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Not Entirely the Same But...kinda...

 I'm going to make this relatively short, but I'd like input please.

I'm not actually a TCK.  After research and an ongoing email conversation with Ruth van Reken, I found out I'm a CCK, or "cross-culture kid".  It's similar but to a different degree.  I was raised in my early years in America, by European immigrants.  English at school but not in the home, for instance.  And my biological family was, for the most part, very untrusting and even disdainful of America in general.  I didn't think it affected me much except that life happens in unexpected ways and I wound up leaving that family at nine and being adopted at 14.  My adoptive family was American but...please bear with me, I know it sounds odd...even though I was raised in America I wasn't raised *in America*.  I've got close to zero understanding of pop culture from the years I was a child because we didn't watch much American TV and I didn't listen to American music, which makes people who don't know me well think I'm an idiot.  (Silly things, like a Jolly Rancher...I didn't have one until I was an adult.)  I have alot of manerisms that I took from my "birth culture", like a refusal to touch food with my hands unless that's culturally necessary.  (For instance, I eat pizza and apples with utensils, but Ethiopian food with my hands.  Make sense?)

When I was adopted, I shut away all aspects of my birth heritage.  My name changed, I stopped speaking the languages I grew up with, I shunned Euro-culture as I embraced American culture and yet still I'm the outsider.

I finally told my parents how I feel a few years ago and was surprised that they were supportive.  I went to Europe for a few weeks after that and it was incredibly cathartic even though I was unable to meet with family while there.  I felt "home"...not in the countries I stayed in, but I saw behaviours and attitudes that were like mine that I just didn't see at home.  It was validating.

I'm keeping this short because I've tried joining TCK groups before, even though I'm not technically a TCK; really, Ruth van Reken hasn't finished writing her book on CCKs yet and so the term isn't "out there"...but about 1/2 the time, I'm rejected for not fitting the guidelines.  I know I don't fully understand the life of a TCK but I feel I don't fit in anywhere else.  I'm not American enough or European enough, and it's like I'm stuck in a no-man's-land.

Any feedback is welcome: advice, support, questions, criticism (so long as it's constructive)...it all helps in the end. :)

PrimaryColours PrimaryColours 26-30 4 Responses Sep 19, 2008

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I think that having that sense of home* and self disrupted during one's childhood is something that profoundly changes many of the people it happens to. And people who haven't had that are (usually) unable to imagine it. It's something people take for granted, like oxygen. You only notice when it's taken away.

And most parents don't realize that kids need extra support to get through these disruptions with out damaging their sense of self, etc.



*and the zillions of massively important things that go along with that, or should go along with that, i.e. community & friendships & human support, language, connection to the particularities of the natural world in a place, connection to the human culture in a place, formal educational stuff, simple geographic orientation and familiarization, etc, etc

well, i totally relate to you. i don't really think the terminology or even the details of the circumstances really matter in something like this - more like, the sense of not belonging anywhere because you have your own unique culture that doesn't fit in with the society at large, any society at large, not completely. that's what i hear from your story =)

Terminology, terminology... I guess the important thing is that like TCKs, you don't have a clear "home." My mom always says that having that outsider perspective gives you the ability to make observations and contributions that insiders can't... though of course it's harder to be the outsider.