School Musicals and Homeland Visits

February 17th, 2012

My Chinese-born daughter has been cast as an orphan in a school production of "Annie." She sings the songs until they are constantly cycling through my head. "No one cares for you a smidge when you're in an orphanage," she sings. "Empty belly life. Dirty smelly life." The other members of the orphan troupe were never orphans. They're just playing them on stage. And of course, "Annie" is a 1930s period piece based on a comic strip, with cartoonish, larger-than-life heroes and buffoonish villains and fun, catchy songs, far removed from the Chinese orphanage where my daughter once lived. We've been back there twice. The first time, the babies were squirmy and curious. They reached for us and other visitors and nibbled on our fingers… [more]

Going Home

October 13th, 2011

iStock_000009028466XSmallHome is where the heart is.  But, for my daughters, their hearts aren’t just under my roof. As internationally adopted children, I know a part of them still resides in their birth countries.  As they grow up as red, white, and blue Americans, Elle is still Russian, and Bunny is still Guatemalan. And I love that about them. We recently celebrated Bunny’s Adoption Day, the day we brought her home.  Although I punted on making tamales, I did have cake.  While we enjoyed her red velvet cake, she asked when Elle’s A-Day was.  It’s in June.  Then she asked when her daddy’s A-Day was and then when was mine. We told her we didn’t have A-Days because we weren’t adopted.  Then she questioned our citizenship.  Apparently… [more]

Are Visit Trips Necessary?

December 19th, 2009
Categories: Homeland Visits, Travel

Are Visit Trips Necessary?Ah, the question of visit trips: to take them or not to take them? Sometimes there's just no choice in the matter. Depending on your child's birth country, you might be required to take a visit trip prior to the traveling you will do when your child returns home with your family. Some countries require a lengthy stay or multiple visits. But what if you aren't required to take said visit trip? Ultimately, my knee-jerk response is "go if you can". Aside from the fact that it might be your first opportunity to meet your precious child, you'll be able to experience more of your child's birth country with every day you spend abroad.  Above all, it can be a time… [more]

Homeland Travel

July 1st, 2009

For those of us who have adopted Internationally, a Homeland Trip to your child's birth country is normally something that crosses our minds. When looking through adoption magazines or surfing adoption websites you often see guided tours to China or Korea being advertised. When we were in Ethiopia picking up our girls I had a urge to return when they were teenagers so they could tour the country and see the culture once again before becoming adults. Our plan was to come back in ten years when our kids were 18,18, 16 and 13. The trip costs quite a bit and we never really thought about making several trips. Now that our kids have been home a year our thoughts have changed… [more]

Adopted kids and cultural identity

August 2nd, 2007
Categories: Homeland Visits

An article from the Boston Globe and Mail called "CULTURAL IDENTITY: LOST IN TRANSLATION Unearthing the roots of adoption" takes a look at internationally adopted kids of color adopted into American families and how some, now adults, feel about their lives, and how awareness may be helping future adoptees. Although there are complaints about the present climate of trendiness in international adoption tied to some highly publicized celebrity adoptions mentioned, this report does point out the historical precedent, citing Josephine Baker's international adoption of a dozen children ... her "World Village", as she called it ... and Mia Farrow, proving that there really is nothing new under the sun, just new headlines for the same old stuff. With many adult adoptees desiring… [more]

Cambodian news: Dengue and HIV/AIDS

July 13th, 2007

An early, warm wet season is being blamed for one of the worst outbreaks of Dengue Fever to hit Cambodia and the rest of SE Asia in recent history. A British adoptive father, along with other volunteers, set up a UK Registered Charity, The Cambodia Children's Charity, that supports orphanages and a school, that is now soliciting donations to help deal directly with the impact of the Dengue outbreak. From the dad, Mark Purser: The Cambodian government cannot cope with an emergency on this scale -annual government spending on healthcare is about $3 per person (source:World Bank). The WHO and other international organisations simply cannot react quickly enough in rural locations to save the most vulnerable victims of… [more]

Adoptees adopting

June 30th, 2007

CJbedbasket/©2005SFlam A story in today's news, although heartwarming and hopeful, has me feeling more than a bit sad. The focus is on adults adopted from Viet Nam as children who are now returning to their birth country for their own children, noting that agencies dealing with adoptions from the country are reporting a growing number of parents are "making the same trip their adoptive parents took more than three decades ago." There seems a wonderful symmetry in this, a connecting on a level deeper than most adoptions allow. For the adult adoptee, the opportunity to revisit not only the place, but also the circumstances of beginnings must be very profound, and the process would seem to have some cathartic effects. For the… [more]

How to travel responsibly

June 24th, 2007

sunset3©2005SHBenoiton With International Adoption as much about the wider world as it is about our little families ... or not so little, in some cases ... the idea of our travel as a benefit to others fits well. With all the talk now of our carbon footprint and how air travel increases the negative impact an individual leaves, the thought of taking off for distant points now seems to require a bit more contemplation. Traveling to bring our kids home is non-negotialbe for many of us, as we wouldn't miss that trip for anything and feel the on-the-ground contact is an important beginning for the family. Birth country visits aren't anything we're willing to compromise, either, as those of us who can manage to pull… [more]

Travel responsibly

June 24th, 2007

apples/©2005SHBenoiton As I've mentioned, we're planning a trip to Cambodia in August. We travel long distances often, so don't feel compelled to engrave our trip in stone way in advance. There's plenty of time to book tickets and accommodation, and we trust that where we end up staying is where we were meant to be and that timing will work out just as it should. Such a cavalier attitude, however, did not stop me from sitting up straighter and paying great attention when this article came across my desk this morning. "Holidays with a conscience" started some bells clanging in this old noggin, and had me calling Mark over for a "How about this?" discussion. Yes, we have plans to buy and… [more]

Another Adoptive Parent Contribution

June 16th, 2007

With Jan Baker taking the time to laud adoptive parents and their contributions toward the betterment of adoption in the world on her recent blog, I'm inspired to expand on the topic a bit today in support of her tribute. Coming across this story out of Korea feels like providence incarnate, as the example it illustrates is perfect for the discussion. A dad to a Korean-born daughter adopted almost twenty years ago, Dr. Richard Boas, an ophthalmologist from Connecticut, is a passionate man with deep commitments. Inspired by his child and compelled to do what he can for the good as he saw it, he eventually started up, in conjunction with other Connecticut adoptive parents… [more]