Michael and Caroline brought home their two children, Jude and Gloria, from Hungary in December of 2016. While in country, the Price family fell in love with the country and culture. They have since been back to Hungary to attend VBS camps with local Hungarian churches. Michael and Caroline see the importance of preserving the culture for Jude and Gloria and enjoy participating in these events as a family!
Questions 1: What led your family to adopt from Hungary?
When we chose international adoption we did not know which country the Lord was leading us to adopt from. After speaking with our social worker, we chose to adopt from Hungary due to the availability of siblings. After receiving our referral we could tell from their pictures that our children were ethnically Roma and not ethnically Hungarian. This put us on a path of learning more about not only the Hungarian culture but the Roma culture within Hungary and the plight of the Roma people in Hungary. The Roma people are marginalized and highly discriminated against in all sectors of life, and therefore they suffer not only racial discrimination but social, as well. Many do not know that the Roma people were victims of genocide alongside the Jews during WWII. In Romania, Hungary’s eastern neighbor, the name for the Roma people became synonymous with “slave” at one point in history. While they are no longer slaves in the legal sense, the Roma people in Eastern Europe are still victims of the system in many ways. In Hungary, there are Roma communities and white Hungarian communities, with little crossover; this increases discrimination as well as makes it near impossible for Roma children to attend well-developed schools and thereby climb the economic ladder.
Question 2: What makes the six weeks in-country worth it?
When we went to Hungary to adopt Jude and Gloria, our first week was spent visiting them in their place of care. This week served to familiarize them with us in a place that was familiar to them, which helped to aid in their transition. After the first week of visitations, we and our children moved into an apartment together to begin what Hungary calls “the bonding process.” This process is 30 days. During those 30 days we had two or three short visits with social workers but other than that, it was just our family together, getting to know each other. We spent the days going to the grocery store and letting the kids pick what they wanted for dinner, playing at the park or in the indoor playhouses that Hungary has. Also, since we were there during the Christmas season, we were even able to attend the Christmas markets, a very fun and cultural experience. Each day we learned more about our kids and they learned more about us, which bonded us as a family. After 30 days we were legally allowed to adopt our children and we began the several day process of getting passports and visas before we were able to finally travel home together, arriving home on Christmas day!
Questions 3: What would you tell families who are hesitant about leaving their home for six weeks?
It is so worth it! We wouldn’t have chosen to stay 6 weeks, but looking back we are so thankful we were required to. Going into the time knowing it would be 6 weeks seemed a bit daunting. Although it did feel long while we were in it, we look back and see what a benefit it had for our family. We were able to spend every day together without any of life’s distractions. We were able to get to know each other without any distraction or confusion that can sometimes follow friends and family being around. Jude and Gloria were given the opportunity to get to know us in a country that is familiar to them and it worked to soften their transitional stress. They were able to experience the same familiar sounds, smells, and tastes. For example, when we went grocery shopping, it was empowering for them to show us all the foods, even brand names, that they preferred. They essentially had the chance to introduce us to their world. This gave them an opportunity to exercise a bit of control in the midst of a process that was out of their control, and probably very scary for them.
Questions 4: How did you prepare for the adoption of siblings?
We went into the adoption process with the desire to adopt biological siblings so they would be able to stay together. We knew that this would require more time from us as parents, especially in the beginning. Thankfully we were able to arrange a schedule with Michael’s work that allowed him to spend more time at home than usual for a few months after the adoption until we began to establish some normalcy in family life and routines. We also met with a counseling center in our city specifically for adoptive families. They helped to prepare us with tips for bonding, ideas on ways to pass the time in country and possible things to expect and how to love our children well.
Question 5: How will you preserve the Hungarian culture for your children as they grow and ask questions?
Preserving our children’s’ Hungarian identity and their Roma identity has been a priority for us. Specifically we have worked very hard to preserve their Hungarian language. When we adopted them they were almost 3 and 4 years old and very verbal. Thankfully we were able to find a Hungarian woman in our city who is willing to play with our kids in Hungarian several times a month. We have also found Hungarians in our city, have made friends with some of them and join in the events they plan. Another way we have worked to preserve their Hungarian and Roma identity is by choosing to do a birth country trip. A year and a half after adopting Jude and Gloria we returned to Hungary for one month. They were able to participate in two week-long VBS camps; we connected with local Roma and Hungarian churches and were able to engage deeper into the culture by establishing some friendships with locals. Since that trip, we have seen that our children are more secure in their identity as a part our family. Finally, we have read some helpful books on Roma identity and culture so that we are able to teach Jude and Gloria. Books by Ian Hancock have been particularly helpful.
For more information regarding the Hungary adoption program, click here. If you have any questions or would like more information regarding this program, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Jana Lombardo or Brianna Thomas.