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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Adoption Zinger, the Follow-Up

Thanks y'all so much for sharing your thoughts yesterday. I wish I could email each commenter directly as I used to do (unless I didn't have your email address), but the nesting - oh, the nesting! - takes precedence. I'm prioritizing, y'all, but it doesn't in any way mean that I don't find your thoughts helpful, encouraging, funny, and (insert copious compliments here). I LOVE comments! I CRAVE comments! Just so you know...

I talked with the Tongginator yesterday afternoon about the weekend zinger.

She remembered saying it. To be honest, I kinda hoped that I misheard her. Or that I invented it. Or that magical leprechauns had whispered it in her ear and she simply repeated said words without understanding. Alas, that was not the case. She said what we heard and she meant what she said.

So we talked about it.

I spoke with her again about grown-up problems that have NOTHING to do with little babies. We talked about what babies need, and that sometimes mommies and daddies just can't take care of babies even if they want to. I also spoke with her about China's one-child policy. Basically, that boils down to me telling the Tongginator that people in China have to ask permission before they have babies. And that sometimes people forget to ask permission, which can get them into trouble. I also reminded her that Chinese families are allowed to have one or sometimes two children.

It's the "sometimes two children" that caught me out.

Because I've told her that before, since she is from a rural part of China.

These past few months the Tongginator has been processing the prevalence of GIRL adoptees from China. She's asked me about it a couple of times. And I tried to explain the gender preference of some Chinese families in as age-appropriate way as I could, being sure to stress the fact that most Chinese families parent girls they birth. I used resources from the now-defunct China Lifebooks Yahoo! group as well as the books When You Were Born in China and also Kids Like Me in China. It seemed to answer her questions and explain things, I hope in a compassionate and truthful way. I also reminded the Tongginator of the four boy Chinese adoptees we see on a weekly to monthly basis.

But we all know that the gender ratio is heavily skewed.

There's just no hiding it.

Frankly - and please excuse the language - this pisses off the Tongginator in a huge way. She told me yesterday that she thinks she probably has an elder sister and a younger brother living in China, with her first parents. I've never told her that, but she did once ask me and I answered, "maybe." (Well, my answer was more than one word, but you know what I mean.) Which means the Tongginator is figuring out that she might have been abandoned simply because of her gender. I've listed other possible reasons, and that the preference for boys is really because of money-related issues, not because the Chinese don't like girls. But I don't know how much a just-turned-seven-year-old can process when it comes to this topic.

She shared a few comments with me during our talk... comments that I will keep private... and I learned a bit more about her thoughts and feelings on this topic. But then, when all was said and done, the Tongginator looked at me and announced, "Momma, I don't want to talk about this anymore. I want to keep my other thoughts private." So I told her okay, but that I wanted to share one more thing with her. I said something to the effect of, "it's okay to feel angry about this. If you want to talk about feeling angry, you can. I feel angry about it, too, sometimes. I want you to know that." She nodded and that was that.

For now anyways.

I just hope I didn't squelch the dialog. And isn't it interesting that Malinda just posted a link to an old post of hers about childrens' adoption books that discuss anger?

29 comments:

Liz said...

This is tough, and I have to admit to thinking "thank goodness I don't have to deal with this aspect of adoption" as I was reading it...

I wonder if there is some way you can help her turn her anger into action? Is there some girl-related cause or project that she can be involved in that can help her feel less like a victim to an unfair policy and more like a strong and powerful instrument of change? I know that kind of thing makes me feel better when I'm angry about something.

Aus said...

Morning TM - I doubt that you shut her down - but I believe that she needed some 'process time'. In my training we use 'tap out' - when the person you are training with is whipping you too bad - you tap them twice and they stop 'right now'. With Marie, the kids, and I it's the word 'uncle' - when the conversation is getting too stressful or whatever and we need to take a break and process we just say 'uncle' and we have agreed that its and absolute 'stopper' - but we can return to it later.

She said 'uncle' - you can bring it up again later and as we all know - the anger lessens over time - she'll be ready to talk again soon enough.

Oh - and buy her a diary - she's ready for one!

I think you did some nice work!

hugs - aus and co.

Laurie said...

Main reason I come to your blog (besides the fact that it makes me laugh on a regular basis!) is to hear these stories and process how I think I might handle them when/if they occur in our household. I LOVE how you answered her questions and encouraged her to have feelings, even if they weren't good ones. I agree with Aus, that the diary would be a great idea, if she doesn't already keep one. My 5 year old occasionally writes in hers (yes, I peek!), and I think it will become a powerful tool as she gets older.

Gayla said...

You are a brilliant mother to a brilliant child. Is it weird that I feel "proud" of both of you??? And I'm grateful that you put these conversations online so that we can all learn and grow from them. THANK YOU!

Foxxy One said...

I am so glad I have found your blog. You truly are a wonderful role model. I think you both handled things beautifully and I'm especially impressed that you gave her permission to be angry. That's a hard thing to do.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Foxxy One, Thank you. And - to be honest - I don't think I would have thought of giving her permission to be angry if I hadn't just read Malinda's post (as well as the two linked posts) here: http://tinyurl.com/6z9hg8a

Sharie said...

I have to say - BRAVO. Thank you for sharing.

malinda said...

TM, thanks for the like to my post, but you would have done great without it! I've had these conversations with my kids multiple times, and it is soooo hard but soooo necessary. You, my friend, handled it PERFECTLY!!!!

Number 6 and no more counting! said...

Bless T's heart and yours too Mommy. I respect you so much for keeping her comments private.

lea
xo

Keating Mom said...

You do such a great job of keeping dialog open, and letting her know it's always ok to talk to you!! And in a world where we're always telling kids to "be nice," good for you, for telling her it's ok to be angry!!

The Byrd's Nest said...

I think you handled it very well. Lottie has never questioned yet why she was put up for adoption. I am waiting and while I am waiting...I am learning from your precious family. You are such a wonderful example for all of us...you really are. I think you handled that perfectly and she knows that she trusts you and you will tell her the truth and she will come back for more when her little heart is ready. Big hugs and love to you my friend.

sara said...

As always, so well done. You have an exceptional little girl and she has an exceptional mom.

sara said...

As always, so well done. You have an exceptional little girl and she has an exceptional mom.

Mer (Lulu's Mommy) said...

""Momma, I don't want to talk about this anymore. I want to keep my other thoughts private."

That = excellent mommying.

AwesomeCloud and family said...

I feel so alienated from other families who adopt from China. We asked for a girl, and our agent went to work on us, plying us to accept a boy. She tried to match us with a boy practically as soon as we signed up. When we got Cloud's referral, I asked her why she'd shot us to the top of the list over a bunch of other families, and she said, "Because you wanted a boy."

I started reading a memoir about a Chinese adoption, and in the very first chapter, the author implied strongly that girls, only girls, and no boys under any circumstances were on the adoption list. That family has obviously never met my agent. Apparently, very few people have met my agent. Maybe she could talk to Tongginator someday.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog.

My older daughter processes things much the same way as the Tonginator. She is strong-willed, emotional, verbal and oh so smart.

She recently connected with her birthfamily in China. Of course their was trememdous love and excitement on her part. But, yes their was a lot of anger. Mostly at her birthmother. (I'm not sure why she isn't mad at her birthfather.)She said that she has never been so angry at anyone in her life. She was relieved when we talked about how both love and anger can be felt at her birthmother and adoption in general. She asked why you would have more children if you could not keep them. We re-discussed the importance of having a boy and the one child policy. This was a painful conversation as she loked at her brother's face. Maybe some would see her as an "angry adoptee". That is far from the truth. She is full of love but just a little girl trying to process her life's journey.

Anonymous said...

As an adoptee it just makes my jaw-drop to see these conversations. Not that you shouldn't have them, but that they are news to adoptive parents, that they are shocking to adoptive parents.

That people really think that you can give a child away/abandon on a street corner/make an adoption plan whatever, and the child is going to process her own disposal with the nuance and invested fantasies of adults.

Maybe some adoptees escape this feeling, but I have heard it from so many and if we speak about it we are called the famous "angry adoptee" Really different perspectives, a world away from each other, adoptive parents and adoptees.

Joy

snekcip said...

I'm learning and processing the complexities of adoption. Although my journey is different than yours, I realize that "questions" such as this will arise in the future. Thank you for sharing.

LucisMomma said...

We tell DD that we are here to share her burdens, if she'll let us...that is our job, to help as much as we can. I've seen the anger from DD (she's 6) and the love for both China-mama and me (that's both emotions for both of us).

The biggest thing, in my opinion, is to let her know that talking is ok, the emotions are ok. I am going to check out the book list post you linked next. Thanks for that.

Leah said...

We are also in the process of adopting again and this has brought up so much for our daughter. She has asked if we can find her bio mother and ask bio mother why she can't take care of her. We have also been in contact with our daughter's foster mother which brings up even more questions.

Lots of deep breaths and lots of conversations.

Leah said...

We are also in the process of adopting again and this has brought up so much for our daughter. She has asked if we can find her bio mother and ask bio mother why she can't take care of her. We have also been in contact with our daughter's foster mother which brings up even more questions.

Lots of deep breaths and lots of conversations.

Cedar said...

Poor Tongginator! Such adult thoughts for a little girl. It is better that she start processing it now with you along side her than starting when she is 20, 30, or 40 and believe she is alone in how she feels growing up. The conversations are not surprising, just hard. I think you did a great job and she will continue to open up when she wants to. I am glad to have you as a resource for when we get to this point.

aust2china said...

Oh Gosh! Such a huge burden for such a wee one to bear! On the up side - least your sweetheart, knows you have plenty of love! ;)

RamblingMother said...

G and I had a very similar conversation about this very thing and G thinks she has an older brother and older sister and that since she was 3rd child she was not kept. I told her how sad it made me and that she could feel sad about it too. She wasn't angry at the moment though if she ever feels it I def will allow it. Mainly she was just processing and yes it will come back up probably sooner rather than later.

Mei Ling said...

"That people really think that you can give a child away/abandon on a street corner/make an adoption plan whatever, and the child is going to process her own disposal with the nuance and invested fantasies of adults."

This.

Joy said it all.

(And for me, since I am having IMMENSE difficulty with wireless keyboard)

Chris said...

Must be the weather, my 8 y.o. is processing the same questions and ideas. She has shown me that I need to be very clear in my answers or she reads something else entirely in my words.

Cavatica said...

We are just beginning to get to these subjects, but I've always been grateful for my BB's anger. It's a good thing.

Gabriella said...

First of all, I love your blog and admire you and your daughter very much. I'm just starting out in this process in Italy and you're a source of inspiration. Secondly, I just wanted to say that while it's true that the gender of Chinese children adopted by US families is skewered towards girls, in Italy it's the opposite! According to the 2010 report of the Italian Commission for International Adoptions, just published, Italians adopted 56 Chinese kids in 2010, with an average age of 3.9 years: 26 were girls and 90 were boys! So lately the fact that many more girls get adopted in the US than boys is also due to preference, which is skewered towards girls, whereas in Italy prospective parents can't express gender preference.
In fact, out of 4130 foreign children adopted in Italy in 2010, 56.7 were boys and 43.3 were girls.

Carolyn said...

I am so glad I have found your blog. You are a wonderful mother to a wonderful child. And I admire you for that. I'm happy that you put these conversations into a blog so that we can all learn and grow from them.
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