Friday, January 10, 2014

Celebrating Culture: Weaving Heritage into Our Everyday Lives

My name is Tobin Schultz, and it appears as though I'm one of the only guys who was asked to write for this blog. That's the perk of being married to one of the Joy in the Journey co-founders.  Most of the ideas below were copied directly from other families or books, but that's usually how it works with great ideas.  Here are some practical ways, as parents who have adopted internationally, that we promote our children’s heritage.

Ø  Journey to You Book:  For each of our children, Shannon chronicled our adoption process from the moment we found out about them up to the day we brought them home.  The books, which were created using IPhoto, include lots of photos, details, and stories of how they came to be part of our family.  We have a copy of each book always on display, ready to share with Lili and Eli or any visitor who comes to our home.  We also have a mint copy of each locked away for each of them when they are older.

Below are a few of pictures to give you an idea of the style and information in each book.

Ø  Gotcha Day Celebrations: Prior to Lili’s arrival I had never heard of a “Gotcha Day” but some amazing foresight (or stolen idea) by Shannon has led to a consistent, special celebration of the day our children became part of our family.  During our trips to Taiwan and Ghana we purchased a range of age-appropriate gifts to give to Lili and Eli on their gotcha days.  Our checked luggage leaving the United States consisted of diapers, food, and medicine, which we left at the orphanages.  Our luggage on the way home was filled with a special gift for each of the next 22 gotcha days.  Toys, trinkets, ethnic costumes, puzzles, decorations, jewelry, and tribal weapons all found their way to a hidden chest in the Schultz home.  It is a very fun time for Shannon and I to pick out which gift to give the children each year and we know that the older they get, the more they will appreciate the sentiment and planning of each gift.

Here's a picture of Elijah wearing his first Gotcha Day present, an authentic jersey from one of Ghana's beloved soccer teams.

Ø  Family Creed:  We have adopted some principles we learned from Raising a Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis to tie together our family’s values and heritage.  Using a combination of Chinese, Adinkra (West African), and Christian Symbols we have designed a family creed that we use to reinforce the expectations and behavior of our family.  In addition to these symbols being printed and displayed on a crest in our home, I created rings for myself and Shannon with these same symbols on them. We had a ring made for Lili and Elijah as well. The following paragraph explains how we plan to give them their rings.

The crest and accompanying jewelry allow us to teach and train each other while sharing the 8 core values of our family.  When our children reach a certain age and maturity level, we will take them on a tour of their homeland, have a special ceremony honoring them, and present them with their piece of family jewelry.  Shannon and I will also find time to stock up on a lifetime of future gotcha day presents! I highly recommend reading Lewis’ book to gain ideas regarding how to train and usher your children into adulthood and urge everyone to research the unique symbols and celebrations of your children’s birth countries.
Shannon's ring

Ø  Adoption Fairy Tales and Books:  Our bedtime routines are very similar to most homes, however in addition to reading to Lili and Eli, we make the most of the opportunity to strengthen their identity with some strategic book selections.  Our children’s libraries contain some  great “adoption fairy tales” along with children’s stories from their birth countries.  Here are some great titles that help to ensure adoption is a regular part of conversation and learning in our home:

  • Shaoey and Dot: Bug Meets Bundle by Mary Beth Chapman (My co-favorite)
  •  I Love you Like Crazy Cakes by Rose Lewis (Shannon’s Favorite)
  • The Red Thread an Adoption Fairy Tale by Grace Lin (My co-favorite)
  • Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale by Karen Katz
  • I Wished for You: An Adoption Story by Marianne Richmond
  • Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami
  • All Bears Need is Love by Tanya Valentine
  • I Don't Have Your Eyes by Carrie A. Kitze
I will measure the success of this blog entry by the number of books you order from Amazon in the next 10 minutes.

My name is Tobin Schultz, and I am the husband of Joy in the Journey co-founder, Shannon Schultz.  I am blessed to have been chosen as the father of Lilian and Elijah Schultz.  I am a high school teacher and football coach in Joplin, MO.

No comments:

Post a Comment