Open Mike: Should TRAs be only children?

We haven't had an open mike for awhile, and since holiday busy-ness is keeping me from writing, I thought it would be a good time to hear for YOU!

This question is one I've heard many times, not just in the blogs, but also from friends who have grappled with the same issue.

Because my husband and I had reached our decision on this early on, I never really considered the repercussions of having decided differently. I'd like to hear what you have to say on this subject, and I'm sure there are many other prospective adoptive parents who would also like to hear everyone's opinions.

Special call to transracial adoptees - please add your thoughts. Comment anonymously if you're uncomfortable posting on an a-parent blog, but I hope you'll share your feelings and experiences.

So here's the question:

Is it appropriate for transracial adoptees to be only children or the only child in the family with their ethnicity?


MomEtc. said…
Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't feel comfortable doing that to my daughter. We've always known though that we wanted more than one child, so the decision to pursue another adoption from China has been an easy one.
Kahlan said…
This has been a BIG discussion in our house. Avi really insists on two, and I have only recently agreed. It took a swift kick in the bum from a friend to make me realize how selfish I was being only wanting one child. I was thinking about me and convenience and not the needs of my child. I think in the future, I would have seen how much my son needed a sister or brother and by then I couldn't change it. I can't give him the kind of relationship a sibling would. I also will never understand what it is like to be a KAD. I now understand how very important it is for my son to have a sibling; and a sibling from Korea also.

So, no, I do not think TRAs should be only children. I think (if possible) every child should have a sibling, and it would be even better if they could share the same heritage.
Mollie said…
Re-reading my post, I didn't make it clear that I revised the questions because my son wanted to make his own bracelet.

Here are the original questions from the workshop on transracial adoption:

1. I am
2. Most of my co-workers are
3. My supervisor is
4. The CEO of my company is
5. If I choose to worship, the people I worship with are predominantly
6. My high school was predominantly
7. My teachers were mostly
8. My children’s teachers are mostly
9. My close friends are mostly
10. My dentist is
11. My primary doctor is
12. My lawyer is
13. My hairdresser/barber is
14. My spouse/partner is
15. People who live in my home are mostly
16. People who regularly visit my home are mostly
17. People whose homes I regularly visit are mostly
18. My neighborhood is predominantly
19. My closest friend is
20. The authors of books I read are mostly
21. Musicians I listen to are mostly
22. The TV shows I prefer contain actors who are mostly
23. Artists whose workers I prefer are mostly
24. The writers and publishers of the newspapers and magazines I read are mostly

Debriefing Questions

How would you describe the composition of your circle?
How do you feel about your circle?
Is there value in having a multi-colored circle? If yes, what are some of the benefits?
How do you get your circle to look differently?

Final Question

25. Color a circle that represents the child(ren) you plan to adopt or whom you have adopted.

Does this child circle look comfortable in your larger circle? What, if any, changes would be needed in order to make the child circle look comfortable?
Etude said…
I'm not an only child, but I am the only transracial adoptee in my family, but not the only adoptee. I know growing up, it would have been nice to have had someone else who was going through the same things. My brother who is a domestic adoption could relate to some issues, but since he "looked" just like the rest of the family, no one knew he was adopted unless he told them. For me, growing up in a blonde hair/blue eyed family, it was quite obvious I was adopted. That is where most of my pain and suffering came from. The not fitting in physically. My parents did think about adopting another child after me, but they were told they were too old at the time (almost 50). But I remember when they brought up the subject I was thrilled! As it is now, my parent's three children are quite distant from each other. Yes, we are friendly, and such, but we are not close as brother and sister. We feel as though we have nothing in common except our parents.

My own daughter feels some of this and she is not even adopted but she is multiracial (1/2 Korean/Caucasion). We are expecting child number 2 soon and she is excited over the idea of having someone else who will look like her and have the same identity she does.

Personally, I feel that one of the main issues with transracial adoptees is the idea of acceptance. Growing up it's not so much a problem until we enter the puberty years and are looking for acceptance from our peers. It is a natural stage of life which many kids go through, but I think many transracial adoptees get stuck there. The idea of having a sibling that is of the same race or even different race but would be going through the same issues would be most helpful. I know for me, I tended to look outside my family at the media and Hollywood and well, there wasn't much there at that time.
jfsl/jwsl said…
While I agree that a same race sibling does not relieve the a-parents of the obligation of insuring their children have enough adult same race mentors and access to their birth culture, I do think looking like members of your family is important for self-identity and esteem. Our daughter, adopted from China, actually looks a lot like our youngest bio son (1/2 caucasian 1/2 asian) and she knows it. She says her eyes are "bown" like his and her hair "back" like Daddy's. I think kids like making those connections. With me (white Mom) she likes to match clothes. She knows we don't physically look alike so she likes to have us dress alike.
suz said…
Completely unqualified to answer but I will. I would think being an only makes the obvious even harder. Having a sibling would provide some sort of mirroring, comfort, safe place to talk with someoen who feels what you feel. But even as I say that, I note that there is no guarantee. I have 3 bio siblings and only one of us relate. No guaranteees that adopted siblings would either.

I could further on this and ask if adopted children (not trans-racial) should be onlys. My daughter is and I cannot help but think she would have found some comfort in having a sibling raised with her.
My short answer is no. No child should have to feel like a majority of one in their own family. (I'll add to this that as the daughter of an only child and a child with one sibling almost 11 years older than she, siblings are a ballast and support as we grow older.)

But as others have so eloquently commented, families can't do it alone. Our schools, neighborhoods and communuties need to reflect our children's faces as well.
Sunny Jo said…
as an only child and a KAD, my loud and clear answer is NO!!!!! i will never forgive my APs for only adopting one child, despite the fact that i love them. to me, it's really cruel to only adopt one child - alone both in the country and in the family.
zoe said…
We've been considering this question in our family for awhile now - and have yet to come to a decision. We have one bio daughter and one son who was adopted from Korea. It makes so much sense that an adopted sibling (specifically a sibling adopted from Korea) would be provide our son with a very special relationship within the family that none of the rest of us can provide. I would think it would be such a postive thing to grow up with a sibling who could relate on a level that the parents/other sibs could never be able to.

My problem is, since I've begun to learn more about the not-so-happy aspects of adoption and life as a TRA, I have a hard time imagining how we would just jump back in the queue for another adoption. I have no desire to feed a broken system....and the thought of another mother being separated from her child (and that loss ultimately benefitting me) is more than I can stomach right now. I'm still processing emotions from adoption #1. Not saying that I'll never consider it - I would consider anything that might truly benefit my son - but I need plenty of time to process the idea. Thanks for the question - it's great to hear from others on this.
Julie said…
We just brought home our first baby. My husband has always said he could easily have only one child. I, on the other hand, had been planning on adopting at least two children--and since my son is African American, our next child would be, as well.

It seems only fair that our children would have comfort in knowing that each of them wasn't the only one going through the things they'll go through.

Now, well, I hope we'll be able to do it. I was hoping we'd be able to manage it within the next three years or so, but with the fees ending up being what they were and with total costs going up every time I look, I don't know that we'll be able to afford that soon.

That's another topic for another day, though.
Lisa said…
I say…”no”. I came to this conclusion while in process of deciding to adopt our first Asian child. I had learned enough about adoption and racial issues to know that our girl would need an ally. I feel it would be completely unfair for her to grow up in a predominantly white region with all her family members being Caucasian as well. In the greater picture, I feel that siblings can be a huge source of support, especially during the teen (and later) years…even surpassing that of the parents. Having a sibling of the same racial background is something we feel will be therapeutic for the both of them. That being said, it is not a “fix-all” for all adoption issues, but I think it is a ‘simple’ step we can take to instill in our children a sense of cultural pride.
Sue said…
My brother--who is biracial but clocked as African American by anyone who wouldn't know--was adopted as the youngest of four children, the first three of us being white/birthed by my mom. It was a terrible dynamic for him. Not only was he alone as Black in our family and community, he was the smallest so had the least amount of physical power. He was bullied and racially harassed by my brothers, mostly when my mom wasn't home. I wouldn't wish his upbringing on anyone.

Having said that, I don't think it always has to be that bleak.

In my family, it was a time when color blindness was an even more powerful myth than it is now, and no one questioned anything about it. My mom moved us from the city to the suburbs after her divorce which further isolated my brother. She didn't have anyone to help her see the lack of wisdom in a move like that. (This was before transracial adoptioon was temporarily banned in the US.)

I do think my brother would have been happier had we been living in a diverse community where he could have had friends and role models who looked like him and gave him some reality checks. And in fact in his teen years he went to live with my dad in the city, and learned a lot about Black culture and associated mannerisms that he retains to this day, as he somehow walks in parallel universes at the same time.
Mo said…
I wonder if some of this has to be looked at child by child. I was the only child (adopted from Korea) for almost nine years and I was fine with it. When my sister came, I was excited, but not that she was adopted from Korea...I was just excited. We've never really talked about the issues much. A very close family friend has four children, the youngest is the only one adopted from Korea. She she does not feel any less a part of her family. In fact, we all laugh because she is the most like her mother. On the flip side, I know of other KADs who felt very alone because they were the only one.
Kim said…
My husband and I have one adopted daughter from China. I have 2 siblings and we have a great relationship. I always wanted that for my children as well. Unfortunately we are unable to add further to our family, so our daughter will be an only child. Is it fair, as the original question asks, I would agree and say no, but...

What I would like to hear more of is how we can make that a better situation for my daughter, knowing that is how it is going to be. We have a Chinese American Communit Center that we've joined, we live in a diverse community, and daycare.
Jae Ran said…
I'm late in responding to this question, but here is my response.

I think it is beneficial for adopted children who are different racially or culturally from their adoptive parents to be able to see themselves reflected in others in the family.

That being said, it is imperative that the adoptive parents do not become lazy and "just" adopt another one and feel they can let down their guard and *whew* no more problems. Parents will still have to work hard here, in working on their power, position and privilege as white parents. Adopting more doesn't mean you can place the burden of helping your kids' racial identities on the kids. THey won't do it for each other, you'll still have to do it.

Having more than one child doesn't mean the children will get along, have the same feelings about adoption, or share with each other about those feelings they have. I've known plenty, plenty, plenty of adoptees who have biological siblings adopted or non-biological adopted siblings who have completely different experiences and views about adoption and racial identity.

In fact, you may find you attract more attention and have more work to do.
Anonymous said…
In short - No, I don't think so.
We are in the process of adopting (from China) again. We have room in our hearts for another child and would like to add to our family, but the reasons for adopting again (from China) go beyond our own wants/desires. We agree that we don't want our daughter to be "alone" in our family of caucasian people. We hope she/they will form a bond/friendship as siblings, who also happen to share the same race and heritage.
Susan said…
I don't think it's ideal really. I grew up as an "only" adopted TRA child and I always wished wished wished for someone else to share my experience. I felt super-only. But at the same time, I feel like it's not always possible. Single parents or others might not be able to afford to raise more than one. Should they be prohibited from adopting if they can't adopt more than one child? That's a tough call. I don't know.

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