Are you ready for a transracial adoption?

When I first started this blog seven or so years ago, I wrote a post trying to implore more people to consider adopting from the foster care system and to consider adopting a child of another race. My point was that people should just get over their fears, swallow their biases and do the right thing.

An acquaintance had the courage to confront me about the post. She detailed some of the struggle family faced in trying to incorporate a few boys of another race into their family. While I did not know her well at the time, I knew her well enough that I believed her story. Ultimately, I took the post down because it was obvious that I was wrong.

I still think more people should adopt from the foster care system over all other options. Parents who have children in that system are aware of the precarious nature of their rights. That is not always the case with private adoptions. For example, women in Michigan who give up their children voluntarily to be adopted often have no idea that that the state’s Department of Health and Human Services will fight her right to parent each subsequent child she gives birth to for the rest of her life. Regardless, there is always trauma to the child when they are separated from their biological mother and father.

Adopting from the foster care system means you could be asked if you are willing to adopt a child of another race. Can you do it? It is possible, but I don’t think you’re ready.

The events that have unfolded the past few months have been the hardest for me as a parent. It started with the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her sleep by Louisville Police as they raided her apartment using a no-knock arrest warrant on seemingly trumped up accusations that had little basis in fact.

Every time a young black woman is gunned down, my mind starts racing. After all, Aiyana Stanley-Jones was only seven when she was killed in a no-knock raid carried out by the Detroit Police Department. Seven. Years. Old. Roughly the same age as my daughter and just as innocent.

Which leads us to the part I don’t think you’re ready for, having to confront the emotional rollercoaster you are about to put yourself on. If you are thinking of adopting a child of another race, you’ve probably thought about some of this but are you really as prepared as you thought?

How will you handle the wrath of a loved one who thinks your potential adoption is the worst idea in the world because all adopted kids are broken? How will you answer the loved one who asks why you can’t just wait until a child of your race becomes available? How will you handle the former co-worker that is happy to have another person in the fight against the “ni**er syndrome” and their “inherent laziness”? How will you handle the distant cousin who has to know what race your child is and then proclaims that it doesn’t matter, they’re sure your child will be one of the “good ones”? How will you handle being told that your focus on race is racist?

Are you willing to live in a community that is predominantly the race of your adopted child? Are you willing to go to a church and send them to school where they will see people of their race in positions of leadership? Are you willing to make yourself uncomfortable so your child can see themselves in the role models you pray they have?

Are you ready to have your friends, the ones who are the same race as you, ask you questions about people who share a race with your child? Are you ready to clap back when someone says All Lives Matter? Are you ready to stop going to your favorite neighborhood restaurant when it’s clear they don’t appreciate serving people of color? Are you ready to lose friends because of your choice to adopt a child of another race?

Are you ready to listen and believe the stories people of color tell you about the racism they experience? Are you willing to drop your need to correct them afterward? Are you ready to have someone of another race tell you to fuck off because they don’t have time to educate you? Are you willing to educate yourself so you can help your child understand why so many in this country hate them just because they have a different skin color?

Are you ready to be the one who stands up at work and advocates for more inclusion? Are you ready to be the one who points out how tone-deaf a message or policy might be to someone of another race when those races are not present in the conversation?  Are you ready to field questions from well-meaning friends who do not feel comfortable asking a person of color their questions about race in America?

Are you ready to fear for your child’s existence whenever our political leaders shout out people of your child’s race as thugs or threatens to sic vicious dogs on them? Are you ready to hear that our nation will not be great again until children who look like yours are shipped out of this country?

Are you ready to accept that if you chose to adopt a child of another race, you are signing up for a lifelong journey of learning? Can you accept that you will never fully understand nor be fully comfortable with what it means to be born into another race in America?

Of course, these questions are rhetorical. I thought I was ready when we started our adoption paperwork and quickly found out I had a lot of growing to do. If you chose this journey for yourself, I hope your eyes are wide open and you’re ready to experience grief in a way you never thought possible.

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