18. Bridges Between Cultures

Happy Independence Day! I love the Fourth of July. There’s no better way to celebrate the day our nation became an independent country than to have some friends over, fire up the grill, and blow things up! While at church yesterday I saw so many festive reds, whites, and blues on the youngsters that I considered running to Old Navy to pick up a onesie or a t-shirt for the occasion.

And then it hit me.

Desi won’t just be American. He’ll be Korean-American. I wonder what Independence Day will look like next year.

Many of us are about to unite two incredibly intricate and exciting cultures into our families. Before our journey to Desi, Korea hadn’t really been a topic of study for us. We could find it on a map but that was the extent of our knowledge. And now I have three—yes, three—Pinterest boards dedicated to my son’s home country. One of those boards is filled almost entirely with Korean food recipes I have failed to try.

The thought of integrating Korean culture into our home is both exciting and unnerving—exciting because I get to honor where Desi is from but unnerving mostly because I don’t want to disgrace his homeland with subpar kimchi. Our American Independence Day will soon be followed by a similar celebration on August 15th when Korea gained its independence from Japan. At Christmas, we will have the traditional American Christmas ham followed by the traditional Korean Christmas cake. My husband is particularly excited that Koreans celebrate a Korean Thanksgiving for three days instead of one. Because Korean babies sleep in the same bed as their parents for several years, Desi will be joining our bed for a while until we transition him to an American crib. While creating our care package, I thought long and hard about sending over a pacifier wondering, will the Korean orphanage understand what this is or will they be concerned that this American mom is sending her son a plastic nipple?

The list of differences goes on and on and I wonder at times if he will struggle with feeling torn between two identities. I’ve read many books and memoirs from hyphenated-Americans who have expressed a feeling of uniqueness, never really fitting completely into either culture. It is something we as transracial families are told to be aware of so that we can help reassure our kids of their identities in our families and of course in Christ.

A verse I hope to encourage Desi with is Genesis 1:27 which says, “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them.” I think it is so exciting that no matter what nationality, race, ethnicity, color, age, or gender, we were all created in God’s image. So even with my auburn, Matt’s brown, and Desi’s black hair; my blue, Matt’s hazel, and Desi’s brown eyes; and my pale, Matt’s tan, and Desi’s darker complexions, somehow we each represent some aspect of God. Does this verse imply similarities only in visual appearance? I doubt it. Our character is also a reflection of God’s image. My ability to empathize with others, Matt’s ability to love unconditionally, and Desi’s ability to have joy even in his hard circumstances are each glimpses into the perfection of our Father because we are his sons and daughters and we share his nature.

If you are preparing to go to a place where it seems there is so little in common with your culture for the purpose of bringing home your child, rest assured that while you may appear to be cut from a different cloth, you are in fact children of the same father which is enough to unite even the most polar opposite people. Know that I am exciting for you in this adventure.  Have some fun, learn something new, and even more importantly, give yourself some grace as you endeavor to welcome this new culture into your home. If you have some examples, experiences, or ideas that you are planning to utilize for this purpose, I encourage you to share your stories in the comment section below so that other adoptive families can glean from your insights, experience, and excitement.

Have a wonderful 4th of July everyone!

 

Verses to Consider:

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. -1 CORINTHIANS 12:27

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. -1 JOHN 3:1-2

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. –JEREMIAH 1:5

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. –ROMANS 15:7

 

A Prayer for Your Day:

God I praise you that my family is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). You knew from the beginning of time that you would unite two distinct cultures with the bond of family (Isaiah 46:10) and now I get to enjoy the benefits of loving a child from a world I might have never known had it not been for [child’s name]. God I pray that you would equip me with all I need for this task of building a cultural bridge for [child’s name] to cross over (Heb. 13:21). Parts of the bridge will be easy and exciting while other parts will be confusing and challenging. Help me to honor the sacrifice of [child’s name]’s birthmother by allowing me to honor his culture in our home. If either of these cultures get in the way of forming [his/her] identity in you, then I pray for wisdom and discernment to point him first and foremost always to you. God I pray that you would place people in my life who can help me with the task you have set before me. Encourage me to be humble and ask for help when necessary, because this family ultimately exists to bring you glory and honor.

In Jesus’s name,

Amen.

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