“Going topless in Tahiti” is another way of saying, “going native” which means a person living away from their place of origin who abandons their own natural family, culture, customs and way of life to adopt those of the country and region where they are currently living. In order to imitate the homegrown domestic, they must lose some of their own character traits and behave the way of the local culture. Adoptees placed in alien families must react by doing the same. To have a successful integration with their adoptive family, they must assimilate with the people around them; imitate the lifestyle and outlook of the local community, dress, language, accent, etiquette, diet, and religion; and behave according to the traditions and customs taught to them by their adoptive parents. When an adoptee becomes successful in their new culture and well integrated into society, possibly better than they might have been back home, going native is viewed in positive terms.
The word native is derived from the Latin word for natural—traits and behavior belonging to a person’s character from birth rather than those that are acquired. A native is a person associated with a place by birth with an inherent ability and a natural grace indigenous to a particular region and cultural group. They are identifiable based on habits, diet, art, music and dance, way of life, customs and dress and other characteristics associated with the group that distinguish them from strangers and foreigners. The rich diversity of unique plant and animal species across many parts of the world exists because large rivers, seas, oceans, mountains and deserts separate bioregions. Humans, migratory birds and ocean currents have transported many species to lands in far away places that have never met in their evolutionary history. Humans in particular are moving species across the globe at an unprecedented rate. Animals are placed in zoos and aquariums; exotic plants are uprooted, cultured and hybridized in greenhouses; and immigrant children are intentionally removed from their natural family, place of origin, and native society. Adoptees are willfully placed in new surroundings where they are forced to adapt to alien customs and practices. They are thrust into awkward situations and forced to learn new customs, languages, habits and religions through total immersion methods.
Going native may be a good thing in fiction and academics, if you are Lawrence of Arabia or a military commander fighting in a foreign land, but for many adoptees the unexpected change in surroundings and sudden displacement from their natural parents is shockingly traumatic. Children are innately frightened by the faces of strangers; adjusting to the nuances of new parents and alien surroundings creates severe emotional stress. Prayers and hugs may provide a benevolent head start, but they are not the ultimate solution for resolving issues associated with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Adjustments in the behavior of the adopted child may be subtle, but the motives and reasons for the changes are profoundly deep and emotionally intense. The challenge for the adoptive parents becomes the development of a heightened awareness of the depth of feelings adoption generates and an accurate perception of the long-term psychological effects likely to occur to their child. The development of positive long-term relationships and the promotion of a curative breakthrough reality needed for a successful integration presents a tremendous challenge to the adoptive parents.
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