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]

Tamales and Borscht

September 27th, 2011

Tamale, traditional food from Latin AmericaTomorrow is Bunny’s adoption day.  It’s been six years since we brought our little bundle of joy home from Guatemala.  Every year I think about holding her in my arms knowing she was finally mine. In years past we have celebrated with cake and singing, taking time to celebrate the expansion of our family.  Rather than sugary sweet confections this year, I’ve decided I want to try something different.  Tamales.  I want to make tamales. Tamales from Guatemala are different than the Mexican tamales we typically see.  They are usually wrapped in banana or plantain leaves rather than in corn husks, and they are smaller, although there are more variations than there are Guatemalan regions. I’ve been searching around the… [more]

Heritage Hard Core

April 28th, 2011

Banh ChungWe adopted our oldest daughter when she was 14 years old. She had previously been adopted by another American family when she was 13 years old but they disrupted their adoption a year later. During that first year in America, life was very hard on her. She didn’t know any other adopted children. Her first adoptive family had very little interest in maintaining her cultural heritage. She felt isolated, frightened and alone. We had heard about her situation and began visiting her. After a few meetings with her, my husband and I brought her home to stay the weekend at our house so she could get to know our two sons. Our sons were older child adoptions as well. They immediately… [more]

Flags of Heritage

January 6th, 2011

533821_41933236When you adopt children internationally, the adoption agency always asks how you intend to keep the link between your child and their birth country. At the time, I thought that was a silly question, and I had so many other things to worry about at the time. I don't remember what I answered, but it must have been enough to appease the agency, and the foreign courts. Once we arrived home, I didn't think much about my daughters’ heritage. With Elle, if you didn't know she was adopted, you would never guess she was from Russia. With Bunny, it is a bit more obvious considering her dark skin, black eyes, and ability to swing her hips to any music… [more]

“But we’re in America!”: Why Cultivating a Child’s Birth Country Culture is Vital

October 19th, 2009

A Family DiversifiedToday, I decided to bake an apple...something. Eventually, I settled on a pie, but first hit up a few of my favorite online recipe sites to see if I could find a Guatemalan recipe that calls for about five pounds of apples (I didn't, but probably because my two favorite pastry chefs were a little impatient to get started). As a last ditch effort, I hit up some of my favorite social networking sites with a general call for Guatemalan apple recipes (I'm interlinked with quite a few fabulous GuateMamas--it can't hurt to ask!), and was met with the following comment from a friend/non-adoptive parent: "How about just something boring and American? Like a pie or something. Do you ever make… [more]

Celebration Tokens: In-Process Adoption Keepsakes

August 20th, 2009

While I was pregnant with Bear, each month presented me with a growing reminder of my child. Granted, I can’t claim I gave birth to a seventy-five pound baby (yes, I gained a whopping seventy-five pounds—and let me tell you, they were delicious!), but I had that physical reminder of his presence with me always; in addition to my constantly and consistently expanding belly, I also savored the numerous but still always amazing flutters, kicks, jabs and so forth. While we were in the process of adopting Beauty, I obviously didn’t have the constant physical reminders. The love was exactly the same, but I have to admit this much is true: I missed those everyday suggestions that I was one step closer to meeting my… [more]

Adult Adoptees and First Generation Americans Speak

July 31st, 2009

At the Ethiopian Heritage and Culture camp I went to last weekend we were able to ask questions to adult adoptees and first generation Americans many questions. This was a very valuable time for me to learn what is important to my kids once they are adults. Something they stressed over and over again was that as adults it was important to know about their heritage and they encouraged parents to keep their kids active in the their birth or families culture. They also laughed about not always wanting to learn about Ethiopia, but they were glad thier parents kept pushing it on them. This hit home to me because just a few weeks ago Mita was angry and said,"Why do you keep… [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]

Ready for Summer? How About a Culture Camp?

March 5th, 2009

Yes, I know it is just the beginning of March. I am dreaming of warm weather and all the preparations for summer is making me impatient. If this is your first summer as a parent, you may be surprised to be reading this. The sad truth is that you have to plan your summer in late winter to get to do all the things you want to do. For example, Meg, my oldest child is going to horse camp in July. I had to have her paperwork and deposit in on February 11th. Thankfully, Meg doesn't change her mind easily. If you have a child who changes interests frequently, you could be in trouble! Mita and Enu pushed for… [more]

Great Geography Games for the Adoptive Family

January 25th, 2009

If you are adopting internationally you may have noticed that a lot of people out there do not know geography! I had people ask me where Ethiopia was and they were surprised it was in Africa. Many people still think that Africa is a country not a continent! As adoptive families we often find ourselves educating people on adoption facts and geography facts. We also have a responsibility to know about where our kids are from. The following games not only help us learn, but can be used to teach your children as well. The Out of the Box company has some great games to help people have fun while learning about geography. I bought the 10 Days in Africa for my family when we were… [more]