June 19, 2007 by multiracialsky
I’ve started and stopped several posts over the past few days, and they all end up canned for the same reason: I am trying to find a way to say what I need to say without offending anyone, but I don’t think it is possible.
My Way: I wrote about how choosing to do things differently has led more than one person to accuse me of making life difficult for myself on purpose, and how I know I’m a PIA (pain in the ass) and a perfectionist about a lot of things.
Where’s That Village?: I wrote about how much my husband and I both work, and how we don’t live near family (by choice) but how burned out I get sometimes because I am over-protective of letting my kids go off to friend’s houses, schools, babysitters, because most everyone around here has a monoracially-White perspective.
Meant To Be: I wrote about how strange this phrase (as used in the adoptive parent community) is to me, and how I can’t imagine my life without each of my children–but I can imagine their lives without me.
The Same Coin: I wrote about the duality of race, how scientifically there is only one race, but the social construct of different races affects us all.
Transracial Adoption: I wrote about some of the transracially adoptive parents I know. I started with a quote from a friend who is an adult transracial adoptee. At a domestic pre-adoption orientation, our friend said to a bunch of hopeful adoptive parents, When you consider transracial adoption, give it as much thought as you give to whether you could accept each of those serious life-long medical conditions. I got the closest here, writing about adoptive parents who verbally denigrate their children’s birthparents/families (“My child’s birthmother was a truck-stop prostitute; why would they want to have anything to do with her?” Yes, this is an actual quote), White parents in multiracial families who use terminology like “mulatto” or “blacktown” (she’s talking about Africa), and a transracially adoptive parent who expected me to nod my head in agreement with this atrocious statement:
The social worker asked me what we were going to do to honor his [African American] culture, and I thought to myself, What do you want us to do? Take him back to Africa? Get him naked and make him dig in the dirt? Teach him to say ‘ooga-booga’? But I just told that social worker what she wanted to hear.
My starting and stopping these previous posts comes from something inside of me that balks at challenging or upsetting other parents. But the problem is this–I am disturbed by the views espoused by many adoptive, especially transracially adoptive, parents. I agree with adult adoptee perspectives a lot more often than I understand or agree with adoptive parent perspectives.
I will not be surprised or personally offended if my child (a) seeks out their birthfamily, (b) reunites with their birthfamily, (c) chooses their birthmother instead of me (for a while or forever), (d) thinks I was part of the problem instead of the solution by choosing to adopt, (e) tells me I will never be able to understand them because I am not visibly a person of color or because I do not have African American heritage, (f) wishes their parents shared all of their ancestry, (g) wishes they had not been adopted.
I am not pro-adoption. I am not anti-adoption, but I do think adoption should be used as a last resort and should be open whenever possible. I do not think adoption should be about providing babies/children to families unable to have biological children. The adoption ‘system’ is corrupt, and adoption reform and social welfare reform are imperative for ethical treatment of all people, as well as for consistently ethical adoptions. I think separating a child from their birthfamily is a traumatic event. I think separating a child from their birth-culture, through transracial (domestic or international) adoption, is a very serious thing to do to a child, more significant than most adoptive parents are willing to admit.
Raising a transracially adopted child in a community where virtually (or literally) nobody looks like them or shares their ancestry/heritage/birth-culture forces the child down a very difficult road.
Imagine it this way: There is a man (we’ll call him Mike) married to a man, living in a community where all of the adults are male (married and single). Mike and his partner have decided to adopt a girl, although there are no adult women in the community. There are a few other adopted girls around, and Mike figures that kids are kids; they need basically the same things and he will raise his daughter the same way he would raise a son. (Maybe Mike is one of those enlightened adoptive parents who has photos of women and books about women in his home. Points for him from the social worker.) Plus the wait to adopt a girl is shorter–girls really need homes right now. Mike’s daughter can meet other women later in life, starting when she goes away to college.
This is a bizarre analogy, but not much stranger than the couples I met at a pre-adoption training who lived in all-White communities, and had never had any interracial or cross-cultural friendships or experiences in their entire lives–and they were in the process of adopting transracially. If a transracially adoptive parent has never known an adult of color (especially of the same race as the child they are adopting) how do they plan to raise an adult of color (which is what their child will be for the majority of their life)?
I don’t think I’m a god of multiracial parenting or transracial adoption. I know I can’t possibly have everything ‘right’. I will spend my entire life moving along the multiracial-parenting learning curve. What I do know is, at the very least, I have a clue (maybe even a few), and hopefully my clues are leading me in the ‘right’ direction–if there actually is such a thing.