Crossing Cultural Lines :: A Mother’s Hope for Her Adopted Daughter

Crossing Cultural Lines:: A Mother's Hope for Her Adopted Daughter | Houston Moms Blog

When I look at my youngest daughter, I see a rambunctious, nearly two year old that is the center of our world.  She has a lot of my quirks, her brother’s affection for animals, and her sister’s love for books.  I will walk over coal for her and do just about anything to make sure that she is safe and well loved.  Loving her comes so naturally.

My family may look a little different from your typical Asian family. In a sea of jet black hair comes a little baby girl with bouncing blonde curls and hazel gray eyes calling out for her Mommy as she leaps into my arms. Moments like these make my heart melt as I cradle her in my arms but it also invokes curiosity from bystanders. I can see them looking from my daughter to me, then to my husband searching for some family resemblance.  Many times we get the long stare followed by a smile but sometimes we get approached by audacious individuals asking whose child she belongs to or they comment on how she doesn’t look like us.  A few months ago, a lady asked me if her birth parents knew that we weren’t white because they had the right to know.  Ouch.    

I’ve dealt with racism growing up since my parents emigrated to the United States from Vietnam during the war. As I got older, I felt like our country was becoming more accepting of differences and I can’t really recall the last time someone said something hurtful like that to me. This women’s question stung and angered me.  Oh, how I wished I had a snarky comeback to give her at that moment in time. Instead I quickly responded, “I don’t feel like that matters!” and walked away.

Anna has been a part of our family since birth.  She is loved beyond measure. She is healthy, happy, and safe. Her birth parents relinquished their rights when she was a few months old, so why does this women feel like they had the right to know?  Is she implying that it would have made a difference in whether or not we would have been able to adopt her? But instead of dwelling on what she said to me, I decided to put a lot of thought into what it will mean for my daughter to grow up in a Vietnamese family and how gaining a culture will positively impact her future. 

  1. Her teachers will ALWAYS be surprised when they call roll on the first day of school.  They will not expect a non-Asian with the last name Nguyen.
  2. She will NEVER get into the clubs because they will think that she has a fake ID.  Her dad is particularly happy about this one.
  3. She is currently bilingual. She speaks and understand Vietnamese and English.  I adore her sweet voice as she refers to her big sister as “chi hai” and her big brothers as “anh”. I made an effort to only speak to her in Vietnamese from the very beginning and she picked up English from her siblings and preschool. Hopefully knowing two languages will be a plus for applying for a future job and not to mention how handy it will be for her nail salon visits.
  4. She has an impressive collection of Ao Dai {traditional Vietnamese dress} that she looks ADORABLE in when she wears them for multicultural day at school.  She was quite popular at preschool when she showed up in one for the school’s dragon dance performance this past year. 
  5. She knows how to greet elders by bowing her head upon arrival and leaving their home. This is something that is important in our culture because it is a sign of respect for our elders.
  6. Not only does she get to celebrate all of the national holidays but she gets to celebrate Lunar New Year every year.  She will receive little red envelopes filled with money and understand the meaning behind all of the little traditions that we do in preparation for it.  This money has already started her college fund and as she grows older we will allow her to spend a little part of it on a treat for herself before depositing the rest. 
  7. Anna will get to celebrate the Mid-Autum Harvest Moon Festival every fall. The Children’s Museum does an impressive job putting on a celebration every year.  It’s filled with lantern making, parades, and dragon dances.  She will also learn about gifting boxes of  sweet moon cakes and hopefully love eating them as much as her momma does too.    
  8. She LOVES Vietnamese food. She can be a finicky eater at times but will usually eat any Vietnamese food put in front of her. I’m certain that she will learn how to cook a mean pot of Pho to share with her college buddies when she is away at college. It’s almost like a rite of passage to know how to. It was one of the first things that she ate when she got the green light to start table food as a baby.  
  9. When she is much, much, MUCH older and ready to marry, she will have a traditional tea ceremony as part of her wedding festivities.  She will be adorned in a custom made Ao Dai and the groom’s family will bring gifts in a beautiful procession to my home to ask for her hand in marriage.  She and her husband will pour tea for the guests and in turn receive gifts of jewelry and money to help them start their life together.  But like I mentioned before, only when she is MUCH older.    
  10. Finally, Anna will be able to pass on these traditions to her own children one day and they will come visit me calling me Ba Ngoai {Grandma}.  Whoever is lucky enough to be chosen as her spouse will love her with every ounce of his being.  Together they will build a life and family for themselves.  She will be loved and cherished by her husband and she will not expect anything less than that.  Or else he has her three big brothers to answer to. 

People will always be curious about Anna and how she came to be a Nguyen.  I’m hoping that she will be proud of her family and second culture. I’m hoping that being adopted into an ethnic family will only enrich her life and open her eyes and heart to the world around her. She has impacted our lives in ways that we couldn’t ever imagine and we are so excited about what adventures her future may hold for her. Wherever life my take her, my dream for her is that she will always know how much we love her and that this love will help shape her into a wonderful human being. Because we know the world needs plenty of that.


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