Tag Archives: Cultural Awareness

2011 Wrap-Up

January: Our year of milestones began with two celebrations—New Years (everyone stayed up late and welcomed in the new year for the first time) and Día de Los Tres Reyes Magos, with a very stale Rosca de Reyes. My bad for buying one instead of making it myself. Josi became a bonafide teenager, and has been steadily working on proving it throughout 2011.  I brought up the rear with an appearance on TogiNet Radio’s Adoption ~ Journey to Motherhood, hosted by Mary Beth Wells. The program centered around one of the classes I teach: Tweens, Teens & Beyond. The half hour flew and I was delighted to not know the format of the show prior to coming on. Wish there had been time for more dialogue… I had a lot to say (per usual).

February ushered in Snowmaggedon and Chinese New Year—the year of the Golden Rabbit, a year in which we were supposed to catch our breath and focus on calm (maybe this year??), and Aubry’s second celestial stem (“second twelve”) of her first life cycle this year (sixty years in Chinese zodiac cycle).

In March Holden turned eighteen, and that added new worries for Mom. I was involved in The Parenting Summit, a free online event that featured video messages from a number of a leading parenting and family experts. The focus of the summit was to share tips and advice on becoming a more effective parent. It was stressful to tape myself; I prefer a live audience… (You guess right if you thought I spoke about transracial parenting and adoption.)

April took us to our beloved Pawleys for our last-in-a-long-time-maybe-ever family vacay, this time with my mother-in-law in tow. We enjoyed the cooler weather at the beach and some respite from a very hectic schedule and the intense focus on Holden’s IB studies and college. Holden made a decision on which college he would attend. (Note: We were, and still are, thrilled with his decision)

May was a terribly emotional roller coaster. We lost Mark’s dad on the 17th, ten years after he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, while Holden sat for his IB exams.  Our oldest graduated from high school a week later, missing most of the pre-graduation pictures because he had a car accident (he was fine, although shaken up).

The International Dad wrote a guest post in June for Father’s Day.  We also celebrated our 20th anniversary, family-style. The couple-style will be celebrated in 2012… I began weaning myself from asking Holden to pick up the driving slack. The family began to “breathe,” absorbing the slower and quieter pace of life.

July heralded our first ever non-family vacation, if you could call it that. I coined it an orbiting vacation. Josi went to an invitation-only national soccer camp in the south (which is why we went to Pawleys in April), and we stayed on a lake in the next state. It was so sweltering that even the bugs were stopped their bugging. Holden stayed home to work, and yep… Accident. This one totaled the car, although he was fine. There are reasons a mother worries. (He still doesn’t have a car.)

August arrived quickly, and with it professional expansion: The launch of my first micro-published work: What To Expect From Your Adopted Tween, which I wrote because I saw a need to assist parents with ideas and support when their children are entering adolescence, when questions and emotions tied to having been adopted become more complex.

I am thrilled that I wrote and published this e-guide, that it has received wonderful reviews and feedback, that it has sold and continues to sell well, and that it has become an international seller (uh huh! :)).  I also became certified to teach a program—Bringing Baby Home—through the Gottman Institute for new and expecting parents. We took Holden to college, pulling Josi, Aubry and Greyson from school so that we could help alleviate any potential triggers due to separation.

Aubry had her last tweenie birthday in September (difficult for me to believe…).  I presented on four well-received topics at two conferences, in Richmond, VA and Indianapolis, IN.  We began to understand just how tough was going to be with Holden away at college, even though we had Skype, Facebook, Twitter, texting, phones, and emails going constantly. There’s nothing like someone’s presence to alleviate that void.

The big guy (my hubby) celebrated his birthday in October. Holden came home for fall break and it was wonderful to have all of us together. I was very selfish with his time and I won’t apologize for that… (His friends did get plenty of him, too.)

Greyson hit, what we refer to in our home as, the “double-digits” in November.  He became ten. It was huge and wonderful and kinda sad. My baby, so “old.”  To bring awareness to adoption, I participated in The Adoption Interview Project. Thanksgiving was spent in quiet reflection about those who were not with us and gearing up for the coming holiday madness.

December brought the wonderful holiday, special traditions and many, many guests, including Holden’s young lady friend. We’ve eaten dozens of calorie-laden cookies baked by Josi, Aubry and myself as well as enjoyed hours upon hours of downtime, board games and movies.

We stand of the edge of 2011, wishing it farewell as we step forward and welcome 2012 with many friends and their families. Thank you, 2011—for the lessons and the gifts. For the ongoing love and support of family and friends. For replenishing this mama’s well when it has run dry. And for the stamina to do what I love—being a mother, wife, sister, friend, aunt, mentor, teacher, writer, and speaker.

                      ~ Photo (yes, blurry) taken by one of our silly kiddos


Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Claiming, Classes with Judy, Family, Family Celebrations, Growing Tweens & Teens, Parenting Your Adopted Child, The International Mom

Implications of Culture and Race

Our kids are growing older and I continually examine how well we address the implications of culture and race.  I need to; we are a multicultural and multiracial family. Many people define us by our differences. While we acknowledge our differences, we also choose to focus on our similarities and define ourselves as family.

Unfortunately, what we view as cause for celebration isn’t necessarily viewed the same outside of our family. We’ve backed off from throwing ourselves full-throttle into the cultural celebrations of our children’s birth countries. For example, we dressed the girls in cheongsams when they were little and the rest of us in accompanying Chinese clothing. Josi and Aubry have no interest in that now—forget even donning a t-shirt with any Chinese or Mandarin affiliation on it. No way. (I got rid of my Chinese t-shirt when Josi told me the pictograph on it was wrong…) The kids still want the food and the hong bao…and, of course, to witness a Lion Dance. They appreciate the folklore and the arts too.

Aubry has said to me (many times), “I’m an American—a Chinese American.”  She and Josi have also shared with me that they want to be “like everyone else.” In other words, they want to be everyday tweens, similar to their friends and peers. Their friends are diverse and this is good. There is respect for cultural and racial differences. However, outside of their circle of friends questions are asked in such a way that makes my girls uncomfortable…and so they move away from their birth culture and from talking about it.

What we’ve come to realize is that, as we embrace our kids’ birth cultures and assimilate what we can into our family traditions, celebrations are not a substitute for discussions about culture and race. I support my kids in their decisions to pick and choose what they want to embrace from their birth cultures. We will continue to embrace their cultures and others as well and to talk about prejudice and racism—for doing so will arm them against the ignorant.


Filed under Adoption Issues, Advocacy, Multicultural Families

Choosing Between Two Cultures

Josi’s twelfth birthday is approaching and I asked her Mandarin teacher if there was any special significance to it, since it begins another cycle of the Chinese zodiac (the Chinese zodiac cycle is twelve years with one animal representing each year). I was told she should wear red a lot during her twelfth year—for prosperity.

I also found a few other things as well. This is Josi’s twelfth year. Unlike our customs in the U.S. the Chinese consider babies to be a year old on the day of their birth. In Chinese culture Josi is approaching her thirteenth birthday.

In America the Chinese zodiac is represented by year only, so all of 2009 is The Year of the Ox. In China, this is not the case, The Year of the Ox actually began on January 26, 2009 and ends on February 13, 2010. The Chinese year runs on a lunar calendar. 

So I asked Josi what she thought of all of this, what she wanted to do. She chose to be a Tiger, even though she is actually an Ox, embracing the Americanized form of the Chinese zodiac. Perhaps one day she’ll change her mind and go with Chinese custom. It’s her informed choice.

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Filed under Adopted Teens, Adoption Issues, Cultural Awareness, International Adoption, Multicultural Families, The International Mom