Life is fast paced, and I’m inundated with distractions vying for my family’s attention. I strive to budget our time to be with the ones we love and do what’s truly important to us. Any budget is a challenge, but none more important to me than our family priorities.
I see this same tug-of-war play out in many families. As parents, we want to help our children become well-rounded adults. We focus on their education, spiritual growth and physical development, while searching for their passions in sports, music and the arts. We spend time scheduling, juggling and traveling to and fro in pursuit of giving our kids what we deem important in their childhoods.
I devote much consideration to determining the priorities for my family, just like everyone else. In addition to the usual considerations, as a Forever Family I also seek balance in priorities that biological families may not be concerned with. In my effort to not over-book us, our time budget may require that we don’t partake in some areas, even though it would be fun.
Our top four priorities are:
My family values and enjoys participating in cultural events and camps. They instill an understanding and appreciation of my kid’s birth countries as well as embracing the diversity of other cultures. We learn about tradition, food, music, dance, history, languages, folktales, art, craftsmanship and practices. We all gain pride and affection for the rich histories as we grow deeper roots in our family cultures.
My family embraces and celebrates three beautiful and distinct cultures: Guatemalan, Ethiopian and American. We dedicate time and effort to building relationships with others connected to these cultures with families united as mine was.
In a world that often doesn’t fully understand adoption and interracial families, it’s helpful to be with other families that look like ours and understand our experiences. Bonds have been formed with amazing people we may not have met had it not been for our common blessing of adoption. I marvel at how much color our life has because of the friendships we have made.
We travel to be with others from or born in Guatemala and Ethiopia, just like we do to see family here in the U.S. It’s a core value for my family to spend time on a regular basis in the birth countries of my children.
This is a big financial and time commitment, but one that is foundational. I believe that to build relationships, develop strong ties and nurture a strong racial identity we must spend time in-person, feet planted firmly on the soils of both; nothing compares with live, in-person interactions. I can describe the taste or smell of something; however, it will pale in comparison to actually tasting and smelling it.
I believe it’s central to healthy racial identity formation to learn the language of my children’s birth cultures. It’s a primary goal for my family to be able to speak both Spanish and Amharic in addition to English. This takes an enormous effort and devotion, and quite frankly a bit of luck, as we live in an area without a large population who speak either language.
I burst into tears when presented in May with the opportunity for my family to learn one native tongue. The tears erupted from the very bottom of my mommy-heart and spilled forth in gratitude, excitement, and love for my children and from where they came.
An onlooker would think that I had just won the lottery–and in my family priority list, we did!