I am open to adopting a child from any background because I don’t see race.
The statement, “we all bleed red,” is so true. As people, we have an undeniably unique nature about us. We feel, we are hurt, we hope, and we have joy, among other things common with sentience. However, there are factors about us, social, economic, and biological, that break from mundane uniformity, the latter by divine design. We all know this innately because we experience these factors in different ways. When it comes to biology, however, we all know that we have no control over who our parents are ethnically or what we look like– that is – upon birth at least.
I often share the story of when we came back from Pakistan, and I got into an incident with our new neighbor. I peed in the neighbor’s garden when I was four years old. If you have heard me talk about it before, you will remember she called me a ‘little n*****. Sure, that was only one event…but all it takes is one event to gain traumatic exposure. We all know how damaging ignorance can be.
So why does the statement, “I don’t see race,” make me cringe?
Because the truth is you do see me. The statement comes from a place of goodwill, but it’s alienating and ignorant. I know just how unique an experience of transracial adoption is. I also know that a unique experience can become an incredibly isolating experience.
I grew up in a monocultural environment. Which, of course, is not a bad thing, but it did have an impact on my self-image. Understandably my socialization was similar to those around me, yet very different than the peers I resembled on the other side of town. The effect on me was twofold. On the one hand, achieving that level of assimilation came at a cost. Rather than addressing ignorance that inevitably came up daily, I became desensitized to it. On the other hand, I began to minimize my own experiences, compartmentalizing them and ignoring them at my own expense.
Ignoring race won’t make it go away or reduce the risk of your child experiencing race-related issues. When your child experiences race-related ignorance, and they will, how should they process it? Who should they process it with? If your considering adopting transracially, consider that dismissing race will have unintended consequences.
Rather than ignoring race, engage it by familiarizing yourself with ethnicity. Ethnicity is a fancy word for a shared culture passed down through the generations. Learning your child’s ethnic background goes beyond current events. It’s much easier to keep up with ethnicity because its basis is in historical facts. Culture, on the other hand, is participatory and constantly in motion. It can be much harder to keep up with. Learning ethnicity forces you to engage with historical facts that provide context for present times. This has the opposite effect of uniquely isolating experiences like adoption. Ethnicity is a fact of belonging to a population or group that shares the same background or descent. There is an inherent grounding effect that adoptees, especially those from a transracial background, crave to differing degrees. Allowing your son or daughter access to this context can diversify your family unit. You cease to become a monocultural family with a [insert race] son or daughter. You become a unique group with a multiracial context and bicultural identity. What does that look like practically? That is a topic for another blog, stay tuned!