When I saw the Adoption Link-up topic on Maintaining Birth/Cultural Ties, I thought, "I can write about both situations." We have two children who were adopted in two completely different scenarios: an American infant who was born in Germany, placed with us at birth while we lived in Germany, and whose adoption was finalized in Germany and a 4 year old who has special needs adopted from Bulgaria who had been living in an orphanage while we lived in Alabama.
Because my children are older, I really need to make sure I am respecting their privacy in these situations and not crossing boundaries. These are their stories to tell and not mine. I make sure I have their permission to share anything that is personal.
Maintaining Birth Ties
We are not against maintaining birth ties with J's family. We have maintained contact with his birth mother from the beginning of our relationship with her. We send letters and photos twice a year.
Because of social media, it is easier to have contact with extended family in both directions; however, we (my husband and I) discuss this with J since he is an older teen. He is never asked to do anything that makes him uncomfortable, and we wouldn't pursue or share anything that would make him uncomfortable. That's about all I can say in order to respect my son's privacy.
[As a side note, it is a different world now than when J first came home. Social media was nonexistent. We didn't have cell phones with cameras. We couldn’t Facetime or Skype with family. We had to take pictures on the camera with film, run to the express photo shop, and head over to the post office to mail pictures back to the United States. It is much easier for people to find information/pictures about our children.]
Maintaining Cultural Ties
When S was young, we talked about Bulgarian traditions. We learned some Bulgarian (We spoke Bulgarish). We bought children's books that are written in Bulgarian. We took a lot of pictures while we were there. We have Bulgarian photos/crafts that are displayed proudly in our house and other family member's homes.
That being said, he is older now (a young adult actually). He is quite adamant about "That is in the past. I live here now. I am an American." Have I mentioned before that he is strong willed?
Where their stories started
Since both of my boys were born in Europe, we would love to go and visit Germany and Bulgaria. J would love to go to Germany. S would love to go to Germany also, but he has informed us that he has no desire to go to Bulgaria. I really hope he changes his mind because Bulgaria is a beautiful country. It is where his story begins.
I will be on the couch with chocolate watching their stories unfold.