Saturday, April 9, 2011

Getting Real About Inter-Racial Adoption

When things converge it often moves me to write.  I've been recently reading a special issue social journal (Jr of Social Distress and the Homeless Vol 17, Special Issue 1 & 2. Adoption across race, culture and class) that focuses on inter-racial and inter-national adoptions...when I came across a wonderfully honest and well written first person blog account of the subject.

In contrast to the professional articles and "studies" on the subject, the blog I read was not seeking the opinion of those who make the choice to create multi-cultural families through adoptions - asking how difficult it was for THEM. With adopters sharing how surprised they were to discover that racial discrimination actually still exists!

 I encourage all to read Interracial Adoption in Present-Racial Era, written by on of the real experts, a woman who lived it!  I also encourage you to read as many of the comments as you can bear, such as:
I'm a white woman. My husband (also white) and I are adopting an adorable little girl from Social Services. She's 11 years old and black. Should we not adopt her because she's a different race?? Should Social Services have left her with parents who let her beg door-to-door at the apartment complex for food just so she could be raised in a black family?? To many of us, race ~IS~ a NON-ISSUE! It's only people like this author and Al Sharpton that keep racism alive in America!
It is far too easy for liberal PRIVILEGED WHITES to say that color is a non-issue, or that they are "color blind." That is proof of their PRIVILEGE as race is only a non-issue for you when you are white in a white majority world! Get real!!

Not so easy when people are spewing their ugly prejudicial hate-filled comments or just their ignorant racial biases or assumptions, such as those about Asians being smart or Chinese girls being subservient or compliant or whatever...

People who adopt - and even those who give birth - are impervious to thinking about the child as a separate human being who grows up. They think only of a babe wrapped in the protection of their arms and their love. But children grow up and are subjected to the slings and arrows of a hostile world that no amount of parental love can protect them from.

We need to get real and to do that we need to hear more and more from the real experts on inter-racial adoption: those who have LIVED IT!  I hope the author of this blog post,
Rebecca Carroll, and others keep writing, keep sharing, keep telling their truth to power!

Adoption is one great big experiment...and children - and the families from which they have come or been taken - are the guinea pigs who suffer.  If we have learned nothing in the decades of these experiments, it is that children are NOT blank slates; skin is not the color of water; and genetics and ethnicity DO count and are important.

The desire to know our roots drives a huge genealogy industry and is so important it is why the Judea-Christian bible starts with who begat who...and we think we can erase all that with adoption and love?

Note too, that MOST adoptions, begin like the writer's friends did. It is a last resort for those who adopt after often years of undergoing very expensive and painful treatments to try to have a child that is biologically connected to them - because that connection IS so damn important! 
Then, when these same people WIND UP adopting, expect their child to live without those very important connections because they have to!?? Because they have now decided it's not important after-all? 

Additionally, after attempting every possible means to have a biologically connected offspring some of the study participants in Gidluck and Dwyer's Canadian study in the journal above remarking how unfair it is that others - the general public - look upon adoption as a second best choice to parenting a biologically connected child when adopters are ever so eager to share every detail of the pain and expense they suffered to avoid adopting!  And like the friend of the blog author, Gidlick and Dwyer's Canadian parents who adopted interracially, often hadn't "given much thought" to race prior to adopting their children (p 43).

There are some things in this journal that are really hard to read, even for a toughened veteran such as myself. For instance:
"Many well-meaning parents want to celebrate or exoticize their child's culture without dealing with the issue of race" Gidlick & Dwyer, p. 39.
And...some adoptive parents studied:
"...tended to deny their children's Chinese identity and Chinese culture. Children grew up in households that did not regard China as important or relevant to their children. Their parents intended to raise them as any other American child. According to several adoptive mom's accounts, it seemed this group saw China as a source for babies. They were eager to make their adoptive children Americans who need have nothing to do with China" Cao and Pitman, p. 71.
The adopted child becomes at once the consolation prize, the replacement for what might have been, and the healer to their parents, as well as in many cases, and a badge of honor for the liberalism of their adopters....and they are expected to be GRATEFUL enough not to hurt their feelings by seeking out their own kin....

All of this is perhaps in part why journal contributor and inter-racial adoptive mother Martha Satz now opposes "the general practice of trans-racial adoption" despite the education it gleaned her. 

Perhaps it is also why the journal editor, Rafeal Art. Javier concludes: "There seems to be much damage to identity formation than the benefit that these types of adoption may bring to the transnational adoptee...."

See also:  


Robin said...

One of the only things I appreciate about being from the BSE is that back in the day it was considered important to match the child's adoptive family to his or her natural mother's background. I ended up in a family with about a 90% match to my bio-background and for that I am grateful. Any individual's true background with regards to race, religion, heritage, etc. is very important. To deny this is naive at best and damaging to the child at worst.

I hope that more adult adoptees of interracial and intercountry adoptions will speak out and share their truth.

Mirah Riben said...


While the matching done in the 40's 50's and 60's may have lent to adoptees such as yourself experiencing less racial prejudice etc...there was an evil behind that matching that - combined with falsified birth certificates - caused others great harm by allowing adoptive parents to keep their adoption a secret.

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

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Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget