I have written before about the special challenges that adoptees of a different race face when placed with a different race of adoptive parents. In the past, this has usually meant Black and Asian children placed with white adoptive parents. In a somewhat recent development, Black couples are adopting white children as shown in my photo above. I was made aware of this couple today.
For most of my life, I really did not have much of a racial identity. True, my skin was unmistakably white. I grew up on the border with Mexico and so my environmental was predominantly Hispanic. My parents were both adoptees with no more than a minimal knowledge of who they might have been before adoption. I used to say I was an Albino African because really I couldn’t prove otherwise and neither could anyone else. I honestly suspected 25% Black, 25% Hispanic and the rest White for much of my adulthood. Now that I know something that my parents never knew – something about the people who conceived my parents and gave their genetic heritage to us all – I know that I have 25% Danish, a lot of Scottish and Irish, quite a bit English. These are the real realities and it is a gift I never expected for over 60 years of my life to receive. Yeah, it matters.
This story has an interesting twist. After agreeing to foster a newborn, actually premature, baby boy they named Ezra. After agreeing to foster, the birth parents deciding to surrender their son to this couple for adoption. Next, the Sampsons chose a new and somewhat surprising path that I am also familiar with – embryo donation. This allowed Sadie to experience pregnancy. Their twin daughters were named Journee and Destinee and they are also white. Their family motto has become, “Families don’t have to match.”
Because I am familiar with reproductive medicine, I know the difficult next stage – what to do with leftover embryos ? We allowed ours to be adopted. It was all arranged online independently but the couple did hire a lawyer. I never questioned their race nor did the thought cross my mind. Clearly, it was not a predominant concern of my own at the time. Sadly for that couple, the process did not result in a pregnancy and live birth.
White supremacists worry a lot about the dilution of the white race. It is a fact of modern life that the races are mixing. Interracial marriage, the children born to such unions and adoption are all – let us hope – leading to a better understanding that human beings are more alike than different. That peace and harmony on this planet may be the eventual result. The only real question remaining is the issue of adoptee trauma and that many donor conceived persons also have issues with how they were conceived. It is a tricky path to walk but some brave souls are stepping out ahead of the rest of society. With a better understanding of psychological impacts, it may be possible to avoid some of the worst of the worst outcomes. I do hope over time that proves true.
Every Monday morning, I watch Sunday’s Agape service as recorded and shared on their website. The messages from the Rev Michael Bernard Beckwith are empowering and positive. Today’s message left me wanting to share something more positive about adoption than I usually do. Don’t misunderstand. I’m am still more than less against most adoptions. A woman who regularly reads this blog, sometimes shares my essays on her blog. Our perspectives are not identical but I noticed that she had one today with the title – Why adoption can be a blessing. So I went there and found among several offerings this video and watched it.
As this video makes clear, sometimes adoption is the best answer and sometimes the coincidences (which spiritually I believe in strongly as signs) make an adoption simply feel “right” and in harmony. So in keeping with my desire today, I share this video with you, to spread a little joy about a topic that I normally do not feel all warm and fuzzy regarding.
Even with one’s biological/genetic children, we don’t own them. We may be the vessel through which they came to Life but that does not give us ownership rights. This is true as well regarding adoptees. An adoptive parent does not own their adopted child. Hence the disturbing nature of today’s story –
The child is sad and missing his birth mother. He has been with his adoptive parents since birth. He wants to be with his birth mom. He wants to know why he’s adopted and is asking questions about his birth mother. One of the comments from the post that is now deleted is actually how some foster and adoptive parents think. “Tell him ‘I got you away from her because I need a child to love. Stop bringing her up. You are not meeting her end of discussion, you belong to me, not her. period’. Lady, you need to fight for what is yours, be strong. How would you feel if this was your husband wanting to visit an ex girlfriend he really liked? This is your family, not theirs, fight for it”.
Comparing one’s adopted child to a cheating husband ? Unbelievable.
Fear is common in adoptive parents. Here’s another adoptee’s experience – My adoptive parents would say “they don’t care about you. They wanted a closed adoption. They didn’t show up for court.” They wouldn’t let me see my adoption papers until I was 25 and actually called the lawyer that handled my adoption for advice. I found out that’s totally not the case. I think my adoptive parents are still scared (since I call my original parents “mom and dad” now). To be honest, I call friend’s parents mom and dad too. And my adoptive parents are scared that I’m going to choose my first family over them. What I really want is for everyone to get along.
From another adoptee – It’s common to want to know. I didn’t understand until I was older. My biological mom was an addict. She lied and made me think she had custody of my 3 brothers and she didn’t. She lost custody of my brothers when my youngest was 3. And I lost contact with them until 2012, when I found one of them on Facebook.
One could conclude that an orphan should ideally be adopted by the guardians assigned before the parent‘s demise. For foster kids, who would like to be adopted, after parental rights were terminated. Guardianship or temporary fostering could suffice to serve the needs of children in most cases.
It may be that the only time adoption is “necessary” (and one could always argue that word) would be for an older child or teen, whose parents have already signed termination of parental rights. But only if the child has asked for that without prompting. And the child’s name should never be changed unless the child wants their name changed to feel more in harmony with the rest of the family. And go slowly on that one because it could be only a temporary phase that won’t be as lasting as changing the child’s name. The child does need to be empowered in a situation in which they don’t have a lot of control otherwise.
There are very sad and difficult cases. For example, cases of extreme abuse and neglect where the mother refuses all offers of assistance. Where there is no other family able or willing to help. There could be no way that this child could ever be safe with their original family. Counseling will be required for every person involved. Some contact with the original family should be maintained if at all possible, if nothing more than knowing how to reach them. In the best cases, monitoring for a changed status. There is always the possibility of change because change is a constant.
Regarding guardianship, some judges and courts may have concerns that the guardianship could too easily be terminated and the child would lose a sense of permanency. However, a child’s sense of attachment was destroyed the minute their family of origin was severed from them.
Still the question remains – to fully love, protect and be a family is adoption necessary ? Full custody as an alternative to adoption can accomplish the same legal requirements. The system has been an enabler for white saviorism and has made adoption like a free for all. It’s unethical that so often the natural family is not allowed to give any input and the lack of effort put into connecting these kids to their kin just is mind boggling.
The best adoptive families, upon becoming more enlightened about the impacts of adoption, will make attempts to mitigate the inevitable difficulties for the child (some of these can include not changing the child’s name, learning about the child’s original mother and if possible opening up contact with her and with any other related siblings). Though most adoptive parents genuinely feel they are doing the right thing . . . when we know better, we do better.
It is a story as old as humanity. The rebirth through time of the species. Every child spends time in its mother’s womb. Every child carries the seeds of its father. Every human being is precious.
Sadly, many children are born into humble beginnings. Just as the old Christmas story tells us of the struggles of the young family who give birth in a stable for animals because there was no room for them at the inn.
All of us who live have reason to be grateful. No one promised us a rose garden on being birthed into physicality but many many humans have proven to us that anyone with enough persistence and determination can change the circumstances of their life.
When times are exceedingly difficult, we can be comforted with knowing that change is constant. When times are abundantly good for us, we should remember that this too is likely to pass into something else.
Christmas Eve is a time when the whole world hopes for peace, goodwill towards men. However you celebrate and whether you celebrate or not, may your holidays be blessed with warmth, loving souls around you and harmony for at least some few moments so that you too know that it is possible.