My parents didn’t know the first thing about transracial adoption when they adopted my little sister. She was part Caucasian, part African American, and part Hispanic. They did a lot of things wrong over the years. I hope in the last installment you continue to learn from their mistakes.
My parents worked and went to church with people of different races. There was a black family that lived across the street from the house I grew up in. I played with the little girl that lived there all the time, and my parents frequently ate dinner with hers. Despite all our interactions with people from other races, the rule for me and my older sister was that we were not allowed to date boys from different races. That rule may sound archaic in 2017, but all those years ago in the South, young women were taught that “birds of a feather flock together.” When my little sister came along, I thought certainly the rules would be different for her. Strangely, they weren’t.
In those days children didn’t question their parents, but when I got older I explained to my mother that not only was that rule wrong, but even if it wasn’t, white guys weren’t exactly my little sister’s “birds of a feather.” It took some convincing, but my mother eventually backed down from her rule and my sister was able to date whoever she wanted.
This is just one example of how my sister often became stuck between two worlds. She didn’t really feel like she was a part of either race. Circumstances like that lead to lifelong identity issues. When you choose to parent a transracial child, it is your responsibility to give that child all the resources to be able to choose their own identity. Your child should be allowed to take the aspects they relate to from your culture environmentally and their culture biologically and become who they choose to be. It should be up to the child to take as much or as little from each to form his or her own identity.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with parents adopting children from different races if it is done with care and forethought. Parents need to take conscious steps to ensure that their child grows up in a safe and loving home without the loss of their identity.
Read the other parts of this series: