Sunday, September 1, 2013

Chocolate and Vanilla

Since our last post was very info-heavy, I've decided to take this one in a different direction and focus much more on Button - you know - the whole reason we're completing all those crazy steps!

I think its natural for parents to wonder what their baby will look like. For adoptive families this wondering takes on a wholly different quality than for pregnant couples. I'd say an active imagination is required for the former to get anywhere in their daydreaming. For us, the question of what Button will look like is still a mystery. But, we have clues. Because we have decided to adopt transracially. Specifically, our baby will be of African American descent or will be biracial with some African American descent. If Button is biracial, statistically he or she will be most likely to have African American and Caucasian ancestors.

The highly recommended book which is next on my reading list!  


While our decision to adopt transracially was not taken lightly it was also not a big ordeal and actually happened pretty gradually. We had always planned on adopting internationally and had considered countries such as Korea, China, India, and Ethiopia - none of which would have produced a Caucasian child. It always just felt somewhat natural - maybe in part because Randy's extended family is made up of many ethnicities - European, Asian and African American. So Randy especially (and me to a lesser extent) has just grown up with the understanding that families can be made up of people who don't look much like each other. And when our adoption plans finally shifted from international back to domestic, the idea of adopting a Caucasian baby just seemed kind of foreign. Maybe it was because we'd been picturing something different for so long or maybe deep down we just know what is best for our family. But without much discussion or soul-searching we both came to the conclusion that we knew our family would be formed transracially.

Transracial adoption is not without its controversies or its challenges. There are many people who have legitimate concerns over whether the practice is the best for children. Whether a white family can effectively parent a black child in a society that is still struggling with institutionalized racism despite perceived advances in that arena. And while I share some of those concerns myself and realize that the set-up is not perfect, I also know that there are more children of African American descent in need of homes than there are homes for them. They are harder to place (read: harder to find people who will adopt them due to their race) than children of any other race in the US. And while transracial adoption is likely not the best overall long-term "fix" to this problem, Randy and I believe that it is a vital immediate measure while there are still more kids than homes. And we're optimistic. We have seen transracial adoption work beautifully - in our own family and in stories we've read and heard online, in books, and on podcasts from people who have lived it.

For transracial adoption to work though, the family must put a lot of work into it. It can't be treated like any other adoption and the advice that "love will conquer all" is not sufficient for a successful outcome. We will need love but we will also need extra vigilance to combat racism in our everyday lives, we'll need to immerse ourselves in social circles that include people who look like Button and provide Button with role models, we'll need to provide Button with social and cultural opportunities to connect with her background, we'll need to prepare Button for a world that won't think of him as our child when he's older, but as a "black man" with all that that entails. (Note - these are just examples - we don't know Button's gender yet!) Plus probably so many other things that we may not even know about until they come up. And while this is all a little daunting, we feel we are up to the challenge and are even welcoming of it. Because it is for Button.

I read somewhere that when you adopt transracially you don't just have someone of another race in your family. Your family becomes multi-racial. For now and for any future generations. Randy and I are excited about this fact and we and embrace it. We hope that our friends and family do as well. They haven't let us down yet - so I predict that they will rise to the occasion. :)

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