Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Finally!

Thank you for all your comments!It was so interesting to hear what everyone else thinks. I'm finally ready to post my thoughts on the article. I'm finding it hard to gather all my thoughts and post them in a coherent yet concise way. That's part of why it's taken me so long to post.

In a nutshell, I agree with the basics of the article. I think that "color blindness" does not work, does not benefit the child. I used to think that this is what I was: color blind. I'm not. If I were color blind, I wouldn't be doing so much research on raising a black boy. I wouldn't be searching for books about black people and for picture books that include children of all races. I wouldn't be buying black baby dolls. I might even be living in Pennsylvania instead of Michigan. Basically, I would just act as if Steven were the same race as I: white. That would not be fair to him.

It would not be fair to him because he isn't white. As much as I might pretend that there is no difference between us, it would still exist. I would be ignoring his rich heritage, and I would not be adequately preparing him for life outside our house. As much as I hate it, racism exists, and the people who face the most discrimination are black males. I don't know what he will face, and as hard as it is to think about it, I have to. I have to research it and talk to other moms to find out how they deal with it. I have to prepare for conversations I will have with my son to prepare him for the probability of it and to equip him to deal with it.

This is hard for me to think about. Our world has changed over the past few years, but we're not where we need to be yet. I haven't done too much research on this yet, mainly because I am focusing on other aspects of raising a black boy. However, I'm starting to lay the foundation for it by identifying sources and building relationships with black parents whom I respect.

Right now, I'm focusing on more positive aspects. I've been reading children's biographies of black role models, such as Jesse Owen and Jackie Robinson. I went to a Scholastic warehouse sale last month and bought almost half of the books in their African-American section, including chapter books on those two men. I also bought picture books that feature black kids and have been reading through them. I'm impressed by them--they are well written, engaging, and illustrated well. I'm definitely not "settling" by buying these books.

The best book I've found so far is Let's Talk About Race by Julius Lester. I think EVERY parent needs to buy this book, not just ones raising minority children. I would tell you more about it, but it's in the little buddy's room right now, and since it is 3:30 a.m., I'm not going in there to get it :) I'll eventually post a list of books I think all parents should buy for their kids. If more kids were educated on race and different issues related to both race and adoption, our children would grow up in a much better world.

I've also research out Kwanzaa, and some day I'll devote a post to it. It is a celebration of family, community, and culture. It is not a religious holiday. Beginning this year, our family will be celebrating Kwanzaa.

I have chosen to do all this things, but, sadly, many parents who adopt transracially don't. Sometimes it's a matter of not having time, not having an interest, or simply just not thinking of it. I believe that most parents would be interested in learning about their children's culture and heritage, and that is why I believe that classes/workshops for adoptive parents are essential. Some agencies already do this, but many don't (including ours). They wouldn't have to be long and drawn out. The most important thing would be getting parents to start thinking about it and giving them resources to help them. I would love to take a class like this! It would also be great to include a panel discussion of people who have adopted/are adopted transracially.

The last main issue is recruiting more minority adoptive parents. This is so important. I'm not saying that transracial adoption is bad (obviously!), but there is such a shortage of parents for black babies, especially boys. Did you know that people from other countries come HERE to adopt our black babies because there aren't enough homes for them here in America? That's horrible!

Steven's birthmother, Ebony, requested a black family for him. Her social worker told her that there weren't any with our agency in the entire state of Michigan, and she didn't want to have her son adopted out of state. In fact, at that time there were no families willing to take black babies at our local office. That is how we bypassed the waiting list and were matched before we were even approved. By March, that had changed--there were five families on the waiting list willing to take a black baby :)

I know that some of you are thinking about how wrong it is for Americans to adopt abroad instead of adopting babies here that desperately need homes. I have talked to people think this, and I have found one common trait in them--they have never adopted a child. It's a lot easier to talk and criticize others for their decisions than it is to step up and adopt a child yourself. I believe that it is a highly personal decision. There are children all over the world who need homes, and I admire and appreciate every person who helps them.

I do not look down on those who choose not to adopt transracially. Again, that is a highly personal decision. Mark and I realize that our lives will never be the same, and we will face many challenges as a result of our decision. Not everyone is able to handle that. The time it really hit me is when I realized that our children and grandchildren and other descendants will not look like us. This life isn't for everyone. I encourage everyone to consider it, but I don't look down on those who don't do it. We've had to set limits on what we could do/not do. For example, we weren't open to a baby exposed to drugs and alcohol or who had a family history of mental illness. We just knew that it was something we weren't equipped to handle.

Okay, I could go on and on, but Mark just stumbled out of bed to find out what was more important than sleeping, and I promised him I'd wrap it up and go to bed. I'm hoping that what I've written is coherent even if it's not concise :)

If you want to leave a comment, go ahead, but please, be nice :)

To read another adoptive mom's thoughts on this article, go here: http://urbanservant.blogspot.com/

14 comments:

Blueberry said...

do you have the book "no mirrors in my nana's house"? bean really likes this book. my husband's principal gave it to all the teachers at the school one year. (he teaches in the city and over 90% of his students are black)
i think you are doing a fantastic job with your son. more people should follow your example. :)

stephanie garcia said...

Rebekah,

Can you send me a comment with your address? My sister has your t-shirt ready to mail. (:

Stephanie

Melodie said...

i loved hearing your thoughts on this. and i agree! i randomly stumbled upon your blog many months ago. (i know it was God) and then we received our blessing on may 9th! you challenge me to begin preparing myself better to raise this baby boy. i will stay tuned in to the blog!

Brittany said...

I think you're doing the best you can, and the fact that you are even researching SHOWS how much you love him and how much you want him to know about his heritage. Keep up the good work!

Megan said...

Good thoughts on the subject. Thanks for sharing.

Melodie said...

in answer to your questions: we adopted through a small local agency in the oklahoma city area. we didn't have alot of options for this area. at this point the adoption is closed. that is what the bm has chosen, though we hope that decision will change with time.

DD said...

Rebekah, I think you are a fabulous mom and are giving Steven the very best! We will continue to pray for you guys as you raise him. Thank you for making us aware of these issues and I am going to check out some of those books at our library!

Sarah said...

Very well thought out. I never have really thought about it that much but you have a ton of great points. I think it would be really great to offer classes to parents adopting black children. Why don't you offer to do the class for the adoption agency? You are already doing the work of finding the info and you are a teacher. What could be more perfect than that? Think about it. I think you would be great.

Chaz & Kari Dull said...

I admire you for what you are doing for Steven!! You are great parents praise the Lord!

Katie said...

Wow, you really seem to get all of this so early. Good for you, your son is really going to thank you. Your a great mom already. I'm here if you ever want to chat. Take Care-
Katie

stephanie garcia said...

If you've not read it already, you will want to read this 2006 article from the Washington Post:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/01/AR2006070100462.html

Also, this blog will interest you if you're not familiar with it yet:
http://mayhemandmagic.typepad.com/mayhem_and_magic/

Pam said...

I agree with Sarah, and that was my thought when reading through this post....why not teach a class like this yourself?? I have wondered if that was perhaps part of what God has been preparing you for. Pray about it!

dreamingBIGdreams said...

Rebekah - GREAT post! Steaphanie in Chili sent me to your site.

My husband and I have one bio son age four, one 2 year old son we adopted domestically who is biracial, and two children we're adopting in Haiti. Amos is 3 and Story is 6 months old.

I just recently wrote about transracial adoption over at my blog. I found a great story on the site ANTI-RACIST PARENT and linked to it from my blog. You will probably enjoy it.

Thanks for your reading selections. I am always looking at books before we check them out at the library to make sure they have children of different races in there. :)

:)Jamie
dreamingbigdreams.wordpress.com

jamie in rose cottage said...

Thanks for this post. I already read The Urban Servant blog, and I'm happy to find yours. We will be adopting from foster care, and are open to any race; we don't yet know who will be joining our family, so it's great to read what you're doing in case we do end up adopting transracially.