Thursday, August 18, 2011

Transracially Adopted Child's Bill of Rights (Revisited)

Longtime readers may remember a little series I used to do here on the blog, reflecting on the Transracially Adopted Child's Bill of Rights, a document adapted by Liza Steinberg Triggs from "A Bill of Rights for Mixed Folks," by Marilyn Dramé. I started this project in the months before we were matched with J, and continued it a bit after her placement. My initial goal was to write a blog reflection on each item in the list. Recently I thought I would look back at these, maybe pick it up again and finish. I looked back at the list, and noticed a theme with what I have and have not written about. Here it is again, with links to my reflections for the ones I have written about:

There are a couple different ways to look at my progress through this list so far. One is that I made it a little over halfway through the list, became a mom and didn't finish it. And there's truth to that. But I also look at the list and realize that the further down the list I get the more pursuing these rights for my transracially adopted child leave the world of intellectual exercise and reflection and enter the world of me getting outside my personal comfort zone to make something happen. And by "something" I mean making sure that my kid gets the chance to know, love, be loved and be formed by people who share her race and racial culture.

I would hazard a guess that this is one of the most difficult things for white adoptive parents of non-white kids to figure out and make happen. I was recently added to a facebook group that is focused on the discussion of racial issues and as I read through the posts there I was struck by the number of white adoptive parents who mentioned in passing how their adopted child was the only person of color in their town/neighborhood/school/social circle.

This has been a challenging arena for me as well. I feel pretty lucky that Andrew and I started our parenting journey already connected to a couple of amazing and supportive black families, people we count as friends and neighbors. But after J arrived I found myself questioning my desire to spend time with them, and to intentionally "make" more black friends. Was it fair, I thought to myself, to pursue a friendship with someone because I want to expose my child to that person's racial culture? Is it fair to J not to, just because I feel uncomfortable? Are there ways that this can happen organically and if so, how?

I don't think there is a simple answer to that question.

So this fall I am going to tackle the final seven on the TAC bill of rights, and share my reflections on them here. Stay tuned!

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