I have been doing a lot of reading and thinking about race and adoption. I think adoption gives a wonderful opportunity to see the world from a different perspective – the perspective of another culture! I would love to hear from your readers how they incorporate their adopted children’s culture in their family life. How do they affirm the country/culture and teach their children about it?
One issue we have in this regard is that our children are from India, a culture that involves Hinduism in a significant way. Since we are a Christian family and desire to teach the girls our values – how can we incorporate, celebrate, and teach our girls’ (and soon our son as well!) culture in a way that is honoring and respectful to their country of origin, but still teaching them our beliefs? It gets tricky!
I inadvertently posted this question at a time that caused it to get lost amidst other posts; I’m still experimenting with timing. However, I did get three replies and I will add mine. There is much more that can be said about this, so if you would like to add your comments, please do.
Here are this week’s answers:
Thank you for these great answers. When I first read the question I thought to myself, “I’m not doing a good job at this, how am I going to answer?” I was thinking about all of the things I don’t do to maintain culture, such as big holiday celebrations. As I considered it more I realized that although we may not do the “big” things, Ethiopia is part of our daily life and conversation.
To the best of our ability, we have open adoptions with all four of our children’s families in Ethiopia. We have met family members of each of our children and we talk about them in the midst of our days. Honeybee lived at her orphanage for eight years, so we talk about the children, the staff, and life there. We have photos of our travels and of family members that we all love to see. I h
ave plans to print and frame a collection of them.
In our home we have Ethiopian decorations, my favorite being the three crosses hanging on the wall of our dining room. I serve bread in Ethiopian baskets I bought in the rural market in Soddo. We wear Ethiopian clothes, especially the girls who love their dresses. Last week at church I was surprised to see Little Man wearing his traditional Ethiopian shirt. One of the girls had gotten him dressed and I didn’t see what he was wearing until we arrived. I often wear an Ethiopian shawl to church or when we are going out. I love the colors and bought several on our last trip. I also wear an Ethiopian cross necklace on most days.
Honeybee loves listening to Ethiopian music. We hope it will help her reclaim her Amharic and are looking for additional ways to refresh her memory. She lost her language very quickly, but now that one of her friends from Ethiopia is being adopted by our dear friends, she is motivated to regain her fluency. If you have suggestions, please send them my way.
When Sweet Pea lived at home she became quite good at cooking Ethiopian food. I haven’t carried the torch quite as well, but I need to and I have some recipes that I plan to try. We do, however, always keep berbere in a shaker and it is liberally applied to many foods. Our closest Ethiopian restaurants and markets are in Seattle, 300 miles away, but when we have the time and money, we like to visit. On our last trip I bought injera and froze it so the children can eat it when they like, especially when I serve a stew or soup that is reminiscent of Ethiopian food.
Our children came from a Christian background that we have expanded upon. If they were from a religious background that was different from ours, we would use it as an opportunity to teach about world religions and why we believe what we do. It is important to be respectful of our children’s heritage while also being truthful about why we could not embrace that belief system. Religious beliefs have consequences and our children should be taught to clearly discern that.
Thank you once again. I will post this week’s Tuesday Topic this evening and I look forward to seeing what you all have to say.
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