Countdown to Summer

For many of us, adoption informs our vacation planning. Readers share stories of birth parents visits and homeland tours, with tips on making the trips meaningful. What are your family’s summer plans?

A family at a theme park for their summer adoption plans

Returning to My Birth Country

“All my life I had wanted to return to my birth country, Colombia. I went back with my parents when I was 18. The most memorable part of our two-week trip was seeing my orphanage, La Casa de Maria y El Niño. When we visited the room where the babies sleep, I began to cry. This was the place where I spent the first months of my life, I realized.” —ANDREW

4 Tips for Planning a Homeland Trip

1. Think about the focus of your trip — to soak up the culture, or to learn more about your child’s adoption story?

2. If your child wants to try to see his foster family, birth family, or orphanage on the trip, give your adoption agency as much as a year or more to make contact.

3. One big benefit of group travel: It’s powerful for kids to see their birth country in the company of peers with similar backgrounds.

4. Before you return home, agree on what information will be shared with friends and family and what your child would like to keep private.

Rooting Our Kids in Family

“We want the newest members of the family to have similar experiences to and know the same far-flung relatives and friends as our other children.
Our summer travels will make for a sense of a shared family history.” —VINTAGEMOM

Making Birth Family Visits Routine

“Our son’s birth family lives in a different state. This summer, we’ll be visiting them, as always. It’s our primary vacation plan each year.” —DAWN

“On three birth family visits now we’ve met at the same restaurant. After the latest visit, it struck me — we’ve got a bona fide family ritual. At first, we went there because it was the easiest thing to do — ‘Oh, let’s just meet at that restaurant again.’ But this time, we met there with purpose. This was now ‘our place,’ where positive memories are being created for my daughter and her birth siblings. It’s also a place that promises, ‘We’ll be back. Let’s keep this going.’ ” —BARBARA

“We meet up and go to the zoo together every summer, where our son gets to spend time with his birth mom, biological brother, and grandparents. These are very special moments for all of us.” —CARIE

Exploring Her Birth Mother’s Heritage

“Our nine-year-old daughter’s birth mother is Honduran, but came to the U.S. to place her child so that the baby would not end up in an orphanage. This summer, we’re taking our daughter to see Honduras for the first time. While we’re there, we will be volunteering in an orphanage, so we can better understand the great sacrifice her birth mother made.” —LYLA

Our Family Goes to Heritage Camp

“Every summer we head to Virginia for Ethiopian Heritage and Culture Camp. It’s a beautiful weekend full of smiling faces and happy children. As my seven-year-old daughter, Zoe, says, ‘Camp is fun because you get to learn more about Ethiopian culture, and you get to make new friends. Then you get to see those friends at camp every year. Also, they have lots of great dancing and playing outside.’ ” —JENNIFER

3 More Ways to Work Adoption or Culture Into Summer Plans

1. Choose a destination where your child will be part of the majority. One mom recalls taking her seven-year-old to Antigua. As they walked down the street, the girl looked up at her, smiled, and said, “These are my people.”

2. Take a day-trip to a neighborhood populated by people of your child’s ethnicity, like Jackson Heights in Queens, New York, home to both Little Colombia and Little India.

3. Look for a way to broaden your family’s horizons year-round. Says one mom, “I went to the Black Student Services office at a local university and asked about churches. We ended up making so many friends and loving it so much that we now go all the time.”


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