Intervew Notes: The Challenges of Cross Cultural Adoption

Intervew Notes: The Challenges of Cross Cultural Adoption

Pictured above: Mae Alexander

Mae Alexander is a 21 year old woman who was adopted from China at the age of 11 months by a white American single mom.

Alexander grew up in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho with her mother and older sister who was also adopted from China two years prior. 

Surrounding the discussion of cross-cultural adoption, I wanted to get Alexander’s perspective on how she views adoption and what pieces of advice could possibly help families trying to adopt; especially of a different culture. 

Alexander said that parents should be “very open about making sure the kid understands that it is totally normal that they are of a different race” and to “spend time understanding where they came from.” 

Some ways to make sure the child feels included/ connected to their heritage are to make sure they have close relations with people from their specific culture. 

As a white parent of a child from a different culture you can never fully provide that. It is imperative to place people in your child’s life that help them connect to their roots.

A way that Alexander was able to do that was through working at a Chinese Restaurant all through college. She was able to be surrounded by people who helped her understand parts of her culture she could not otherwise experience. 

Mae also said it is good to “give the option for your child to learn Chinese” but “never force them because when you’re young you really don’t understand.”

Mae and her sister grew up in a predominately white town in Idaho. When they were younger, her sister Lily especially, was very aware that they looked different and was excited to point out every person she saw that “looked like her.” 

Something comforting her mom would say was, “Yeah they look like you, but we all look alike: we have two eyes two ears a nose.”

Understanding race and where you come from is extremely important. At the end of the day, we are all human just trying to live in a way that allows us to help each other while being aware of everyone’s unique culture. 

Cross-cultural adoption is a great option for people who are willing and able to expose the child to people and things that make them feel connected to their roots.