Having grown up in a multiracial family, multiculturalism has always been a part of my life— and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. My parents have always encouraged us to develop individual identities and to stand tall and proud of who we are. It is true that every member of my family has a different self-identity; however, that is something that contributes to our family interactions and understandings. My family deeply loves one another and our differences have made us more accepting and liberal people.
The adoption process is a strange one—for everyone involved. I have no experience with what it is like to be adopted myself, or to be an adoptive parent. My understanding of adoption comes solely from my experiences as a child into whose home another child was adopted.
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.
Last week, my husband and I hosted a dinner with our extended family to celebrate six different birthdays that occur during the months of January and February. At this dinner, as at all of them, my sister and I look around at the 15 people there (it’s sometimes 20 or more) and marvel at the relationships around us.
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.
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.
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.