October 26, 2011

Meet AmFam of American Family: International Open Adoption

This latest interview from the Open Adoption Bloggers list is a real treat for me. AmFam's blog, American Family, has been a favorite of mine for years. She writes the way I wish I did: intelligently, sarcastically (one of my favorites: Emergency Code Whitey), and with a willingness to speak her mind on all sort of topics (see above). She and her family are now breaking new ground in international adoption, having successfully searched for and connected with their adopted daughter's first family in China.

I'll be publishing her interview over two days. Read on for the first installment...

Tell us about yourself and your connection to open adoption.

Hi! Online I go by AmFam. I am 35 very white Midwestern girl who is happily married to Mr. A (Mr. Amfam) who happens to be American born Chinese/Taiwanese. We have an eight year old biological daughter (M) and a five year old daughter (L) who was adopted from China.

We are one of the handful of known families who have successfully searched for and reunited with our child's birth family in China. We met them this winter and have ongoing contact with them now. I have also done some work to promote searching and openness for other Chinese adoptees by sharing our experiences in a variety of different forums.

How did you start blogging?

I started blogging when I was newly married and my older daughter was about one year old (7.5 years ago). I was trying to find my footing as the mother of a hapa daughter and the member of a mixed race family. We were also waiting to be allowed to adopt from China then, so I was processing a lot of thoughts about our impending adoption too.

Blogging has really helped me clarify my thoughts about adoption/transracial adoption and raising kids in a multiracial family. Without my blog and the support of the people I met through it, I doubt I would have searched for our daughter's birth family. Blogging has made me a much better mother to these children, but I don't know how much longer I will keep writing. I have concerns about the safety of my daughter's Chinese family and for my girls' privacy as they are getting older.

You participated in the last Interview Project (interviewing an adult adoptee who had grown up in an international open adoption) and later wrote about how that experience influenced your eventual relationship with your daughter's family in China. Could you tell us more about that?

When I interviewed Jane, she described the way her adoptive family and birth family (as well as her sister's birth family) were all intertwined and all consider each other to be family, whether there is a biological connection or not. You can read about her amazing family here and here.

Before we met our daughter's birthfamily, I had no idea how we would feel about them or how they would feel about us. While I really believed that searching was the right thing for our daughter, I had a very real fear that I would always hold the damage done to our daughter (due to the time she lived in the orphanage and the trauma she suffered because of her adoption) against her birth parents. I also was afraid we would discover she was not raised by them because they wanted/needed a son. I worried this would poison my feelings toward them and our daughter's brother. Because our daughter is so young, I was also worried about the heavy responsibility of building the framework for her relationship with them too.

I am a standoffish Midwestern girl. I don't reach out and make strangers part of my family naturally. I couldn't believe it when we met our daughter's family, that is exactly what happened.

When we met L's mother and father, we could see how much they love her, miss her and want the best for her. How could I not want her to know them and feel that love? How could I hold the decision they made to not parent her -- which broke their hearts and brought our daughter into my life-- against them? How could I feel coldhearted toward the little brother who reminded me so much of L at his age?

As complicated as it will be, we are family. We are bound together in love for L and in hoping our relationships will be the best thing for her.

It was overwhelming to feel so suddenly tied to complete strangers, but I remembered Jane's story and how all her complicated relationships weren't really so complicated because they were normal for her as she was growing up. If we are lucky, what is complicated for us will just feel like family for L. An unusual family, maybe, but family nevertheless.

After we met L's birth parents and birth siblings, my older (bio) daughter said "Mom, it is like L has two sisters and one brother. But is also like I have a half sister and half brother in China too." I feel the same. I feel something special for L's siblings and L's parents that is difficult to explain.


Come back for part two of AmFam's interview tomorrow! In the meantime, check out some of our past interviewees:
ETA: Click on for the second half, Meet AmFam of American Family, Part II

1 comment:

AmFam said...

I just went back and reread that Operation Code Whitey post and realized I used to be much funnier. I think having that second kid has just worn me out! Thanks again for the interview!

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