Somewhere Out There

Today, my newly minted fifteen year old and I were driving somewhere and in one quick movement she turned off the radio and popped in her iPod earbuds. There was barely a moment for me to say a word between public and private music, neither of which is conducive to talking. I find myself more and more aware of how little my daughters need to talk to me anymore. I mean, it’s not like we don’t talk. It’s just that they don’t NEED to talk to me anymore.

And simultaneous with that discovery, I realize how much I WANT to talk to them. It seems the more I want to ask them the more they pull in. No matter how delicately I tread, the goofier they seem to think I am. Or at least that is my perception.

So there she was, popping in the second earbud and I wanted to talk to her about anything. So I asked her about what seems to be at the top of my mind these days. Her birth parents. We got to meet McKenna’s birth parents in Vietnam and I have been wondering how she is feeling about not getting to have the same experience.

And when her birthday comes around, especially, I think about birth parents “somewhere out there” thinking about her and wondering if she is ok.

I asked her if we could talk. “Huh?” she said, popping out one side of her earbuds. I said it again. And she said sure. So I asked if she thought about her birth parents. Or if she felt bad about not getting to meet them. And she asked me if I wanted the brutal truth and I said yes and she told me that she didn’t really care.

I was really surprised by that answer. So I dug a little for some clarification. She had felt a little jealous-ish this summer with someone who had gotten to meet the person who found her. Sheridan seemed to have a difficult time remembering feeling that way and when I asked her how she felt about McKenna getting to meet her birth family she said she was happy for her.

Either she wasn’t giving me anything or she really doesn’t care. Either way, my only recourse was to let her know that regardless of how she feels now or in the future I would not pressure her to do anything one way or another but would always support whatever her feelings were. I also told her that if she ever did want to find her birth parents that I would do whatever it took to find them.

My little nine month old sweetheart is fifteen years old this week and the time went by far more quickly than I could have imagined. My main regret is not doing everything that comes to my children with much more intentionality. But despite feeling like I have stumbled through my role as a parent, Sheridan has turned out to be a wonderful, young woman.

I wish there was a way to tell an anonymous Chinese mom and dad how fabulous she is.

7 responses to “Somewhere Out There

  1. You know, you ARE a little goofy! 😉 But, they will appreciate that later!

    I guess you should be glad she isn’t stressing about it too much. You’ve let her know you are there for her, and that’s all you can do at this point. She’ll get it at some point and understand what all you’ve done. Hang in there until then!

  2. Tough to answer this one Steph. I think that Sheridan will decide what she wants once she can sort out her own feelings. You’ll know when it’s time. Waiting and not really knowing is always hard. You are doing a good job.

  3. thanks for sharing your blog with us. Such timing…Dave and I were just talking about “I wonder what Genny’s parents would think of how we have raised her “. I feel sad because we (especially Genny) may never know the answer to that . Wishing you the best through these high school years!

    • Same to you Nancy. It is a poignant subject. when we went to China last summer we at least got to meet Sheridan’s foster parents, which gave her some tie to the past. Sheridan is learning to DRIVE!!! Can you believe it they are that old??

  4. I agree with the others who have left comments. She probably has very mixed feelings talking and acknowledging issues that have to deal with her birth parents. I am sure she is very happy that her sister had a chance to meet her birth mother but maybe suppresses her feelings toward the particular subject by saying it doesn’t matter. When the chance arises, her biological parents will be given the chance to be proud.

    My mother never really talked about how I felt being adopted and just acknowledged the racial differences that I would face living amongst a majority of white Caucasians. (Warning: I’ll be going on a tangent) Although it is nice to learn about yourself as well as another culture with food, music and customs, as being a person of color growing up in America, specifically Filipino descent, I find it important that trans-racial adoptees as well as parents need to be taught how to deal with discrimination and racism. Although love has no boundaries, it’s important to learn about history of society and how to react to ignorance.

    • James, I couldn’t agree with you more about the racism. I recently saw the most repugnant ad on TV put out by some organization and the ad was set in future China and talked about great civillzations declining including the US. The Chinese professor looks right into the screen and says “That’s why they now work for us.” So it totally works on the fear of white Americans that those scarey Asians are going to take over our country. I wrote a letter to the TV station I was so appalled. My kids have endured some racism where we live. There are more Asian kids living in our area than in some places, but when they were little, I will never forget the day one of them came home reciting “Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, look at these,” with the hand movements. One of them had learned this on the freakin’ school bus. I was so pissed off. They thought it was funny. I made them stop. It broke my heart, they didn’t realize what it meant. That’s my rant. I appreciate yours! Thanks for the comment! and thanks for reading.

  5. Yeah that isn’t a great television ad also because it points at ethnocentrism and shapes what that particular group of peoples think and how others perceive them as well.

    I grew up in similar situation where there were a growing minority of Asians. I was born in 90′ and I also even witnessed that same chant. It’s even worse because it breeds self-racism and hatred. I recall when kids would pull their eyes back. It’s worse to see that educators and even adults don’t do anything about it to show it. Also addressing microagressions towards groups of people.

    Also to add growing up with exposure to other Asians, I recall not being able to “fit in” because I was not “Asian enough”. If your daughters like to learn about the history of where they were born, it can help them deal with racism, discrimination, and silent questions that they “may not have thought of”. What I mean by that last statement is where certain emotions and personality stems from but uncertain of the cause – if that makes sense?

    One of the extreme cases I faced was when I was in the 5th grade. One of my classmates was Japanese “American”. I added the quotes because I wasn’t sure if he was a citizen or visa going to school. Anyways, with the short history of Japan with the Philippines and the “Bataan Death March”, he had more than just microagressions towards me being a Filipino. I remember being told by him “Go back to f—-ing Philippines” and other racial slurs in his dictionary. I didn’t understand why he had such negative feelings towards me being Filipino and what not until years later taking my Filipino American classes. How I dealt with this Asian-to-Asian racism, I can’t even remember. Sorry if I went off on a tangent again!

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