To Katmandu, with Love: ...Continued

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An Adoptive Mom's Journal

Becoming American
December 16, 2003

Last evening, we put up our Christmas tree, and I read books with Gabriel by the light of it. Growing up Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonite, a tree wasn't part of my tradition, but I like how festive it looks. Sometimes I think I'm trying to become so American. I powder my face and highlight my hair, I let our son, Gabriel, watch Bugs Bunny, and I talk sometimes about my Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonite heritage as if it were in the past. As if it weren't in my bones, all the way to the marrow.... But then I remember - I am American! Even though I grew up in a subculture, isn't that what much of America is? An amalgam of subcultures? The great melting pot? Why not melt all the way down to the essence? All the way down so that you can build what you want for your life? Who says you have to do anything the way you did it last year, or the year before - let alone the way you did it when you were three! I love how our own family will be a melting pot: Jonathan, who grew up as a missionary kid in Kenya and Somalia, me, who grew up Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonite, Gabriel, who is growing up very American in New Jersey, and our daughter, who will bring Katmandu with her to the opposite end of the globe.

Last Friday, I met a woman named Patricia, who created a meditation center in one of the rooms of her 18th century farmhouse. To one side of the room, she has an alter full of candles, silk flowers, and pictures. It was created by a Hindu visitor to the center, and since we're adopting through Nepal, I paid special attention. I wonder: will our child be Hindu? Buddhist? We spoke of doing a meditation group for children, drawing from many traditions. Our child will expand our hearts in so many ways...

Already we are eating differently. I downloaded some Nepalese recipes from the Internet, so that we can start making food that our new daughter will like to eat. It's spicy, and so I thought this wouldn't fly with our son Gabriel, but he liked the sweet potato bread and the saucy chicken.

I want our new daughter to remember her culture in these ways. I want to sing songs to her in her language, read folk stories from her country, talk about life's Mystery in whatever terms she has learned, if she has learned language for this yet. When I think of her, I keep remembering the words of Christ, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

And I'm so humbled, thinking of our daughter, Gabriel's sister, the light of heaven between us all.

Cynthia Yoder
Author of Crazy Quilt: Pieces of a Mennonite Life. Please visit my website,
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