Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Not so Secret Identity

My daughter was adopted from China.

She will never know her birth mother.

What started me to think about this was a commercial for a movie. A young woman sets out to find her birth mother because it’s the only way she’ll know her “identity.” I find this strange. Does blood relation equal identity?

In China the rule of one child per family combined with the ancient custom of boys taking care of their elderly parents while girls are married off and caring for in-laws make baby girls in Chinese history undesirable. Even today the orphanages are packed with baby girls waiting for adoption. Yet parents are not legally allowed to give up a child so pregnancies are hidden and babies are left to be found, often in a public market or busy area of town. My daughter was left on the steps of the orphanage.

So what about this story is her identity? She identifies with her best friend who was adopted from Korea. She identifies that she is clearly Asian. But has any of that affected who she is? She actually pulls away from her heritage. She has had the opportunity to learn Chinese but refuses. She really wants to be an all American girl. Maybe someday her feelings will change. If that happens, how will that change her identity?

She loves fashion, art and gymnastic. None of which her father or I am especially into. Doesn’t that mean it’s purely her? Neither of my biological boys love horses, running or a great book.

One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride. I love when Wesley is telling Buttercup about how he became The Dread Pirate Roberts. After being taken captive Roberts would work Wesley during the day and every night say, “Good night Wesley. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” But eventually he was told how the real Dread Pirate had retired long ago and man after man had taken over the role until they could retire and pass on the name.

“Then he explained the name was the important thing for inspiring the necessary fear. You see, no one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Wesley.”

Once Wesley knew how, he could fall into that identity and shed it once he was done. A mask, a sword and a name can create a lucrative pirating career. Sounds a bit like the witness protection program.

Maybe for us it’s not so extreme. We change clothing style, hairstyle or color; even alter our beliefs on occasion.  We can shed weight, gain weight, gain or lose confidence, and all of those changes affect how we identify ourselves. Those complete self transformations are a bit more rare in a lifetime.

My daughter is strong, beautiful, funny and loved and being my daughter is where she belongs.

As for myself, I need to know my strengths, weaknesses, and where I’m loved to know who I am. Now my secret identity….that’s another blog.

Inigo Montoya: Who are you?
Man in Black: No one of consequence.
Inigo Montoya: I must know...
Man in Black: Get used to disappointment.
Inigo Montoya: 'kay.

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