Friday, January 15, 2010

"Before You Were Asian"

“What’s that thing on the wall called?” my 14 year old from China asked, pointing at a heavily embroidered panel of antique ceremonial cloth hanging in our living room.

“It’s a Kalaga,” I answered. “It’s from Thailand”

“It’s not Chinese?” Lily said in mild surprise.

“Nope. Not Chinese,” I responded, looking around our living room. “And neither is the Thai temple fragment, or the Japanese origami figures, or the bowl I found in Seoul.”

Some of the items had been collected during my years as an international flight attendant; some, like the Kalaga, were acquired during young adulthood. Purchased right out of college, the Kalaga had been bizarrely expensive and unwieldy to hang; I wonder now what had stirred my need for its presence and rich tradition.

“So”, said Lily, looking around the room at our artifacts, as if seeing them for the first time. “You bought all of this stuff…before you were Asian?”

I nodded, catching her eye and pondering her perspective.

“Yes. Before I was Asian. Before you and your sister got here.”

Suddenly, I was aware that my own, familiar perspective was out-of-synch with my daughter’s world-experience. Clearly, Lily understood the impact she and her younger sister had had on my life-path…but I , just as clearly, was a little out of touch with the POV of an edgy Asian girl growing up fast with a white bread mom.

We gazed at each other in a moment of clarity and mutual recognition. Our assumptions had met, and we silently acknowledged the curious fact that both of us had led separate lives on separate continents before becoming a family. Like every parent, I occasionally wonder what my life would be like today if I hadn’t discovered its meaning in my children. Now, my teenager has begun to connect me, our disparate pasts, what brought us together and the effects on us all. We were teen-talking adoption without ‘going there’, and I was given a glimpse into the broadening perspective of a daughter connecting her own dots. Lily wasn’t being sarcastic. She acknowledged our differences and reaffirmed our pact with her pointed phrase, and I understood what she meant. Before both of our lives intersected, before we took on this international experiment, before we knew how much we could love, before we were brave enough to try, before…I was Asian.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

The ADOPTION TOOLBOX Perfect Puzzle Give-Away

A Perfect Puzzle Give-Away...

A book for adopted tweens, plus a NEW book for adopted teens--both addressing honest emotion and the need to find a fit. Both books are FREE to one lucky person...contest begins today and runs through Jan. 30th. Winner will be announced on JANUARY 31st!

Simple Give-Away Rules
1) Sign up to follow Jean MacLeod's Adoption Toolbox BLOG at

and / or

2) Join Jean MacLeod's new Adoption Toolbox FACEBOOK page by clicking on the FACEBOOK Badge at: (on the right).
***Be sure to click the green 'Sign Up" box once on Facebook

--If you join BOTH the blog and the Facebook page, you will have TWO chances to win the books (shipping is free).
--Current blog followers WILL be automatically included in the drawing, but are encouraged to join the new Adoption Toolbox Facebook page to improve give-away chances.

The Books:

(by Jean MacLeod) is "the honest, lyrical reflection of a pre-adolescent girl on what she knows of her adoption from China, and the strength she gains from her acceptance of her bittersweet experience. The book addresses the underlying feelings and emotions that color the world of the international adoptee; it also enables pre-teen readers to put their early lives into perspective, while emphasizing the supportive love that encircles them within their own families":
"I am nine years old and someone a lot like you. Part of my life has been like a puzzle needing pieces, but I am understanding more about myself and my life everyday. This is my story..."

PIECES OF ME, WHO DO I WANT TO BE? (edited by Robert L. Ballard) is a NEW collection of "stories, poems, art, music, quotes, activities and provocative questions for the young adopted person who wants to figure out his or her story. It is a series of experiences, expressions, feelings, hurts, hopes, dreams, and struggles from a wide range of individuals. Some will make you laugh, some will make you cry, some will make you happy, some will make you feel less alone, some will offer advice, and some will just share. Organized around the idea of putting a puzzle together, there are five major sections, all offering hope, encouragement and empowerment":

1. Gathering the Pieces
2. Stolen Pieces
3. Fitting the Pieces
4. Sharing the Pieces
5. Where do These Pieces Go?


What's NOT puzzling?
Free books for your kids, online connection and great parent-to-parent resources...perfect!

Jean MacLeod


iWrite: Tween and Teens Write about Life and Adoption

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