Friday, January 4, 2008

Some Thoughts on Transracial Adoption

Thank you for indulging me in my complaining last night. By midnight, after some pain killer, a hot shower, and a glass of wine, my arm was feeling a little better. This morning it just feels a little stiff. Can I just say though that it really hurt last night. If you're planning to get travel immunizations soon, my recommendation would definitely be to get them in the afternoon when you don't have to return to work.

Adoptive Families February 2008 issue arrived today and they have a series of articles about raising African-American children including one by the adoptive mother of Ethiopian twins. Check out their extended coverage here. I'm especially excited about their list of book recommendations.

This morning I watched OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: Transracial Adoption in America, a documentary by Phil Bertelsen, a black man who was adopted at age four by a white family. You can view the entire 1 hour documentary by clicking on the link.

I'm hesitant to write too much about transracial and transnational adoption issues simply because we're new to this and my theories and opinions are completely untested. Still, it's something Paul and I think about a lot. By adopting black children we will always be conspicuous as a family. I don't think this is a bad thing, but at the same time I'm sure there will be days when Norah or Atticus is having a temper tantrum in the grocery store or having a problem at school and I'll long to fade into the woodwork as an average mom rather than The Official Ambassador of All Adoptive Families.

As I said, we don't have all the answers. There are some things we're planning to do though to prevent our kids from being tokens in a white society and to help them as they seek to form their identities. For starters, we live in a very diverse neighborhood and this is important to me. I feel strongly about not moving to the suburbs around here where our kids would surely be some of the very few people of color in their own neighborhood and schools. We're searching for a church in which our kids won't be in the minority. The local universities always have Ethiopian students and we plan to seek them out as babysitters and dinner guests. I was lucky enough in college to form a deep relationship with the family I babysat for. I hope we can pass on the favor by helping another college student to feel a sense of family in a community that is far from home. We plan to return to Ethiopia once our kids are older to travel and explore and we'll certainly encourage Norah and Atticus to spend time there if they feel compelled. We'll encourage dialogue about adoption, race and nationality. We'll do our best to keep learning and address questions as they arise.

I don't think it's possible to be completely prepared for anything in life. I'm not sure we're 100% ready to become parents (especially parents of two infants at once) and I don't know if we really have a complete picture of what it means to raise kids in a transracial and transnational family. I'm a big believer in preparing as much as possible and then taking giant leaps of faith - I can only hope this is the right technique!


chou-chou said...

Betsy, this is a great post.

I'm in just about the same place as you are - trying hard to educate myself as much as possible in advance, and knowing that there is no way I can ever fully prepare.

But it sounds like you are really doing all the right things and I appreciate all the info and links!

Anonymous said...

Betsy, it sounds like and Paul are really thinking of everything (and I'm sure I can't imagine how long your mental list of things to think about is!). I have a lot of faith that your thinking is the best way to prepare and that you will be doing a wonderful job parenting (very soon!).