Adoptive Grandparent Shares His Irish Heritage


irish samoa boy indy green canalAccording to the US Census Bureau, 36.9 million Americans (more than 1 out of every 9) claimed Irish ancestry in the 2009 American Community Survey . But, of course, on St. Patrick’s Day everybody claims to be Irish.

For years I have been a lover of all things Irish and Scottish, and have traced much of our ancestry to those lands. Now that my new six-year-old grandson from Samoa is a part of our family, I hope he will feel connected to that, too. One of the first things I taught him was to ask for a cup of tea with an Irish accent (Coupa tay).

Adopted at age six, he is keenly aware of the life he used to have in Samoa and that there was a time before he was part of our family. I know that for some children who have been adopted, mentioning family history can cause them to experience a twinge. But I don’t think it has to. I hope my grandson always knows that he has both a birth heritage and also an adopted heritage. Both are fully his. When I tell family stories, I always say “our family” or “our ancestor.” I think he is getting the message because once he made up a story about having a family in Scotland.

I really like how MLJ Adoptions hosts an Africa Party and a Samoan Luau and other events celebrating the birth country of the children. I gladly join in and celebrate that heritage. In addition to that, I want my grandson to be able to celebrate and share with me his adopted heritage.

Part of loving someone is sharing with them the things they love and you love. So I have a Samoa rugby shirt, and he has a Scotland rugby shirt, which he wore when I took him to the Indianapolis Scottish Highland Games in October. And this St. Patrick’s Day we’ll probably have to look at the green canal in Indy and then go out for corn beef and cabbage.

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