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.
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.
Generally, grown men shouldn’t cry in public. Particularly not in Tim Hortons on a Friday night. But here I am, holding back tears with my laptop open and my coffee cooling. Five minutes ago I was typing away happily, and now, here I am, writing this.
MarieChan opened her heart in Kazakhstan and the result is a story of longing, love, and family. Here, a husband and wife decide that it's not too late to build their family and begin a journey that takes them half way around the world to meet their children.
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.
Last week I expressed some concern about whether or not my first-grader was old enough to be learning about some of the more violent aspects of the civil rights movement. One of the frustrating outcomes of that conversation is that the teacher (and a few commenters) misinterpreted my concern as being over conversations about race in general, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I am a firm believer that we should be talking to our kids about racial differences from a very young age.
One-year-old covergirl Maddy Devitt appeared on the cover of Focus on Adoption magazine in 1994. She is now a gorgeous 18-year-old working as an au pair in London, England. What has her life been like in between? “Like a Skittles box!”
Madeline Devitt was born Alcinia Dore in Dessalines, Haiti on March 8, 1993, in a typical cinderblock home with a dirt floor. Her family already had four children, and her birth mother died soon after due to complications from the birth. Her birth father tried very hard to find a wet nurse for Maddy but couldn’t.