Aww, a moment to reflect. Now that the kids are settled into school and the summer craziness has calmed, I have a bit of time to recall the days of this waning season and the multitude of activities that filled those days.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted here at Bloom, Bond & Build. It was an eventful summer – expensive, but eventful. I traveled with family to Newport, RI, book club members to a Southern beach, and church lady-friends to Hollywood. Let me rephrase. I went with Christian sisters to LA; they’re nothing like Dana Carvey’s church-lady caricature on SNL.
My son got his first real job, and began working full-time. He landed something far better than the typical burger-flipping position of most teens. Or, at least he thinks so. He’s cleaning farm equipment for a machinery retailer.
My daughter cheered, camped, and socialized.
Amidst all of that, though, the best thing we did all summer was something only a couple of hours from home at Tan-Tar-A in Osage Beach. We attended our first ever MOGuate, and it was a great way to end our summer.
So, what is MOGuate? MOGuate is a group of adoptive families who include children born in Guatemala. Most families are from Missouri, but a few from other states have found this friendly, welcoming group and attend as well. I was told about MOGuate by another more astute adoptive parent.
Rosaline came to us when she was 4½ months old, becoming a precious younger sister to our now 18-year-old biological son. We have always been open about her adoption. And, when your child is adopted internationally and a child of color (unlike that of her parents), it is a topic that comes up more often. People have asked about her nationality and our story since she was a baby, and I have never been offended. We’ve talked about traveling to our daughter’s birth country, but have yet to make that trip.
We took a big step toward learning about Rosaline’s culture. We made connections with other adoptive families, learned about the opportunities to visit and serve in Guatemala, and demonstrated to our daughter how very much we love her and appreciate her heritage. MOGuate was a lovely weekend to share as she approached her 14th birthday.
(My girl is the gleeful one right in the middle!)
Within moments at the Pizza Meet-And-Greet, other teens approached my daughter and warmly welcomed her to their group. At the same time, parents (new ones and returning) shared stories and experiences with my husband and me.
The next two days were specifically designed for social time. Kids of all ages played in the resort’s pool, and activities were planned for various age groups. Younger girls had a slumber party and did fingernails. Teens boated and had movie nights. Some families played mini-golf, and others dined together. All were interacting and sharing and making friends. Rosaline loved every moment, and I felt so happy to make the connections we did.
We learned about groups that regularly travel to Guatemala for the purpose of helping families in need there, as well as exploring the culture and country where our children were born. It turns out that travel to Guatemala for these families is very common, and their testimonies made a trip for our family seem much more realistic and possible.
Parents shared their experiences with locating birth parents and foster parents. They described DNA testing that has given them a more complete picture of their children’s ancestry. Some Guatemalan children are more European (Spanish) and others are more Mayan. But, like the heritage of most here in the melting pot, there are those children who have other nationalities represented in their DNA, too. And, most exciting, some MOGuate kids have even found cousins and other relatives among their MOGuate family. My assignment: check out 23andMe to pursue DNA testing for my family.
The highlight of the weekend was the Saturday evening banquet, silent auction, and Quinceanera ceremony. Dinner was casual, so no one had to dress up after being in the sun all day. The food was kid-friendly and yummy.
The MOGuate founder spoke to the audience about the history of MOGuate, and we learned about the wonderful work being done to fight childhood malnutrition in Guatemala by ALDEA. BTW, “aldea” means “hamlet” in Spanish. Money raised from the silent auction, which included a colorful display of handicrafts, photography, and art from Guatemala, goes directly to this organization. I brought home a beautiful framed photograph.
Next, one of the parents officiated a Quinceanera ceremony for three young ladies who have reached the age of 15. In Latin American countries, this is an important celebration for young women. I recalled being in high school and traveling to Mexico for a two-week study program, and one of the girls from our host family had just celebrated this herself. Quinceanera marks the end of childhood and the beginning of womanhood. Yikes! I’m not sure about the womanhood part, but the dresses are to die for. It is a lovely tradition. Here are a couple of sites that explain the Quinceanera more completely.
The moral of the story… sometimes we don’t have to go far to find the best experiences. Good people, a commonality, time to relax and unwind. These are key ingredients for a good time, but when we are also doing for and loving our children, that’s as good as it gets.
If you are an adoptive parent, check out the resources that match your situation. Find those opportunities to help your child feel special and to look deeper into the place from where he or she comes. And, if it happens to be Guatemala, check out MOGuate!
Do you have a resource or tip for adoptive parents? I’d love to learn more. Or, did you do something special with your family over the summer that we all might enjoy. Please share your experiences with us.