Today I was on the phone with an old client and we were talking about our children. It was so good to catch up with her but it reminded me of our first couple of conversations — when she was trying to decide how to plan a Heritage Journey for her son.
She had many concerns:
All the normal trip planning things — safety, transportation, types of hotels, guide services, food for she and her family, drinking water, vaccinations, etc.
Those are the concerns that are always easy to address. I’ve been the travel industry for an awfully long time and am confident that I can plan a trip for my clients that alleviate those concerns.
But she also had fears that had prevented her from planning a trip before now:
Fear of finding her child’s birth mother.
Fear that her child may have been taken illegally from his birth mother.
Fear that her child’s birth mother was in the business of making babies to climb out of poverty.
Fear that her child’s birth mother might reject him.
Fear that her child’s birth family would want something that she was unwilling or unable to give. Or that in the future, her son was unwilling or unable to give.
Fear that it was wrong to take her son from his homeland, from his culture?
And as a mother of two internationally adopted children I have to admit, I have the same fears.
But here’s the good news … after years of research, running trips and talking to adoption professionals, the most important thing you need to know is that a Heritage Journey does not have to be about finding the birth family.
When you and your child are ready, that will happen. So give yourself permission to consider the advantages of heritage travel without the fears associated with finding your child’s birth family.
Heritage travel can be so much more. It allows families the opportunity to experience their child’s birth country, understand its people, and learn firsthand about their child’s roots.
A Heritage Journey can also provide our children the ability to see the beauty of their motherland and more importantly, to share it with their adoptive families. Being in their birth country allows your child the opportunity to be amongst people they might resemble and with whom they share a rich cultural heritage.
And frankly, recognizing that you are ‘similar to’ others rather than ‘different than’ others can be powerful in shaping a young identity.
A well-planned Heritage Journey can help families connect more deeply, empower your children, build self-esteem and a positive self-identity, as well as cultivate pride in a family’s multi-cultural heritage.
If there’s anything I’ve learned doing this over the past few years is that children need to connect with their homeland, even if you (or they) are not ready to begin a birth family search.
I often get asked: “When should my child travel to his or her birth country?”
Much has been written about this and I can honestly say, there is no ‘right’ answer. The consensus however, seems to support multiple trips to a child’s birth country, if possible – beginning when an adopted child is young (4 to 5 years old, provided they have been in the adoptive household at least two years and are bonding well) and continuing throughout the child’s life.
After more than fifty years of international adoption, we have learned how important that cultural connection can be for developing a positive identity. Exploring a child’s culture helps a child feel whole, which builds self-esteem and cultivates pride in his or her heritage.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Have you considered taking a Heritage Journey to your child’s homeland?
I have had clients that met their child’s birth families and clients that traveled solely to experience their child’s culture and connect more deeply as a family.
One thing is for sure … it can be a life changing experience!
I’ll be bringing you more useful information about planning a Heritage Journey for your adopted child over the next few newsletters. I know it is planning season so I wanted to get you information you can use, right at your fingertips.
Also, if you’d like to schedule a 30-minute call just to talk shop, I’d be thrilled to explore options with you. You can schedule a call with me at www.calendly.com/bambi .
Look forward to hearing from you.
All my best,
Bambi Wineland is the mother of two internationally adopted children, a traveler, the Founder and CEO of Motherland Travel. Motherland Travel designs Heritage Journeys for families with internationally adopted children. The emphasis of these Heritage Journeys is on family bonding, building self-esteem and cultivating pride in a family’s multi-cultural heritage. Read more about her here >> https://motherlandtravel.com/