Sunday, October 11, 2015

Your child's heritage - Important or not?


I have always been very interested in my heritage, even as a little girl.  Not everyone is though!  I know some of my family members care but really it wouldn't bother them to skip having the information of their ancestors.  For me it means a lot, maybe cause I have a very curious personality!  Ok - I'm nosy! 

My mom was born and raised in Liverpool and my biological father's family came from England as well.  I kinda say that I am so British that I am Welsh.  The British family lineage goes back so far that my relatives are from Wales.  Basically I look at it like if I were to say I am sooooo American that I am American Indian.  Ok that may be not exactly right but I hope you get the idea.

I traveled a lot as a child and I spent many months growing up with my cousins in Liverpool.  I thought I was cool being from England.  I loved being there but I missed out on having the daily closeness with them.  It was hard in the 70's and 80's and even the 90's to contact family overseas.  The phone would ring at my house and I would pick it up and there would be a pause - a long pause with static - then a beep - and some more static - and then some echo of my Nana saying "hello"!  It felt like it took 5 minutes just to start the conversation.  If I spoke words at the same time as she did then it would cancel out everything and it would go silent.  It was terrible! It wasn't til about 10 years ago that we could make calls that were clear and didn't echo!

Just yesterday I was lucky enough to go to the NYC and visit with my 1st cousin, E, and her daughter, F. They decided to make a quick trip to see NYC for F's birthday.  I took L with me so they could see one of my sons. (The little one would have been too hard to watch there for the day).  As we walked around and saw some sites and took pictures together, we chatted about our lives and caught up on what we missed.  I have to say it is funny how I hadn't seen E in almost 2 decades but we didn't skip a beat when we saw each other.  It was like we never missed a day...

When L and I arrived that morning had to walk a bit to get from the train station to the meeting point where my cousins were.  In the 10 minute walk, I explained again who we were meeting and why they were here.  I think in his 5 year old brain all he heard was the word FAMILY.  That is all he needed to know I guess.  When E came towards us, I told him that your cousin sweetheart and he ran over and gave her a hug.  He began to tell her all the details of the train ride and didn't stop talking for the next few hours!  He was excited to know he had more family.

He would walk hand and hand with them throughout the day.  It was beautiful to see.  I could have walked away and he would have felt safe because all he needed to know was mommy said it was family and family means safe.

So where am I going with this story... As I watched the days events unfold and watched my son feel loved from people he had never met before, I started to think of the future.  How wonderful would it be to travel to the country of his origin?  It would be expensive but who cares!  He may not have contact with his birth family but that shouldn't stop him from learning his heritage.  How important it is to feel you fit in?  How would that help him understand more of what his ancestors did or how they grew up?  His country of origin is not common and it would be so interesting to see.  He was not born in this foreign country, he was born in the USA.  But with his skin color versus mine, he has already started asking questions about why we are different.  It would be amazing to help him fill in gaps where he needs.  Now of course, it would be up to him if he wants to go.  I always have felt this is his journey now and I am here for the ride.  What he wants to know and he wants to learn is up to him. 

What do you think? Would you take your child to England or Ireland or Greece or Russia or Guatemala to visit?  How important is heritage to you? Let me know!  I personally think it would a great cultural learning experience to travel anywhere!

Written By Chemene
Group Co-Leader
Adoptive mom

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