In response to a letter about adoption

Have you ever done that?  Read something and just not quite wanted to believe what you’ve just read?  069159-black-paint-splatter-icon-alphanumeric-question-mark3
You mentally do a cartoon double take. That happened to me after reading this Letter About Adoption posted on the VTmommies website.

I know that I have a particular opinion of transracial adoption. I’m also very open about the fact. Neither am I pro or anti transracial adoption. I consider transracial adoption, domestic adoption any kind of adoption as an extreme intervention that should be used only as an absolute last resort. Transracial adoption I think has become the childcare equivalent solution, that antibiotics in the medical world have become. Over-prescribed and not as affective as the industry professionals would like to think. Yet still being used, still being “prescribed.”

Which leads me to my next piece of advice – many well-intentioned people say asinine things about adoption. Like multiple times a day. You will gather a file of stock responses and it will become no big deal. Don’t let it throw you. The only people who have relevant advice are people who have gone through it.

So says the article. It was first section that caught my attention (and not in a positive way). Particularly the last sentence. The examples given of websites and blogs, as the only places where relevance of writing and view might be found on the subject of adoption I found hard to take.

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All white, probably middle-class. Definitely privileged, in that these parents and prospective adopting parents, will never have experienced disadvantage because of their race, ethnicity or colour. That this article advocates and promotes such people as the “perfect” examples of knowledge, I think is narrow-minded (to say the least) and frankly ludicrous.
Such people are not. No one is. These people are probably the lest suited and least well equipped to be able to offer substantive, effective, racially and ethnically appropriate advice. Even though and precisely because they themselves transracially adopted and still have not learnt. Or more importantly understood. Let me be clear here, I am not to saying that prospective adoptive parents from a different culture and racial group cannot acquire the requisite parenting and life skills. The specialised social, cultural and racial parenting skills needed to be the parent of a transracially adopted child. They can, but it takes time, hard work and a lot of specific training and support. A willingness to ask and learn about  some of the hard dark questions that these children will have to face. This means pre adoption and ongoing post adoption training.  Education in cultural and racial orientation, as well as understanding the racial politics of your own country and immediate community.

adopt-signThere are, in my opinion too many private adoption agencies offering to provide couples with means to access babies and children from around the globe. Partly I suspect in answer to the long processes that many prospective adopting parents have to go through domestically. Also it appears to still be much “easier” to adopt a baby, or toddler from certain overseas regions than it does in some Western countries. These days we have become so impatient and we want everything ‘instantly.’

Again and again I find myself asking, exactly who is the real beneficiary of modern-day transracial adoption? Why is it that attitudes towards transracial adoption don’t appear to have radically changed since I myself was adopted back in the dark days of the 1960s?  In spite of all the research, in spite of all that we now know about cultural dislocation, the importance of identity, ethnicity and race, I personally feel that the vast majority of those who transracially adopt are ill-equipped, under trained and in general ill prepared for the long journey that lies before them. I still come across adoptive parents in 2014, who have taken on children of a different race and a different culture to themselves. They still say to themselves that love is enough. They bury their heads in the sand and try to do the same to their children.

As far as I am concerned the only people truly equipped to assist the trained social and child-care workers with depressed teenageradoption and transracial adoption are people like myself. Adoptees and Transracial adoptees, those who have gone through the process. Whether their experience is happy, sad or indifferent. We know, we have lived, we are living the life of an adoptee, a transracial adoptee. We understand the challenges and the pitfalls. Each day the legacy that adoption has bequeathed us lives on as we live on. For transracial adoptees, diversity and cultural sensitivity are not concepts which we have to be instructed in, we live it, we experience it, we endure it from day-to-day.

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