26 September 2012

White Mama, Black Baby

A friend shared an article with me and I'd like to share it with you. Click here to view it: White Mama, Black Baby. I'd also like to share my thoughts about it.

Firstly I'd like to address the statement, "More people don't start thinking about having children until their late thirties and early forties, a time when fertility becomes a challenge." While that may be true it is not the reason we adopted a "black" baby. Fertility problems may have been one of the reasons we adopted, but it had nothing to do with adopting a "black" baby. Celebrities can adopt whatever race of child from whatever part of the world they wish. It does seem that most have been choosing to adopt "black" children lately. There must be a reason for it, and it looks to be because it is the "in" thing to do. But I do not know them personally and cannot judge. There are children of all races, including Caucasian, who need good homes.

Next I'd like to address the questions, "Many question whether Whites are truly up to the challenge. Will the child be exposed to Black culture? How will he or she develop a healthy sense of self? Does the parent realize that a postracial America is an illusion?". Yes, I do agree, it is a challenge. If a transracial parent takes it seriously it can at times be overwhelming to even think about all the added responsibilities of adopting a child of a different race. We expose our transracially adopted daughter to the "black culture" as much as we can. But more importantly we are making an effort to expose all of our children to all cultures. Though we could do better at this, we are conscience of the need and are making an effort. As the children grow older we will be able to make a stronger effort. I believe a transracial parent needs to recognize the absolute necessity of exposing their transracially adopted child to the culture of his/her birth. It is the only healthy way to raise a transracailly adopted child. It is a must. This blog follows my journey discovering what this means for our family. A transracially adopted child can have a healthy sense of self. But it comes from a lot of hard work on the parents' part. There is much to be done to help your child achieve this, even if your child is born naturally to you. Add on the fact that your child is transracially adopted and you've got yourself a full-time job. But we love our children as much as a parent who has a child born naturally to them loves that child, and the extra effort is just something that must be done because we love our children so. Not that it is in any way a handicap, but a parent of a child with other special challenges has added responsibility. And that parent learns how to deal with those extra responsibilities in a way that is best for their child. In that way it is similar. It is just something that is part of our family and daily life. Anyone who has any sense can realize that a "postracial America is an illusion". If a parent didn't realize it when they first adopted the child they soon will. Oh the reminders people give you on a daily basis!

The comment about the NABSW, well, I've heard it before. I've read it on their website. And quite frankly I have to agree with them. Their mission is to strengthen "black" families so they are able to keep their children. I'm all for that, for families of all races. Of course it is better for a child to be raised by parents of the same race. But it is not better for a child to be raised by a mother of the same race who is addicted to drugs, doesn't know who the birthfather is, and has four other children she cannot take care of  as opposed to a "white" stable couple. No. This is not racial profiling. I am merely offering an example. The same can be said of an unstable "white" mother and a stable "black" couple. What about family members of the birthmother? Can't they take in the child? I know for a fact that the answer very well may be a resounding "no". What about "black" adoptive parents? Can't "black" couples adopt "black" children? There are studies/statistics that I won't look up now that show there are not near as many African-American couples hoping to adopt as Caucasian couples.

"'But if White parents treat race as if it doesn't matter, kids have to figure out what it means to be of color on their own,' says Judy Stigger, an adoption therapist at The Cradle, a Chicago-area agency that offers courses for families that have transracially adopted. 'They tend to move away from home and seek out ways to become part of their ethnic community.'" I 100% agree with this. Caucasian transracial adoptive parents have a responsibility to their child(ren) to teach them about the African-American culture. What does this mean? Well, for one thing it means teaching them about what every African-American mother should be teaching their child(ren) - the African-American heros who helped build this nation yet who are not mentioned in our school's textbooks. But that's a different subject I have blogged about before, and will blog about again later. It also means listening to AA music in your home (we listen to mo-town because even if I were AA I'm pretty sure I wouldn't allow rap in my home), hanging art by AA artists or of AA people, cooking meals popular throughout the AA culture, making a point to involve AA people in your child's life especially those who are successful since the only ones they'll see in the media are athletes and rap artists, and so much more.

 I encourage everyone to read the two stories shared in the "Racial Awakening" section of the article. Being "color-blind" as a transracial parent is so harmful to the transracially adopted child. Diversity, no how hard it is to come by, is very important for a transracially adopted child. He/she must see people who look like them.

In response to the first paragraph of the section "A Loving Home", I say yes, it is a "lifetime" and even daily job to empower your children and educate others. But it is just a challenges that a transracial family has. Other families have challenges. This is ours.

"...few Whites are truly equipped to help Black children prepare for survival in America. 'You would need to change your circle of friends, move to an integrated neighborhood and unlearn the racist history you learned about being an American,'" Yes. I totally agree. I am aware of this and yet do not feel I am even nearly equipped as I should be. I'm working at it though.

This I just want to share: "Still most agree that, ultimately, what children need is a loving home. That's particularly the case for Black children, who are less likely than others to be adopted. If children aren't adopted by the time they're 8 to 12 years old, especially Black males, they likely never will be. Then their chances of being jailed or having kids at an early age skyrocket, states Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York City." One comment: Yes, love is most important, but love is not enough for a transracially adopted child. It just isn't.

"There have also been numerous efforts in recent years to find more Black adoptive families. Nijole Yutkowitz, director of resource and community development at The Cradle, which since opening in 1923 has facilitated more than 15,000 adoptions, says a big part of her job is educating Blacks about the process. She holds information sessions to discuss cost and myths around adoption. 'The goal,' she says, 'is to ensure that African-American birth mothers have an array of options when choosing an adoptive family.'" Good. I very much think birthmothers deserve this option. I have a great respect for birthmothers. Even ones who have not taken very good care of themselves or their unborn child. Ultimately they have made a very hard decision for the betterment of their child. No matter how much a birthmother realizes she may not be able to care for her baby, the decision is not an easy one to make. But, it is their decision to make. Not ours. Not the NABSW's. Not the adoption agency's. It is hers.

Thank you, dear friend, for sharing this article.

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