One of the most fascinating and enlightening aspects of international adoption is the chance to see and experience the world where your child was born, and to show them a new world. In this story of international adoption, a family brings a new child and a new culture to their family and to Canada.
Incorporating cultural traditions in your new family
Adopting a child is a time to celebrate. But beyond the initial celebration of the arrival of your new child, how can you incorporate new traditions and celebrations into your life? If your child has another country or culture in their background, it is important to share the learning experience of exploring their culture with them, through their own eyes. These experiences provide adopted children with a stronger sense of social and cultural identity.
Heritage camps for adoptive families
“There’s lots of brown people here!” exclaimed a 5-year-old Ethiopian girl upon arrival at E Camp last summer, an Ethopian heritage and culture camp. And as the weekend came to a close and everyone was leaving for home, that same the little girl told me, “I wish I could stay here forever.”
Last spring my daughter, Bethany, was 15 years old and loving “all things Asian.” It seemed a good time to visit her birth family in China. Armed with a powerful appetite for dim sum, and a shopping list of Anime titles (Japanese animation) she hoped to find in Hong Kong, Bethany joined me on her first visit back in 10 years.
Harambee is an annual camp in Naramata, BC for families parenting children of African heritage, either through birth or adoption. Cultural activities and networking are highlights of the camp with a primary goal of creating long-term relationships between the families.
Harambee is a Swahili word meaning the celebration of unity. For my son and me it means so much more. Harambee is the one week of the year that we would gladly give up the other fifty-one for. It is magic. For us it is the one week of the year where we fit in, where we blend in with everyone else.
Kelly Spicer visited numerous orphanages in North Korea (DPRK) in November 2010 with First Steps, a Vancouver-based non-profit, whose mission is to prevent childhood malnutrition. While there, she captured the hope and suffering she encountered in a diary of her experiences.
Nov. 23: What am I doing in North Korea? I still can’t even believe that I am here!
It's the annual Vietnam Connection Christmas party, and we've invited new families with small children adopted from Vietnam to join us. Bemused, fellow adoptive parent David Kuefler Ter Weeme and I watch the chaos. Our group is, after all, a wildly improbable group of people. But for adoption, we'd certainly never have met. After seven years, the only common trait we’re sure of, besides children of Vietnamese heritage, is stubborn individuality.
This powerful story was the keynote speech at Growing Together: a retreat for parents of persons with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in January 2010.
Hi, my name is Nicolas. First of all, I’d like to thank the organizers of this retreat for asking me here to share with you. I’d also like to thank and welcome all the parents and families for being here today.
As I drive up to Mariechan’s house to do an interview for this story, a charming boy, doing graceful “S” turns with his scooter in the cul-de-sac, waves to me. He politely introduces himself as I walk up to the driveway. “Hello. I’m Aleksey. Are you here to visit my mom? I will tell her that you’re here. This is our house! Follow me! Oh, this is my sister, Valya.” There is a faint echo of Kazakhstan in his voice and nothing but smiles on his younger sister’s beautiful face.
Chelan Gill remembers always knowing she was adopted. It would have been difficult for her parents to hide it because, although Chelan’s mother is South Asian like her, her father is Caucasian. Adopted at birth, Chelan was raised within western culture and influences – even having the last name of Fletcher. However, at 26, she married a South Asian man who taught her about Indian culture and customs, and at 27, Chelan decided to search out information about her birth parents and medical history before having children.