Homeland Journeys: Benefits and Complexities
Adoption heritage travel is bursting at the seams with positives for adoptees, parents, and families. But, no journey as emotionally charged as this one can come without complexities that need to be carefully considered.
“Words can’t describe how wonderful this has been for me!” – Said the adoptee
“One of the best gifts I could have ever given my child.” – Said the parent
“It changed how I looked at the world.” – Said one and all
These are universal sentiments, but why? What are the benefits of adoption homeland travel that bring such strong, positive emotion?
- Builds awareness—always the first step in understanding.
- Honors an adoptee’s need to explore and discover his/her beginnings.
- Allows kids to grieve loss in a healthy, supportive environment.
- Validates and recognizes the “whole” person.
- Provides first hand, experiential knowledge, giving kids ownership of their own histories and stories.
- Generates lifetime memories and strengthens family bonds.
- Is FUN.
- Cultivates forever friendships among the kids, offering “community” and “belonging.”
- Promotes a positive self image, increased understanding and acceptance.
- Creates global awareness and compassion.
- Integrates “where I’ve been” with “where I’m going.”
- Instills pride by KNOWING the people with whom kids share their heritage are warm, wonderful, genuine people.
- Is settling and brings a sense of peace.
- Often serves as a springboard for the future, as kids move forward with a stronger sense of identity and self esteem.
While we obviously believe in the homeland journey experience, we don’t approach the subject with rose-colored glasses. There are things, hard things, families need to consider.
- Calls for “deliberate preparation.” For example, families must prepare and help their children prepare for the stress and emotion of travel. They must hone their coping mechanisms.
- Begs for you to explore global poverty issues, so that your child’s only experience with poverty is not in his/her birth country.
- Asks you to step out of your comfort zone, and be flexible. It asks you to embrace customs, food, culture, etc. and enjoy the happenings of the moment.
- Changes with the age of your child. Kids of all ages get strong, important messages, but knowing “What Age is the ‘Right’ Age?” for your child takes deep thought. We suggest you read more on this topic here.
- Leads you on a path where no light has been shed before. In other words, for all the detailed planning that goes into adoption homeland travel, no one knows how the days will unfold.
- Involves grieving– both a benefit and a complexity. But we look at it this way….if your child is grieving, it is so much better for him/her to work through the emotions with you in the wings, not truly understanding the emotions, but being physically there to show support.
- Can bring search front and center, or not.
A homeland journey is wonderful, but complex. As you are considering whether or when to take your child to visit his/her birth country, thinking through the complexities is essential to creating a positive experience that builds a strong sense of self, community, and connection.