Heritage Support for Our Internationally-Adoptive Child

10 Ways to Keep Your Adopted Child’s Cultural Connection
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Within the US there are subcultures that are vastly different.

For example, a child living on a dairy farm in Montana being placed with an adoptive family in New York City would experience culture shock. Similarly, a child from Korea being placed in the US will also experience disorientation. Both examples require the child to learn about new traditions, languages or dialects in the case of the domestic adoption , food, family life, celebrations, social cues, values, etc. The following are some tips to help you prepare. In addition, you can explore the cuisines, holidays, celebrations, language and traditions.

Creating Community

The culture and heritage of your adopted child are very important This will add a new exciting dimension to your family and help your child. International adoption refers to the legal adoption of children born in foreign is thought to promote children's pride in their cultural heritage and to enable .. “ Adoptive parents support each other in France, communicate and.

If you have friends from that culture, ask them questions about their favorite traditions and cultural themes, attend their religious services, meetings, etc. Finally, if you have other children, require them to learn this too. Have fun with it! It will be a great way to bring your family closer together!

By showing your child that your entire family celebrates and are proud of their heritage, it will foster a sense of pride in your child. By embracing all of the elements of your child, including their culture and heritage, it shows your child respect and demonstrates how much you value their place in the family. Become a little Korean, Chinese or Western American! I struggle to avoid comparing myself with other adoptive parents who seem to do more culture, and try not to judge those who seem to do less.

When the Evan B.

Promoting Healthy Identity Formation in Adoption , touched on similar themes, the findings hit home for me. What did the authors find to be more beneficial? Having ongoing relationships with others who share their ethnicity and frequent and sustained involvement in cultural activities. Since loss of culture is one of the main reasons why some people object to international adoption , nurturing a cultural identity is a huge issue for families like ours. For the first time since our 9-year-old daughter, Didi, arrived from India four years ago, our family recently celebrated the Hindu festival of lights at a Diwali party hosted by a group of local Indian American families.

Our Mission

She and her Ethiopian brother, Gobez, and Ethiopian sister, Lemlem, had a great time making diyas clay lamps used for special occasions , getting mehendi henna "tattoos" , and learning to write their names in Hindi. Together we all gorged on a vegetarian buffet of dal , samosas , chutney , and hot dosas made to order. In fact, Didi ate so much, she had to undo the top button of her salwar suit! However, the best part of the evening was simply savoring the warmth and kindness shown to us by other families who are struggling to keep Indian culture alive in America for their children, just as we are.

Transracial adoption

That festive evening felt strikingly different from our experience at an Indian heritage camp last July. We'd been putting off attending Indian camp because it required out-of-state travel, but this year, we finally made it. As the new kids at camp, we struggled to make connections with the old timers. The girls Didi's age weren't unfriendly, but the existing bonds previously forged among them proved tight and unyielding.

I'd been worried that attending camp might make Didi long for India, but instead, her struggle to break into the camp's social circle brought back unhappy memories of feeling excluded by the girls at her orphanage. Didi told me she doesn't want to go back. Before attending the Diwali party in our community, I wondered how Didi would react. What memories and emotions might be pricked? It was comforting to watch her work the room that night with ease, chatting with Indian friends from school and basking in the attention of the elders, clearly in her element.

As the evening drew to a close with the songs and lamp lighting of Aarti , the Hindu ritual of worship, my eyes filled with tears of gratitude. We're so fortunate to live in a community that offers our daughter so many friends and role models who share her Indian heritage. Later that night, as I was tucking Didi into bed, we were still chatting about the party when she said something that made me feel at peace as a mom, at least for the moment:. As the mom of many now-grown and teen sons and daughters who joined our family through transracial adoption, and a social worker who sees adopted youngsters age 5 through 16 throughout the USA, Canada, and Australia—most of whom have been transracially adopted—via my program,Adoption Playshop!

What DO these gatherings do for them? It helps to normalize what it means to and about them to be growing up transracially and internationally adopted. To know that they are not alone in how they think and feel, or in the type of experiences they tend to have. What DOES best help them to feel comfortable in their skin, have the competence and confidence to participate in their ethnic communities when and if they want to, and provide them with the necessary skills to resist racism and stereotyping? First, they need regular, ongoing, meaningful relationships with adults of color, some of whom share their racial-ethnic heritage, and others who are—like them—transracial adoptees.

They need immersion in racially diverse environments on a regular basis, rather than merely when we take them to cultural events or festivals. They also need for us, their parents, to face and discuss racism openly and honestly, and for us to be active anti-racist participants who are allies to people with whom they share racial-ethnic heritage, and to ALL people of color. These are the life ingredients that can help them build healthy racial-ethnic identity so that they will WANT to learn about and be able to participate in their cultural heritage alongside those who share that heritage with them.

Otherwise, it is very likely that they will reject opportunities to be involved with their ethnic community and feel themselves to be outsiders. Even worse, if we do NOT get beyond culture camps, face up to what we really need TO provide, the danger is that our children, like far too many of their predecessors, will have absolutely no interest in participating IN their birth culture or racial-ethnic communities because they ill not have developed healthy racial-ethnic identity, which is foundational to our sense of self worth and quality of life.

The cultural aspects you are talking about need to become part of your home, all the time, not just on special occasions. The food should be a part of the regular family menu.

Art and music in the home should reflect the birth culture, the history and folk lore needs to be learned and most important of all… the language needs to be studied. Toni - mom to 2 kiddos from Korea. Thank you Jane and ttstevens, for taking time to read and comment. They need authentic cultural experiences that are part of the fabric of their everyday lives. We also have several people of East Indian descent in our extended family.

I understand that feeling. My kids end up a bit board at culture camp because we do all the stuff at home as part of our lives, but I figure the opportunity to be in a group that is mostly Korean, and get to interact with Korean college students who come from Seoul to volunteer makes it worth while.

Helping Your Adopted Child Maintain A Cultural Connection

Thanks for your post! You did get your point across, and did a nice job of that, Sharon! I recognize, too, that you provide much beyond that to your children and family. That is foundational to who we are. It CAN help to nurture racial identity IF it is authentic and develops because the child is immersed in his or her same-race, ethnic group.

Popular in Adoption

Its nice FOR a child to become culturally competent and have a choice as to whether he or she wants and will participate in his or her ethnic community because the skill set has been taught and integrated, but a person can function and function well in multi-racial and multi-cultural societies the USA, for example without being culturally competent IF they possess healthy racial-ethnic identity. In an ideal world, a transracially adopted child would get ongoing opportunity to develop racial identity AND cultural competence.

However, if we were going to pick only one of those two, we should know that racial identity is essential and cultural competence—while useful—is not as necessary. For example, some Korean adoptees socialize with Vietnamese people because they do not feel comfortable within a Korean or Korean-American community due to too much focus on whether or not they speak Korean fluently, are competent at reading and responding to the subtle nuances that go hand-in-hand with a relationship with a first generation Korean person, or rejection of the expectation that they SHOULD only associate with others of Korean heritage.

That was the issue that I was raising in my comments. They do not remain static. So, people who are 4th generation Korean do NOT practise the identical cultural ways that were are are practised in Korea today.

Girl Removed From Foster Family Of Because She's Native American

In fact, they may have shed lots of the original cultural ways their families lived them, trading them in for other ways of thinking, working, relating to others, etc… So, a transracially adopted child who learns Korean dance, or drumming, or how to wear hanbok may have little in common with a Korean-American family living nearby who has kept some cultural ways, but has shed many others over the course of multiple generations.

That is why helping an adopted child with race-related matters is much more necessary. It sounds to me as though your children receive plenty of attention to all of their needs!