Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Grits--a book response

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Grits : a Sourcebook for Multicultural Families by Myra Alperson was one of the first books I read when we started this process 5 years ago.  I remember being quite surprised at some of the ideas and mildy surprised at the others.  Until I read this book I'll confess I was blissfully unaware of the complicated balance beam we were willingly stepping on.  I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I had no trouble believing the racial issues books mentioned but the culture loss was a completely new idea to me.   What was wrong with raising her as "Proud to Be an American..."?   

Now, five years later, I reread the book and it felt like "well, duh."  Obviously we need to instill pride in her birth culture.  Lots of the ideas in the book are not only suggestions but minimum requirements according to the on-line Chinese Adoption Community: culture camps, FCC, and celebrating Chinese Holidays.  It discusses neutrally a lot of the issues passionately hashed and rehashed on Rumor Queen.  I don't need this book as a resource anymore because I can find on-line any resource I need to understand the major Chinese Holidays--including lists of books with appropriately diverse characters to enhance our understanding (for which I am very grateful).

There are two things to which my response was identical both times I read this book.  First, one lady changed her name to a Chinese name in order to create a cultural connection to her daughter.  I still find this odd and a little overboard.  Secondly, the book made the point that a family will not be multi-cultural if only the "Chinese" culture is represented in their activities.  Pointing out which activities the family participates in are "American" culture or the other cultures represented by the family will help all of the activities seem a more natural celebration of everyone's heritage instead of setting the adopted child apart.  This sounded reasonable to me.  I'll tell you about one of our attempts to implement this advice in another post.

I do think this is a very good book and a great resource for families looking to add another culture to their family--particularly families who like their information in one place and don't read blogs and forums obsessively.   

1 comment:

a Tonggu Momma said...

I have felt that "well, duh" moment so many times during my adoption parenting journey - books on attachment, books on culture and transracial adoption, even basic adoption parenting books. You are not alone.