The gift of identity

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Author: 
Becca Piper
Source: 
Focus on Adoption magazine

A unique travel company asks, "Do kids need to know the past?"

Perhaps the most significant thing about homeland travel is what kids are doing with the experience related to identity building. It is so interesting to see kids, country after country, doing the same kinds of things as they work toward understanding of self.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” But how do we know what lies within us without knowing the past or the future? Is it possible? Certainly we live life without knowing the future. But the past . . .

A person's birth country is more than a place on a map

It’s the past that gnaws at us because we feel like we “should” have it, because unlike the future, it can be possible to know. Further, we’ve been told “we learn from the past” and “history repeats itself.” We’ve come to accept that history defines us and provides us a foundation upon which to grow. Like seeds planted in the ground, without knowing our soil and environment, we don’t know if we will become a palm tree or a mountain pine. And it bugs us, despite the fact that both are immensely beautiful.

A person’s birth country is more than a place on a map. It is more than soil, more than environment. It is the core upon which international adoptees create their identity. For international adoptees, homeland travel is like knocking on identity’s door.

Each of us begins building identity within a geographical sphere that starts with our place of birth and the circumstances of our conception. Throughout our lifetime, that sphere expands to all the places we’ve been, and integrates all the experiences we’ve had and all the people who have touched our lives. Throughout our lifetime, a unique identity emerges, and like a fingerprint, no two are ever alike. But unlike a fingerprint, identity changes from day to day, indeed from moment to moment as life unfolds.

A person’s birth country is more than a place on a map. It is more than soil, more than environment. It is the core upon which international adoptees create their identity. For international adoptees, homeland travel is like knocking on identity’s door.

Each of us begins building identity within a geographical sphere that starts with our place of birth and the circumstances of our conception. Throughout our lifetime, that sphere expands to all the places we’ve been, and integrates all the experiences we’ve had and all the people who have touched our lives. Throughout our lifetime, a unique identity emerges, and like a fingerprint, no two are ever alike. But unlike a fingerprint, identity changes from day to day, indeed from moment to moment as life unfolds.

Originally from “The Gift of Identity” series in The Ties Program Newsletter, published by www.adoptivefamilytravel.com. Reprinted with permission.