My daughter, like me, was born in Detroit. I will always have a deep love for that city. I grew up going to Red Wings games and cheering for Steve Yzerman, watching the Pistons when Isaiah Thomas was a star and Dennis Rodman was just a basketball player. I bled blue and cheered on the University of Michigan football team. And even though they never seemed to win for us, the Detroit Lions had loyal fans who attended that blessed Silverdome. My family were devoted Chrysler and Ford employees and we would never dare think of owning a Honda or Toyota. We celebrated all four seasons with divine glory, complaining when winter was too cold and summer was too hot. I’m a Michigander through and through. And Detroit? I call it home.
I very much would love my daughter to have that same love for the place she was born…to somehow feel connected. If it doesn’t happen or if it doesn’t matter to her, ok, that’s fine. But I want her to have the opportunity to know her birth place, even if we live on the opposite side of the country now. Or maybe what’s more important to me is that she knows we have a love for where she was born. For us, that’s easy. I’ve got Detroit pride written all over me. But what if your child was born and then adopted from a place you aren’t connected to yourself?
1. Visit. We were able to go back to Detroit as a family. We showed Callie the hospital she was born in and some of the old houses. We pointed out beautiful Detroit architecture and the museums. We also showed her where her (adoptive) grandparents grew up and went down some of the neighborhood streets. There’s something about imagining a place versus experiencing a place. It’s different. And I’m glad Callie was able to experience it a little bit.
2. Current Events. When things are going on in the birth city or state (or country for international adoption), talk about it with your child. Let them know what’s going on and share your thoughts with them while allowing them the opportunity to share their own. There may be pride and corruption, but there may also be incredible acts of heroism and valor. Callie is always interested when I tell her about something going on in Michigan. She loves it. It’s not a big deal, just a current event . . .but it’s happening where her story began. And that seems to matter to her.
3. Get Involved. Find ways to get involved to help provide service for your child’s birth place. Within the past year we have discovered that our daughter is highly motivated by money. This year, in an attempt to teach saving, conscious spending, selflessness, and charitable giving, Callie chose an organization to donate some of her dog-walking money to the Espere Counseling Center in Haiti. A friend of ours from college began this counseling center and is doing incredible work in Haiti where mental health care is scarce. We have been touched by all those they are helping and my daughter decided to be a part of it. Earning money for Espere Counseling Center has been something that she feels really good about and when appropriate, she shares with others.
Callie was not born in Haiti. In this case, I believe she happened to be drawn to seeing others who looked like her. She also knew a friend was involved in providing aid. So this service was meaningful to her. Recently I found this posted video and I was touched by this young woman’s commitment, selflessness, resourcefulness, and charitable heart. This year Callie has decided to now donate her funds to help The Empowerment Plan, based out of her birth place, Detroit. For Callie, it’s something simple, but it’s giving a little more meaning and purpose to her work and earnings. She’s very excited to do something to help those from where she is from.
Does it matter if we have a connection got our birth place? What do you think? We can still be successful, compassionate, service oriented people without knowing where we physically came from. But does it give us a piece of our puzzle? I think so. It may not be a crucial piece, but as an adoptive mom I hope to be able to provide as many pieces as possible. Again, does it matter? My plan is to provide, and let my children decide.
Do you think it’s important to have some kind of connection with a birth place? Why? If so, what have you done, or what would you like to do, to help create/maintain that connection for your child?