Homeland Tour Panel Follow Up Questions

There were some follow up questions for our Homeland Tour Webinar panel, so Tessa, Tara and Judy have answered a few here!

Tessa, you mentioned that there were some emotional experiences you had during your trip. Would you mind describing some of those? Did you feel that the trip helped you resolve any emotional issues - or do they still linger?

Meeting my foster parents was a big emotional experience. I was nervous mostly because of the relationship I had with them. For me, I met them for the first time as strangers. Yet they took care of me unconditionally as a baby, and I had no idea how to thank them. Communicating was difficult, but I think that just being there in their home meant a lot to them. Being in an environment where transportation, living, architecture, and just society in general that was completely different, was also emotional. I was out of my comfort zone. I saw how others lived, traveled, and what they saw every day. It’s hard to put my emotions into words. They are feelings and memories that you have to experience for yourself. As I mentioned, I was hesitant to go back to my homeland. I believe that most children will be hesitant any maybe nervous because of the unknown. For me, not knowing what I was going to see, experience, and feel made me nervous to go. Seeing and experience the culture and environment myself, helped me to clear up any questions or emotional issues I had growing up. I was able to see a glimpse of how my life could have been, which has made me appreciate and feel incredibly grateful for everything I have now.

Tara, did your trip change your family narrative immediately when back home? Did it dissipate over time or stay strong?

My journey home did change our family narrative, but not in ways that were alarming, or even surprising, just reaffirming. For example, I could connect several stars within the adoption constellations between the experiences of my birth families, and the experiences of my chosen/given families. For the first time, we concretely built a bridge between Southeast Asian cultures, African American cultures and European American cultures from the spectrum of recognizing and honoring both the burden and dignity of difference. And that narrative continues to live and breathe strongly; oh my, what's the alternative?

Judy, is it better to bring extended family members (grandparents, uncles, etc) or to go with nuclear family only?

It really depends on your family system. In most families, having grandparents or others along on the trip would be a distraction. Considering the needs, curiosities or anxieties of another person is a lot for the adoptive parents or the adopted person to manage.

However, extra support can be helpful if there is a relative with whom your family often vacations. Or perhaps there is someone familiar with the country to which you are traveling. Just be sure that relative is a hardy, low-maintenance companion.

Talk it through with your child first. This is first and foremost the adopted person's journey – make sure your son or daughter is open to sharing their experience with another family member.

As a compromise, some families travel alone initially, and then meet up with close relatives later during the trip for a few days of sightseeing.

To hear more, check out the recording of Where They Once Called Home: Insights into Homeland Tours.

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Posted by Gaby on April 14, 2014 at 10:29 AM
More from Judy:
Prepare your child for the poverty they will see. Involve an adoption-competent counselor because kids often experience something akin to survivors guilt or an intense desire to rescue.
Help child collect useful things through your school or house of worship for an orphanage.
During the trip, give everyone some breaks. Dominican Republic, next door, has lovely resorts. The contrast is harsh, but some fun time is welcome.
Watch a videos of Haiti, so child has better sense of what to expect.
Attend a Haitian church or community center event, so child has experience of being surrounded by people who look like him or her but not necessarily speaking their first language.
Posted by Gaby on April 14, 2014 at 10:28 AM
Hi Lael, some info from Judy:
Because so many children have now come from Haiti, keep an eye out for agencies beginning to do these trips.
If you're planning on traveling soon: Be clear on what you want to accomplish for your child on this trip. Consider making the first trip more general and wait to search for birth family or do intense relief work until a subsequent trip.
Especially if traveling as a family without the guidance of an adoption agency, talk to an adoption-competent therapist or an an agency's motherland trip coordinator about things to consider before travel. Assuming a counselor, meet after the trip also to debrief and consider memories and adoption triggers experienced.
Posted by Lael on April 10, 2014 at 9:18 AM
How do you plan a homeland tour if there are none to your child's country of origin?(Haiti) Its a third world country so I have a few safety concerns as well.
Discussion, advice and a few of our favorite experts. All for families formed through adoption.