By Sam Bowen, Chinese Adult Adoptee
For an internationally adopted child, creating a home that embraces culture is important. Although going out to eat at an authentic restaurant every now and then may help, adoptees usually crave more culture than food. One way parents can help bring heritage into a child’s life is through Dillon International’s Heritage Camps.
Ever since I was brought to the U.S., my mother has given me the opportunity to attend Dillon International’s Chinese Heritage Camp. Throughout the years, I have witnessed the impact camps provide to adoptive families and children.
Now that I am in a leadership role throughout several camps, it has come to my attention that these events would not be possible without the hard work of parent and teen volunteers — they really are the heart and soul of camp. It is inspiring to watch adoptive parents embrace their child’s culture so much that they want to teach others.
Dillon International’s volunteer statistics are decreasing. We are calling all camp parents to be part of their child’s adoption story. The impact parent volunteers make on a camper’s experience is unforgettable.
Along with making an impact on other children’s lives, your children will also notice you are taking an interest in their story. When I was younger, my mom volunteered at heritage camp as a teacher. Having her enthusiasm at camp helped me realize the importance of my heritage. At a young age, people are usually followers. If parents get excited about heritage and adoption, most likely children will too.
Although teen volunteers do an exceptional job, adoptive parents know first-hand the struggles adoptees face and how to diffuse a situation triggered by adoption-related topics. Emotional support is very important for a camp that could potentially stir up many feelings. Being around many adoptees may bring up feelings a child has not yet come to terms with. These feelings could include loss, rejection, racial and ethnicity issues, grief, and anger.
Camp is a great place to create memories with your children and other adoptees. It is important that parents are involved with a child’s heritage and adoption story. A great way to show your love to the adoption story is to volunteer at the adoption heritage camp — whether that be China, Korea, Vietnam or India Heritage Camp. Believe it or not, campers remember the parents who come year-after-year to support the event and their children. Think about making an impact on adoptees’ lives — you won’t regret it.