So since I wasn't going to get much accomplished today, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about our upcoming journey to Ellen. I'll be on a plane in a mere three weeks and five days, and I'm not remotely ready; there's still so much to do. At the same time, I wish I was on a plane to her now instead of having to wait a whole twenty-six more days.
I've been reading a lot of blogs by Asian Americans who were adopted, and a theme that comes up again and again is how out of place a lot of them feel. Many seem to perceive themselves as not belonging in either the country of their birth or the United States. Of course these are people who for the most part were adopted at a very young age, and it's been a little difficult to find perspectives from those who were adopted in their teenage years, like Ellen will be. Ellen already has a strong identity as a Thai person, and so she won't be in quite the same situation as the children who grow up not speaking the language of their birth countries or knowing anything about their first parents' culture.
Still, things won't be easy for her.
There’s a little gray bird called the American Dipper that lives near fast flowing mountain streams in North and South America. It’s an unpretentious, rather stocky little thing that possesses an extraordinary ability—it hunts for food by diving into the rapids and flying underwater to search for grubs and insect larva. This is a bird that is completely at home in the both the air and the stream, and it’s able to effortlessly transition from one to the other without hesitation.
And that’s what I want for my daughter. I don’t want her to be stuck in an awkward in-between state where she doesn’t fit in anywhere; I want her to be able to move between Thailand and America with the same graceful, natural motion that bird uses to navigate its dual world of water and sky. This may be entirely impossible; not only are the two cultures very different, but as a person with a disability the reality is that society will try and set her apart no matter where she may find herself.
But I'm learning as much about Thai culture as I possibly can right now, and will continue to do my best to create connections in not just the Thai-American community here, but also the community of people with disabilities as well.
There are things that I can't give her. I am not-- and will never be-- either adopted or Asian American. And while there's always the possibility that I could eventually have a disability, it's not something that I've experienced to date. So I want to do my best to surround her with successful, well-rounded people who are traveling through life with one or more of those personal experiences, so they can give her the perspective and the understanding that I can't. And while I can never tell her that I "know what she's going through," I can be as educated and as empathetic as possible so I can help her along as she navigates her own road through life.
If I'm honest with myself, what I'd wish most for her and also for Connor would be for them to be ordinary. I'm not saying that I want to change either of them in the slightest-- I absolutely don't. But I would love to change the world's perspective so they would be able to move through a crowd, one face in a sea of faces, and not be set apart by their disabilities or life circumstances or by the color of their skin. I would like my children to be able to travel through the world and be viewed as just people-- not looked down upon or sanctified because of events beyond their control.
I don't want my children to be seen as ugly ducklings or as swans. I'd like them to be little gray birds half-hidden in twilight, flicking their quiet way low over the water, headed for home.