Acknowledging Reality

The question on the last open mike discussion - whether or not transracial adoptees should be only children - was clearly one that's on many minds. Thank you all for your emails, excellent comments, and posts - other points of view on this question can be found here and here and here and here.

The majority of you who commented and wrote about this topic - really all of you - agreed that transracially adopted children shouldn't be racially alone in their families. I agree - it's common sense, I think. But sometimes, our efforts to ensure our families are no different from others blinds us from recognizing it.

When adoptive parents are white and the children are not, a family's transracial adoptive status will be obvious. Being so clearly different, constantly on display, can grow old fast, and parents and kids alike may react to this by trying to prove otherwise.

I've said it myself - "We're just like any other family" - and in many ways it's true. My family's daily life looks a lot like the daily life I remember as a kid, filled with school, friends, sports, activities, housework and the like. But it would be unfair to my children to pretend that because the life we live is ordinary that our family is the same as every other. The fact is that outside our home, wherever we go, we're different.

Some adoptive parents may find this difficult to accept. They may believe that their love for their children can transcend the differences. Others feel that downplaying them, and focusing on family life, are a better way to assure their children's security in their family. Still others may avoid the issue altogether. Denial can easily become the path of least resistance.

We can't deny reality, though. Transracial adoptive parents must recognize that our families will never be just like the non-adoptive families down the block. We'll need to make decisions that other families will never have to face - decisions to add siblings to our family who share our children's race, to move to neighborhoods that give our children contact with others of their race, to send our children to racially diverse schools, to support their searches for their first families. These issues, not those of day to day life, will create the greatest challenges for our children when they are grown and move out into the world as individuals.

Facing these decisions is a responsibility we accepted when we adopted our children. Acting upon them is our responsibility, too. It's our reality.


Shoshana said…
This is interesting. Would this be parallel to mixed marriages? It's now accepted, and I think only few people are left who frowns on such a think.

I don't really understand transracial adoption...but you could say I have transracial kids. They seem to be alright and do fine in school.

I would be interested to know what other parents think about this.
Anonymous said…
oops--they're (not their).
Anonymous said…
I think one of the biggest myths that parents hear, especially when it comes to adoption is "it doesn't matter how your children come to you, their your children."

it does matter.


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