Preserving our daughters' heritage and Lifebook creation:
I've been asked many times what we are doing to help our daughter keep her heritage, know more about her biological family, and give her something of her own that chronicles her life before us. Very good questions all, and these are subjects that every adoptive family wrestles with. We chose to be very open about the creation of our family, and I think it has worked out very well. DD#1 asked me if she grew in my tummy, and I said no. I said that she was my child and God told me where to find her; that her Ethiopian family was our family too and that we all loved her so much; that we are lucky to have such a large family now in 4 countries! We make and eat Ethiopian food often, talk about Ethiopian art and culture, express pride in Ethiopia and that our family is Ethiopian, and play Ethiopian music in the house and car. We've also maintained a close relationship with her grandmother in Ethiopia, sending small gifts that DD#1 has made, drawings, and many many photos. She, in return, has sent us letters and cards which we cherish and will put in DDs' books. Many adoptive moms-to-be seem to get sort of freaked out about having to share parenthood, and feel that their role as mom might be threatened if they maintain any relationship with the biological family. Those thoughts did go through my mind before my daughter arrived in my life, but now I see that in my eyes, in her eyes, in the eyes of the law both here and there and the eyes of her Ethiopian family - she is my daughter and I am her mother. The open appreciation of the love and care her Ethiopian family gave to her that we show both to our daughter and to them has only solidified our roles as her parents.
Also, I began writing her letters in a blank journal book about a month after she arrived. I've been telling her about things she's said and done, memories of Ethiopia she has told me, our feelings about her, etc. My plan is to give the book to her when she is 16 or whenever she needs to peek into my mind and heart for guidance or stability.