Our travel group

I don’t think I’ve written about our awesome group in China yet.  There were 7 families in Chongqing and in Guangzhou we were met by another 2.  The Snowflake family was the only “traditional” family in the group.  That is, not in the special needs  program and not of Asian descent.  All the other 8 families in our group had at least 1 parent who is of Asian descent.  This made for an interesting group in many ways.  I now resort to bullets:

  • Some in our group were fluent Mandarin speakers.  This gave us some nice advantages – deals on massages (don’t know that I would have even tried without that help!), negotiations on prices in stores I might not have been able to do (I’m a terrible haggler – they smell my fear), and a chance to go to restaurants outside our reach as English-only speakers.  And the food!  Oh, the food.  We learned that we very much like Northeast Chinese food.  Hmmm, hmmm good! 
  • Race is a weird thing.  We had advantages (not racism exactly) in China based on assumptions.  The non-Chinese speaking Chinese had a hard time because it was assumed they spoke Chinese and they were always approached and spoken to and then felt dumb when they couldn’t communicate.  The Chinese-Chinese were confused.  Us?  It was assumed we didn’t know Chinese.  People approached us to practice their English on occasion.  We went to McDonald’s in Chongqing once (spicy, special sauce, Szechwan style) and were instantly handed a picture menu for easy ordering.  Our Chinese-American friends had a hard time in the same restaurant.  One father remarked when we returned to the U.S. that China was hard because he looked the part, but couldn’t speak it.  Then he arrived in the U.S. and was treated like a foreigner (see next bullet).  Hmmm, this is what we need to prepare Snowflake for.
  • Again, race is a weird thing.  We all had to go through the new immigrant line at Immigrations when entering the U.S. because our children were traveling on Chinese passports.  We (white people with cute Chinese baby) were treated nicely by Immigration when we arrived in the U.S.  Customs didn’t check our bags and Immigration said, “congratulations!”  Some of the Chinese Americans were not.  Like us, they arrived dazed and tired and some were treated like, heh, IMMIGRANTS!  “Don’t you speak English?!?”  Okay, this stinks.  This is how we treat new immigrants who don’t speak English?  As we all know, yelling does make English easier to understand.  Is this why we needed the brief, but sadly necessary “don’t act like an obnoxious American in China” talk prior to going to China?  The signs in Immigration were welcoming, but I fear the spoken words aren’t always.
  • Our group of 7, then 9, was a great size.  Small enough that we all got to know each other, but big enough that if you didn’t like anyone (which wasn’t a problem) you could avoid them.  Hubs said that to someone who wondered what he meant and told the story of my being banned from a forum for advocating religious diversity awhile back.  We thought it could have been tough to be in a group with people very fundamentalist and prejudiced.  That was not a problem, although there were many very religious people in the group. 
  • We all connected, bonded even, and became a China family.  We want to stay in touch – keeping our Chinese “siblings” connected over the years.  We have plans for a photo sharing website (we all took photos and videos of each other at Gotcha Day), all wanting to share the day.  We are talking about a travel group newsletter to keep up-to-date with our kids’ development. 
  • In addition to the parents and adoptive children, we had 2 sets of siblings (1 set of 3 and 1 of 1) and a grandmother.  This nicely rounded out our China family.

4 Responses

  1. It’s kind of a bummer that there are going to be prejudices in everything we do in life. I’m hoping for a better life for Bingbing here in America but she will still have obstacles, just different ones than she would have faced if she had remained in China. And in America I know she has a great Mom to guide her through! (Sorry Dad but we still have yet to meet!) I don’t think anything is impossible with the right support and the love of a family and it sounds like she has a very, very large, world wide family already.

  2. Hey, this sounds familiar.

  3. You looked like you were surrounded by a cool group of folks.

  4. I’m glad you had such a good experience with your group. Man, I guess I’m not surprised, but I’m so embarrassed by our immigration people, and I guess so many Americans in general. I don’t know if you went through LAX (sorry if that’s in your blog but I just haven’t read it yet), but I have heard that is the worst as far as this kind of treatment.

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