Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Passport (07/25/05)
TITLE: My Passport to the World:Adoption
By Cyndie Odya-Weis
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My passport comes in the form of children; precious gifts from God. Because of the children I adopted, I proudly claim a mixed heritage for I am 50% Korean, 10-15% African American, about 10% Mexican and a little Native American and mixed European. My friend Mary (who’s Italian American) used to say she was “Irish by marriage” as she practiced her Irish brogue each St. Patrick’s Day. My heritage via adoption is a bit like that. Because of special passport families, both Mary and I set sail on lifelong journeys through far-off lands.
My twin daughters arrived two decades ago from Korea. Four years later, a mixed-race son was placed in my longing arms following another selfless decision by a caring birthmom. She’d read our ad in the local paper: Christian family with young Asian children hoping to adopt infant of mixed racial background. Immediately upon opening my arms to these three infants, God opened my heart with a passport; not only a passport to parenthood but also to the world.
Years ago I listened to teachers of our classes for trans-racial adoption tell us about how our lives would change as we incorporate children’s cultures into our lives. I was skeptical. Now I teach those classes and speak from the depths of my heart and soul when I say that I have been transformed by having an international family.
I’ve learned about cultures; the artwork, music, languages and history of my children’s roots. Korean dancing with fans, scarves or baskets waxes worshipful serenity while the dances and drumming of African nations shouts in celebratory show. I was the proud mom watching my children on stage at Asian and African Festivals and the resourceful mom who always finds the perfect ethnic dress and accessories for the shows. Sometimes my passport allowed me to cross cultural barriers and connect with others in a way that could seem intrusive. Keeping tabs of who’s traveling where may seem nosy, but the passport of international adoption connected us to SoonHae, a friends’ neighbor’s friend’s mother who was traveling to Korea. SoonHae spoke little English so my daughters drew pictures of their dream Hanboks- the Korean national dress. SoonHae looked at the drawings and hugged my daughters to check for the sizing. Weeks later, the matching pink and blue Hanboks affirmed that ordering- by- pictures and sizing- by- hugs works. I guess shared smiles articulate perfect detail because the dresses were superb.
My passport of international adoption led me to other places that didn’t feel as good or fit so well. Racism smacked a bit harder and oppression rang truer because of places my passport has taken me. When someone calls my daughters “exotic” or “porcelain dolls,” those words mask their unique God-given gifts. That’s unfortunate. When a perfect stranger has preconceived ideas about my son due to “his type,” I cringe. When a racist joke- or a blond joke, for that matter- is told, the stereotypical thinking patterns pierce my heart. Stereotypes prevent us from appreciating the true person. Yes, God gave me a passport to feeling pain- so that I may do my part to stop it.
My passport has allowed me a grand entrance to many lives. A friend whose daughter gave birth to four cocaine-addicted children opened her home to three of those four. The other, whose medical needs were beyond grandma’s capacity, entered specialized care. Within the next few years, mom birthed three more. Each time, Grandma struggled with adding another chick to her very full nest. Ultimately, she and her daughter developed an adoption plan for those babes and they thrive in a new family. In several tearful meetings, the mom and grandma said good-bye and thanked me for paving the way. Because I love children not born to me and because I share my story, they realized adoption was a loving option. They said that my family was their role model. I feel blessed to share my passport.
I applied for the passport of adoption before I knew just where I’d travel. But God knew. He mapped the path and nudged me gently along. And with a God-given passport, my journey has been truly blessed.
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