Are you willing to “lose face” with loved ones? We all know how it feels to disagree with someone we love. The old saying, “I’m not dying on that hill,” can be so true with family and friends. We all have that sibling, family member, or friend that is always willing to push the boundaries with off-color comments, actions, or even activities. Sometimes, it’s a lack of self-awareness; other times, it’s intentional. So, what happens when those comments alienate your transracial adoptee? How do you respond? What’s the right way to respond? There’s not a one size fits all answer, but it’s essential to consider that your child, like most children, is watching how you respond. I’m not going to give you an answer, but I will tell you a story.
A few years back, my mother and I traveled to see family out of state. I drove separately since I was in a different location and arrived late. One of my mother’s cousins offered me a place to stay. Like all family secrets, one came out during my stay, and I was shocked and hurt. Afterward, I spoke with my mother about the details of that secret. I asked her, “Mom, did you know [Chris] has kept great Uncle [Clarence’s] old Ku Klux Klan robes and keepsakes from his time in the clan?” She was shocked that a family member would keep something that represented so much hate and pain despite her son’s ethnic makeup and racial background. She responded with great disappointment…she had no idea. We both decided it was best if we kept our distance. Ultimately, I learned some hard truths about family. Still, my mother’s disposition, empathetic response, and disappointment reminded me that she had my back and was willing to hurt and heal with me. What would you do?
You’re excited about adopting transracially, but do other people in your life feel the same way? Have you ever met someone with who you and chemistry were a little off? Maybe a little something about you bothered them, or a little something about them bothered you. Little things tend to turn into bigger things over time or they may become more apparent with time. Pay attention to the little things because your child will be in the presence of your circle. If your circle, especially your spouse, has reservations, engaging them thoroughly before committing to adoption is essential. One of the most common questions I ask prospective parents is if they prefer their future child’s ethnic or racial background. Commonly, they do. However, some prospective parents share feelings of guilt for not being open to specific ethnic backgrounds. These are little things that can become bigger things over time. Although not guaranteed to happen, it’s worth considering before moving forward.
Although there are many questions that I hope to unpack over the next couple of months, it’s important to remember, in the season of decision, to reflect on the world around you– as you expand and grow your family. Adoption is a beautiful experience packed with dynamics and opportunities. But adoption…let alone transracial adoption is not for everyone. And that’s ok! At Christian Adoption Consultants, it’s ok to ask questions–even questions to which you feel you should know the answer. We are all learning about adoption, including me. Adoption, like all other circumstances, can be a boon for all members of the triad when a strong foundation is built on faith, transparency, and honesty.