Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why Heritage Camp?


This summer, we packed up and headed to Tulsa, OK for Dillon International's annual India Heritage Camp. It wasn't a first for us...Dustin and I have been attending since we started the process to adopt Mia. In fact, one of the reasons we chose Dillon as our adoption agency was because they offered a heritage camp. Being cared for before, during and after our adoption sounded like a pretty good thing. Who wouldn't want the option to participate in that, right?

First of all, let me mention that, like most mothers, what I can give Mia are these things: unconditional love, refuge from the storms of life, lessons and guidance. But let me tell you what I CAN'T give her. Heritage. No matter how many Indian songs and movies we watch and listen to, no matter how many Indian meals I make/ruin, no matter how many Bollywood dance parties we have in our living room, I can't give her heritage. You know, the deep rooted, experience of her heritage. As parents we want to give our children everything, and it saddens me to think that I will never be able to fully give her that.

BUT...

What I can do is this; help her create her own experiences. A great place to start is Heritage Camp. I never knew how much we would need it...she would need it...I would need it. At first we attended for all of the reason I told other people to attend; "it's good for the kids to see other families that look like us" and "they have so much fun learning about India." Those reasons are still true, but it goes much deeper now. No, Mia will never have the experience of rich, deep-rooted heritage, but she will be surrounded, year after year, by children who are experiencing all the things that she is. She may not have the experience of long-held traditions, but we are making our own...along side other adoptive families.

To all of you adoptive families out there, may I make a few suggestions?

Do all you can to be a minority in a sea of faces that look just like your child's. Try your best, on a regular basis, to be the minority. Your child experiences that day in and day out. That's one of the things that we discussed at camp this year. There are many ways to do this. One of the ways, is by attending church services in which the congregation is predominately of your child's race. You can also attend festivals and cultural celebrations in your area. Ask around in the community. More than likely, opportunities will present themselves for you and you family to engage in your child's culture.

Try to bring good people into your life that share your child's heritage. Do you have friends that are of you child's race? If the answer is no, please try your best to change that.

Get out of your comfort zone. Your child has to all the time.

There's one more thing you can do.

Attend a Heritage Camp. Find a way to attend. There are ways to lower the cost: work it into a family vacation, stay with friends in the area or volunteer at camp. Trust me, you will walk away with a deeper understanding of your child in every aspect. Enough said.

Here are a few highlights from this year's camp!




7 comments:

Julie & Patrick said...

Great post. Full of good insight. We are not quite there yet, but in a year or so, Devi will be old enough to attend and participate. I can't wait!

Julie

angie tucker said...

Julie,

It would be a long journey for your family, but I would love to meet you guys!

Ang

Laura said...

Thank you for your thoughts! We have kind of waivered on whether to go or not/how much emphasis to place on his heritage, etc. I loved the beautiful video as well. Very helpful. We will probably see you in few years:)

Laura

angie tucker said...

Laura,

We were recently invited to an Onum Celebration (it's a Southern Indian harvest celebration). My mother and I were definitely the minority. It was us and several hundred Indian men, women & children. It was the first time we had truly been the minority since being in India. Let me just say, Mia stood up so straight and proud...she was all smiles. I knew at that moment how important it was for us to be there...and to keep making it a point to "be there".

I so hope to see you guys at camp soon! I'm feelin' a huge need to meet some of you fellow bloggers!!

God Bless,

Ang

Nikki said...

I LOVE this post... so true.

I spent 6 weeks volunteering in India this summer, and am now fundraising for my work in Kenya, and to support an orphanage in India. I am doing this through $30 blog designs. I am reaching out to families who have or are adopting from India to let them know about this, as a fun way to bring in new readers to your blog, and a way to support India at the same time. Check out www.madebynikki.blogspot.com or I would love to hear from you by email if you have any questions, or if you simply want to talk India :)

Thanks!

Nikki
www.madebynikki.blogspot.com

Linda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Our Family of 5 said...

So looking forward to India camp,we will see yah in a few years hopefully.:) Great video. It is so sweet to see Anju there with all the kiddos. Gidget