08
Jun
09

It’s Starting Already

Before becoming a parent I had no idea kids processed such big things at such young ages. But in the last month and a half, our son (who’s 3.5) has started asking about race, adoption, and why we look different.

Just last night at the dinner table we were talking about how much our son enjoys fruit, and how fruit is something most Korean people enjoy eating. And he said, “So I’m Korean, I shouldn’t live with you.”

It stopped me in my tracks. If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you know that we’ve been having a hard time with behavior lately. I’m sure part of it is age, but comments like that one are what make me wonder if a lot of his behavior is him processing our differences, how permanent our family is, and probably more that I don’t realize yet.

So in response I started going through several of our adopted friends and their families talking about how their parents aren’t Guatemalan or Columbian but they’re still families. At first he persisted, “I should live with people I look like.” So we kept talking about how all families don’t look the same but they’re still families. And how we have a special paper that says we’re his mommy and daddy and that no one can take him away from us. (Just last week I made him copies of the adoption decree for him to look at and explained what it said.) And how even though daddy and I aren’t Korean we like Korean things, including food, music, and TV shows, just like he does. He got really excited about how we all enjoy Korean things.

Then I asked him who people live with, and he said mommies and daddies. And since we have this special paper saying we’re his mommy and daddy, I asked, who should he live with? And he pointed to us. Then we were on to other subjects.

In early April, our son brought up race for the first time. Over the last several months, we’ve been reading books about different skins colors but this was the first indication I had that he was seeing those difference. We were going to meet some friends of ours, who are African-American, and as we’re driving he said, “Mom, M is dark brown.” I said that yes M is dark brown and then on a very elementary level I explained about melanin to him. We talked about how M has more melanin in his skin than J does, and how J has more in his skin than mommy does. And how the color of skin doesn’t really make us different because on the inside we have the same things (hearts, lungs, brain, etc.) and God loves us all the same.

I read a lot of forums and blogs and such and find it interesting that so many adoptive parents say that their older transracially adopted children (elementary-school age) aren’t processing these weighty subjects. Of course, all kids develop on their own schedules so maybe some just have gotten to that yet. But there maybe a couple of other explanations.

One could me that the kids are thinking about these important subjects but don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents about them. Another explanation could be that the children aren’t really encountering people who look like them or people of other ethnicities. Or it could be a little of both.

While I don’t always feel as prepared as I should be for these converations with J, I’m glad that he’s talking about them. We always want him to feel comfortable talking to us about his adoption, how he feels about race, and his birth culture.


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My Korean Culture Blog

Just a reminder that if you want to learn more about Korean culture (both traditional and pop culture), language resources, and cooking, check out my other blog: thekoreanway.wordpress.com It's filled with resources for adoptive families or anyone interested in Korean culture.

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