Thursday, June 7, 2007

Genetic Relations (Part 2)

Have just completed 10 out of 14 days of the official bonding period. Then my coordinator will petition for a court date. In the meantime, I'll continue my 2-hour visits a day.

Here are three things I love about Baby:

  1. The way she’ll wind a fist full of my hair around her hand and hold on to it when I’m carrying her somewhere.
  2. The way her face looks when she’s grumpy and being tickled –she frowns with the top half and laughs with the bottom half. It’s comical.
  3. The way she deals with being fed something she doesn’t like. A few days ago I watched a caregiver shovelling some orange substance into her mouth. (By shovelling I mean the non-stop rapid spoon-to-mouth method they have of feeding the babies here. It’s not meant to be unkind. It’s meant to ensure that all the children get fed on schedule.) The food, which turned out to be carrots, came out of her mouth at roughly the same speed as it was going in. There was no whining or fussing on her part. Other than the slight frown, she was pretty stoic. It was an admirable display of passive resistance.

Baby doesn’t look anything like me. Baby is very fair with an asian look around the eyes. If someone were to glance at us, note that we’re mother and daughter (and I don’t mean to brag but it’s already undeniable), scan for a family resemblance and then, finding none, seek an explanation for the lack thereof, they’d probably come to the conclusion that her father is a pale blond man. From China.

I think about her skin colour a lot. International adoption requires of many people that they educate themselves around issues of race and skin colour. We did workshops on these topics during the first seminar I attended. I subsequently read books on transracial adoption. I enjoyed every minute of it. There is a level of sensitivity and awareness in the adoption community around racism and questions of identity that I wish every single person on the planet had. I wish it had been part of public consciousness when I was growing up as a kid darker than all the others in London, England in the late 60s. I agree with the current thinking in the adoption literature that to pass on unexamined attitudes of white priviledge to children of colour is problematic – leaving them unprotected against the racism they may encounter later on. But that leads me to think about my own unexamined attitudes about white people. Because regardless of whether I’m technically white myself (however that is defined from the outside) I don’t feel white on the inside. What do I do with my postcolonial, solidarity-with-the-oppressed, minorities-unite, power-to-the-brown-people, subjectivity when it comes to raising Baby?

Of course I’m comforted to know that the animal kingdom may hold some clues. DM has helpfully provided a picture to illustrate. Thanks for setting me straight on that. I had no idea how easy it would be to stumble into controversy on a blog.

Below is a picture of me and my coordinator today at a Notary Public’s office where I was signing yet another power of attorney. I think it’s possible that every citizen of Kazakhstan now has the legal power to act on my behalf given how many POAs I’ve signed.

And this is a picture of my driver, Doulat, who is gradually teaching me Russian – one word a day. The rest of the time we babble on in our own languages to each other. Today we had an interesting talk about cars during which I think he told me that he’d only ever drive a Mercedes and all other cars suck. There are a lot of Toyotas, some Hondas and Volkswagens but mostly it’s Mercedes, Lexus and BMW on the roads here with the occasional beat up Lada going by.


Anonymous said...

Dear Jila,

How magnificent that it is all going so well. Your blog (on which I'm now all caught up) and photos let me be and feel connected to this wonderous event happening on the other side of the world [and, as an aide, marvelling at technology that lets this happen so readily really is a sign of middle-aged codgerness! Sigh.]

So, if I've followed the dates correctly, you're at the very end of the bonding process. Does this mean that you're past a hurdle that enables you to feel more solid with Baby (such that her name and photos) can soon be posted? If not, when does that happen? Addie and Michaela have asked to see pictures of their new neighbour.

Susan P.

Ileana said...

I fully embrace the wonderment I feel every time I look at this blog. I get this excited feeling when I look at it, hoping for a new posting, new pictures, new insights into Baby G. I love the idea of people trying to picture the pale blond father from China. And I love the picture of the dog with the tiger cubs (kittens?). What a wonderful combination of images, visual and mental.

Oh, and the image of Baby gripping your hair. I have such fond memories of that tight grasp - "you're mine", it says.