Thursday, June 14, 2007

I Will Never Be Chinese

We went to see a foreign film last weekend called "Eve & the Fire Horse", written and directed by a Canadian Chinese filmmaker. I am an independent film buff, and although I am currently biased towards Chinese films, this is one of the better movies I've seen in a while. If it's not currently playing in your area, I believe it's coming out on DVD in July. The film chronicles a little girl's struggle to hold on to the time honored Eastern beliefs of her family while trying to fit in with her Catholic classmates. The movie offers a fascinating glimpse into the depth and beauty of Chinese traditions and superstitions passed down from generation to generation.

However, as I watched the film, I was freshly struck by the obvious - I will never be Chinese. Immersed in a crowd of mostly white movie-goers, I looked around me and wondered if my daughter will miss being Chinese, too. No matter how much research I put into it, I simply don't have the cultural background needed to truly help my daughter realize her Chinese heritage. Yes, I can teach her about festivals, dance rituals, and the beauty of Chinese music, but I can't ever really convey what it means to "be" Chinese.
I have read many stories of resentful adoptees feeling isolated and disconnected from their homelands as they reach adulthood. In a Q&A session after the movie, the director spoke of the disdain she felt from other Asians growing up, scorned because she didn't speak a Chinese language. How in the world will our daughter figure out who she really is when we are so Caucasian? People say adoption saves a child in need from an uncertain life of hardship and sorrow. Lately, a tiny voice in the back of my mind has been answering back "what if we're only causing more"?