Adopting a child from another country can be a rewarding experience. In 2020, the number of intercountry adoptions in the United States reached 1,622. The opportunity allowed American parents to provide permanent homes for in-need children across the globe.
However, intercountry adoption comes with a lot of responsibility. For an adopted child to grow up with a secure sense of identity, they need to remain connected to their birth culture. The following tips can help parents foster their children’s connection with their heritage and culture.
Expose Them To Cultural Media
The easiest way to foster a child’s connection with their birth culture is to expose them to cultural media. A post on ‘Cultural Differences on Child Development’ by Maryville University notes that media has the power to impact a child’s behavior, beliefs, and knowledge.
Media that depicts harmful stereotypes may shape the way a child looks at certain minorities, such as foreigners and people of color.
A VeryWell Mind article on ‘The Importance of Representation’ explains children’s sense of self-worth and identity often suffer when they never see themselves represented in media. To empower your child, look for books, TV shows, movies, and other pieces of media that depict their birth culture in a positive light.
Educational programs can teach them about common practices, traditions, and beliefs. Sitcoms and movies give your child a clearer picture of daily life in their birth country.
Take A Field Trip
Media can only give you a glimpse of what a culture is like. For a more immersive experience, take your child on a field trip to their home country. Through a field trip, your child will be able to witness for themselves what day-to-day life is like for people living in their birth country.
Field trips can also expose your child to authentic cuisines, traditions, and cultural activities. Older children might also enjoy learning about their birth culture’s history through museums and exhibits.
To arrange a heritage field trip, you can seek help from travel programs. Adoptive Family Travel, a travel service created by a travel organization called The Ties Program, arranges organized family tours for adoptees that want to connect with their birth countries.
Guides teach children about their cultures through sharing sessions, tours of famous sites, and orientations with families of the same background.
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Include Your Child’s Culture In Daily Life
Your child will want to know that you respect, understand, and appreciate their birth culture. Prove your acceptance by including aspects of the culture in your daily family routines.
Cook cultural foods on a regular basis. Make the entire family participate in cultural holidays and activities. Showing appreciation will make it easier for your child to accept and feel proud about their heritage.
Some cultures might also celebrate international holidays differently than Americans. Child-friendly Easter traditions in America, for example, are usually egg-themed, involving things like egg hunting, egg decorating, and egg-related games.
Other countries, especially those with large Catholic populations, focus on the more religious aspects of the holiday. For example, Mexicans typically perform theatrical re-enactments of stories from the New Testament. Celebrating Easter with your Mexican child could involve watching YouTube performances of past passion plays.
Participate In Community Events
If you live in a diverse area, it’s a good idea to introduce your child to their cultural community. Cultural events, such as seminars, gatherings, and festivals, present a good opportunity for your child to deepen their understanding of their culture.
Meeting with other families might also help them make friends, strengthening their emotional connection to their heritage.
Adoption teaches us that family connections are never about blood, but more about the deliberate effort to share love. For adopted children to grow up well, their connection to their heritage must, too, be nurtured.
Alyssa Gillian Clark is a part-time writer, with an expressed interest on topics in healthcare and personal finance. When she’s not busy, she likes to workout- especially on weekends! -and read romance novels.