Adopting a child internationally is not only a joyful experience for your family, it can also be an educational experience. Such an adoption brings together people and cultures that may be far removed from one another, as a result making both your child and you more complete, worldly people.
Taking an interest in your child’s birth country and encouraging them to do the same as they grow up may eventually lead to a desire to travel to that country. We encourage you to explore that possibility! Giving your child a better sense for their heritage is a priceless gift that will last a lifetime – for the both of you! First, ask yourself the following questions:
When should you plan to make such a trip with your child?
A big question you’ll have is when to make your first trip. After all, you want to be sure your child is enriched by the experience. The answer is that there is no definitive answer. It depends on your child. If your child is ready for travel and ready to benefit from meeting new people and seeing new places, they are ready for such a trip!
What are your goals when taking a trip to their birth country?
That’s a big question, but the answer is fairly direct: to enrich their lives. This may come through helping them build a sense of identity, providing them with a way to better understand their birth country, sharing the amazing bonding experience of learning together, in making connections to aspects of their past they hadn’t fully embraced, or simply in having a great time with you while exploring the world. All are worthwhile goals!
What benefits will my child enjoy from the experience?
Other than the joy of spending time with you seeing and doing something new? There are many benefits your child can expect from such a trip! They may include building awareness of where they come from, providing validation to your child as a “whole” person, i.e. including their birth country as a part of who they are, giving them ownership of their past, promoting a positive self-image (especially important for internationally adopted children), and giving them a sense of identity that books alone won’t give them. And not to mention the memories they’ll build with you!
What are the downsides of traveling to their birth country?
We prefer not to think of there being “downsides” to such an experience. Rather, it’s important to understand that there may be some complexities involved. For example, such a trip may become part of your child’s natural grieving and loss process, which is common with adopted children – but this is not a downside, this is a positive, because it allows them to come to terms with an aspect of themselves they may have lost, and they’ll do so in a healthy, supportive environment that provides them with a sense of closure or that opens up new doors for them.
What else do I need to know about making a trip like this?
It’s important to remember that this is a major trip like any other, with all the complexities an oversea journey entails – perhaps more. You may be out of your comfort zone. You’ll cope with emotional ups and downs as you explore your child’s past with him or her. You’ll have to adapt to a new culture and new people. And of course, there is all the logistical planning that comes with international travel (see our helpful guide to traveling overseas for help).
So should you make the trip? If you believe your child is ready for the journey and interested in making it, and provided there are no health complications that make travel difficult, we think the answer is an unequivocal yes! You’ll find your child and your family as a whole will be enriched by the experience.