Sunday, March 01, 2009

Raising Chinese Children

Bethann Buddenbaum is a freelance consultant who moved back to her home state in the Midwest after living in Los Angeles for over 20 years. She is the mother of two daughters who were adopted from the Zhuzhou Social Welfare Institute in Hunan, China.

Like many of ChinaSprout's customers, I have children adopted from China. My daughters are both from the Zhuzhou Social Welfare Institute in the Hunan province. Just over a year ago, our family moved from Los Angeles to the Midwest. It wasn't until we moved that I realized how easy we had it in Los Angeles when it came to teaching the girls about their cultural heritage. We had many Chinese friends; there was a large and accessible Chinese community; we regularly took the train to Chinatown for dim sum; we attended the Chinese New Year parade every year; and the girls had a group of friends who enjoyed sharing their own cultures, so they gained a respect for cultural diversity and pride in their own heritage.

We are blessed with an active and dedicated Families with Children From China (FCC) group in our new home state. There is also a notable and growing Chinese community, which has made great strides at creating wonderful cultural opportunities. However, it is still a much greater challenge to expose the girls to the Chinese culture in the Midwest. Many Chinese adoptive families and FCC organizations are struggling with the same question -- how do we keep our children's interest in their Chinese heritage alive, particularly as they mature?

There seemed no better place than ChinaSprout to pose these tough questions, discuss issues of importance, and share fun activities that we undertake in an effort to engage our children in learning about their cultural heritage. These topics are in no way limited to adoptive families, as I expect that the issues that we face will speak to any family of Chinese decent. I hope that you will join in the dialogue and share your experiences so that we can learn from each other.



Anonymous said...

I moved to the midwest from the south. It seems that I do have more opportunities here than in the south for cultural opportunities. Previously, I've been told: not to call her by her chinese name & that I should remember she's American now. Here, I have found a chinese dance class, and also a chinese day to name a few. We do face challenges daily.