Teenagers adopted from China now seeking their identity in the U.S.

Filed under: Adoption, Development/Milestones: Babies, Media, That's Entertainment

The New York Times has a fascinating article today on the different ways some of the first children who were adopted transculturally/transracially from China to the U.S. are coming to terms with their identities.  The article features several young women who are in their teens, and describe how they're currently developing their own identities: Molly Feazel, who "desperately wants to quit the Chinese dance group that her mother enrolled her in at age 5, because it sets her apart from friends in her Virginia suburb;"  Qiu Meng Fogarty,  who "prefers her Chinese name (pronounced cho mung) to Cecilia, her English name;" and McKenzie Forbes, a 17-year-old who was adopted from China, and "who applied only to universities with Asian student groups," but plans a career in Japanese anime and to travel to Japan, because exploring China "is what everyone would expect."

I definitely recommend reading the article in its entirety; however, there were a couple of sentences which struck me.  The first, a quote from Jane Brown, an American social worker who had adopted two children from Asia herself:  "Sometimes parents want to celebrate, even exoticize, their child's culture, without really dealing with race.  It is one thing to dress children up in cute Chinese dresses, but the children need real contact with Asian-Americans, not just waiters in restaurants on Chinese New Year. And they need real validation about the racial issues they experience."

The second portion of the article which  I found very interesting was the last paragraph:  "Molly, Qiu Meng and McKenzie said they would not have wanted to grow up any other way, and they all said they would one day like to adopt from China. 'It's a good thing to do,' Qiu Meng said. 'And since I'm Asian, they wouldn't look different.'"

I've mentioned before that even though, technically, our adoption was transracial and transcultural, I've never felt an affirmative duty to teach my daughter Alex about her culture -- but this is primarily because (a) we travel several times a year to her home country, (b) we have close friends who represent ALL of the races and cultures that are in  our little family, and most importantly (c) Alex's is an open adoption -- so she'll see experience her biological cultures first hand.  For this reason, I think our situation is vastly different from the families depicted in the article. However, I'd love to hear the thoughts of those of you who have adopted transracially -- particularly if you've adopted internationally.

What do you think?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.