A Heritage Journey to your child’s birth country can be a life-changing experience for your entire family!
After 25 years in the travel industry, there is one thing I know … now is the season when most folks begin planning their trips for winter break, spring break, and next summer’s travels!! It’s the time when we travel planners get really busy – and I love it!
With that in mind, over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some of useful information to have at your fingertips when thinking about designing a Heritage Journey to your child’s birth country.
The first thing clients usually want to talk about when they call me is their concerns with regard to transportation, hotels, guide services, food, drinking water, vaccinations, safety, etc.
Those kinds of concerns are typically very 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 all those concerns.
But clients with adopted children also have fears that may have prevented them from planning a trip of this nature before now:
Fear of birth family searches, orphanage visits or foster family meetings.
Fear that your child may have been taken illegally from his or her birth mother.
Fear that your child’s birth mother was in the business of making babies in order to climb out of poverty.
Fear that if you search for a birth family, what that might look like. Will they want something that you are unwilling or unable to give? Or in the future, your child is unwilling or unable to give?
Fear that it was wrong to take your child from his or her homeland, from their culture and how he or she will be perceived by folks inside their birth country?
As a mother of two internationally adopted children I have to admit, I have had 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. 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. Have you considered taking a Heritage Journey to your child’s homeland?
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 some information you can use, right now. 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.
All my best,
Bambi Wineland is the mother of two internationally adopted children, a traveler, a Certified Professional Coach, and the Founder and CEO of Motherland Travel. Motherland Travel began by designing Heritage Journeys for families with internationally adopted children. The emphasis of those Heritage Journeys has always been on deepening family connections, building self-esteem and cultivating pride in a family’s multi-cultural heritage. Motherland Travel also uses the philosophies of transformative Travel for designing family trips with purpose – building rich connections, with each other and the world! Read more about her here >> http://motherlandtravel.com/