Your child is not defined by his adoption, but it does make him unique. Just because your child was adopted, does not mean he or she should completely disassociate with the culture he was born into. Although confusing at times, he has TWO cultures to identify with—to a kid, that’s pretty cool!
If your child was adopted as an infant either internationally or from a different part of the U.S., then he may not identify himself with his birthplace unless you, as the adoptive parents, introduce him to the culture. Your child will always be a part of your families’ own history but there is no denying the fact that he may eventually want to learn about the place he came from.
A great subtle way to introduce your child into becoming proud of his heritage is to introduce him to sports teams, musicians, or food from his birthplace. This gives him a less personal but still unique way of identifying with his birth culture. For example, with the 2012 Olympics happening this summer, why not research some facts on the athletes from your child’s birth country? Watch some of the events together and start there.
Culture camps or heritage camps are always a great way to make your kid feel proud of his history, but camp or travel can often be “too much, too fast”. Here are some simple ways to introduce your child to his birth culture right at home on a regular basis.
- Help him connect to children or even adults of the same background.
- Listen to and sing cultural music.
- Read cultural bedtime stories and folktales.
- Take a trip to your local library or museum with your child and research together.
- Play a common game or sport.
- Learn the language or dialect through classes or books.
- Plan an authentic menu or incorporate food staples into daily meals.
- Look at map together to discuss the area and how it differs from your location in terms of size, geography, climate, etc.
- Make a traditional craft.
- Watch children’s movies that include his birth culture.
- Find a tradition that you can incorporate into your family’s usual holiday celebrations.
By making some of these activities a habit, the culture will become more of your child’s daily life. They shouldn’t be reserved solely for special occasions, find a way to make them relevant every day. It is just as important that you do not force the culture if your child is not ready. There may come a phase or two where your child will just want to forget about the fact that he is different. Do not be discouraged. Do the activities that your child is interested in learning and participating in.
If you are an adoptive parent to a child from a different heritage, whether it’s in the U.S. or China, Russia, Latin-America, etc. it’s important that your child learn about his heritage to better understand where he comes from. By introducing him to his birth culture he will eventually build a strong sense of self. You should incorporate both his cultural traditions and your own to model diversity in your lives.