Posts Tagged ‘adoption’

Margaret Amara on Returning to Her Daughter’s Birth Country

Monday, March 12th, 2018

Want to learn more about heritage travel? Join the webinar!

Last month, you read about Kelsey Amara’s travels back to Guatemala, the country of her birth. She made her first return trip with her parents Margaret and Mark in 2004 and her second as a solo journey in 2017. The Amaras were one of the first adoptive families to travel with Cooperative for Education, but there have been many more in the meantime. And now there’s a specific experience – the Heritage Tour – for families connected to Guatemala through adoption.

Some things never change:


Kelsey bonding with CoEd staff in 2004…


…and in 2017!

Below, check out Margaret’s perspective on returning to Guatemala!

Margaret Amara’s family journey with Guatemala started many years ago, but she always knew it would include returning to Guatemala. “When we chose the path of international adoption, we always knew we would someday take our daughter to visit her birth country,” says Margaret. The Amaras did their research, had many conversations as a family, and decided to return with their daughter, Kelsey, in 2004. “Our trip to Guatemala, when our daughter was 16, was the right age for her.” And traveling with Cooperative for Education was the right choice too because the tour was “very organized, comfortable, safe, and full of beautiful Guatemalan cultural experiences.”


Kelsey Amara on Returning to Guatemala

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Want to learn more about heritage travel? Join the webinar!

“How would I feel when, as an adult, I walked through that door?” This is the question that wouldn’t leave Kelsey Amara’s mind as she prepared to travel back to Guatemala, the country where she was born, on Cooperative for Education’s 2017 Heritage Tour.

“As an adoptee, going back to what might have been home to see the “what ifs” up close and personal filled me with nervous anticipation.”

Kelsey made her first return trip to Guatemala with her parents when she was 16 years old, travelling with Cooperative for Education (CoEd) on that occasion too. Both experiences were life-changing in their own way. (more…)

Mental Health Therapist Tisha Way Gaynor on Heritage Trips

Friday, February 9th, 2018

Here at Cooperative for Education (CoEd), we believe in connecting people across countries. We believe that encountering the diversity of humanity changes us for the better. It’s a big part of the reason we invite you to visit Guatemala on our project tours each year. The experience of being welcomed, asking questions, grasping hands, and laughing with the students, teachers, and family members you support is one that changes you deeply.

Last year, we offered our inaugural Heritage Tour as a way for individuals and families connected to Guatemala through adoption to reconnect to the country. Mental health therapist Tisha Way Gaynor joined us as an on-tour resource for those who wanted to talk through and process their experiences on the trip.

adoption heritage birth country travel Guatemala

From noon to 1pm (Eastern) on March 14th, Tisha will host a webinar for adoptive families who are interested in making heritage trips (to any country, not just Guatemala!). In anticipation, we’ve asked her to share some of her knowledge and experience about heritage trips here on the blog.

adoption heritage birth country travel Guatemala

adoption birth country heritage travel Guatemala


One Mom’s Legacy to Her Daughter’s Birth Country

Friday, February 19th, 2016

Carrie and Lilly Schmidt
Remember Berta Alicia, the girl who simply refused to give up on her dreams? As with every CoEd scholarship student, her path to success was paved by a key player in her life: her sponsor. (more…)

Healing in Guatemala: One Adoptee’s story of return

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Brent Reuer Blog image

Brent doesn’t know his real name.

“I don’t know anything about me,” he said. “I don’t exactly know where I was born, what time I was born, what date, I don’t know my real name.” (more…)

Cooperative for Education Featured in Adoption Today Magazine

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

That’s right, folks. Our very own feature article in the June issue of Adoption Today! Adoptive parent and CoEd supporter Sonya Fultz and Adoption Today editor Kim Hansel traveled to Guatemala together in April to witness CoEd’s impact on a country Sonya holds dear to her heart. The trip did not disappoint.

Adoption Today Preview
Sonya says, “It was not until I came to better understand the lack of basic infrastructure in the educational system in Guatemala that I realized our son, Marty Jose, adopted from Guatemala at 13 months old, not only gained a family, but he gained access to an education, healthcare and a future filled with possibilities.”

Joining CoEd on a tour or donating to our programs is a meaningful way for adoptive families to connect to the country of their child’s birth, and to gain a deeper understanding of the stark realities facing many children in Guatemala today.

Read the full feature article here for a unique look into CoEd’s work from the perspective of adoptive families. Spoiler alert: You may see some familiar faces! Many tour vets will certainly remember Juan Jose, the charismatic principal of Santiago Sacatepéquez Cooperative School, and we hope you remember this inspirational young woman as well.

CoEd2013_FebSnap_Renee - 531


A Look at Guatemalan Adoption: An Interview with Mamalita Author and Adoptive Mom

Monday, January 20th, 2014


Jessica O’Dwyer knows Guatemala. She and her husband Tim adopted two children, Olivia and Mateo, from the land of eternal spring. Her memoir, Mamalita, is a beautiful account of her dogged pursuit to complete Olivia’s stalled adoption—even quitting her job to move to Antigua! In the past 12 years, Jessica and her family have been back to visit Guatemala many times, and have intentionally cultivated a connection with their children’s country of birth. We interviewed Jessica about writing the book and the ways in which she stays connected with Guatemala. Enjoy!

Why did you choose to adopt from Guatemala?

Adoption is such an enormous choice and undertaking that I view this question as having two parts: First, why did you choose adoption, and second, why Guatemala?

Like many women, I assumed I would give birth to biological children and in fact, felt a strong yearning to parent. But life for me held other plans. At age 32, I went through menopause. Thanks to scientific advances, couples and individuals faced with fertility challenges such as mine can avail themselves of medical interventions to create a family in a way that makes sense for them. For reasons that made sense to us, my husband, Tim, and I elected to pursue adoption.

Photo courtesy of Jessica O'Dwyer

Olivia and Jessica, in front of the house they rented in Antigua, 2003. Photo courtesy of Jessica O’Dwyer

We chose to adopt internationally because, again, that decision made sense for us. We decided on Guatemala because two social workers we consulted recommended Guatemala as the country they would adopt from: the children were healthy, and, instead of living for months or years in large orphanages, mostly were cared for in small foster homes. We knew that the country would remain a big part of our lives for the rest of our lives, and Guatemala was close enough to visit, with a language we felt we could learn. Finally, my family is Catholic, and Guatemala is a (historically) Catholic country. Religion was something we could share.  (more…)