Keeping the Promise

by Nancy Ng

"I celebrate myself and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume".
- Walt Whitman

It seems reasonable to assume that we can only celebrate selfhood when we know who we are and understand something about those who walked before us. Each of our personal songs developed over time. The beat and melody predate us.

The task of developing a sense of identity could be equated to the process of learning an appreciation of the subtle nuances of our personal rendition while valuing the complex blending of voices that comprise the human chorus.

For our adopted children the job is more difficult; for those adopted transculturally it is even more complex.

There are, of course, no Korean children growing up in caucasian families, nor are there black kids in white families. The adoption of any unrelated child permanently alters that familyís culture. Amazingly thin rather self-evident reality often goes unrecognized. Last year, for example, my sonís teacher, himself an adopted person, seemed perplexed when I objected to the standard format requested for that old favorite assignment, the family tree. "Why not," he said, gazing across at my Thai son and me, "just list your ancestors. Thatís his family now."

We need to work with but cannot change every insensitive teacher and raise, but cannot metamorphize, the consciousness of the general public.

We can examine ourselves, our personal and family prejudices and preconceptions, our lifestyle and family culture. Then we can change and grow into families whose homes, neighborhoods, habits and friends comprise an enriched environment that both teaches and cherishes each of our individual and collective songs in celebration of who we are.

Valuing uniqueness, embodying culture, knowing, "I am somebody," Ė itís only FAIR

  personal experiences : transcultural adoption
  cultures : transcultural families