HONORING CULTURE AND ETHNICITY IN OUR ADOPTED CHILDREN
Strengthening The Ties That Bind
(c) 2010 By Deborah Beasley, ACPI CCPF
If, as adoptive parents, we are opening our hearts to children who are culturally and ethnically different from ourselves, there is soul searching to be done to prepare our hearts and homes for this transition. According to research statistics from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, nearly 60% of domestic U.S. adoptions will be transracial. How will we honor the ethnicity and cultural heritage of our children?
Parents must first recognize that a break in any connection is a break in relationship. For as much as adoption is the creation of new familial ties, for our children it is also a traumatic dismantling of former relationships. Concurrently, children adopted across races and cultures often struggle to connect with where they belong. They will live between two worlds and can be painfully aware of obvious external differences. The loss of culture, language, heritage, and ethnic pride deepens their sense of separation.
Recently a mom suggested that since they were adopting their Chinese son into their Greek family, he would have to learn to be Greek, since she had no intention of incorporating his Chinese culture into their lives. This shows a lack of sensitivity to her son’s culture and a lack of awareness of her son’s psychological, emotional, and cultural needs.
The experiences of our children are rooted in the repeated formation and traumatic disruption of relationships. Adoptive parents must know that repeated broken relationships, even at very early ages, inhibit a child’s ability to trust, love, and feel secure in any environment. These early experiences shape their understanding of life, home, family and relationship. How we model our love, concern, and care for every aspect of their lives, including their culture, will begin to fill the gaps left in their earlier experiences related to parental commitment and dedication.
Parenting children of a race or culture not our own, provides us with new opportunities for personal growth and expands the unlimited love and respect we impart on our relationships with our adopted children. It becomes our privileged responsibility to reconnect our children with their heritage both past and present. By deciding to honor and respect the rich ethnic cultures of our children, we instill within them a growing pride of who they are and how well they are loved.
Our children’s culture is their birthright. When parents recognize this truth, finding ways to honor culture becomes a joyful exploration of who their children are in all their beautiful wholeness! The result will be a strong and loving bond between adoptive parents and their children.
Children adopted cross-culturally add the loss of connection and relationship with their culture as well. If we are ready to accept children culturally and ethnically different from ourselves, must we also embrace their culture? Our only answer must be YES!
This is an excerpt from Deborah Beasley’s new book, From Foster Care To Adoption Navigating The Emotional Journey, A Parent’s Guide to State Adoption. Purchase this EBook NOW at: www.TogetherAtLastFamily.com.
To request a FREE article entitled, 12 Ways to Honor the Culture, Ethnicity, and Heritage of Your Adopted Child, visit me at: www.TogetherAtLastFamily.com Request this article by name from my Contact Deborah page. (c) 2010 Deborah Beasley.