Let me start out by saying I love China. I have been obsessed with the country since I was seven years old. So, when the pieces finally fell together for us to adopt from China I was beyond excited. I was so ready to bring in the culture of China to our home. I studied holidays and foods and bought recipe books. We all watched youtube videos of dragon dances until all we could see was red.
And then, because adoption never does what we think it will, it gifted me with a child who wanted nothing to do with the home country. When I say “wanted nothing to do with” it’s a very kind way of saying all out rejected and spewed hatred towards the culture of the birth country. I was crushed. All that seaweed would go to waste! But… my red lanterns!
Sadly, it actually took us a while to figure this out. We kept offering the seaweed with every meal and the rice and noodles were steaming hot as we graciously, with huge benevolent smiles, handed the bowl and chopsticks to our child.
Boom. Rage occurred and we were scratching our pretty little heads as to what we could have possibly done wrong. Every kid wants food that tastes familiar, right? Chopsticks are the best things ever, right?
A big fat NO.
We had to learn on our own that occasionally, kids want to forget that they had a past before you. They can’t combine their two worlds so they choose one over the other. That was the case in our home. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. But we packed away all signs of China and only very occasionally brought out anything to offer again that even remotely resembled seaweed. Pretty sure we used a code word for it. “The green paper, which is SOOOOO yummy and healthy!” Yah, that sounds about right.
The language? Have mercy! All that studying wasted! Wasted I say. If I so much as dared to utter a “Ni Hao” I got the death stare. So, I packed away my language books as well.
Y’all, I wasn’t perfect in this. I was actually, to my shame, angry about this. I mean, I actually believed I had a right to demand culture in our home. It took me far too long to learn that “my way or the highway” is actually the world’s worst advice to parents. But, slowly, I did learn to respect my own child’s feelings on this.
We just kept on being Americans. Burger loving, steak hunting, vegetable fearing Americans. It may have been the saddest year of my life. I also may have kept a secret stash of seaweed and been caught a time or two crunching away in the closet on it. What else can a girl do with hundreds of packs of seaweed? My heart can only take so much and the trashcan does. not. deserve. this scrumptiousness.
Eventually, after what felt like forever to this China-loving mom, our child found security in our home and one day seaweed was requested. I tried super hard to school the cheerleader-worthy excitement that was bursting forth from my very soul, but I’m fairly certain the clapping gave me away.
Now, we have red lanterns for Chinese New Year and we proudly enter the Asian grocery stores. I even have the privilege of being begged for rice crackers and listening to the whines when the seaweed runs out. Joy and rapture right here. It’s finally happening. Queue the clapping.