my girls. And you know what? They still couldn’t stop oogling my girls. The guys glanced at me. They took G in. They understood we were a mom and her kids. They knew I was watching them and they continued to weave and turn almost drunkenly as they looked again and again and again, and then over their shoulders again. I’d chalk it up to my girls being Asian, but not this time. The guys were Asian.

Now, of course, I have no idea through which lens the couple at breakfast viewed us, but it was mighty uncomfortable, and in our vast Chicago experiences, unusual. The Asian guys? That was something new for us. What was their lens? Young men eyeing lovely young girls? I don’t know…

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Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, China, Family, Growing Tweens & Teens, Multiracial Families, Racial Identity, The International Mom

Be Present

Sometimes a hug isn’t enough. Sometimes love isn’t either.

After asking permission to come up to the sacred spot (another story), I climbed into the top bunk to find my sobbing, sniffling, very sad daughter wrapped up in her blankies and surrounded by her collection of stuffed animals and one of our (her) boy kitties. The heat emitting from her fetal position indicated just how upset she was.

She lifted that beautiful face up as soon as she found the emotional control to do so and mumbled through the snot and tears, “I’m sad.” And the sobbing began all over again.

I asked, “Can I hold you, baby?”

With barely a nod, she scootched over to me to deposit her head face down in my lap. I began to rub her back and could feel her calm.

“Can you talk?” I asked softly.

Not yet—the sobbing started all over again. And I sat, quiet, rubbing her back, playing in her long silky dark tresses.

“Do you want me to help you? Can I ask some questions?”

A barely perceptible nod gave me the opening to converse.

We had a long quiet conversation, mostly me in the beginning with her slowly joining in as her sobs lessoned. She flipped over and faced me, engaging me with eyes dark from emotion, bombarding my heart and soul again and again. Deepening the connection.

And we talked: about how hard she feels it is to be Chinese and Asian, how she believes people assume things because she is Asian, how she feels about being Asian, and what she thinks of the Chinese.

Those perceptions are her truths and it made me ache. It is my job, as best as I can do being a white parent, to empower her to feel good about who she is. It is a challanging task.

We bantered ideas and played “What if?” for some time.

I thought she was “good place” so I began to move away with the intent of making dinner.

“Mama, don’t leave me.”

Although it had been close to an hour, I stayed and we talked of China and her story. I watched the last vestiges of sadness leave her face and body and felt lighter myself.

A mother dislikes nothing more than to see her child suffer in any way. Sometimes, as a transracial adoptive parent, it is difficult to help the child when they are sad, grieving or angry about not being white.

Sometimes a hug isn’t enough. Sometimes love isn’t either. But patience, compassion, and listening actively with your entire being can make the difference. Be present for your child. They need you.

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Filed under Adoption Issues, Adoptive Mom's Perspective, China, Claiming, Growing Tweens & Teens, Identity, International Adoption, Racial Identity, The International Mom