Cultural Flip-Flop

During the past 13 years, my family has been living and working in Asian countries. Our three biological sons grew up as the minority in the communities in which we lived. Now, they are in college learning how to be American, and sometimes they feel like they don’t fit in (even though their skin is the right color). As TRA’s know and have experienced, a child can often grow up to think and feel like the culture he or she is raised among even if he does not look like that culture on the outside. This is something Third Culture Kids often experience.

On the flip side, we adopted our daughter while living in a very Asian community. For the years that we have had her, she has spent time daily around Asian food, culture, and people. Now we are in America in a predominately white neighborhood. So, I have been thinking about and reading about ways to maintain her Asian connection while we are here. I have also been reading blogs by adult TRA’s to get their viewpoints and ideas. I appreciate their honesty in sharing their thoughts and feelings.

I have a dear friend who is opposed to adopting outside one’s race. Sure it would be optimal for a child to be adopted by the race they come out of, but what about when they are product of mixed races? What then? And, what if they live in a country where neither race wants to adopt them because of that? Or, what if they have a disability keeping people from their race or country from adopting them? Does that mean their only option should be to be raised by an institution? Obviously we did not think so. My friend asked me why we did not adopt from America. Since we were living overseas, we were never in America long enough to adopt in America. But that aside, I believe that God led us to our daughter. If you want to know how He led us, be sure and read Nine Year Pregnancy when it comes out next spring.

On my path to gathering information to help us be the best parents we can be for our daughter, I came across some websites I would like to share with you:


See also: Third Culture Kids

8 thoughts on “Cultural Flip-Flop

  1. Pingback: International Passion « Nine Year Pregnancy

  2. I’m a Third Culture Kid. I have experienced a lifetime of not feeling like I belong anywhere. My siblings and I often knew we were the only ones who understood each other because we were the only American kids in that city during that time period. Thankfully we are still very close and can have discussions with each other that no one else can. Once back in America, I became what I call a Chameleon(sp?) Meaning that I learned to dress and act a certain way to fit into whatever culture I needed too.

    I spent most of my life in an identity crisis. It took me until my 30’s to realize that my identity comes from God and that I am His daughter and nothing else should matter. Sooooo freeing to realize that all I need to do is focus my attention on the One Who gave me life! I haven’t had a problem with identity since. I still use my Chameleon tool because it is useful in relating to people,but I don’t “become” that person like I used too. I also cook food from my other country, take my shoes off at the door etc etc. I revel in times when I meet other Third Culture Kids. We connect almost instantly on a way different level even before we realize we share that history.

    One very wise friend told me a great analogy. The country you are born is let’s say is yellow. The country you go and live in lets say is blue. When you come out you are no longer yellow or blue but green. I have shared that with some of my Third Culture Friends so they could turn around and share it with people who may not understand them. One friend had tears in her eyes when I shared this. She said, “You understand!”
    By now because I have had the privilege of traveling to other places I feel like I am probably purple with pink polka dots. Each country I visit leaves an imprint in me and changes my “color”—-the way I think and how I see things.

    Above all, I am thankful to my Father for giving me the great privilege of not being stuck in one culture with one way of thinking. I would not be the person I am today without all of this Third Cultureness. I see, understand, think and act a different way because of all the knowledge gained by living in so many different places.

    • Thank you so very much for sharing this! Our oldest son married a TCK. There’s just THAT connection not shared by anyone else. I can’t help but to think that international adoptees (especially those who are adopted as an older child (3 and over) would have a lot of similarities with TCKs.

  3. Hmmm, as a mother of 8- 7 which have been adopted, your friend’s comments make my blood boil. I love people who want to give you adoption advice, yet are totally unwilling to step out into adoption. There are 178 million (or so) orphans out there. God COMMANDS that we take care of them, sometimes yes this means adoption. Never once does God say that we are to stick to same skin color in this adventure. Actually what He does choose to say on the subject comes in line with care, concern, love, forgetting about self and such. He tells us to welcome the foreigner (well not in adoption, but in our midst…while we worship to Him)…seems He isn’t thinking too much about skin color.

    I think we can make too much of skin color. God is a creative God, an artist perhaps. He has made us each unique, we are fearfully and wonderfully made scripture tells us. Why then the hold back. The simple solution is obey His commands. Care for orphans. He cares for us by adoption (when we come to Him through Jesus-when we enter His family through the forgiveness of sins that comes through Jesus’ blood shed on the cross for us). As this is HIS heart (adoption) and I want to be more and more like Jesus, then adoption is easy.

    The cultural thing is also easy when we trust Him. My family has come to Him (boldly, as this is how we can approach His throne of Grace once we are saved)….and asked Him to open doors for our children and their culture. He has brought us friends, a church, help, language….and we stand thankful and amazed at His faithfulness and goodness.

    Okay…enough for the moment…

    thank you for opening up this and letting us get the Word out. Let’s be doers of the Word and not hearers only (hmm, this reminds me again of all the people who want to give me their two sense on adoption, but don’t want to walk the walk themselves!)

    bless you and your family as you serve Him and Him alone.

    mama to 8
    one homemade and 7 adopted
    *with one more on the way through adoption!

    • Hi Kimmie,
      Thanks for your heart felt comments! I know there are international children who have been adopted (particularly many years ago) who had loving parents who just did not understand the importance of maintaining a cultural connection for their adopted child. And, not only that, but also help their child wisely answer questions and deal with racial comments as they grew into adulthood. My point in sharing that article was to show that there are others out there (besides international adoptees) who struggle with feeling like they belong to one culture while looking like they belong to another. And those people are called Third Culture Kids. While their situations are not the same, they do bear some resemblance. While TCKs likely don’t face racial discrimination in their passport culture, they may have experienced it in their host cultures.

      I do believe God wants us to take care of orphans, but I don’t believe that everyone is called to adoption. Opening your home to an orphan is definitely the best way to care for them, but there are those who are called to financially and prayerfully help others who are called to be adoptive parents. There are those who are called to daily/weekly visit orphanages and love on, sing to, and minister to orphans who are still waiting for forever families. I am very thankful that God called us to adopt. I know some people though who adopt for wrong reasons and who are not prepared to be the family an adopted child needs. I have one friend who lives in another country and her calling is to foster many children who had been in poor health and nurse them back to health as they wait to be adopted. What a calling! That is a very crucial and important role in the lives of the many children who go through her home over the years. I could not do that. I could not love on and get attached to all those kids to see them leave. But then again, God gives the strength and ability to match the calling. He gave me the strength and faith and ability to adopt the child I adopted and care for her needs.

      Hope this makes some sense.


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