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One of the blessings of international adoption is that it allows love to bring differing cultures together, something that can be a lifelong learning experience for parent and child alike.
Here we will focus on the food, language, and overall culture of your child’s place of birth, and how to keep them alive:
Restaurants – In most urban centers, restaurants of every ethnicity should be easy to find with a Google search. If you’re lucky enough to have one nearby, indulge in some traditional cuisine and help your child maintain a connection to one of the most vital parts of their cultural heritage: food! If you do not have access to such restaurants, consider getting a cookbook and introducing some of their traditional dishes into your home. It’s something you’ll both benefit from.
Holidays – While some holidays like Christmas are recognized in most of the world, there are many that are specific to a country or region. Why not find out about the holidays unique to your child’s birth region and incorporate them into your life? These are great occasions to eat traditional dishes.
Festivals and Fairs – Festivals and fairs, especially those that are culturally-focused, are a fun way to explore ethnic cuisine and to do so together. That shared experience is an excellent way to bond and to instill pride in your child’s place of birth.
Language Classes – Language is a powerful hallmark of any culture, but as adults picking up a new language can be difficult. Consider taking classes or investing in home language instruction to help you get to know the language of your child’s birth country. Also, when they are old enough, encourage your child to seek instruction in school for that language. There is arguably no better way for them to maintain some of their cultural identity.
Music – A simple way to ensure your child has a connection to the language of their birth country without having to be able to speak the language yourself is through music. Traditional music in the language of their birth country will be easy to find thanks to the Internet and will be an enjoyable way for them to stay fresh on the language no matter what language is spoken at home.
Travel – There are few better ways to immerse yourself in a language than to travel to where it’s spoken. A trip to their birth country may be an enjoyable experience for you both (depending on the country), and it will allow you both to hear and use the language firsthand.
Clothing – It’s often easy to recognize where someone is from at a glance for a reason: our clothing is an integral part of our culture. By wearing and/or making traditional garments, even if only on special occasions and holidays, you will allow your child to have pride in their cultural heritage – and that’s a powerful gift.
Music – We return to music again because music is a vital part of any culture. Indulging in some of the traditional music from your child’s country of birth is not only a great way to help them maintain a connection to that culture, it’s also fun. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy it.
The Arts – Through museums, dance, film, and other arts, you and your child can explore the culture of their birth country and learn a little something in the process. You might take art classes, do hands-on projects together such as making crafts and ornaments, or take a day trip to a museum or public performance.
Finally, it’s important to simply talk about culture with your child. Allow them to take pride in their place of birth while also taking pride in the love they share with you as a family. It’s a gift that lasts a lifetime.
On his personal blog about adoption, fatherhood, and lessons learned, WACAP CEO Greg Eubanks shares about the relationship he and his youngest son have been working to recreate. With his son’s permission, he offers a few thoughts, with hindsight and from
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