What we learned from our trip to China

It’s been a few months since we got back from China, so I thought it would be a good time to put into words what we as a family got out of the trip.

For Bug, it was wonderful.  She got to reconnect to her birthplace, and see her foster parents.  She got to see the wonder and majesty of her birthplace.  She got to see how she was loved.  She has a context for her story as she enters middle childhood and begins to more fully understand her losses.  She got to see a whole country of people who looked like her– a place where mommy and daddy stood out, and not her.

For G and me as parents, we got to see how effortlessly Bug fit back into her birth culture.  There was no culture shock at all.  You could see she reveled in fitting in, in not standing out.  While we intellectually knew this, it really brought home to me just how important that is for transracial adoptees.  The feeling of standing out, of not fitting in.  We have to do a better job of getting her in a more diverse environment. I often muse that we need to move to the northeast or west coast.  That’s serious for me– Bug needs to be around more people who look like her, period.  Her new school is a good start.  It is way more diverse than our last school, but no school in our city (or even region) will ever give her the feeling she would have on the west coast or in the northeast.  It’s a serious question we need to consider.

Another thing striking to me:  the stunning lack of meltdowns, even with jet lag, long days of touring and emotional visits like the one to the SWI.  We had been worried that Bug’s RAD would make the trip difficult for her, but in some ways it was incredibly healing.  That had obviously been our hope, but to see the ease in her mind and heart was so thrilling for me. 

The takeaway is the trip was a huge success for us, both as a family and all of us individually.  We will take her to China regularly, and I’ve even promised Bug that she can return to her hometown for a summer language institute when she’s a teenager.  We still have work to do, though– trips to China every few years will never be enough.  We have to pay attention to the development of Bug’s racial and ethnic identity daily. For people as white as G and me that’s tough.  But that’s what we signed up for.  And we love Bug too much not to learn how to do it.  For her.

About mad momma moogacat

I am a 40-year old mother, wife, lawyer and pop culture fiend who is looking for some beauty and meaning in life. I write about parenting, adoption, mental health, work-life balance, and pop culture. Hope you enjoy!
This entry was posted in Adoption, Mommyhood, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to What we learned from our trip to China

  1. christycanuck says:

    Love this blogpost! So, so happy that the trip was wonderful for all of you.

    And if you’re looking to move northeast, please consider waaaaay north. 😉

  2. Oh Chris. If it weren’t for immigration requirements, licensing requirements, and other logistical nightmares we’d be there in a heartbeat!

  3. TAO says:

    I was reading your new school post and this post, and do you think the trip home to China also played a roll in the difference in addition to be being a new school? That the trip gave her security that she can have both? Permission to be okay with it all so to speak?

    • TAO– Thanks for delurking! [Love your blog, by the way.] I do think the trip did help make her feel more safe and secure generally, which could have only helped the school transition. It’s clear she has some context for her personal history to draw on, which gives her a lot of peace. Now if only I could give her even a sliver of the first family history she so craves. 😦

  4. TAO says:

    Mad Momma,

    Pretty sure from listening to you that your daughter will know without a doubt that anything you can do to help her achieve that dream will be done. That in itself is priceless. Your little one got me thinking last night and today about the whole concept of grieving for what was lost, but I kept circling back to the reality of how can you grieve when you don’t know them – you are just stuck in the feelings of loss that cycle without end. You accept that you can’t know them, but you can dream that you can one day meet them, but when that dream ends or is ended for you – how do you grieve if you have no memories? I can grieve that I lost dad because I have wonderful memories and direct personal knowledge of who he was and what I lost when he passed – do you know what I mean? This current theme of “helping your child grieve their loss” seems more like just adoption buzz talk to make the parents feel better than reality.

    I don’t know what age your daughter came home so don’t know if she had language or not but thought you might find this ted talk interesting and beneficial. I am linking to my blog post with the talk so feel free to delete the link – it is the first of the two talks linked.


    • Thanks for the link, TAO– anytime you want to link toy your blog is cool by me! Bug was talking when we brought her home, but she has few conscious memories of China. Many, many unconscious ones, though, as it became evident during our trip.

      I agree that the “working through grief” talk does seem to be more for APs. It’s almost like some of us think we can resolve the grief and make it go away. We APs need to understand that our kids will always live with the grief and ambiguity, and we while we need to be open and listen (and help when appropriate), we can’t fix it, and we can’t take it away. It’s part of the package.

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