I’m here because I want to sell you a product. That’s right, I was brave enough to say it…
Everyone has a product to sell you, right?! Everyone is looking for an angle to provide you with a product that will improve your life. And sales for adoptive families, I’m certain, is the last thing you need in your life right now. Wherever you are in this adoption journey, you are endlessly reaching for the credit card, or some foreign currency, to pay for home-studies, notarized documents, flights, translation… And then there’s the post-adoption reports, the therapies, the medical treatments and the list goes on, and on, and on, and on…
I know it feels like every time you turn around in this journey, someone wants to make money from your altruistic decision to adopt. I personally relate. Our 2 youngest are adopted from China and the related costs of those adoptions totaled 2/3rds of the price of our house in the UK. Believe me when I tell you, our salary on paper is far from ideal as candidates for intercountry adoption. Nevertheless, I’m here to offer you a valuable product and I realize the cost adds to overall adoption costs.
Still, I want to sell you a product. For the benefit of you as an adoptive family, I am selling Chinese Culture and Connection boxes. The boxes are sent by mail directly from China and each box is filled with Chinese activities, cultural elements, history and food to help you build a deeper connection with China, not only for your adoptive child/adoptee, but for your entire family.
During my years in China, I’ve met many adoptive parents coming to get their new kiddos. They often add us on Facebook and I get to follow them and their journey – living this life. The journey has become more personal when we journey together. Oftentimes, we meet families with more kids than us. With more complex special needs. With more competence. Sometimes, with more grace. In meeting these families, in meeting YOU, I’m humbled and honored that I get to call this group of adoptive, selfless, master-care givers, those whose lives are a balancing act – ‘my tribe’.
But it IS a balancing act, isn’t it? Our lives become a seemingly endless to-do list mostly filled with the urgent. The things we know are important can end up, by necessity, pushed to the margins. I’ve noticed for some families who adopt from China, bringing Chinese culture into the family is one of the items that gets pushed further and further down the list of things to do. Because of this it can be overlooked. We totally understand why. China and Chinese culture often feel inaccessible and connecting with the culture is rarely as urgent as some of the other needs. When you flew home from Guangzhuo, it wasn’t just the geographical distance that grew, but also the cultural. I’m suggesting that bringing China into our families isn’t something we should put off.
China, itself, has an incredible sense of beauty and wonder. From the symbolic, colorful, and intricate Chinese knots that hang in almost every home, car and taxi to the red velvet baby carriers traditionally embroidered by grandmothers that convey a blessing of 100 years of peace and health on their newest grandchild. There are beautiful Chinese characters that simultaneously tell a story and are works of art. Chinese culture honors the elderly generation with love and care – the aging generation are always visible in the community oftentimes playing musical instruments, mahjong or dancing in local squares. And the vibrant and varied street foods available 24 hours a day in cities across China. These are only brief mentions of China’s beauty to experience and share with your family.
What if we could bring that beauty and richness into our homes and celebrate it with our families regularly? What if we could move from being compassionate and competent parents of ethnically Chinese child[ren] to compassionate, competent and culturally diverse families? This is the heart of this project. This is the goal.
Bringing some of China into our homes and families helps build these connections for each family member. It helps each one of our precious kids grow up more culturally diverse and aware. These experiences provide chances for each of our children to grow with Chinese influences. Learning and exploring together in fun and age appropriate ways brings our family closer through this positive shared experience.
I mentioned 2 of my 3 children are adopted. Between the ethnical physical differences of our adoptive children, our family’s schedule, surgical plans, and frequent therapy appointments, our eldest biological kid can find herself lost in the shuffle of the adoption process. This is why, as a parent, I want for our choice to pursue intercountry adoption to be a deeply beneficial experience for all of my children, not just the ones who joined our family through adoption. There is a lasting benefit of including biological children in the process of discovering their adoptive siblings’ culture as well.
While Chinese cultural connections are important for the whole family, another vital benefit is that adoptive children have a better opportunity to form their cultural identity. Studies have revealed South Korean adoptive children in American families have resulted in a loss of cultural identity with their culture (Journal of Korean Adoption Studies has some great insights on this). As a new generation of adoptive parents, we have the opportunity to change the cycle of lost cultural identity for our adoptive children, while building cultural connections for our biological children. All of that said, shifting focus from ‘bringing a Chinese child into our home’ to ‘bringing Chinese culture into our families’ has much more to do with gaining Chinese influences and something truly wonderful for our families.
My husband and I aren’t fluent in the world of business – never have been, likely will never be. But we wholeheartedly support adoptees. We support the bio kids with adopted siblings. We support the unadopted. We’re certainly for the adopters – our tribe. And this product we want to sell you is what we can offer to each who want deeper relationship with Chinese culture to help families reach a deeper sense of cultural identity. So whether this is the product for you or not,
please consider the value of intentionally brining China into your home. We believe you won’t regret taking this step. And if there are other ways we can help you along this journey, please ask.
Sarah, her husband Nic and their three daughters (Ayla, born in 2012; Seren, also born 2012; Hana, born 2017) live and work in Kunming, Yunnan province in China which they have called home for almost 10 years. Sarah holds an MA in Social Welfare Policy and Practice and runs Homeland Ties, a social enterprise recently incorporated in China. Her work on US:China Intercountry Adoption was published in the International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy. Nic is employed by Sunrise, a registered non-government organization that partners with government institutions on various projects to care for children and the disabled in Yunnan. Sarah adores her family, loves her job and is a huge fan of coffee.
Homeland Ties’ Chinese cultural boxes will be offered as single boxes, and sets of boxes. Additional free resources are available to everyone.