A family of three becomes a family of four through transracial adoption.
PART 3 of 5: Fitting In!
Suddenly we were parents of a baby again! And anyone who has had a baby knows that “sleeping like a baby” is anything but! Unless of course they meant “wakes up every two hours wanting to be fed.” Still, he was our little guy from three weeks old. Honestly, it felt more like we were over-glorified babysitters for the state at first. But in time he found a place in our hearts and that place grew and grew until we couldn’t imagine him not being in our lives.
Another aspect I didn’t count on when we adopted was how much I would learn about our friends and family. You learn a lot about people from their reaction to an adopted baby. For example, we told an incognita nun friend of ours (she didn’t wear a habit and came from a disavowed order) that we were not allowed to baptize the baby until after the adoption was finalized. Rather than give words of consolation she gave us instructions on how to secretly baptize him ourselves and then after the adoption go through the motions to make it official. Now if it were not for adoption I never would have known how subversive and radical nuns can be! For the record we waited until after the adoption to baptize him.
It was also strange to hear how many people were curious about his race. Perhaps I was naïve about the stigma surrounding adoption, and how many think of county adoptions as problem minority children. It really struck home when a friend from church, upon seeing him, commented, “You know, you can hardly tell he’s black.” Wow. How do you respond to something like that? What could it mean? I turned it over in my mind trying to find the positive or at least ignorant basis for the question, but I couldn’t find one.
Perhaps for these reasons the National Association of Black Social Workers advocates against transracial adoption. Per their position paper on their website: “transracial adoption of an African American child should only be considered after documented evidence of unsuccessful same race placements has been reviewed and supported by appropriate representatives of the African American community.” They go on to cite several studies to support their position.
I could go on about this for pages, but the short version is that permanent placement trumps fostering and the numbers are such that without transracial adoption there will be many kids languishing in foster care. Not to mention that this position has an anti-multiracial bias. If black kids should be in black homes, then what about mixed kids? Are they still black? And if they are should they be in all black homes?
Rather, what transracial adoption does is force the extended family and friends of the adopting family to learn to accept the minority child. And by so doing, learn to accept minority people in general. In some respects, transracial adoption can be one of the greatest benefits to minority communities.
Of course, the adopting family must also learn to respect and pass on some sense of cultural awareness to the child. It is only natural for children to want to learn more about their history and it’s the parent’s responsibility to provide that. Parents must also prepare their children for the biases and discrimination that is out there. Thus a more enlightened position for the National Association of Black Social Workers should not be the denial of transracial placement. Rather it should be the creation of programs and services to help parents learn about the history of their child’s ancestry and assist them in passing on this cultural competency to their children.
Enough with the politics. The story so far is nearing to a close with what is actually a beginning.
Coming up next… PART 4: Adoption Day!
By Thomas Lopez