An International International Adoption

June 24, 2011

  How do you raise a child in two cultures?  That's a big question for me right now.  Sky is Marshallese and we don't want to take that away from her.  I'm aware that in adopting her to raise in an American home, we inherently changed her culture, but she was in the RMI International adoption program from birth and as such, could have been matched with a family living in the US.  Is living in the Marshall Islands better?  D and I always thought it would be.  Here, she can hear her birth language, can learn it and through that can learn about her culture and communicate with her birth family. 
 On the other hand,  she lives in an American home.  She eats American food, listens to American music, and is being raised in an American way.  Will this make her less Marshallese and more American?  Probably, unfortunately.  Sometimes, I think the best we can hope for is that she won't reject her birth culture, like some of the adoptees here have.  The majority of Marshallese employees here on Kwaj work in unskilled positions and live on Ebeye, an island commonly called the "Slum of the Pacific".  That doesn't inspire cultural pride. 
  Will it be enough to try and teach her the language?  To encourage friendships with other Marshallese children?  To buy her Marshallese dresses and play her Marshallese music?  And even if we do all that, will she see herself as Marshallese and will she be accepted by the Marshallese as one of them?  
I don't know but I think in teaching her the language and introducing her to other Marshallese children we  can give her the opportunity to decide for herself when she can, rather than make the decision for her.

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