One of the challenges of transracial adoption and foster care is gaining the knowledge to bring your children’s birth culture into their lives. Some families adopt transracially, without the desired support system of friends and family from their children’s birth culture. One of the tools available to parents of black children is the family conference UMOJA – A Black Heritage Experience. At UMOJA, parents listen to adoptees and experts in transracial adoption talk about what parents can do to help their child feel comfortable in American Black culture.
UMOJA takes a whole family approach and encourages families to start attending from their child’s youngest years and to keep coming back. Children as young as one month have attended. That’s because children begin to notice differences in color around the age of two. Parent programming gives the parents the tools to help their children as they develop so they can grow to have a positive Black identity. Meanwhile, children four and up receive age-appropriate programming where all their teachers are Black role models. Children aged three and under are cared for by Black babysitters.
UMOJA also celebrates Black culture. The Saturday evening of the conference is filled with fun entertainment and a chance to let loose and have fun. While each year is different, it is always the highlight of the weekend and something everyone looks forward to.
One of the advantages of attending UMOJA outside of the programming is the relationships between children and families. Each year, returning children look forward to reconnecting with friends. As children age, they connect throughout the year on social media, giving them a support system with other children who understand their unique challenges. Families have also connected and met throughout the year. Having other families that look like yours and with whom you can bounce ideas of how to deal with challenges is essential. UMOJA allows families to make those connections.
This year, UMOJA is being held the weekend of Nov 10-12 at Green Lake Conference Center. If you want to learn more about UMOJA, check out the website at www.umojabhe.org. Early bird pricing ends on 8/31. People paying by check after 8/31 will receive early bird pricing through September. For questions, contact Julie Ryno at email@example.com or (920)-373-0192.
A special thanks to Julie Ryno from UMOJA for her guest blog post contribution!