Comparisons

August 19, 2011

 There's another family up the street that has adopted a Marshallese baby.  J was adopted by the family when she was two weeks old and is now six months old.  I stopped by to see them the other day and J's father told me that she now weighs 16 pounds.  As I was walking back home, it smacked me in the head- Sky was 14 months old and weighed 17 pounds when she came to us.  Sky lived in a loving family that cherished her and took great care of her, but when it comes down to it she was under nourished.  (I'll put in the caveat here, she was under nourished by American standards.  She was probably pretty similar to other Marshallese children of the same age).  The difference made by having parents that could afford good (expensive) formula and clean water just amazed me.  I looked it up on an internet calculator and Sky was in the 0th percentile for weight while J is in the 50th. 
  I'm reading a book about race and interracial adoption and maybe that's what got me thinking about this.  D will probably say that I'm over-analyzing things but I wonder about the comparisons we make, like the one I made the other day between Sky and J regarding their weight.  Because we live in the Marshall Islands, Sky will always be interacting with other Marshallese children,  kids raised in Marshallese families with a Marshallese cultural influence.  I know Sky is unique and because she was adopted she is even more unique.  I know that because of that uniqueness, I shouldn't be comparing her to those other Marshallese children, but it's human nature to do so, and part of my nature in particular.  And I think Sky will make those comparisons herself as well.  She is the same as the other Marshallese children, but not.  What measuring stick will Sky use to measure herself and others?  How much will it be affected by her adoption and proximity to her birth race and culture?  How do we raise her with the best of both her worlds?  I think it will be like most other things in parenting, stabbing in the dark and hoping you get as close to the target as possible.

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