Tuesday, April 26, 2016

My Sons Were Never Orphans

A news story has been making the rounds in different circles I'm in.  Its the story of a self-labeled evangelical couple who adopted 2 children domestically (one Black, one bi-racial), and then adopted 2 embryos leftover from another couple's IVF that resulted in her giving birth to 3 Black daughters.

The article essentially boils down to the couple defining themselves through the labels of evangelical, savior of Black children.  So while I appreciated that within the article they speak of not being colorblind and understanding the implications race will have for their children, the White savior complex was too thick to wade through to make me feel comfortable even linking it here.

I posted this comment in a racial reconciliation group I participate in, but wanted to share it here as I feel that it sums up my thoughts on transracial adoption currently.

I discussed this article with a fellow White, transracial adoptive mom and a Black friend yesterday. We all got the same image of the White savior complex from the article. Mostly because it was all about the parents. Them wanting to define themselves by their faith and children.

I think the church has fed this problem significantly. They have created a Christian adoption complex that labeled domestic adoption as the "care of orphans" which isn't even an accurate label. There are true orphans in our country, and they are the children in our foster system who have had their parents' rights terminated yet there is no one to adopt them. Many age out of the system every year and have to navigate adulthood without parents or relying on their biological parents who were deemed unfit to parent.

My children who joined our family through domestic adoption were physically placed in my arms by their first moms. Never orphaned.

So when the church started holding up this (albeit very, very difficult both emotionally and financially) way of adding a child to your family as something to be exalted, it became something I don't think it ever was supposed to be. Supported, yes. Because it is such a hard thing to go through and because that's what we should be doing as the body of Christ, supporting one another through the hard things that we chose to do.

Add in the racial dynamics of who in our country is more likely to have resources to adopt, and you create a problematic situation where mostly White, well off families are adopting babies while their church is telling them they are participating in "caring for the orphan" and at the same time (in a lot of cases though not all) not preparing them for the racial dynamics the situation creates. The only training in preparing to parent a Black child tends to consist of learning hair and skin care, not how to teach your child to interact with the police or what to do when your preschooler is already racially profiled in the way their behavior is punished at school. There are no requirements to live in an area where your child isn't the only Black student in their class or on their street.

I know transracial adoption isn't being done well in this country when I have a mom message me from her suburban home asking me where she can find Black children for her Black children to play with. And when my answer of, "start with your Black friend's children, schoolmates families, or families from your church" renders no one. The fact that families can adopt transracially and end up in that place shows me how far we have to go in preparing families to adopt this way and how much we need to get away from the feeling I got from this article. It also provides me a solid reminder to not take it at all personally when POC are skeptical of our family and how we are doing things.

I take the Biblical mandate to care for orphans, to show mercy, to love justice, and to walk humbly before God very seriously.  And its because of that seriousness that I have no desire to misapply the label of orphan to my children.  There are plenty of ways within domestic infant adoption to follow the commands of the Bible outside of mislabeling.  I would much rather the focus shift to showing mercy and love to expectant moms who are making adoption plans, being humble when matched to not see yourself as a better option for the baby than the child's birth family particularly if the adoption doesn't go through, and seeking racial justice for all our children.

1 comment:

  1. Your voice is much needed. Thank you. I agree wholeheartedly. Amen! I felt the same way when we went through the adoption process.