Race, Adoption and Everything in Between

I have wanted to write on this topic for quite some time.  I have been hesitant, not because I’m afraid of the response, but because I wanted to make sure I was ready.  Being ready means dealing with my issues first so that honesty will be the backbone of my words.

We are adopting an African child from Ethiopia.  Calvin is Chinese, I am white, our children are a lovely mix of those two.  In the beginning I thought being multi-ethnic gave us some kind of edge in this transracial adoption thing.  That somehow, because our color spectrum was already broader, it would be no big deal to continue that trend.  But I’ve come to find that transracial adoption IS a big deal.  We are, in essence, completely removing a child from his culture and his home.  Poverty stricken or not, Ethiopia is his homeland.  We will never be able to give him the rich cultural heritage that his mother and father could have if they were able.  Devastating poverty has robbed him of being healthy and growing up in his birth country.

I think the key to making this work is to celebrate Liam, his culture and his race.

Have you ever heard someone defend their color-blindness?  “One of my best friends growing up was black!”  What does that mean exactly?  That you were kind enough to be friends with a black person?  REALLY?  While statements like that are probably innocent enough why do we feel the need to use our friendships with those of the opposite race as some kind of good deed.  It’s right up there with whispering “black” when describing someone.  Why whisper it?  The person is obviously black, African American, I don’t think it’s a secret.  A large majority of our country has long viewed being black as being second place.  As progressive as we claim to be the mumblings are still there.

I’ve been part of conversations that include statements from the previous paragraph.  I’m always quick to say, “you do remember that I’m adopting an African child right?”  The response is usually something like “Oh, I’m not referring to your son, he will be different.”  Sorry, that’s not true… he’ll be black.  He will have big brown eyes and dark ebony skin.  He will be beautiful.  We will celebrate where he came from and do our best to make sure he never forgets Ethiopia.  We will take him there one day so he can see the beautiful, hard-working people he came from.  We will teach him that he is wonderful, that he can do anything.  There is no second, or third best color.  Everyone has a heritage worth celebrating.

About the author


Erica is an advocate for simplicity, family time, making a cozy home and loving others well. She is the community coordinator for One Orphan, the orphan care ministry of America World Adoption Association. Erica and Calvin have four young children; Elliott, Charlotte, Lola and Liam. They currently reside in Nashville, TN.


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  • What you are doing is a beautiful statement of Love. Congradulations and my God be with you and your Happy Family in this new chapter in your lives.

  • I have had these very same experiences. I think to myself – “you do know that I have two black children” while I hear them say things like – you don’t want to go to that store – it is in the “black area”. Are you serious? Needless to say – I don’t really keep in touch with that person any longer.

  • Very well said. We are all God’s children. We don’t get to choose the color of our “covering”, and I have tried very hard to raise my children to look beyond outward appearance. As a formerly obese person, I know what it feels like to be judged solely based on my outward appearance. With you and Calvin as parents, Liam will learn God’s love, a family’s love, and will be taught that a person’s true worth is found on the inside, in the heart.

  • I love you for what you are saying!! And for what you are doing!! I wish that I could do the same. Be strong, you have many people and God on your side. Love Aunt Cheri

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