Recently, I was reading a post on a group page where an adoptive mother wrote about an issue within her transracial family that had me stunned.
“Is it possible that my 21 month old biracial son will get darker as he gets older?? Or are most little ones as dark as they will get by this age?”
The reason for her inquiry is that her and her husband had adopted an African American girl, now six years old. She stated that her daughter was very drawn to people of African American descent so when they chose to adopt again, they wanted to adopt a child of African heritage so their daughter could have someone in the family with a similar appearance and ethnic makeup, all of which is very commendable. But then the story takes a very different tone. She states that their 21 month old adopted biracial son doesn’t seem to be dark enough for their daughter to connect with so now they are considering adopting again but they are not sure if they should wait for a full blooded African American child or adopt another possible biracial child that was available.
As a birth mother of a biracial child, I take personal issue with this. Since when do people get to treat children like merchandise in a store?
Naturally, this sweet little girl in the post is attracted to people who look like her. She was born to people who look like her. But buying more Black babies is not the answer to fulfill their daughter’s needs. Thoughts and comments like the one this white adopted mother has expressed are irresponsible, inconsiderate and very disrespectful to her darker skinned children and to the biological birth families.
I remember being told that when my son’s adoptive parents took their new son to the doctor for his first post-birth checkup, they were confronted with some derogatory comments. One of the staff members seemed to be concerned about our mutual son’s future skin color. They warned the adoptive parents that he would have really dark skin and questioned if it was ethical for this all blonde-haired, blue-eyed family to adopt him.
Personally, I don’t have an issue with people adopting outside their race. I believe the most important things a child needs is a stable home, love and security. However, the one thing that does really irritate me is when white families adopt children outside their race and then make their children fit in their white world. That is an ethnic crime. For that child to be raised in a white family is one thing. But then to live in a predominantly white neighborhood, and attend a white church and predominantly white schools is another thing all together and is a grave disservice to the adoptee and their ethnic birthright.
Edit: And when an adoptee is surrounded by another race and ethnicity, there are other ways that adoptive parents can introduce and include the adoptee’s ethnic culture. But often times, this is not the case.
Now I understand that some ethnic communities may be harder to locate than others, depending on where you live. But, if your adopted child is of African descent, there is no excuse. Even the smallest of towns have African American Communities.
And I wonder why these white adoptive families don’t make more of an effort to be around their child’s ethnic societies. Why some white adoptive parents of African American children refuse to go out and eat in a Black neighborhood? Or visit an all-Black church once in a while. Or shop in a predominantly Black district? Why indeed? Is it because they fear that they will be the only White people there? They might feel uncomfortable? Will they feel as though they do not belong or fit in? Or is it because they fear as though they might feel out of their comfort zone?
Isn’t that what they have forced upon their child?
As adoptive parents, if you don’t have any friends (and by friends I mean that come over to your house and hang out with you) that are non-white folks, you are not part of the solution; you are part of the problem. And one should ask why they don’t have any relationships with people of different races especially of the race that mirrors your adopted child. And that doesn’t mean going out and finding someone so you can say you have one “token” ethnic friend. It means that you acquire friends organically.
There are big differences between biracial (biological) families and transracial (adopted) families. And I understand that white adoptive parents many times, have not experienced a romantic love interest or relationship with someone of their child’s ethnic heritage, unlike biological parents. But that’s no excuse.
As a biological mother of a biracial son, I too have a responsibility to honor my child’s diverse heritage. Difference is, most biological families don’t have to go searching for it. We have fallen in love with someone who matches our offspring’s race. Our families and our friends are all among our community in which we live and breathe. Even when our children are being raised in single parent homes, we still understand how important it is for our children to be able to identify with his or her ethnic heritage on both sides of his or her racial makeup.
As parents, it’s our job to lead by example, no matter if we are a one-race family, a bi-racial, trans-racial or multiracial family; we all have a responsibility to teach our children about diversity. We can preach diversity and acceptance all we want, but if our actions don’t match our words, the point is rather mute.
So, my question for adoptive parents is, if you are willing to adopt outside your race but you don’t choose folks who look like your child to be invited into your home or chosen to be among your closest friends, what does that say about you?