Raising a Jewish-Chinese Daughter in North America

As Jews adopt children in increasing numbers, many of these children come from abroad.

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I understand some parents believe that immersion into Chinese culture--by attending Chinese school and learning Mandarin language--is necessary. I, however, believe that my duty to Zoë is to raise her in a loving home and instill pride in who and what she is. I believe that it is more important to bring our two cultures together as a natural adjunct to each other. I was raised in a Jewish home. Jewish is who I am and what I know. I am sending Zoë to a Jewish day school so that she will have a firm foundation in her Jewishness. This, I feel, will center her and enable her to meet life's challenges head on. I hope that at the age of bat mitzvah, when she must reaffirm her life as a Jew, she will choose this path that I have shown her with love.

I want Zoë to have love and respect for both her heritages--the Chinese one she was born with and the Jewish one I gave her. No matter how much Chinese culture I show her, I cannot give her the experience of being raised in China by Chinese parents. She lives in America, as a Jewish child with a Chinese heritage. I cannot give her back what was taken from her in my quest to become a parent. I can only hope that my love of her differences will give her the pride in herself as a Chinese American Jew.

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Marlyn Kress

Marlyn Kress began her adoption journey as a young woman contemplating her future family. In May 1994, as a single parent by choice, she adopted an 8-week-old baby girl from China. Marlyn co-directs Stars of David Chaverim Chapter in the Southern NJ/Philadelphia area. She is also a member of the Adoptive Parent Leadership Coalition.