Not everyone agrees with transracial adoption, and that doesn’t make those people racist.
I know there are people in this world who think awful things about my children because of the color of their skin. There are white people who probably believe no one should parent these children. That is pure hate and ignorance.
Frankly, it’s the low hanging fruit. It’s the easiest reason for not being in favor of transracial adoption. It’s so easy to understand because it is literally so black and so white.
It stems from despicable people who believe white people are better than Black people.
I thought that THAT was what I would be dealing with before I adopted my Black children. I thought THAT was the hurdle I had to work through and understand. I thought hearing examples of pure prejudice and examining if I could handle it was adoption education. Yikes.
But what about the opinions of some, or perhaps many Black people? Black people who see me raising children of color? I don’t know the statistics of who approves or disapproves of transracial adoption. I do know that the National Association of Black Social Workers does not agree with transracial adoption. I learned that on my own after adopting my first child.
I remember thinking that surely that was a mistake. I may have even had the audacity to send an email about it. Okay. I did. I sent an email.
I also remember taking it very personally. As a white, people-pleasing woman, I was (and still am) used to not only my experience being the dominant narrative but also, being offended if my “goodness” was questioned. I’ve spent so much time and energy making sure people liked me. And guess what, some people don’t like me because of my family and no matter how big I smile or how much I try to engage, they don’t like it and they don’t agree with what I’m doing.
And that’s okay. I hesitate to say “and it’s not my problem” because I would miss opportunities to grow and learn and become a better mother to my Black children. The dissenting opinions ARE important and inform how I parent. It’s just as important to examine those reactions to my family as it is to nurture and foster the strong relationships that me, my husband, and my boys have with Black people.
It was embarrassingly eye opening (and continues to be embarrassing to admit) when I realized that some Black people might have a problem with my family. This thought didn’t occur to me until after we had adopted our first child. I didn’t read about it before hand. I didn’t think about it. That blind spot alone, has given me a clearer perspective of how privileged I am, and have been through the whole adoption process. It was my story and my family that mattered. Not the history of an entire race of people nor the complex and nuanced reality of raising a child of a different race.
I just didn’t know.
That’s the problem. I didn’t know. There is so much I should have known and there’s so much I hope perspective adoptive parents and adoptive parents examine and sort through. All parents, actually.
How could I have known that women would stop me on the street, squeeze my hand, and whisper “God bless you”. This is problematic, even if it seems like a lovely sentiment.
How could I have known that a woman on a subway train would scream and lunge towards me yelling that I wasn’t my child’s real mother?
Or, that a man would yell, “There’s a special place in hell for you” as I passed by with my toddler in my stroller.
Or, that on numerous occasions, women would interject to “help” me parent because I wasn’t doing it right.
Or, that a group of people would loudly exclaim “look at that” while pointing at me and my children and laughing.
Or, that a woman would scream “That’s disgusting” from across the street.
All of the above examples involve Black people.
I could write a whole other piece about the problematic things white people say and do and I will write that post. That’s not this post.
I could also write about the kindness of strangers, Black strangers in particular. who have gone out of their way to offer advice, guidance, or a simple fist bump and “hello” to my children. That’s also not this post.
So, white people (particularly white perspective adoptive parents) what happens when you read that? What do you think? What is your gut reaction?
Because here is the truth. Or, rather, here is my truth….I’m not sharing these tiny slivers of my experience to judge Black people or to vilify those who have said those things. Quite the contrary. I hope I have made it quite clear that we have a community full of supportive Black friends, neighbors, and professionals. If anything, it’s a chance to examine the WHY.
WHY might they be reacting that way?
Yes, I wish with all my being that the delivery could be different. And yes, it fills me with complete rage if my children hear these words directed at me. If one reason people are opposed to transracial adoption is because they believe it’s not in the best interest of the child, it does seem counterproductive to yell heinous things that pertain to the child’s family structure (a choice they had no control over) in front of said child.
But, there are reasons for angry reactions. Real reasons. Valid reasons. Important reasons based on truths, on facts, on lived experiences, on this country’s long history of racism and oppression (that we also know is still happening) and unethical adoption practices both domestically and internationally (most people who approach me assume my children were not born in the US).
I wonder how long it takes to NOT immediately go to a place of anger towards the individual who has yelled things, and get to a place of anger towards this country, towards our white ancestors role in racism and oppression, in the current systems that exist, in our own privilege. I’m not there yet. I am actively working to self reflect, talk about this, be accountable while also addressing the sadness and hurt. But that sadness and anger towards the individual can’t be the only part of my reaction.
White adoptive and white perspective adoptive parents we need to get ANGRY at systems that uphold white supremacy and PROACTIVE by supporting the Black community, not just our Black children. If you can’t take the looks, and the anger directed at you, or if you feel that it is unjustified, it might be time for deeper education and internal work before adopting a Black child. Perhaps it will never be the right time, perhaps you (or I) may come to the conclusion that white people are not equipped to parent outside of their race. Or some perhaps people are equipped, and some aren’t. I don’t know. I don’t have an answer.
And so where do we all go from here?
We keep asking questions, observing, and finding ways to look internally and self reflect. We find ways to live in the uncomfortable and take action towards change. We have to.
Or, I know I have to, and I hope you will too.
I have to and WANT to, for my two incredible, spirited, non stop magical children who I am blessed, privileged, honored, and beyond proud to call my sons.