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The presentation about Collin and the Gift of Identity is all wonderful. I went to place an order, however, and was not able to buy four that I wanted for a special occasion due to the 20.00 charge. I would have made the purchase, but this is too much for me....even for the wonderful cause! sorry! An item for 10.00 might bring you a better result.
Karen, I'm glad you see the "wonderful" in GIFT of Identity. Sadly, the cost to make the ornaments was more than $10 each. If we are going to create grants, we need to make some money on the sale of the ornaments. In other years, we've sold ornaments for between $15 and $20 with great success. I hope that will be true again this year. We appreciate your feedback.
I am thankful to the Gift of Identity for understanding how important it is for adoptees and their families to travel to their birth countries. I adopted my son, Mark (Phirun) from Cambodia in 2001 when he was 10 months old. The only memories he has of his birth country are not truly his but come from photos and stories that we have shared with him. We have attended a Cambodian Heritage Camp in recent years which has piqued his desire to learn more about his birth country. Mark has made some wonderful friendships at the camp with kids who share his life experience. He does not need to explain anything to them; unlike at home he does not endure questions about why he does not look like his family. Many of his Heritage Camp friends have traveled back to Cambodia and he wishes to do the same. Two of his friends who shared the same Nanny at the same orphanage have visited Cambodia with the Ties Program in recent years and were able to reconnect with this Nanny. I know she loved my son and gave him a wonderful start in life. She came to our hotel the night before we took him to the USA and cried as she said goodbye giving us a photograph of them together that has had a place on his dresser ever since. My son is curious about his birth parents but has always wanted to see his Nanny again. To allow them to reconnect would be a remarkable gift for them both.
I believe learning about his birth land and culture will help him feel more comfortable with himself and help him in his teen years during which most young people struggle with their sense of self. Now 13 years old, my son seems embarrassed by his physical appearance. He says that he wishes his skin was white, his nose a different shape, and his hair different as well. I want him to be proud of his heritage and confident in himself. A trip to his birth country with this program would help provide that while also giving him emotional support. I thought we would have made this trip already but divorce, a cross country move, and a reduction in pay to allow me the flexibility to be a single parent to Mark and his sister while also caring for my elderly mother has kept that out of reach. Now my daughter is a senior in high school and with college expenses looming for the next 8 years for both children combined I thought we would never get the chance to go together as a family. I am thankful that the Gift of Identity might make this possible after-all.
We adopted our children from Paraguay 25 years ago. We have always told them that we would go back and visit their country of origin. We had saved a good portion of the money to do this in the summer of 2011, and had planned to travel in 2012, when my youngest daughter would be finished with college. Mother Nature had different plans. On Aug. 28, 2011 Hurricane Irene hit. Our house, and everything in it was destroyed. We stayed with a friend for a month, trying to find an affordable apartment that would accommodate four adults, a cat and a dog. We finally found a place to stay – it was a total of four rooms over a busy restaurant, but the landlord was an angel – and said we could keep our pets there too.
The next year was a blur of paper work trying to get our insurance money from FEMA. In the course of that year, I was furloughed from my teaching job. My husband is retired – so this was quite a hit. Everything we had saved over the past 25 years went into rebuilding our house – including the money for our trip. Just before Christmas 2012, we moved into a modular home.
Now that we are back in our own home, the girls have started asking about our trip. Our expenses are high, and our income is greatly decreased so I have had to tell them that it would be a long time till we can save up the money again. Then, our friend told me about the GIFT of Identity Fund. I started looking into it. It is an amazing organization that understands how important it is for adopted children to experience, first hand, the culture of their country of origin. With the help from a GIFT grant, we hope to fulfill a life long dream, and travel to Paraguay next summer while my husband is still able to travel.
This program is an answer to our prayers! We knew the day would come when our son was emotionally and physically ready to handle a trip back to his birth country. We wanted it to be his decision. Finally this year he came to us and told us he was ready and anxious to travel back to Romania. We didn't know where to begin! And we were worried about the financial cost for such a trip! I came across Gift of Identity and knew this was our answer! Finally our son has the opportunity to fulfill a dream of his that we would not be able to do without help! And not just the financial help but the emotional support and opportunity to connect with other families like us. We live in a rural area and cultural ties for my son are priceless! What an amazing program!
Gift of Identity is a rare jewel of a program. Having the opportunity for children to see, experience and understand their roots, a vital part of their identity, is self esteem building. Every child has a right to know and be proud of their story. Gift of Identity makes this a dream that really can and does come true. My daughter talks of little else. We are both looking forward to the joy and fulfillment that a homeland journey can be. What an enriching and rewarding journey beyond measure. How blessed are those who are a part of this.
The Gift of Identity Fund is an incredible organization that provides funding to international adoptees to visit the country of their birth. My daughter Anna (10) told me recently that “she felt like a part of her was missing, and it was still in China”. She asks about China often; wondering where she came from, what the orphanage was like, about her foster parents, and wondering what her Chinese parents look like and why they gave her up. Anna’s beginning in China leaves her with many unanswered questions. It is important for her to attempt to seek out some of the answers to have peace within herself.
Receiving a Gift of Identity grant allows children to return to their homeland to find some of these answers. It allows them to embrace their homeland and legacy of a culture that is theirs by birth, to find a sense of identity, to figure out where they fit in as a child of two cultures, and to accept themselves and feel more confident in their own skin. Many children have such a great desire to visit their birth country, their orphanage, to make lifetime connections, and to fill in the part of them they feel may be missing.
Kudos to The Gift of Identity organization for developing this incredible initiative! We are proud to be a part of raising awareness and funds so adoptees can experience an incredible and invaluable journey to their homeland.
This is an organization with a purpose, a model and committed leaders that understand the needs of adoptees and that will translate funds into the enrichment of children and lives. Knowing one’s self is essential to living an authentic and fulfilling life. For each of us, exploring, understanding and claiming our personal identity is a complex process that takes time, discernment and a certain amount of experiencing life. A piece of that experience often involves understanding ‘where we came from’. For international adoptees, this experience is literal in that it requires an actual trip that is costly and therefore, presents for many, a unique challenge in terms of financial accessibility. As a parent of an adoptee that has traveled with my child and one of the board members to my child’s birth country, I have witnessed the self-confidence and enrichment that comes from such an experience. After historically mixed interest in her geographic and cultural origins, my daughter returned home from her birth country excitedly telling strangers about her roots. More importantly, she returned with a piece of her story and herself that both shaped and became a part of her personal identity. I believe that giving a financial gift to this program offers an opportunity to contribute to our children, the adoption community and a healthy society.ph
I am so proud to be a part of this incredible initiative, raising funds and awareness so others like me can experience their country of birth. Growing up Korean in an Irish Catholic family, I never thought twice about who I was or where I was from; in a family with two Korean adoptees and 2 biological children, the heritage lines get nicely blurred. The real credit, of course, goes to my parents, who were honest and open about my Korean roots and always encouraged all of us to develop a unique iden****. It wasn't until the latter part of high school, when I had the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles (the Mecca of Korean immigrants in the US!) and spend some time with hundreds of Koreans, that I became interested in traveling to Korea. In response, my parents gave me two of the greatest gifts of all time: the emotional and unconditional support to discover my birth country and the financial support to travel to Korea, all six of us together. I remember one of my brothers saying "look! families that look like us!" (did I mention traveling with other families via the Ties Program is crucial?) and thinking to myself "look! people that look like me..wait, do they look like me?" This experience of seeing myself reflected in a country of blood relations, but always keeping in mind my 'real' relations, brought up important questions, tensions, and, ultimately, a sense of inner peace. In retrospect, I don't know how my parents were able to take us all to Korea - the cost of a roundtrip ticket alone is more than $1500 - but I am grateful: grateful they had the big hearts and financial means to bring me home in 1983 and the very same to take me "home" in 2000. May others be so generous.