Visiting Home

What surprises me the most when I visit Thailand is how much I feel a strong connection to it even having lived there for only twenty-one months. Perhaps it is the feeling that you are re-visiting your “home” and that somewhere in your life someone had the decency to remember that you once came from there. I know that every-time I go there I feel that those missing puzzle pieces are slowly finding their way to their rightful place. Canada is where I live and it is my home but Thailand is where I was born and it will always be a part of me. The hard part is understanding that I must distinguish the two. I believe my parents were wise for holding off on my first Thailand trip until I was eight. It was an appropriate time to re-visit where I came from. I was young enough to understand that Thailand was my home but old enough to know that Canada is my home. If when I get older I wish to re-connect and permanently reside in Thailand, I could. To understand this concept means to understand that when someone is moved from one location to another permanently there are feelings of loss. And we will cope with loss, but just as equally we must cope with change.

Visiting Thailand, especially now that I am older, dare I say it provides me with a bit of comedic relief. I am in a country where people look like me!! It is so exciting!! And then I am walking around with two Caucasian “farangs” or “falangs” as Thai translation would have it. Effect ruined. You think explaining that you were adopted to people who speak English is hard? This is like ten times harder. It is like a freaky game of charades! For the most part of a trip I don’t even bother attempting to explain, while my parents look up every possible simple Thai adjective that could describe adoption in attempts to avoid looks of “Did you just kidnap that poor Thai girl?” or “There’s those crazy North Americans again, getting a tour from a local needing a buck.” So it is kind of funny if you look at it from my view point. The only thing that sort of bothers me is when I am talked to in crazy fast Thai and I am like “……”. When I was younger I was more self-conscious about my parents and the fact that I could hardly speak Thai, but that was the adventure especially when I was older. You can literally be a tourist in your own country! But you can play around with the whole “tour-guide” thing if the time is appropriate. πŸ™‚

I am probably going to get a few people now asking, would you have wished to learn Thai? When I think about it now, I have to be happy with the knowledge that I do have and not knowing my native tongue has not killed me yet. When I was younger I would have told you outright, no. You see, I tried to learn Thai when I was younger. It involved sitting in the local Thai temple on Sunday mornings, with my father and about ten other kids. For two hours we listened to a Thai monk talk to us and teach us Thai. Anyone who has taken a language knows that it would be helpful if the teacher knew English (or whatever the common language is) just as fluently as the language you are trying to learn. So in a way I had a hard time picking the language up because of this. Next was the fact that most of the other kids in the class had at least one parent who spoke fluent Thai, I did not. Their lessons were more of refresher type lessons while mine was trying to learn everything from scratch. After a few years of Thai lessons on Sunday mornings I can proudly say that I know how to say greetings and count to ten. Because of my lack of Thai-language knowledge I do occasionally get awkward looks from locals, but for the most part there is a bit more understanding believe it or not. It is no one’s fault that I do not know my native tongue, and it is no one’s responsibility to see that I re-learn it except for my own. And now, being older I would eventually like to take another go at it but with a different approach. Perhaps visit Thailand and then lock myself away in a jungle in the middle of nowhere where I must learn the language to survive or something. I could see that being big for the TV show, “Survivor”. Man power vs. intellectual intelligence. Then on the other hand, they probably would never air a show like that because it would show people being smart for a change. Hmmmm….

Though I poke fun at how awesome it is to walk around Thailand and not be the odd one out for a change, I go there not only to rub in my parents faces the fact that Thai clothing sizes are vastly different from North America but how appreciative I am. If you read other adoptees blogs they will tell you that we hate hearing the word “grateful” and “appreciative” when it comes to our lives. Possibly because some adoptees were always reminded how their life could have been different, which I think is incredibly unfair and disrespectful and a bit inappropriate as far as adoptive parents go. So I sympathize in that regard. But in this entry, I am not implying my use of the words to be negative. I truly am appreciative that I was given an opportunity to feel what it is like to belong to a family and to be loved, and I am grateful for each moment in which I am given the opportunity to show the world what I am made of. What we are made of. Somewhere out there, all over the world, thousands of children are just waiting to be given the opportunity to do the same. Adoptees are going places in their life, we’re not destined to have mental breakdowns when we’re 40…or 13..well, maybe 13. If you think about it, our personalities are probably twice as big than the average person (not being bias or anything), we were born with given characteristics and traits from our birth parents but raised by completely different parents and so we learn some of their strange ways too. We’re like freaking hybrids!

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7 thoughts on “Visiting Home

  1. Wendy says:

    Fantastic Post!!!! This is one EVERY adoptive parent considering a homeland visit should read. It’s hard for us parents not to project our feelings about our kid’s homelands onto them and just let them live their own experiences. I had all kinds of ideas about how my daughter should react and behave when we went back to the Philippines when she was 16. I imagined all the emotions she should be feeling. But those weren’t necessarily the feelings she was having at all.

    Becky experienced much of the same feelings as you did. Everyone thought her father was her husband! Ick! And absolutely everyone spoke Cebuano (the native language of her island) to her expecting her to reciprocate. She got a lot of confused looks when she tried to explain that she, a Cebuana, couldn’t speak the language and that the two white folks wandering around with her were her parents. I wish we lived closer. I think you and she would get along great (she’s almost 20). We’re holding off another year to bring our daughter Lily, 7, back to Thailand. I know I will have fewer expectations as her mother and will be better prepared to take her lead as she navigates HER country

  2. Jen says:

    I love this post! You are a wonderful girl and doing a great job expressing yourself. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings with other adoptees and parents of adopted children (like myself) so that we all can be better for it!

  3. kyle says:

    Thanks for your post. I took note of your comment regarding your age when you made your first return visit. I’d be curious to know what you think about a return visit with a 4 or 5 year old? Our boys bring up Thailand every time we discuss our next travel plans. Perhaps they’re just excited about the idea because we talk about Thailand a lot.

    • ornblovo says:

      Hi Kyle,
      I think it is a very personal choice, the choice to hold-off until I was eight also had to do with financial timing. I believe that a four or five year-old would simply see a trip to Thailand as a fun vacation (as it should be), and that they may come across feelings about being from there but most likely nothing much more. Four and five is still really young to be able to understand stuff like that. I know that when I was eight I knew that it was my native-land, but my life was in Canada.

  4. Annika (Jeeraporn) Wheble says:

    Such an interesting story. I was adopted from BKK when I was six weeks old, and I haven’t been yet. Adopted by Swedish parents and now married to an Englishman me and family are thinking of emigrating to Australia, so we will do a stop over then. If we can’t move over, then my sister in law has emigrated to New Zealand, so it’ll still be a chance of a stop over. I think when you have kids you kind of wonder what your ethnic really is, like there were a lot of lies about the adoptions in the 1970s. Funnily enough I’ve had more. Hinese ppl asking if I’m Chinese or comig up to me speaking Chinese so I reckon I’m half Thai/half Chinese.

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