Blogger TongguMomma shares thoughts on adoption

Two daughters, two different reactions to adoption. Photo: TongguMomma

NEW YORK, March 21, 2012 — TongguMomma is a pseudonym for a Maryland-based mom who blogs about her two adopted daughters. She writes about how complicated adoption is for one of her daughters and how breezy and uncomplicated it appears to be for the other. 

The reason she uses a pen name, TongguMomma, is to shield her girls. 

“I share quite a bit of private information about my girls, namely their thoughts and feelings about adoption. It’s important to me to maintain a trusting relationship with both of my daughters, especially my eldest, since it took us so long to gain her trust,” she explains. “I always ask her permission before I write about her, but even with her permission I would not share so much if our identities were common knowledge. I want their private lives to remain private.”

Her non de plume, TongguMomma, is derived from her daughters nick name: The Tongginator. “My husband and I dubbed her the Terminator from Tonggu County (her birthplace in China), and that morphed into The Tongginator. She’s extremely feisty (although exceptionally lovable as well).”

Their youngest daughter, referred to TonggoMomma’s blog as Squirt, got her nickname partially because she’s the younger daughter, trying to keep up with the older, but also because, according to her mother she’s a constant drooler and she cries plenty of crocodile tears.

TongguMomma started the blog in the winter of 2008, almost two years into her five-year wait to adopt from China. She has adapted a touching piece originally written for her blog about her two very different daughters and their reactions to their adoptions for The Red Thread.

Two Roads

First let me start out by saying that I love both of my girls. Fiercely. I’ve been blessed to parent the Tongginator for almost seven years now, and to have recently begun the journey of discovery with Squirt, whom we adopted four short months ago.  But these two journeys? They’ve been on very different paths. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I? I took both of them.

Six years apart. 

The Tongginator felt absolutely traumatized by the act of adoption. Trauma enveloped her in so many ways, some in which I played a part, some in which I did not. My head tells me that finding a permanent, loving home for a one-year-old through international adoption is the better choice when the alternative is budget constraints dictating that this same child, having not been adopted and now a year older, returning to an orphanage after two years in foster care. But my heart? My heart simply weeps for the child who sobbed for her foster mother, who longed to remain in her country of birth, who loathes being a visible adoptee.

I’m so glad the Tongginator is my eldest because—had she not been—I might have failed to educate myself about adoptee loss, transracial parenting, ethics within adoption, and on and on. I continue to learn more, and by no means do I even have half of the answers, but I’m in a much better place than I was seven years ago. 

I love that the Tongginator taught me that hating adoption does not equate to hating one’s adoptive parents. I love that the Tongginator taught me that she has a right to her feelings—all of her feelings—when it comes to her life story, and that it’s not about me at all. I love that parenting the Tongginator continues to open my eyes to many more forms of racism and my own white privilege.

I am a better listener because of my Tongginator.

I just plain love knowing my Tongginator.

After nearly four months home with Squirt, I can tell you that this new journey is and will continue to be vastly different. That’s not to say that Squirt won’t feel loss—because she absolutely does and will continue to do so, I am sure. But she wasn’t traumatized by the very act of adoption. Y’all, it’s almost like she soaked it all in before breathing a huge sigh of relief and thinking, “this? Is a much better deal.” 

With a ratio of 20 babies for every one caregiver in her orphanage, and the words of one caregiver ringing in my ears (“She’s never seen a spoon; she doesn’t know how to hold a toy; she rarely left her crib”), of course Squirt has every right to feel that way.  Perhaps she’ll change her mind as she ages, but at the moment she’s so very happy to now be a part of our family, perhaps any family.

I’m so glad Squirt is my youngest because I’m able to see much more of the joy that is adoption. I now get why others used to look at me like I was a crazy person when I spoke of trauma and loss and grief and all manner of things. I’m still—after four months—marveling at the fact that adoption truly can be this easy. Who knew?!! I surely didn’t. 

Don’t get me wrong: we’re still using tons of attachment parenting techniques. And if we fall off the wagon in one or more of those areas, yes, we absolutely feel the repercussions. But Squirt is happy as long as we do what we are supposed to be doing, whereas for years the Tongginator felt miserable no matter what we did.  Therein lies the difference.

I am much more at peace now that Squirt is a part of my life.

I feel more confident as a momma because I am Squirt’s “person.”

I’m enjoying every moment of getting to know my Squirt.

I don’t know why I’m sharing all of this except to say that both of my girls are wonderful children who reacted very differently to a series of difficult, difficult circumstances. One child is not better than the other, although—if I’m honest—I will say that one seems easier to parent than the other, at this point at least. But both girls are equally deserving of my best efforts. They are neither of them wrong or bad for reacting to adoption in their particular ways.

They are both amazing kids. 

And they will neither of them be bad or wrong for feeling about adoption however it is they will feel later in life. Their opinions will be valid; they will be their own; they will be right and good. Because they are FEELINGS. I didn’t fail as a parent if the Tongginator grows up to hate adoption, to publicly speak out against the practice of adoption, to politely call out others who say ignorant things. I will not have failed as a parent if Squirt never seems bothered by her adoption. Neither of them will be wrong or bad for feeling and thinking either way.

They will both be amazing adults.

My heart overflows with gratitude and love whenever I think of my two little gals. My heart also breaks for them, because they deserved so much better than any of us gave them. And it bursts with pride when I see how much they’ve grown, how well they’ve not only survived, but thrived.

I am so blessed to be their mom.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Andrea Poe

Andrea Poe is a veteran journalist, whose work has appeared in thousands of publications, including Town & Country, Marie Claire and Entrepreneur.  She is the author of several books and her work has appeared in many others, including anthologies and college textbooks. 

Andrea serves as editor of the Travel & Food section at The Washington Times Communities.  Her love of travel has led her to cover everything from remote villages in the Andes to her hometown of New York, from Paris to Pittsburgh, from Beijing to the Bahamas.  No matter where she travels, she likes to uncover the unusual and share with readers those often-overlooked aspects of a place and its people.  She dubs her column Raven’s Eye as a nod to her illustrious (and, yes, infamous) relative, Edgar Allan Poe, a writer who knew more than a little something about the quirky and unique.  

Andrea is also mother to Maxine, who was adopted from Vietnam in 2006, and is the inspiration for The Red Thread column on adoption at The Washington Times Communities.   Andrea is currently at work on a book on international adoption.

In addition to her work as mother, writer and traveler, she is the founder and president of Media Branding International, a consulting firm that helps individuals and organizations craft and promote their image in media outlets around the globe.

Find Andrea at andpoe@Twitter, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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