The importance of visiting grandparents overseas

Do your children live far from their extended family?  How have you handled visiting grandparents overseas?

We are fortunate in that my parents live only half an hour away and that our daughters, ages 4 and 7, get to see them once or twice a week. They love going over to “Nee” and “Ha-ji’s” house. They get to eat home-cooked Korean food, learn Korean words and songs, and watch funny Korean TV shows with their grandparents.

My husband’s mom, on the other hand, moved back to Korea about four years ago, and although she visits Chicago about once a year, I know that she has been wanting the girls to come and visit her and see her life in Korea. Now that the kids are getting a little older, I am trying to plan for their first big trip to Korea. My husband still thinks our four year old is a little young, but I think that in about a year, she may be ready.

Sure, the 14 hour plane ride is only the first of many daunting things standing in our way. I remember going to Korea for the first time to see my grandparents when I was five years old. I remember getting sick on the airplane, and then the long bus ride to the countryside, and heating up the water to take a bath. But I also remember the fun of meeting my cousins for the first time, eating really good Korean food, hiking up beautiful green mountains, and picnicking by the riverside.

My daughters have recently been reading Mo Willems’ Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion recently, and I keep thinking what a great book it is about not only growing up and letting go, but also about the joy and adventure of traveling overseas and the special relationship kids have with their grandparents. The main character, Trixie, travels to Holland with her parents to visit her “Oma” and “Opa” and she has a wonderful time drinking chocolate milk with her grandmother in the garden, seeing real windmills, and eating french fries on the street. I loved the way these sweet everyday moments with her grandparents were depicted. It makes me realize how important it is for our kids to have that connection with their grandparents, even when they live so far away and in a completely different culture.

Our older daughter, HJ, was actually born in South Korea, and we adopted her when she was 15 months old. We wonder sometimes how much she remembers of her first year of life in Korea. She really still does love Korean food, and she has a pretty good Korean accent that we think might have something to do with the language she heard when she was an infant! We’re not sure if she’s ready for the big trip back, but we know her foster mother who took care of her for that first year of life is really hoping to see her soon.

Here is a picture of HJ with my aunt when she was in Korea:


And with my grandfather:


I don’t think there’s any reason for us to delay any longer. It’s time for us to make sure our passports are updated, check out the airfares, and start getting the kids ready for their first big trip.

What have you done to prepare your kids to travel overseas? I’d love to hear your tips!

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I am a full-time editor and writer, born and raised in Chicago, and a mom to two girls. I started blogging in 2012 to connect with other moms and adoptive parents of special needs kids. My older daughter is adopted from South Korea, and the one I mostly blog about and affectionately call my spirited girl. My younger one is our surprise baby, who currently is giving her older sister a run for her money and turning out to be spirited in her own way as well. You can reach me at myspiritedgirl [at] gmail [dot] com.

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1 thought on “The importance of visiting grandparents overseas”

  1. I visited my “Oma and Opa” as a child in the Netherlands Antilles as they were then called. These were some of the best times of my life and they really have shaped me in many ways. I have taken my own children on several trips to visit their great grandparents and to ensure they have true understanding and appreciation of their heritage. Thanks for the article! So well stated!

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