Are you planning to take your child back to his or her birth country this year? It’s a huge trip and one of critical importance in your child’s life.
Knowing that, I want to talk a little about transformational travel and the reasons why you may want to consider a different kind of trip than the one you might be planning …
In 2011 I took my daughter to China for her first trip back to her birth country. It was her Heritage Journey. That trip was a huge wake-up call for me. I was well aware of the concepts of experiential and therapeutic travel but I had never applied the principles to my personal travels, let alone my child’s birth country trip. Even though I was in the travel industry at the time, I did what most people do and joined a group trip. What I realized during our China trip was that a Heritage Journey could be used for family and individual transformation.
The depth of emotion in a Heritage Journey lends itself to transformation and allows the trip to be a tool for personal growth, deepening family bonds, building self-esteem and enriching a family’s cultural connections – IF those concepts are fully embraced. It is was through the experiences my daughter and I shared (both good and not so good) during our China trip, that I was motivated to explore the concepts and the benefits of experiential and transformative travel when applied to birth country travel.
Inspired by our experiences and my insights, I spent a considerable amount of time researching and understanding the issues and needs of adoptive families as well as the psychological and emotional elements of transformational travel and how those concepts could be applied to birth country travel.
My team and I have consulted with psychologists, therapists, travel gurus and adoption professionals to create trips that can be truly transformative for adoptive families. Combining our research and personal experiences with the principles of transformative, therapeutic and experiential travel, we gave birth to Motherland Travel.
We have now designed Heritage Journeys for many families and feel like we have a good understanding of the intricacies of such an undertaking. The results and testimonials have been overwhelming. Our philosophies are unique to the adoption travel market, but we are proud of the results we’ve had so far and we’d love to share our philosophies with you.
Over the next couple of newsletters, I’m going to share some of those philosophies. But to begin, let me answer the burning question … the question I get asked All The Time:
Why a “Heritage Journey”? Why is this trip so important?
Here’s what we know …
- Positive experiences build connections. AHeritage Journey DOES NOT have to be about finding birth families or foster families or visiting orphanages. It can simply be about creating family experiences in and around exploring your child’s birth country, understanding its people and learning about your child’s roots. Make this trip a positive experience and it will connect your family more deeply and connect your child to his or birth country.
- It is empowering for our children. Empowerment builds self-esteem.A Heritage Journey provides our children the ability to see the beauty of their motherland and to share it with their adoptive families. Feeling empowered not only feels good but also builds self-esteem. People with higher self-esteem are able to build deeper connections.
- Builds positive self-identity. When your child has the opportunity to explore his or her birth country it allows that child to be among people they likely resemble and with whom they share a cultural heritage. Simply put, recognizing that you are ‘similar to’ others rather than ‘different from’ others can be powerful in shaping a young identity.
- Establishes a cultural connection. As adoptive parents we know that rich cultural connections are essential to our child’s well being, sense of identity, and feelings of belonging. A well-designed Heritage Journey can set the stage for cultural connectedness, which translates to a positive identity.
If you want to refer back to some of our other discussions about identity development, check out this blog post from last year, Identity Development – Why do I have to be different?
Next week I’ll discuss how to use a Heritage Journey as an opportunity for transformation, self-growth and building deeper connections both culturally and within your family. So come on back!
Until then …
When you are ready to explore the world with your family, please schedule a 30-minute Discovery Session with me at www.calendly.com/bambi. I’d LOVE to help!
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/