What that Gift Basket Really Means to a Birth Family

Meaning of gift.jpg

As part of the mission of Familias de Corazon, we provide adoptive families the opportunity to provide gift baskets to birth families three times per year.  Two visits during the year based on birth family location and one at Christmas. During a recent visit to Guatemala, I chatted with Fide about the deliveries of this year’s Christmas baskets.  I found her observations on the reactions of birth families to the gift baskets fascinating and wanted to share what she told me here.

Fide says there are two main reactions she sees again and again and they are clearly influenced by the birth family’s culture, with the Ladino birth families falling in one group and the indigenous birth families in another.

Ladino birth families are happy and grateful to receive the baskets and accept them in much the same spirit we would receive a gift.  They travel to pick up the basket, express their thanks, ask about the adoptive family and then travel back home.  

However, for indigenous families, the experience is a much more solemn and special occasion. Gifts are not common in indigenous communities.  Birthdays aren't celebrated and gifts aren't exchanged at Christmas.  When someone is told they will be receiving a gift it is always a very special occasion and requires the occasion to be honored with four activities:

  1. rise early on the day the gift is to be received

  2. reflect on the effort the person who is giving you the gift had to make in order to obtain the gift for you

  3. reflect on how the fact that someone is giving you a gift means they are thinking about you

  4. give thanks for the gift to be received

When our Christmas baskets are delivered it is a group activity. The birth family is called and asked to send someone to meet at a central location to pick up the basket.  We ask them to just send one or two people in order to minimize travel expenses.  But with our indigenous families they will usually show up in a group with as many family members present as possible in order to honor this special occasion.  They tell us how much it means to them that the adoptive family is thinking of them and how much they appreciate the hard work undertaken in order to send them the Christmas basket and they want as many family members present as possible to participate in what to them is a very special activity.

On a recent delivery, Magda, our Q’eqchí translator, jokingly asked a family, “What if instead of receiving a basket  we came to give you just one dulce (one piece of candy).”  The family solemnly replied, “we would still all come and this would still be a very special moment because of who is sending that one dulce.”

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