There is an article in the Chicago Tribune from August 13, 2008, about the perception of beauty through the eyes of a Korean adoptee.
The article is here: Beauty Through The Eyes of An Asian Adoptee
. (You may have to login to the Tribune's website to read it, I'm not sure.) (The article is written by one of the members of a group called Paper Lantern, a resource for adult Korean adoptees.)
The writer says that one of the most popular plastic surgeries amoung Asians today is a procedure to make their eyes appear more "Western".
I about fell off my chair when I read that. (Yes, I know. I am continuously surprised by things that really should not surprise me. It's like my jaded button is broken.)
My immediate reaction was, "I don't ever want Lana to have a single thought cross her mind that she is not beautiful exactly the way that she is."
(Of course my second thought is that I don't want Lana to think that physical beauty is really that important, and that it is what is inside of people that really matters. That is an enormous concept and I don't actually feel like I have it in me today to tackle it.)
My immediate reaction is that I don't want Lana to ever contemplate for a SECOND that she would need SURGERY to make her face beautiful. I mean, LOOK at her face.
There are times when I look at Lana and she is so beautiful that it takes my breath away. And I'm not talking about the fact that she is, generally speaking, a joyful soul (because that is one of the many more important things that is beautiful about her) - I'm talking about the sheer, skin-deep, physical beauty.
Maybe I am biased because I am her mother. Maybe I feel okay talking about how beautiful I think she is because I had nothing to do with it. (These are not my random strings of DNA knitted together to make that gorgeous little face. So, it feels like something I can talk about without taking any credit. Does that make sense?)
I don't mean to sound shallow, but I think I might with what I am about to say next.
I did not expect Lana to be a pretty child.
(Hold on, I'm going to duck under the computer while you throw things at me.)
But, it's the honest truth. I was not expecting her to be pretty. In her referral photos, I thought that Lana looked intelligent and interested. But, I would not have described her as "cute" or "pretty".
I'm trying to decide if it is a function of time and situation and love that has changed my perception of Lana's physical beauty, or if she has simply blossomed from an interesting looking toddler into a beautiful girl.
I am about to out a secret shameful thought of mine to the entire Internet.
(I strive for honesty, even when it's ugly.)
Here I go. (Deep breath)
I have OFTEN thought that the reason Lana wasn't adopted by a family long before we were eligible to be matched to her was because her referral photos weren't "prettier". (I'm ducking again for a minute.)
Let's be brutally honest. My daughter's face was on our adoption agency's website for 7 months before we were matched to her - WHY ON EARTH wasn't she adopted by some other family during that time??? (I kept going back to her page on the website and looking at her little face, but, I was afraid to ask to be matched to her because of what happened in February of 2006 with the little boy from the website we asked to be matched to. (That story is here: Two Hearts Broken Or Badly Bruised - it's too painful for me to rehash.) Anyway, I was terrified of having my heart broken like that again, so, we didn't ask to go to committee for her.) It wasn't until we had a logged in homestudy approving us to adopt a child aged 2 to 5 years, AND we were working with the waiting child coordinator, AND we were assured that we could see Lana's file without it being released to any other family for a 48 hour period that we finally took a peek at Lana's file, and we were, in fact, moving forward towards accepting A DIFFERENT CHILD'S REFERRAL.
And thank God we did look at Lana's file. (Because otherwise, Lana would not have come home to us, and we would have come home with another family's daughter. What a mess!) And as I poured over Lana's file, I kept wondering WHAT WHAT WHAT the many, many other families who had looked at her file had seen that had caused them to close up the file and send it back to the agency. Was it because of her age? I couldn't imagine why any number of those other families hadn't jumped at the chance to parent this bright, interested little girl. And at the time, the only thing I could come up with was that her photos made her look like a boy.
Maybe it was predestination. Or fate, or God's plan - I don't know. (I have a hard time wrapping my head around the concept of predestination, because it conflicts with the idea of free will.) Bottom line is, there was something about Lana's file that made other families reject her, but which made me know she should come home to our family. And I was weirdly grateful that her pictures weren't very pretty, or for whatever intangible thing caused the other families to reject her. (And that is horrible, horribly selfish of me, because I SHOULD have wanted for Lana to come home to a loving family as soon as possible, but, instead I am so grateful, so selfishly grateful, that she came home to US.)
And I was expecting her to be smart, and willful, and curious. And I was hoping that she would be happy and affectionate. But, 'pretty' wasn't on my radar.
Which is why her beauty is so stunning to me. Because it was so unexpected.
Which brings me back to my point (I think), which is: My daughter is beautiful. By anyone's standards, she is a physically beautiful child and I want to shout it from the rooftops - my daughter has beautiful eyes - JUST EXACTLY AS THEY ARE.
But, even if she weren't beautiful - she would be walking around with perfectly perfect eyelids. Perfectly useful and suitable and appropriate eyelids. And it kills me to think that anyone would ever put a thought into her head to make her want to change the essence of her ethnicity in the name of physical beauty.
*Sean Kingston, Beautiful Girls