Thursday, May 31, 2007

This Summer - Karolyn's Homeland Journey ( 1 )

Mom Lisa writes:

My daughter, who is 11, has left to visit Beijing and to attend Chinese School for 4 weeks. She was invited by our American friends who decided that their daughter should learn Mandarin. She will celebrate her 12th birthday while in China. Our friends are not Chinese nor have they adopted their daughter. They felt that Chinese was a necessary language for their daughter to learn.

I would like to provide a little background information on my daughter that may help some parents who may experience similar issues. My daughter was adopted in 1996. She was 15 months old. When she was six months old, she was left in front of an office building in the early morning in January. She was never in foster care and came directly into my arms from the orphanage. Her fear of being left again was major. If I took a shower she had to be with me in the bathroom and able to see me. If she did not see me, she would scream. I could not take out the garbage without holding her in one hand and the bag in the other. Constant routine without any variation for over three years reassured her that I would not leave her. She was glued to my hip. Even starting kindergarten was difficult because the change of routine was a major challenge for her. She insisted she was not Chinese, but Spanish, and refused to have anything to do with her heritage. The final break came when three girls in second grade said that she must have been a bad baby for her mother to give her up for adoption.

As her mother, I felt her pain. It was a very intense pain. It was a pain I tried to heal but could not and I asked for help from a professional. We worked on it for two years. There were times when I thought she would never be comfortable with her heritage. Then this past fall, she became a woman. She was prepared for it. However, eleven years old is young to start with cramps and all the other issues. Her body started to change and she was becoming interested in what she would look like when she grew up. She would point out Chinese women and ask if I thought she would look like them. In essence, she was really asking what her Chinese birth mother looked liked.

At this time, my daughter, also started Chinese language classes once a week. For the first time, I began to believe she was in touch with her roots. Then last month, our friends called and asked if she would like to fly to Beijing and go to Chinese school. This was my daughter's decision and her answer was "yes." So today, I put her on a non-stop flight (by herself) to Beijing. I do not know if she will make it through the entire four weeks, but that is not important. What is important to me is that she is trying. She has only spent one week away from home prior to this trip. She wants to have dual nationality. In addition, she would like to live in China someday and work there. My response is if that is what you would like to do, you can do it.

As a mother, I am so proud of her. I believe this trip may give her some of the pieces of the puzzle that make her who she is. With tears in my eyes, I watched the plane take off. It was a hard thing to do. But the excitement in her eyes and the joy in her voice whipped the tears. She has promised to email me and send pictures. As for her little sister who is 7, she is upset because she wanted to go also. The answer, of course, is that she needs to be a little bigger.

There is a very good book called The Family of Adoption by Joyce Maguire Pavao.
This book was especially helpful for me. It explains what some children are thinking but will not tell they parents.

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