An excerpt from The New York Times Relative Choices:
A Chinese friend who visited from Beijing thinks I’m daft, lugging my girls to New Year’s banquets and dragon-boat races. “They are not Chinese. They are American,” she told me. She meant American in more than address, American in a way that’s obvious to anyone who is not from America. It’s the way they stand, how they carry themselves, the cut of their hair, the things they find funny or sad.
The irony is that in this country, my daughters are seen as wholly, fully Chinese. Indeed it is Chinese blood that runs in their veins.
Like every father and mother, I know that later on, it will be all my fault — as it has been the fault of parents through millennia. So when that time comes, when Jin Yu is a teenager, full of the certainty of her years, which blame can I live with? For having dragged her to National Day parades and Moon Festivals? Or for not having done so, for having let the tie to her past slip away like the string of a wind-tossed kite?
At least I get to pick.
I hope someday my daughter will see that her mom and dad made an effort, however flawed and imperfect, to restore part of what was taken from her. I hope if we do return to China that some of what Jin Yu learns in this country will help her make sense of that one. That if we can visit the orphanage, she will feel at ease, even if she doesn’t feel at home.