Richard and I just got back from an incredible weekend conference in Franklin, TN – Together for Adoption. We were able to participate in several breakout sessions–one of our favorites and reasons for going was the session called “Transracial Adoption & the Multi-Ethnic Family of God”. I couldn’t possible highlight all the “WOWS” from this session in a blog, but there were a few pearls that I’ll be holding on to for the rest of my life as we have made the decision to have a transracial family through adoption. One quote used in the seminar was taken from an article by Jen Graves’s piece “Black Kids in White Houses: On Race, Silence, and the Changing American Family”:
“Part of the geniune appeal of transracial adoption, it’s true, is its potential to transform culture. “I often think about transracial adoption as a grand social experiment,” writes John Raible, one of the first mixed-race children adopted to a white family in teh 1960s and something of a spokesperson on the topic.
Even so, children shouldn’t be the day laborers on the job, says Chad Goller-Sojourner. Would you want your children to be the test cases in a grand social experiment?
“What I’d ask parents is, are you willing to be the uncomfortable one?” goller-Sojourner says. This is how he’d question a prospective parent if he were a social worker. “Because somebody’s gonna be uncomfortable, and it seems the burden is on you. You have to be the uncomfortable one.”
He means that if white parents of black children, for instance, don’t live in black neighborhoods, join black churches, have black friends, and send their children to significantly mixed-race schools, then at least they should cross the thresholds into black barbershops even though its awkward, or drive out of their way to shop at grocery stores in black neighborhoods. Parents should be careful to raise their children to live in this world, not the one they wish existed.”
Jason Kovacs, the director of ministry development for ABBA Fund led this particular breakout, and I believe there is such value in this piece he pulled out to share with us. It wasn’t written from a Christian perspective, but much more for a world view–and I think it is something every parent raising children of a different race should consider. Granted, as believers we are adopting because we feel called to rescue these children and give them a family–yet there are so many unknowns about the effects this will have on our child/children down the road…so although we aren’t “participating for experiment sake” we are still responsible for being a white family raising a black man to function successfully in our culture and society…one day on his own without his white parents to protect him and show why he may not “get” his own culture.
Richard and I have made the decision to adopt a baby from Ethiopia and once he is here he will become African American I guess you could say. Where will he fit in? If he never attends a black church, will he feel comfortable in a black church later when his wife and children beg him to take them to one instead of where he feels comfortable? What could this do to his future marriage and family? When racial awareness really sets in after age 10 and he begins the difficult teenage years and struggles with his identity, would Richard and I have done our part to help him connect with his culture of origin and prepare him to be a strong black man in our own society?
Richard and I chose Ethiopia for several reasons—yet we could not move forward without the commitment of others to help us (it takes a village) and determination to raise a strong black man (instead of just a stinkin’ cute little boy with a picture perfert fussy little fro). We commit to make regular trips to Africa—which we have already been doing for 2 years through our Wiphan Care Ministry. We are partnering with our biological children’s godparents who happpen to be black for advice along the way—praise God that the Lord has paired us with a couple, the Murrays, who are already some of our bestfriends to partner with us. My friend made the commit one time how big a task it was to raise a strong, godly black man in our culture with too few role models to look up to. Well, if it’s a difficult task for them—Richard and I are definitely going to have to remain proactive.
All of our future decisions will be made in light of being a transracial family—and we will all make sacrifices to do our best to create a “bi-culture” environment in our home. It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to always be fun. (And there may be fun things that I don’t always get to be the one to take him to…like the black circus for example [seriously doubt my son is going to want me to be the one to take him! Don’t know what that is? Well, if you are adopting a black child and raising him in our culture…you might want to find out and have someone else teach him how to shake his booty before the lions come out!) And it’s not going to always be comfortable—but if somebody’s gonna be uncomfortable, I think it should be me.
To read Graves full article, visit: http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=787542