If we were seriously wealthy, I would buy a beautiful mountain home on the Maekok river in northern Thailand. I know a lot of people want Spain or Italy for their dream vacation villa but Thailand is it for me. A couple of years ago we were on the river in long-tail boats headed to the Karen elephant camp and I took a picture of this place. Now, I can't stop dreaming of it.
In packing for this move, I found a box of old journals I've kept through my many trips back and forth from Thailand. I was so interested in the record of my early culture shock as it turned to delight in the course of these travels. In one entry from my first trip I wrote "I am amazed at how so many of my friends have fallen in love with Asia. They are dying to backpack Vietnam and Laos. Wow. Give me Europe any day. Every second is just hot hot hot and there always seems to be some inexplicable dust that arrives to coat everything."
In an entry from a different journal, which I was keeping a year later, I wrote this: "It's my second day and jet lag is still pretty strong but it's wonderful to wake up early before the morning cool has all burned off. I went up to Maenoi's kitchen and begged some fried rice. It was so good! After the girls leave for school I'm going to walk down past the wat and out through the rice paddies. I've missed that view."
The country of Button's birth is so special to me. It is a rich and varied culture. The people are full of laughter. It is a place of patience and love. Or at least that is what it has meant in my life and I'm grateful for it. In an experience I'm sure many of our fellow adoptive parents can relate to, I frequently feel angry when I see the Thai people being portrayed in the media as nothing but prostitutes and drug dealers. Its frustrating when someone asks where we're adopting from and upon hearing the answer they automatically say something like "Oh my God, just think about the life you're rescuing them from." I feel compelled to defend Thailand. I feel the need to defend our child's race and national heritage. I feel like it's our job to speak up for Button's other parents who don't deserve to be judged.
I could list so many facts in explanation of why Thailand is a wonderful country. They are an emerging economy in a region that has struggled terribly. They have a wise and gentle king, who just happens to be the world's longest ruling monarch. They bravely resisted colonization by Western powers. They have many excellent schools and hospitals and their national respect for the arts is truly commendable. However, the most important thing I think I can say to anyone, but most especially to Button, is simply: I love Thailand. I am proud of Thailand and I hope to make Thailand proud of me.