Saturday, November 27, 2010

Adoption ABCs Post-script #1: Transracial Adoption

Great! We have four more days to fill as part of our pledge to talk up adoption as part of Adoption Awareness Month.

We have lots of topics we could cover: International adoptions, transracial adoption, kinship adoption, and so on. While you wouldn't know it to look at him, Landon is bi-racial (1/4 Asian, 3/4 Caucasian). When we were first matched with him, we thought he would look like his biological sister and birth mother, who both look Asian and have dark hair and olive complexions. In fact, we had intended to name him Rhys at one point, and decided against it after considering the possibility that playground bullies might pronounce his name "rice" instead of "reece" (to say nothing of the potential jibes over certain peanut butter cups). However, it turned out that he took after his European roots, at least in terms of complexion and eye and hair color. He does carry an Asian blood trait, and who knows how many other characteristics comprise his mixed heritage. Because he passes White, people routinely assume he is our biological son. For most parents who adopt transracially, however, the children whom they adopt clearly do not look like them.

Several resources are available to parents who choose to adopt transracially. Here are a few:

Transracial adoption is a controversial issue. Some ascribe to the "love makes a family" school, asserting that race should not matter. Others feel strongly that children should be adopted by adults of their same race and cultural background in order to provide them with tools to cope with the racism that still exists in society. We feel that there can be a middle ground: We believe that parents who choose to adopt need to respect and understand their children's racial and cultural roots, celebrating and providing role models who come from their children's race and/or culture. We also believe that parents who adopt transracially generally do desire to understand and support their children's heritage. As with adoption generally, the burden lies upon the parents to determine what they can handle when making the choice to adopt transracially. Their children are not afforded that choice (unless, perhaps, if you consider things from the perspective that as premortal spirits they understood where they would be going), so their parents must take special care to develop their own awareness so they can provide their children with the social and emotional support they will need to navigate multiple cultural worlds.

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