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.