Inhale. The Class Where We Discussed Trans-Racial Adoption. Exhale.

Ohhhh, I should not be blogging about this. This is the class where our social worker showed a video of several adoptees who were now adults and had grown up with the experience of being the only one of their race in their family because of trans-racial adoption. It left us tossing and turning. And let’s be honest about the most common scenario that we discussed: statistically-white parents adopting children of other races. Believe me when I say that people were doing this before Angelina Jolie made it cool.

The video was upsetting because it was several young adults, complaining about their white adoptive parents. Who raised them. And loved them.

The whole thing stunk of the ungratefulness and narcissism that every child harbors if nobody whittles it out of them. These kids just had a very socially acceptable complaint.

Please understand that I have actually taken the time to research and understand the real issues that come with trans-racial adoption. I think that if we adopt a child of another race, we have to be prepared for the fact that we are then setting our family up for a lifetime of spotlight. We will no longer blend in. Our family will scream, “WE ADOPTED!! WE ARE DIFFERENT!!” I hope that there will be so much joy and overwhelming love in our family that we won’t give a flying flip what anyone else thinks, but I’m not dumb enough to think it won’t be hard on a child. Being different is hard!

Here’s what else I think: If everything else is equal, kids obviously do better when they get to grow up in families that look just like them-the same race and culture. That’s the best thing for them, as long as they are being loved and cared for. The cold hard fact is that that’s just not life. There aren’t enough families waiting at just the right time to adopt these kids so that they can all grow up in families that look just like them and the next best thing-the VERY MOST IMPORTANT THING- is that they get to grow up in families who love them like crazy.

What got me about the video is that these kids, one girl and guy in particular, were so…extreme. I hope. I don’t know. If it’s not, if there are tons of adopted children out there that resent their parents to this extent, then I don’t know if I want to know. I was waiting for them to give me the story, like, here’s the horrible thing my parents did to scar me and make me so angry (so I would know what NOT to do!). It never came. They admitted that they were well-loved by their white parents. And yet this girl sat and talked about white people adopting black babies and essentially said that ‘white people get to do it because they have the money, so they can just have the next baby in line’. Like we’re here to pick up a puppy. What a slap in the face. To me? Sure. But how about to her mother? I really hurt for her. I know there are people who believe that. But this girl, who came from a loving family? I’m sorry, but she was angry about something and I just don’t know if it had anything to do with her adoption, exactly. Maybe she’s mad and hurt about race for some reason. But adoption… I don’t know.

I get that some people are worried that we are doing it to look cool. I know that our social worker wants us to see the worse case scenarios of every aspect of adoption to make us aware of what to expect. The video ended with the guy, who is African-American, looking straight into the camera, telling us that if we adopted trans-racially, we needed to be prepared to explain to our son or daughter why we chose to adopt him or her. “Because he’ll ask”, he said.

I exhaled, and thought that I knew exactly what my answer would be, but I waited until we got in the car to ask Stu. I had already decided that that one thought-provoking question was possibly the only useful thing that had come from the whole video.

Me-“So, when your (for the sake of argument) African-American son asks you one day, ‘Dad, why did you choose to adopt me?’, what will you tell him, Stu?”

Stu-“I’ll tell him that God put him right where he belonged. I didn’t choose to adopt an African-American boy. Your birth mother chose me, I got the opportunity to adopt you. We listed no preference. I did not choose any race. That is in God’s hands, but any child that He places in my family will then be my blood. Forever.”

YES. That’s my man. That was my answer. I love him.

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13 thoughts on “Inhale. The Class Where We Discussed Trans-Racial Adoption. Exhale.

  1. Great post 🙂 I really live Stu’s answer!!

    A teenager might have some snotty remark to that (they can have snotty remarks to everything!) but hopefully a grown adult who you loved to pieces will not!!

    I love you and thank you for sharing

  2. I saw a few videos like that. I also found that the kids they put on the videos were the outspoken,upset ones, the ones who feel entitled to MORE and BETTER, (like so many teenagers today.) I know from fact, (having adopted 3 minority children,) that the MAJORITY of the kiddos don’t feel that way. And neither do the countless other minority children adopted by white families feel.
    My children would have been institutionalized or in foster care for the rest of their lives because of their problems. I can guarantee you that the fact that they were not raised by minority parents has never entered the picture!

  3. We need more adoptive parents like you two!! I talked to Michele today about this and she thought it was crazy. She said, “Who would choose long term foster care over a family who loves you????”. Pretty much a no brainer!

  4. So it was a panel of “young adults” who were asked to speak to you (without pay) on how it felt to be the one person of color in a family – most likely the request was not to show the easy parts – what would be the point of that in a class where you are meant to learn something?

    And because you have “researched” you know what it will be like for them (?) and they are just being “ungrateful children” – they are no longer “young adults” because we all know that an adoptee is always the adopted child even when they reach retirement age. These “adopted children” are ungrateful – despite having put themselves on display (for free) to prospective adoptive parents, so that you can hear and hopefully learn something of the downsides to being the only person of color in the family.

    Do you really think they are doing this to bash their families? Seriously? Couldn’t you give them the benefit of doubt that they are doing this to give you “real insight” of a lived experience – that can’t be gained by research? That they want “your kids” (their fellow adoptees) to have aware parents that will actually “get it”.

    P.s. The “grateful card” gets so tedious…

    • I’m not sure where you got the idea that they were a free panel. This was a video shown in our training class. It’s very likely that they were paid to appear in it, although I certainly can’t say for sure either way. I can tell you that they were not volunteering their time to speak to us in person. I wish they were. I don’t think they were there to bash their families, but I do wish I could have asked them some questions. There was no real explanation for why they were so negative toward their parents. I would love to understand their feelings better. In my “research” (which is observing the families I know who have adopted trans-racially-it doesn’t get much more first-hand), I don’t see that kind of bitterness, however I have talked to social workers who explain that it’s very normal for kids to grow up with a strong desire to go back to their roots- to revisit where they came from. They sometimes feel lonely or like they don’t belong in their adoptive families. Emotions like that make so much sense to me. My point in this blog is that the in the video we were shown, I felt that these 2 were bitter about more than just their adoption. Something else in life had embittered them and they were casting it on their parents (as I think teenagers are prone to do, because their parents are a safe place).

      In answer to your question, of course I could give them the benefit of the doubt. This is just my take on things. My perspective. And as you can see from what I wrote, if they are speaking the truth, then I just find them terrifying. Their parents (IF they’re anything like me and my husband) most likely sacrificed a great deal to have and love these precious children. That’s scary for a parent.

      They weren’t awful people, and I did learn something from them, which was the point. Thank you for your imput!

      PS. You can never be too grateful. Otherwise your perspective in life suffers. Grateful people tend to be happier. 🙂

  5. With more experience you will understand how the word grateful comes off to the adoptee – perhaps after you have heard it a hundred times used on your children – in front of, and to, your children – it rates right up their with lucky to be adopted. The constant reminder we have been “saved”, “rescued”…and any losses are irrelevant and of no consequence.

    As to the adoptees being paid – highly unlikely. Here is a current post by a transracial adoptee and an older post by another transracial adoptee about the subject of compenation or lack thereof. Both blogs have valuable information besides these posts.

    http://mymindonpaper.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/the-most-underultilized-resource-in-adoption/

    http://harlowmonkey.typepad.com/harlows_monkey/2008/02/advice-to-agenc.html

    • Regarding gratefulness to adoptees, I was referring to gratitude in regards to life in general. Reading your perspective when it comes to how you are expected to feel “lucky to feel adopted”- I can see what you mean. There is a sense of loss that comes with adoption that can feel invalidated when you are only expected to feel grateful or lucky. I hope that I can help my child understand that he or she can always be open about his or her feelings, good and bad. Thanks for sharing the blogs, I haven’t had time to look at them yet, but I will.

  6. I’m Asian. My mother is white. And Jewish. Let’s just say I’ve never blended in. However it has never ever had a negative impact on my feelings towards my mother. We addressed our differences and embraced them for as long as I can remember. I have grown up never looking the same as my mother, but I can say it hardly ever crossed my mind. My mom is my mom. She’s not my adopted mother, she’s my mother.

  7. I agree with Simmie. Her mom is her mom-she is the one who raised her. My neice is adopted by my brother and sister-n-law, is now 32 years old and has been asked-‘don’t you want to meet your birth mom’? She always replies-my parents are who raised me-they gave me the world and I love them. She has no desire to meet the birth mom.
    I am praying for you and Stu-God will place the ‘right’ baby in your arms at the ‘right’ time. Romans 15:13-May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. NIV

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