Saturday, July 22, 2006

Her "real" mama

Well, it's starting to feel more like home now. When I walked in the door tonight, my mind flashed back to the first time I saw that hallway and how strange it felt. Impossible to think it would ever be home. But it's becoming that way now.

Tonight Bonnie is out with her best friend, Ayano, for a sleepover. They went to a summer festival and Ayano's mom bought Bonnie a yukata -- a summer kimono. They stopped by the school before they left and I was stunned at the sight of her -- exquisite. Megumi (the mom) took pictures so I hope to post them soon. Somehow, seeing Bonnie in the yukata touches me deeply. It's so obvious that Asia is her home. It is all "right" somehow. She fits here. No matter how long we stay, I'll always be thankful that she had this experience -- this time of being in the majority, of seeing that Asian people are the power-holders in some corners of the world. But it makes me sad because now it's clear that she belongs here, in Asia (not Japan, but it's close!) and I can't conveniently overlook the fact that I took her out of her element.

Whether she knows it or not, Bonnie is responding to this environment. She can blend in to the crowd for the first time in her life and be anonymous. When someone gives her something, she bows her head and says, "arigato gozaimasu." Her favorite outfit is a skirt and top that we bought here in Japan. The kids fashions here are slightly different than in the U.S. and even the colors are different -- the brown is a different shade, more subtle. The whites have no hint of yellow since that wouldn't look good on olive skin. The pinks are not as bright.

I wasn't sure how to respond when Bonnie mentioned that she wantedto be Japanese. I quickly reminded her that she's Chinese and that being Chinese is good. "I know," she said, "but it's OK to be Japanese, too."

Where will this take Bonnie? I have no idea. I have to admit I didn't fully see this coming. I can feel a distance with her that I have not felt before. Is she pulling away or are we both just adjusting to a new culture? Today she told me that Ayano's mama is her "other real mama." I don't know what to make of this. From the beginning, I have told her about her birthmother and her foster mother. But when I ask which one is her "real" mother, she knows it is me. Now she has two mamas. Although she has been closer to some of our friends in the U.S. she has never called them "mama." I can't help but think she identifies with Megumi because they look the same. Or am I reading too much into it?

Only time will tell.

I'll keep you posted.