Adoptive Families, the award-winning national adoption magazine, is the leading adoption information source for families before, during, and after adoption.

HOME  |  COMMUNITY  |  BUILDING YOUR FAMILY GUIDE  |  CURRENT ISSUE  |  DIRECTORY  |  PROFESSIONAL LOGIN

A Visit to My Daughter’s Homeland

Our homeland trip gave my daughter a picture of her early life. She discovered that she was, and had always been, “real.”



My heart ached the day my six-year-old daughter told me, “Sometimes I don’t feel real.” I had adopted Elena at age two-and-a-half in Romania, and we had always taken part in Romanian adoptee reunions, picnics, and parties. Still, she was missing something that I could not give her. She had no sense of life before adoption.

Although I always knew I would take Elena back to Romania one day, I imagined such a trip would wait until she was a teenager, or even older. But after talking with an adoption therapist, I concluded that my daughter, at eight, needed to see where she came from now. We bought our tickets, made arrangements to stay with a host family in Bucharest, and planned a two-week visit.

Visiting Elena’s orphanage was a life-altering experience. Before that day, when Elena spoke of her babyhood, it was always prefaced with “When I was two,” as if her life began when she came to America. Seeing the happiness of the orphanage staff who remembered her, her crib, and her favorite chair, gave my daughter a picture of her early life. She discovered that she was, and had always been, “real.”

Every parent wonders if her child is ready to meet her birth family. I had met Elena’s birthmother at the time of her adoption, and I knew she would greet Elena with nothing but happiness and good wishes. But as we drove to her birth family’s village, I could see Elena’s bravado ebbing away.

When I saw the joy on her birthmother’s face, I knew Elena would be okay. She took great pleasure in passing out gifts to her siblings, who introduced her around the village with pride.

I advise families planning a trip like ours to give their children a sense of normal daily life in their birth country. In addition to visiting major tourist sites, go shopping at a neighborhood market. Visit parks and schools. Stay with a host family. Elena came away with a tangible sense of what it means to be Romanian.

Since our trip, I’ve noticed a change in my daughter. She’s much more comfortable with who she is, more settled, more accepting of why her life unfolded the way it did. I’m glad my daughter is growing up knowing that nothing about her past is out of bounds. Our bond is stronger, not weaker, because I was willing to share, and even welcome, her “ghosts” into our home, thoughts, and lives.

Jill Lampman lives with her daughters, Elena, now 14, and Becca, age 5, in Vancouver, Washington, where she is on the board of the Northwest Adoptive Families Association.

Back To Home Page

©2014 Adoptive Families. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited.

Post a comment

Your name

Email address (Will not be displayed)

Comment

Your comment may be subject to approval before displaying. By submitting a response to our topic, you give Adoptive Families the right to modify, publish, and reproduce your submission in the magazine, on its website, in the Adoption Guide, or in any AF syndication, anthology, or electronic database. There is no payment. You certify that these are your own words and that you have not violated any copyright laws. If you'd prefer to respond for background only, please specify in your response. If you don't specify one way or another, we'll assume that it's OK to quote you.


Find Adoption Services


Or

Find Adoption Professionals



CONNECT WITH AF






FREE ISSUE

AF APPS

GROUPS

GUIDE



Subscribe to Adoptive Families online or via toll-free phone 800-372-3300
Click to email this article to a friend.
Click for printer friendly version.

Child Development, Family, Health, and Education Research

Magazine Publishers of America
BETA