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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Close Knit

"There's never been a wave of adoptions like this - with so many children from the same country [China] in such a short amount of time," said Fang Wu, a professor at Howard University who has studied adoptive families in the Washington area. "And no other group of adoptive families has formed such a close knit community."

-- Dr. Fang Wu, as quoted in "Speaking to the identity of Chinese Children in the U.S.," November 3, 2010 in The Washington Post

I read this statement in the paper last night. And it resonated with me. But now I'm wondering... how do you feel about what Professor Wu said? And if you do agree with her statement, what created this close knit community? How did it come about? And why is it important?


Kim K. said...

I'm wondering how much the blogging world, listservs, discussion boards, and rumor queen has shaped our tight knit community? Some of my local adoptive friends were formed because of blogging and finding each other on Rumor Queen. Many of my local adoptive friends didn't use the same adoption agencies and we found each other because of our online world.

autumnesf said...

I'm with Kim - I think the social media is the single biggest link in how we are all finding each other and becoming close knit. And adoption is only one of the areas that I think we are seeing this in.

Our lives are lived at such a fast pace now that the only way to expand our worlds without loosing our minds is from our homes: the computer. It allows us to spend time on friendships without ever really leaving the home. And it works better than the phone because we get to fit it in when we have a second...and it doesnt require the recipient to have that exact same moment in their home.

sara said...

My brother's kids are Vietnamese and he worked really hard to makes sure that they had access to, and understanding of, their culture. I think there's something in transracial adoption that makes parents stive a little harder to find and be a part of a community.

lmgnyc said...

I think the FCC has so much to do with this. We learned from the Korean adoption community and the mistakes that were made with them back in the 60s and 70s. They were told by adoption specialists to "Americanize" them and assimilate them as quickly as possible and I think maybe that created a lot of isolated and lonely children scattered around the country.

Instead we have been taught to celebrate our children's birth culture and so we bring our children together in groups and help them to learn all about where they were born and to be proud of who they are and to search (if they want to) for their roots. All of these things, I think, help bring them together as a group and keep them united as a unique community of people.

Of course, Dr Wu is correct that the number of children who have come from China is huge and this has also contributed to the forming of such a large community as well. There is a branch of the FCC in every state of the country. Every single one.

Beyond whether IA is good or bad, it happened, and at least, for the children who are already here, we are trying to do right by them with our organization.

Kim said...

I read this article yesterday too, and my first thought about this quote was "they just haven't met the Guatemalan crew."

I agree that it's social media and chat groups that makes it all possible. Who had the capacity to bring together hundreds of families from all over the U.S. (and globe) before the existence of the Internet?

It's awesome.

prechrswife said...

I do think the internet has a lot to do with it. Our closest friends from when we lived in south GA...we met via adoption forums on the internet. And, as someone else said, we're learning from those who have gone before us and realize it is important for our children to interact with other families like ours.

Cedar said...

I don't think there is any doubt that it important. When I read the book "Questions Adoptees are Asking" the one point that was repeated over and over was the relief and connection adoptees felt when they met others who were adopted. Certainly we hope to make connections with families that adopted from China since that is where our child will come from, but the "I am also adopted" connection is also important. We all want to be individuals, and yet no one wants to feel like no one else is like them at all.

I am definitely making connections because of the internet, but I hope to find some people actually in my area soon!

Katherine said...

I was adopted from Korea in 1980 when the adoption community was much smaller and at the end of the day, I think the swelling of Chinese language schools for adoptees is fantastic. I don't think the primary benefit to these kids is language or maintaining a culture but a community. Chances are that a lot of these girls will "quit" Chinese school by middle school and be more interested in weekends filled with field hockey, movies and getting dropped off at the mall. Hopefully these activities though will be with a few of the friends that met as 6 year old girls through the language school.

And if nothing else, your child will know that you cared. I hated Korean culture camp every summer but value my parent's appreciation for it and making me go.

Desiree' said...

Oh how I wish I could agree and say we had that here....but in Northern VA there isn't any sort of connection or active FCC group. My girls are really missing out and what we had in MI and AL was so great. We are actually contemplating a huge move with a paycut just to get it back. You just don't know how much it is needed until you don't have it anymore.

Aus said...

I think a lot has come into play to bring this about - but I think we're missing the bigger picture...this might get long - sorry.

Yeah - the 'Net has played it's part - come on - we are all 'virtual' friends here in the blogsphere....

And there HAS been kind of a 'global re-thinking' concerning trans-cultural adoption in terms of raising the kids to be aware of their birth culture - in fact we have difficulty getting to both the FCC and KFC (Korean Family Connection - adopted dd #1 is from Korea)because the holidays and celebrations overlap so much. In the 'old days' we wouldn't have been celebrating any of that...

But IMHO it's a tad larger - pretty much all adoptive parents (domestic or IA, transcultural or not) 'get it'. We've all, as parents, agreed to deal with a big bunch of stuff by virtue of how our children have gotten to be ours that birth parents can avoid(pretty much - never say never and always). And because we 'get it' (sorry - but I don't have a better global expression for this!) we're all a little more willing to help another family out, understanding of another mom or dad who are "about to run off screaming because today we just can't deal with it", just a tad more aware of how things look from our kids perspective - because we know we need to be sensitive to that, the list just goes on and on about what makes us 'different' in our parenting styles and outlook about 'stuff'.

If you are nodding and saying 'yeah right' - then the rest follows easily - the old time expression was "Birds of a feather flock together" - and we're all the same 'flock' - that common draw lets us all know that 'hey - they're OK'.

The ability to communicate easily helps - but I'd like to think that we'd find each other anyway!

$0.02 - and hugs - aus and co.

jennifer said...

I think there is probably some truth to her statement. I don't know about other groups, but I do know that there are SO many families out there with children from China that you can connect with. I know, for me, this happened through blogs on the internet. This source of information has been an invaluable source of information, motivation and friendship. With this support system in tact, it is easier to decide to go back through the process again. I don't know how I would have made it through the entire process before and after the adoption without the support of those who have gone before. I hope this community offers the same suppport for Wesleigh when she's old enough to need it!

FullPlateMom said...

I have three children from Ghana, four from the U.S. (through private African-American adoption). We don't have the close knit community that the Chinese adoption community does.

Not being in China, you obviously can't give your children complete Chinese culture. But, you have almost formed your own culture of Chinese adoptees outside of China. Whether you like that idea or not, it's forming. I for one feel like my children are missing out. They have no connection to their homeland in our community. Try as we might, the numbers just aren't there to form what you all have. In my opinion, your children are better off for having each other.


Becky said...

I agree that this community of adoptive parents of Chinese children has likely happened largely because of the power of social networking and the internet, fueled by the desire of parents to support their children and provide a community and role models for them. Our local community of adoptive parents of Chinese children is very large and active, and there are lots of families who participate in every possible thing, and others who show up sporadically. I do think it's important for the children to have peers to connect with, and to see other families who are similar to their own. I also feel fortunate to live in an area where so many options are available, from FCC to Chinese language schools to Chinese cultural activities including dance lessons, martial arts, etc.

I am in the process of an Ethiopian adoption right now, and have already had contact with an ever-expanding local group of adoptive parents of Ethiopian children. I didn't really realize how important it was to have this kind of community when I brought my daughter home from China four years ago, in fact I was more likely to scoff at it as not necessary and artificial. But I am so grateful that we are already established in the Ethiopian group as I wait to bring home my second daughter, because we have become involved with the local Chinese groups and have some wonderful friends and so much support. No more scoffing from me!!

AwesomeCloud and family said...

I want a close-knit community. Or even a loose-knit one.

anymommy said...

I think it's wonderful. I also think there's a danger in it. A danger of thinking we've found the answer to preventing our adopted children from feeling the alienation and culture shock of the past. Which may be true and may not be. Most likely, as always, it will be true for some children and not for others.

Anonymous said...

As the parent of older adoptees from China, I didn't use the internet. But did have a local community of families "like us". My girls know many families who "look" just like we do..white parents, older sibling, 2 Chinese daughters, who are very treasured. Their school has 8 families like ours as well, we are blessed.
It's only been in the last year that I have been reaching out to the cyber world to connect.


Cavatica said...

I think this group of children does have an advantage that prior adoptees did not. It certainly isn't a Chinese experience, or even a Chinese-American experience, but it is a community of others like them - Chinese adoptees. Our kids will know other children and families like theirs and I do believe this is an advantage. I also agree with what a mother in the article said about language being the best connection we can give our kids to Chinese culture. We are trying, but who knows if it will take?