Thursday, August 27, 2009

Every child is entitled to parents who know that transracial adoption changes the family forever.

Every child is entitled to parents who know that transracial adoption changes the family forever.

To some degree this is true for anyone having a baby - having a baby changes things. If I had a dollar for every time someone has told me "well wait 'til you have a baby, that'll change" this adoption would be more than paid for. Sometimes I agree with them - yes, we probably won't go to as many midnight movies after we have a baby. Sometimes I don't - nope, we're still going to love our cats/use cloth napkins/want to hang out with our friends who don't have babies, even after we have a baby.

So why is adoption, and transracial adoption different than that? Why is every child is entitled to parents who know that transracial adoption changes the family forever?

Right now I'm thinking about this question in terms of maps. Yes, a baby of any sort will change a family forever, that is natural when a whole new person enters the mix. But for people having biological children, there are a lot of maps out there for what that change is going to look like. The twists and turns are, to some degree, defined. The options for how to go are well marked and well traveled by many people that the traveler can easily access. There is a "common wisdom" about how to make those choices, and for most of us there are even hardwired instincts and socialized patterns from our own pasts to help out with the choices. In fact, this is a road that we've already traveled, albeit from a different seat, when we were the children and our parents were raising us. Some of us really liked the route our parents chose, others of us look back and think "when I get to ____, I will turn left instead of right, or I will stop there a while instead of barreling through." Some of us may even want to throw out our parent's map altogether and find a new one, and there are many many resources for doing that.

For a family built through adoption there are just fewer maps out there. And for families that are transracial the well traveled roads really don't exist. Some things will be the same, of course, but every transracially adopted child is entitled to parents who are aware that this is not a well-traveled road, and that all options need to be considered before moving on. Every transracially adopted child is entitled to parents who are willing to get creative, willing to go off-road, and willing to develop instincts that were not instilled in them by their native culture and ethnicity. But more than any of these things, I think this statement is about knowing that this is a different road, and that once you're on it there is no going back.

2 comments:

  1. Hmmm, I think I agree with this insofar as existing as a family out there in the world, being of one race and not knowing how to raise your child as a member of their own race. But, otherwise, I think many bio families/parents are just as clueless when it comes to parenting as adoptive families/parents.

    I like your post. I would add that transracial adoption must change everything for birth families, too.

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  2. I agree, Matilda! Adoption changes everything for ALL members of the triad, for sure.

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