I’ve never really believed that interracial adoption was a good thing, specifically when it comes to black children. It’s always been, to me, one of those situations born of necessity — but because there are so many black kids who need stability, and there are so many white folks prepared to adopt, it seemed sinister to begrudge the babies a home, even if the parents at the head of it don’t look anything like them.Then after a white friend, Michelle, tells her she's adopting, and might adopt transracially, the author changes her mind:
My concern has been that these children will grow up not identifying with their heritage. They’ll know what sports they like and what hobbies they enjoy and what cereal they love, but they won’t see themselves through the lens of the black experience. That can be dangerous, especially for boys who need to prepare themselves for life as black men in America.
No matter who their parents are, they’re still subject to the same discriminations and dangers as the ones growing up with their biological moms and dads.
After all, black is black is black in a tense situation with the police or in a job interview.
Teaching kids about themselves from a racial and ethnic standpoint is a parent’s responsibility. I wrote about how mothers and fathers embarking on the journey to adopt a child from another culture should be required to take classes about that child’s heritage, and folks tried to rip me a new one (hey, what else is new?)
What I like about Michelle is that she asks questions. I wish more white folks did. If she doesn’t understand something about us, she doesn’t assume. She breaks out in the most random inquiries. “How does Kwanzaa work?” she blurted the other day. “I always wanted to know.” So I explained, she nodded, and we moved on. I usually hate playing the Ambassador to Blackness. I did it when I was in high school and I’ve done it at some jobs. But for some reason, I don’t mind breaking it down to her because she means well.Reactions?
I think that curiosity and willingness to learn will empower her to be a mother to a black child, if that’s how the good Lord wills it. My hope is that there are more Michelles out there who will take an active interest in making sure their son or daughter’s every need is met, including knowing their heritage.