Sunday, June 26, 2005

Tri-cultural?

My eye has been attuned to articles on China adoption since we started this process, and I’ve read a number that talk about the identity crises adoptees face in their teen years. Many Chinese girls were raised by Caucasian parents in Caucasian communities, and had no concept of an Asian identity until their teen years, when they became aware that others saw their Asian faces and considered them Asian.

As I have read these stories of angst and confusion, I have reassured myself that our daughter(s) will have it easier. One of their parents will also have an Asian face, and will be able to empathize with them about what it is like to grow up simultaneously American and Asian. I quite look forward to helping our daughter understand this sense of hyphenation.

But lately, I’ve wondered and worried about how her identity will fall in terms of the categories of America, Taiwan, and China. I don’t want her to deny her Asian heritage or mine, but America is where she lives and it is where she will grow up. How much of my Taiwanese pride will I invite her to take on, when she is by birth a Chinese girl? And how much of her Chinese heritage will I encourage her to own, when her country of origin is locked in a “who will blink first” confrontation with the country of origin of her father’s family?

Sometimes when you are hyphenated, you get the best of both worlds: an understanding of both sides, and an understanding of what it means to be both at the same time. And sometimes, you get neither: no solid roots on either side, caught in between. As a great racial reconciler once said, bridges are great things but they do get walked on by both sides. But our daughter will potentially be faced not with having to be a bridge, but having to be a triangle.

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