Saturday, May 19, 2012

Adopting Transracially

Zay giving Kal a haircut - gotta keep him looking fresh! Ha ha. :)

Awhile back I wrote about white couples adopting black kids. It was 3 years ago, before we got going with the adoption process ourselves. I had an interesting point of view back then... kind of naive, but very blunt about my thoughts. I still pretty much agree with myself. And I'm still pretty blunt with my opinions. But I'm much less judgmental about people and their choices in how to create their families. That's a very personal subject and you can't really use blanket judgements for an entire group of people, so hopefully I don't come across that way. I don't think I did or do, but one particular commenter got all riled up about what I said. Oh, well.

Mostly what I was trying to get across was that in the black community with black people who haven't been exposed to pro-adoption culture, there is a feeling of hesitancy when the idea of white people adopting black kids comes up. It rubs some people the wrong way. There's a feeling that black people should be taking care of their own. I get it. They've had to unite together to get through some very difficult time periods in American history (if you can call slavery or fighting for civil rights a "difficult time period"...). And the idea of white people swooping in to save their children is uncomfortable.

And in a way, it's true - black people should be taking care of their own. I don't mean only black people should adopt black kids, but what I'm saying is that more black people should be adopting. It's a stereotype - but it's based on truth - that black people don't adopt. And there's a lopsided number of black children up for adoption than white children (specifically black boys). Black children are cheaper to adopt in a lot of cases, black people don't adopt them, so white people who can't afford expensive white babies that are in high demand adopt the black kids. And then people get uncomfortable. Racial tension continues. White celebrities adopt black kids and terms like "trendy" and "brown babies as accessories" get thrown around.

Hopefully as time goes on, a few things will happen: pro-adoption culture will spread, more lives will be touched in a positive way by adoption, and transracial adoptions will become more prevalent (on all sides - not just white couples adopting black kids). Then maybe there won't be such a hesitancy and uncomfortableness with it. Maybe everyone can see transracial families as "neat-o" like the cute little girl on this blog! Ha ha. So cute! Until then, white adoptive parents of black kids do need to learn how to make it a better transition by learning how to incorporate their kids' heritage into their lives and not just "white washing" them, cutting off their roots, not exposing them to other black people, and saying, "I don't see why they would need to know anything about their birthparents' culture. They're my kids now." Race as a topic shouldn't be avoided, because their race doesn't disappear just because they grew up with white parents. And don't be fooled - color does matter.

Anyway, I've had my own issues with race when it comes to adoption, so I know I'm not perfect. The idea of adopting a white child threw me off at first because in my head I always imagined my children to be bi-racial - white and black. Zay and I joked about adopting a white daughter... we were imagining she and Zay at a grocery store or some other public place... and then she throws a tantrum, screaming her head off, Zay trying to restrain her or carrying her out of the store, while she yells something to the effect of, "You're not my real daddy!" How quickly do you think someone would call the police on him? Ha ha. What a scene that would be! I can't remember where I read it, but I read a blog about a black couple adopting a white child and how they have been followed around in public places... because people were concerned that they were trying to abduct her. Wow! I hope that hesitancy and suspicion eases over time as society gets used to transracial families.

I've learned that race doesn't matter for our family. For a brief second I thought it would, but it doesn't. Part of processing infertility in general is mourning the loss of a child who will be biologically ours... who will look like us... with Zay's lips and my eyes, etc. I also had to process the fact that the children we adopt won't necessarily all be the same shade of brown either. And I'm fully okay with that. It just took longer than I wanted for me to get to that point. I was so annoyed that it wasn't my automatic response, but I think I was being unnecessarily hard on myself.

I admit that it's easier with Kal being bi-racial. No one has ever asked me if he was adopted, because he looks just like us... so I haven't felt like I needed to explain myself or defend the validity of my family or anything like that, but now I know I'd be ready to do that in a heartbeat and his race is just one part of him and doesn't define him. I actually bring up his adoption all the time (since no one asks), because I'm honestly so excited about that part of his story and I like to talk about it! But people are usually surprised, because it's not so obvious as it could be. I don't mind questions and I'm not worried about anyone's judgment, so I'm confidant now that race will not be a factor in any of our future adoptions. I'm actually excited! And super ready to embrace bringing more culture into our family if  that be the case. :) In fact, we'd love to adopt internationally eventually. Not sure where, but from wherever our children eventually come to us... that race and culture will be a welcome addition to our family.

We're working on getting ready to try and adopt Baby #2 domestically through LDS Family Services. We're not ready to start the paperwork yet, but we're getting there. And when we do, I will roll my eyes at the "race preferences" checklist. :)





6 comments:

  1. You're awesome.

    I sometimes worry about what would happen when we move back to northern Minnesota if we adopt transracially. There were two black kids in my whole high school! I honestly can't recall ever seeing a black person at the store, ever. Isn't that sad? There are a ton of Native Americans (almost more than whites), and a small handful of Asians. My nephew is the only Pacific Islander. It would just be so hard growing up without other people of your own race to be exposed to, like you said. I'm prepared to make whatever race/ethnicity we may adopt from a part of our family, but still, it would be hard in a place like northern Minnesota!

    And I loved the links you posted. "Neat-o!" So cute!

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    1. Anna, if you ever adopt - my heart would probably explode from happiness! Just so you know. :D But that's awesome that you've already considered things like that. It's important to a kid to not stand out considerably from their peers. And that happens sometimes when a black kid is plopped into the middle of a predominantly white place.

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  2. Even if they were your biological children they still may not be the same shade of brown like my boys. they are different shades from each other :)

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    Replies
    1. That is so true! I thought about that after I wrote this. Even biological siblings can vary in "color." In fact, I know a lot of mixed-race families where that is the case.

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  3. What a great post! I'll share this with an adoption supervisor I know :)

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