Posted by: ourwildride | June 7, 2008

Bamboo Eradication

Otherwise known as the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

This will be the third summer we’ve lived in this house. This will be the third summer we’ve been battling the bamboo. I’ve no doubt it was planted with good intentions – it strategically blocked the view of the farmer’s ag-bags (for the uninitiated – they are giant bright white tubes kind of like a silo laid over on it’s side) across the field from the back yard. That is what I stare at most of the year (except when the corn is tall enough to block it) when I’m at the kitchen sink. But seriously – there should have been some sort of clause in the sales agreement that forced them to clean it up because it is some nasty stuff. The good news is that we are finally making progress. (I can hear the bamboo laughing even as I type that).

The manual labor in the bamboo has given me time to think. (That plus A&W are at Grammy’s for a sleepover this weekend. Thanks Grammy! Oh man, is having one child a breeze!) There is a new study out by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute about transracial adoption. The report focused on foster placements in the US foster system and not transcultural adoptions but I believe some of the issues related to a child’s ability to develop a cultural identity are similar. The research is here is you are interested.

What I’ve been pondering is how in the world I can help T develop a positive racial and cultural identity. Most sad to me in this research was the appearance discomfort many children in transracial adoptions face and the finding that transracially adopted children living in heavily white communities were more than twice as likely to experience discomfort about their appearance than those living in ethnically mixed areas. It is sad to me not because it is unexpected but because it is pretty much what T will be facing if we continue to live in this community. And I know it is my responsibility as a parent to start building cultural bridges with him.

Way back when we made the decision to adopt, we decided to pursue adoption from Guatemala partly because the larger area (but not our school district) in which we live is nearly 50% Latino. That whole ‘decision to adopt’ is really a topic for a much broader discussion which I’m not going into right now. Right now the reality is what it is. We are a Guatemalan-American family living in a predominately white community and school district. And in spite of any good intentions about making connections with the broader Latino community in the area, it simply hasn’t happened. Now I am struggling with how to facilitate that. Could I really walk into a nearby Latino food market or Hispanic Center and ask to be their friend? That sounds ridiculous, I know. As I type this I’m thinking maybe a better start would just be to go to go shopping at the Latino market on a regular basis. Even though it is a little out of the way and I sometimes feel a little uncomfortable when I’m there.

It is kind of interesting because I know that if T had ‘special needs’ in a more traditional sense (like physical developmental delays) I would be working my tail off to help him achieve his highest potential. I would learn my way through the early intervention bureaucracy. I know it is is there and I would at least know where to start. This is different and isn’t really even a ‘special need’ except that given our family and our community it is. And I don’t even know how to begin.

But I do know this. Like the bamboo eradication it is going to take time. And there may be moments of discomfort. It feels overwhelming. And like we’ll never get anywhere. But not doing anything really doesn’t seem like much of an option either. Any insights or suggestions are appreciated.

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Responses

  1. I’m soooo glad your thinking about this. I think both our families are blessed to have great contact with other adoptive families. This is critical for positive identity as a multi-ethnic family.

    But it’s not enough really. Personally, I don’t even think it’s enough to just go to cultural festivals, restaurants, and study history. We’ve got to find a way provide positive role models, and expand our own worlds.

    I like that you said “build cultural bridges with him.” Maybe we should brainstorm together some time?


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