I never pictured myself as an interracial parent. I was very surprised when God opened our hearts to a Chinese boy. It is not that I have any problem with Chinese culture or people, I just didn’t know anything about it. Once we committed ourselves to this little boy I started reading everything I could about Chinese culture, and interracial adoption. Honestly, I could not be any whiter, and I have absolutely no idea what it means to be Chinese in America.
I have always known it would be important for our son to maintain his cultural heritage, but I am learning that race issues are far more complicated than simply attending Chinese school. One of the issues I worry about is him not being accepted by members of the Chinese culture because he isn’t “Chinese enough”. Add to this a cultural negative attitude about adoptees and people with disabilities, and it might be very difficult for him to really connect with people from his homeland. I realize he may or may not feel a need to participate in the Chinese community, and only time will tell. However, I want him to be able too if he finds it important to a fulfilled life.
One thing I keep hearing over and over again is the importance of parents having close friends from the child’s culture. I can appreciate that it is good for the child to see that you value people who are like them, and that such a friendship could be a large source of cultural information. However, I cannot help having this ridiculous image in my head of white parents, minority children in toe, running up behind other minority adults with the sole intent of feeding their child’s culture bank. It seems to me that seeking out and cultivating relationships entirely on the basis of race or ethnicity is just as demeaning as rejecting a relationship on the same basis.
Don’t get me wrong, we will join our local Families of Children from China, participate in important Chinese cultural events, and encourage our child to maintain his language. I am sure through the course of time friendships will naturally develop as a result of spending time in the Chinese community. I cannot wait to see all the great new experiences and people that will be added to our family.