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.