This post is going to be directed to parents of adoptees. These ideas are not limited to just Chinese adoptions but can be implemented in any type of adoptions. You may have heard these suggestions before or you may not have. In my opinion, these are a few of the most important ideas to know and hopefully will be beneficial for you and your adoptee(s). Remember that each adoptee(s) is different and will develop in their own way. I am basing my ideas off of how I was raised and what I wished could have happened. As an older adoptee, I understand now that keeping the Chinese identity alive in a child is important. I think if my family would have taken a more productive role in my education on culture, I would not face some of the challenges as I do now. Do not get me wrong, I love my family more than anything, but as far as keeping my Chinese identity alive, they have fallen short. With this in mind, I do not advise you to force your child to participate in every Chinese event.
When we are children, we do not give too much thought to our future as we do when we get older. We do not look at who we are and ask ourselves how we identify ourselves in the world. As a result, we miss out on opportunities to learn about ourselves. That is why, even if a child shows no interest in their heritage, you should still educate them about it. Make it a fun learning experience for them and have the whole family get involved. Later on when or if they become interested, they will have that background knowledge to build upon. I was very sheltered at a young age and had to build my knowledge of the Chinese culture by myself when I finally wanted to know. There is so much to learn; it is almost over whelming. Most other adoptees I know do not understand the implications of adoption until they leave home. Some small random advice to consider is stay connected. Ask other parents of adoptees on what they think and how they dealt with certain challenges. Ask other adoptee(s) what their views are. Go to seminars and join groups that focus on adoption. It is easier to stay connected with others with today’s technology. Also read up on it. There are too many resources out there for parents to be ignorant of adoption. Be aware that adoption is a life long learning process, and if you do not actively seek to understand the world of adoption for your child, then you are neglecting your duties as a parent.
If a family has adopted an older child then it would be wise to document the child’s memories. Once they understand your language, have them write down what they remember from their past or have them tell you and you can document it. It is something nice to have for future references. As we get older, we forget, and old memories become more clouded. When I was adopted at the age of four, I had some recollections of my stay in China. However, I now cannot recall very clearly what my past experiences were and cannot distinguish false memories from real ones.
Language, I believe, is the most important thing to keep in a Chinese adoptees’ life if anything. Language connects everyone to their culture. Without it, limitations arise and true understanding cannot be obtained. I am faced with the limitations of not knowing my language. I wished my mother would have pushed me to learn my language as a young child. Seeking more information about oneself becomes harder without the appropriate language. It is best to start young, because when you get older, it is difficult to pick up the language as I have personally experienced. The gap between the child and the culture is diminished with language. If anything, it is beneficial over all. They may not use it for identification purposes, but it can be useful in other situations.
Adoption is a life changing process that lasts a life time for you and the adoptee(s). The complications and difficulties are greatly magnified compared to raising a biological child. As parents of adoptees, it is your responsibility to give your child all the opportunities to understand themselves and their past. Never hold back information from your child, and do your homework. Keep good records. Be prepared to face many emotional challenges when they get older as well as the regular challenges. From there, they must discover who they are and how they fit into society. All you can do is be there for them and help them to the best of your abilities.