This Race Thing Is Hard
In the next week or so we have to make a decision on what races we are willing to adopt. It’s a life decision we never even contemplated making, but here we are and holy crap is it a hard decision!
We have to choose specific races like Hispanic, African American, Asian, Native American, Caucasian, Caucasian-Hispanic, Caucasian-African American, Caucasian-Asian, Caucasian-Native American, etc. I feel like we’ve walked into a grocery store and are staring at all the types of apples and being told we have to pick the best one forever and ever, and there is no going back. Maybe today I feel like a royal gala apple, but tomorrow a granny smith apples might be my preference. But this decision simply isn’t that easy because we aren’t talking about apples. We are talking about real life human beings who should in now way ever be chosen like a grocery item!
A few months ago I wrote about our initial thoughts on race and adoption, and our minds have not stopped churning since. All the questions I raised then, are still spiraling in our minds, the only difference is that now we have to make a decision and we feel no closer to an answer As many of you know, we over analyze everything. We research, we discuss, we debate, we think logically, we try to factor in emotion, etc. What we know for certain is that the more open we are on race, the quicker we will get a child. What we also know is that for us, this decision is bigger than expediting the adoption process. We need to be confident that whatever we decide is the right decision for our family.
Further, what we’ve discovered about race and adoption is that it is one of the most complex adoption topics that has no clear cut answers. There are just so many potential outcomes and we have absolutely no certainty on what will happen as life unfolds. And, to make the decision even more complex, because every family created through adoption is so diverse and unique there seems to be very little good advice available to help us make an informed decision.
In working through this decision, we have begun analyzing the consequences of race through a few different lenses:
- The adoptive parents.
- The adoptee (the child).
- Our family as a transracial family.
Our thoughts on becoming adoptive parents in a transracial family:
- MPB and I firmly believe in equal rights and opportunities for all people regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
- We firmly believe we have the emotional and intellectual capacity to deal with negative judgement in a respective and constructive way, as adults who can turn negative situations into an educational opportunity for others.
- As two very white individuals, living in a very white neighbourhood, in a very white city, we have never experienced any sort of racism directed at us. The closest we can get to being a minority is when we travel internationally and are the minority race. However, we face typical tourist type pressures, but have never felt any negativity based on our race.
- Will we be able to adequately help a child understand racism and discrimination based solely on their skin colour? We have never experienced it and have no way to understand the extent of the wounds that it can create, so can we really provide the best help for a child? We can read books, but there is no way we can truly appreciate the extent of the consequences.
- How do we practically teach a child to respect police and authority, and yet know that based purely on their race they must be very careful in any interaction they have? (Just think about the recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner to understand what I mean).
Here are our thoughts on race as they pertain to the adopted child:
- Our child, regardless of the specific race and ethnicity, will be raised in a predominantly white culture because that is what we know and are exposed to. We can and would make an effort to promote a link to their heritage, but we know that it will not be overly strong given where we live and who we interact with. Will this result in long term negative (and positive) personal consequences for a child being raised under these circumstances? How do we support a child in building a unique identity that reflects their individual heritage and their adopted culture?
- Will a child be comfortable coming home after school and telling us about any race based struggles they experience as one of the few children of a different colour? We do realize that more often than not children do not come home and tell their parents everything, but racial discrimination is a pretty big deal and we would want to help them deal with it and not quietly internalize this struggle.
- How will our child internalize events like those currently unfolding in Ferguson and New York? How do we help them understand these events, when we do not even understand them? How do we help a child understand
- How do we teach a child that skin colour doesn’t matter when practically they are likely to face discrimination based on their skin colour?
- Adoption in and of itself will already complicate a child’s life. Should we complicate there life more by adding a race element to it?
And lastly, our thoughts on our future family if we become a transracial family:
- Will our extended family be accepting of a child of another colour? We suspect not all member of our family will be. How do we explain to a child that a particular family member has chosen not to be part of our family? How do we explain to a child that love transcends race when some of their own family exhibit the exact opposite approach?
- If we choose to check the boxes which result in a child of colour, we will become the poster family for adoption. There will be no avoiding looks and questions in public for the rest of our lives – positive and negative. Ultimately, is this something we want? Is this a positive situation for everyone involved?
I know regardless of how families are created – adoption, natural, IVF, surrogacy, etc., there are no crystal balls that can predict the future. Life can and will be harsh from time to time. Life will throw unexpected struggles at the most innocent of people. I know I cannot control everything (but I still do love to try). Yet, I also firmly believe that we are active participants in our own lives, and every single decision we make will impact the future. This is one of the biggest decisions we have faced recently, and it’s hard!
So what do we do? How do we make this decision that will result in the best possible outcome for everyone involved? (This is a mostly rhetorical question that I do not actually expect an answer to. I know we need to determine what is best for us and our future family).
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