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Taking Adopted Kids to Cultural Festivals: Connecting to a Child’s Heritage by Going to Culture Focused Events

Published by Wilford Witvoet

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Multiculturalism is the norm among families who adopt internationally and a growing number of domestic adoptions are also transracial. As many adoptive parents do not share the same ethnicity or heritage of their children, families look elsewhere for opportunities to connect with their child’s birth culture.

Culture keeping, as it is sometimes called, requires parents to research facets of the child’s birth culture such as food, art, traditions and music, and incorporate them into the daily life of the adoptive family. Cultural festivals let adoptive families to learn about their child’s birth heritage, while helping their child feel a connection to the past.

Finding a Cultural Festival

Many communities throughout Canada and the U.S. hold local multicultural festivals where different ethnic groups come together for a showing of diversity. Culture specific festivals that focus on one ethnic group allow families to experience a child’s birth heritage more in depth. In some cases, adoptive parents get to experience what it is like to be in the visible minority and the child is allowed to blend in.

Preparing to Attend a Culture Event

Although the purpose of going to the event is to connect with an adopted child’s heritage, it is an experience that will benefit the whole family. To make the most of the experience research the culture and the festival itself before attending the event.

  • Read books and articles about some aspects of the culture such as music or dance.
  • Watch videos of the culture event in previous years on YouTube.
  • Learn phrases such as ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ in the primary language that will be spoken at the festival.
  • Obtain a festival program and decide which vendors and exhibits will be on the “must-see” list.

It might also be a good idea to ask other adoptive families to go to the festival. Even though cultural festivals are not necessarily adoption centred, it would not be unusual to come across other adoptive families at the event.

Enjoying Cultural Festivals as a Family

Let the kids lead how the family will experience the festival. Depending on the developmental stage of the children the experience of the event will vary, but it is a good idea to have some goals for the day.

  • Purchase artwork, music or a trinket as a souvenir that will be placed in a common room of the house.
  • Get tips on hair care and skin care. This type of advice is particularly helpful to Caucasian parents of biracial and Black children.
  • Pick up free resources such as cultural magazines, product samples, recipes and government literature.
  • Look for information on local connections such as dance troupes, youth groups, places of worship and culture camps.
  • Eat food from the culture and enjoy some of the entertainment.

After the festival, research recipes of the foods served at the festival and make favourite dishes at home on a regular basis. Also place photos of the event in the family scrapbook or photo album, as well as in the child’s lifebook. If everyone enjoyed the cultural festival, make it an annual event and invite extended family next time.

Attending cultural festivals helps adopted kids feel a connection to their past and enhances the experience of the ad

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