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.