If your adoption path leads you to a foreign land, it is important in my opinion, no matter what the age of the child when they come home, that the adoptive parent knows at least something about the culture or history of that country. Because, even if your child will not be raised in his birth culture, he will likely have a keen interest in it as he grows older. The lifebook is a good place to share a little information about the land of his birth.

Let me share an example or two. First, let's say that you are a citizen of the United States....most of you on my list are, but for those that are not, use your imagination. :) Now let's say that you are an overseas penpal to a child born here but living abroad for whatever reason, among a culture that is different than what she may have been brought up in had she stayed in the states. If you thought that she might be interested in the history, geography or pop culture of the United States, what would you tell her about, or show her if you had pictures? Mt. Rushmore? Graceland? Rocky Mountains? Southern plantation home? Yankees game? Mississippi River? Maybe it would be based on what part of the country you live in yourself! I, being born and raised and still living in Wisconsin, might describe a dairy farm and how cheese is made, the paper production process, a Harley Davidson and how much many of us enjoy the Green Bay Packers!

While you obviously have a much different relationship with your child than you would an overseas penpal, you have the same opportunity to relay information that they would not otherwise obtain on their own, at least not from an early age. But, because a child's identity is, in part, based on their heritage, why not empower them with the knowledge and, hopefully, pride!

My children are from Guatemala. Just taking a few key components of Guatemalan culture, I can share with my kids:

1. Why the quetzal is both the national bird and the official monetary unit and why the quetzal bird signifies wealth and freedom.

2. How many active volcanoes there are in Guatemala and how some individuals like climbing them for entertainment, education, or just for a "dare"!

3. How a backstrap loom is used for making the beautiful weavings that we brought home and how women sell them at the markets for income to feed the family.

4. How bananas and coffee are major exports of Guatemala and how much a community's livelihood and sustenance can be impacted by a good or bad growing season.

I believe that knowing these things help build an awareness of their heritage and an understanding of, perhaps, some of the things that may contributed to the reasons they were placed for adoption.

You might not think so, but there are scrapbook items out there that can be matched with similar tidbits of information for many countries. You can add a little sticker or something to make the page more interesting to the child as you share with him these things. Just using my examples above...

1. Quetzal coin and bird: http://www.scrapandtell.com/SearchKeyword.asp?s_keyword=quetzal

2. Volcano: http://www.scrapandtell.com/SearchKeyword.asp?s_keyword=volcano

3. Backstrap loom: http://www.scrapandtell.com/SearchKeyword.asp?s_keyword=loom

4. Bananas: http://www.scrapandtell.com/SearchKeyword.asp?s_keyword=banana

Good luck with your lifebooks!

Jennifer Demar