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I can't believe it's approaching one year since I returned to Vietnam with my daughter, now 16. We were able to see the country as carefree tourists with a fabulous guide who was very attentive to the children, and at the same time take an emotional journey to her roots with the orphanage director, the hotel where we stayed in 2001, and the health clinic where she was born. Our social worker Sarah Goth was outstanding in stepping in at the right moments to help my daughter process her feelings through this important time. It was a coming-of-age experience that she would never have had on her own, without Ties. The kids made friends and bonded and my daughter is still in touch with the other girls. I highly recommend it.
All the fun tourist activities in Beijing were an added bonus, but really, our day in Changsha was so special. I appreciate the services of the Ties program, which enabled us to reconnect with SWI#1 in a way that would not have been possible if we had traveled independently. I am so grateful for the connections that your company has made and maintained and the opportunity that you provided my family and I! It was a once in a life time experience to get to return to China with my mom and dad; I especially found interesting their observations about how China and Changsha had changed in the last 25 years. Although our communication with the orphanage staff was limited, it was an unspoken feeling of solidarity and hospitality. They were so welcoming, and our interpreter, Smile, was phenomenal, tremendously helpful and kind, and even though the current orphanage staff wasn't there when I was adopted, they showed my family and I the utmost respect, generosity, and good will. Thank you for facilitating such a phenomenal trip!
You are right, Lauren. It is soooo important to maintain the relationships so that adoptees and their families have the best experience possible. Thanks so much for writing. We LOVE it when we hear from adoptees!
My husband and I adopted our daughter 19 years ago from Russia. We had anticipated traveling back with her for years. I LOVE travel, and I would consider myself somewhat of a seasoned traveler. I researched for years the perfect way to take my daughter, Elizabeth, back to her homeland with her 3 brothers...all of which are now adults. I selected The Ties Program with Adoptive Family Travel. I cannot begin to express how perfect the trip was for my family. Traveling to Russia with our entire family sounded daunting at the least. I cannot begin to express how easy and trouble-free it was. I would advise anyone who is considering this journey to JUST DO IT! Adoptive Family Travel knows how to do it...they know the people who live in Russia who know how to do it right. I am still in awe of how perfect our trip was. This is a decision you will not regret. We feel so fortunate. It was perfect.
Wow, we're blushing! Thank you!
I wanted you to know that our trip to China was fantastic. Our visit to the CCCWA was brief but interesting. We were able to view Zoe's file there and learned a little bit more of the details around her abandonment site and who found her.We really enjoyed our trip to Wuhan and we were amazed at how modern the city has become. The trip out to YunMeng with Charlie was very moving. The administrative staff at the social welfare center was most gracious, showing us Zoe's file and then visiting with the children currently living there. We then went to lunch with the staff and visited the abandonment site.We appreciate all you did to make this such a special trip for us.
You're very welcome! Thanks for posting.
Many thanks to the China Ties program for help in coordinating a memorable heritage trip our family recently took to Hefei and Anqing cities, on behalf of our Chinese daughter. We would have been hard-pressed to attempt navigating this on our own, and China Ties really came through, arranging for a bilingual guide, driver, accommodations at a new luxury hotel with a meal plan; and, especially, contacting the orphanage where our daughter had spent her first few months. We’d sent China Ties a 16-year-old photo of our daughter at the orphanage in the arms of a nanny. Staff told us they would share it with orphanage officials to see if the nanny was still employed there.After a night of “jet lag recovery” our guide, Ding, took us to a well-known shrine and park in Hefei and showed us around the bustling city. The next day we took a four-hour excursion through green farms and hills to the Anqing orphanage - the original one (now a senior care facility) and the new headquarters building housing special needs kids, with its wonderful welcoming staff. We were greeted at the latter with hugs and much fanfare; our daughter was made to feel a celebrity. A welcome banner was posted in the conference room, bowls of fruit and gifts of moon-cake type confections were presented. Ding was indispensable, translating messages of gratitude, love and family information between us and the staff.We met the facility's nurse, who'd worked at the original building and remembered examining our daughter. We were also surprised and thrilled when, as a coincidence, the nanny -- the one in the picture – appeared at the facility (Ding initially was told that she’d retired and moved on.). More hugs and joyful emotion ensued! We were then taken on a brief tour, stopping at a room housing special-needs youngsters, a heartbreaking scene. Also, with the help of orphanage records, we were shown the "finding place," just steps from the old orphanage, near a gate where our daughter’s birth parents had left her to be found. Although my daughter seemed non-plussed by this event, I could feel tears welling in my eyes.We ended our Anqing visit with a splendid lunch in downtown Anqing, paid for by the orphanage folks, of the best Chinese food we’d ever tasted -- local vegetables sautéed in sauces, bowls of shrimp, succulent pork roast and beef stir fry, noodles (of course) and, my favorite, geoduck clams topped with sautéed cellophane noodles and bits of garlic. And the bowls kept coming! It was wonderful to be treated so royally, and at the same time comforting to know that our daughter had been in caring hands in her infanthood.All in all, the knowledge and insights we gained were priceless. Thank you again, China Ties, for connecting us with an important chapter in our family history.
Thank you Jeanne for sharing your experience in China.
Getting the guidance of the Korean Ties staff was truly invaluable on this trip as we navigated both the local culture as a tourist and the process of learning about my adoption as an adoptee. It was so helpful to have a local tour guide, a translator, adoption counselors, and adult adoptees as part of the staff! When dealing with all of the emotions of doing a birth family search, it was so nice to know that all the little things that can be overwhelming when traveling, such as transportation, ordering food, or finding a hotel, would be taken care of. The program was well-run, the staff was knowledgeable and very warm and friendly, and we saw many interesting tourist sites along with the day-to-day places like the school and mothers' home. There was a good balance of scheduled activities and free time. This kind of program would be great for people who are traveling to Korea for the first time and would like a helping hand. Pat and her staff were just amazing and helped accommodate our special request to travel to a different city for part of the trip.
I just finished reading the reviews of several people who traveled on Korean Ties 2017. Although I want to try to add information that was not discussed, I have to repeat the glowing review of the excellent staff that traveled with us. They were receptive to even unspoken needs. I loved watching the young people on this trip blossom, develop friendships, and grow to love their country of birth. This process was facilitated by professionals who understood the experience of these adoptees at a very deep level and came ready to respond everyday. As many have stated, our itinerary was an excellent combination of seeing sights and experiencing moving parts of the adoption process. Our daughter was 24 when we travelled. I am so thankful that we followed the advice of Pat and went with the original Ties program. As soon as we landed, she connected with some young women near her age. Many nights she went out to dinner or to Karaoke with a group. In the morning she liked to go out to get coffee and communicate with the shop owners on her own. Due to the maturity and integrity of the young people on this trip and the safety of the Korean streets, we felt confident with this independence.Each person traveling with the Ties program will have their own journey. Know that no matter what contacts are made or not made, traveling to a home country is an emotional journey. I came to believe and have faith that we had the journey that was right for us.Now I want to dispel some of the concerns I had before traveling. Group Travel: Traveling with this group was a completely enriching experience. Following a schedule: Because of the time change, it was easy to start the day early. Near each hotel were amazing pastry and coffee choices. Food: We were usually provided with lunch and these were beyond any expectation. Again, because of the time change, we were hungry at this time of day and it was always appreciated. In the evening we were able to have fairly simple meals which were about 10-12 dollars per person. We did bring some power bars, cheese sticks, peanut butter and prunes. We ate them all. Flight: It was 14/12 hours. We flew on Korean Air and had a direct flight out of Chicago. We had two full meals, snacks and lots of entertainment. Money: We brought a good amount of cash. This made exchanging for won easy and we did this gradually as the money was needed. Each room had a safe. South Korea: I felt safe when we were in the country and I would love to return. I loved this trip and I am so thankful that we could do this with our daughter and this group of people.
"Each person traveling with the Ties program will have their own journey. Know that no matter what contacts are made or not made, traveling to a home country is an emotional journey. I came to believe and have faith that we had the journey that was right for us." A statement worth repeating. Thanks Peg! And thanks for sharing your thoughts about concerns you had before the trip, and how those concerns played out for you.
A birth country tour is a mix of "big picture" and "personal connections". We are grateful to our guides for all those things a family might need help with... translation, food, important sights but also child behavior! We are grateful for the new friends we made (a difference in age seems irrelevant when sharing an orphanage!) The biggest gift was making connections with important people from my daughter's past. Special thank you to kind team of Sarah & Samantha in Moscow and the amazing Olga in Kaliningrad. Our trip was made worthwhile, special, and memorable because of specific things you chose to do for us and with us!
"The biggest gift was making connections..." A universal truth. Thank you!
Words cannot describe the gratitude that I feel for the Russian Ties program and staff. I traveled to Russia last month with my 21 year old son, Zachary. We adopted Zach at 7 months of age and this was our first trip back. Zachary has had many feelings throughout his life of missing being a part of his country and also his birth family. I was not aware of the depth of his feelings, and he may not even have been aware of how strong they were. When we decided to take this trip, and to try to find Zach’s birth family, I asked Sarah from the Ties program if she had any recommendations. She recommended Igor and he was fantastic. He found Zach’s mom, sister and brother and Zach immediately began email correspondence with his sister and brother, using Google Translate. Our trip to Russia was beyond our dreams. Moscow and St. Petersburg were beautiful. The Ties program provided group tours every day to see many spectacular sights. My favorite parts were the lunches with performers singing and dancing to Russian songs. It took me back to my mom and my own Russian Roots (my grandmother was born in Radomisl). The absolute highlight, however, was the visit to Zach’s birth city of Krasnodar. During our 3 days there we went to Zach’s orphanage, the hospital he was born at, the court we adopted him from and the house that his family lived in at the time he was born. Zach also met and spent significant time with his sister, his mom, his brother, 3 nephews and some extended family. He saw his sister and 2 nephews every day and spent MANY hours with them. They became quite close. The driver and guide were amazing and amended their hours to accommodate ANYTHING we wanted to see or do. It was only because of their flexibility and caring that Zachary was able to spend so much time with his sister! We are forever indebted.This trip has given Zach so much of what he was missing and has opened the doors to continued and new opportunities to connect with his family and heritage in the future. Thank you Ties program and staff.
"I was not aware of the depth of his feelings, and he may not even have been aware of how strong they were." We often find this to be true. The journey tends to be bigger and more powerful than most people imagine. Thanks for sharing.
Before Guatemala Ties, I had a lot of blanks that I didn't know how to fill when people asked about Guatemala. I knew I was adopted at nine months and that I lived in Guatemala City with my foster mom, and that was it. I grew up in a suburb of Milwaukee where I definitely felt like I didn't fit in. I didn't know what to expect when I found out the size of the group I was traveling with. After the trip, I have made so many friends who are like family. I really found who I am on the trip, and I really have to thank Becca, Nestor, Kahleah and Angela, it would not have been the same without each of them. You were all so welcoming from day one, and made my home really feel like home. Words cannot describe how great this program is.
Erika, you are so authentic, and willing to share your beautiful and interesting thoughts. Thanks for adding a great dimension to Guatemalan Ties!