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​​1.5.3 Culture

A child adopted intercountry is highly likely to look different to the adoptive parents and siblings.  New Zealand however is an integrated society, and most children integrate well into families, school and the community.  Lois Melina in her book “Raising Adopted Children” recommends that for older adopted children parents should be discouraged from trying to “Americanize” the child as soon as possible.  This includes keeping the child’s birth name, a name that they have become accustomed to, and carefully determining with the child when they are comfortable in starting school.  

A child’s connection with his or her cultural heritage is important to forming a sense of their identity.  Applicants should be committed to bringing the children up knowing their original culture and should keep in mind that at some time in the future it is likely that the child will want to visit their birth country. The more exposure the child has had to their original culture the more relevant their experience of returning to their country of birth will be. However, the extent to which a child embraces their culture depends on the particular child and the opportunities of cultural involvement in the community the child is raised.​