Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Transracial Adoption Becoming Easier -- Does That Make It Right?

At CNN's African Voices, an opinion piece by author Lola Jaye, whose most recent book, Being Lara, is about a transracially adopted adult, her English adoptive mother (a former pop star), and her Nigerian birth mother :
So, with it becoming 'easier' to adopt a child from a different race -- does this make it right? It is a controversial question that I'm not going to seek to answer within the short confines of this article. However, my own experiences of living with a white British family have been positive and one can argue that this was because I still maintained contact with my birth family via visits to Nigeria.

But not every transracially fostered or adopted child's experience is as positive. Having spoken to adults who were fostered or adopted by different races in the past, I hear them speak with a deeply-embedded emotional scar connected with feelings of detachment from their roots and holding onto inaccurate preconceived ideas about their culture.
Indeed, the culturally confused character of my latest novel 'Being Lara' also embodies this detachment. Lara's adoptive white family had done everything a good family should do -- they'd loved, protected and nurtured her- but never had that talk on race. And such a talk is crucial within a transracial adoption setting. In fact, such talks may be necessary frequently throughout the years.

I am by no means an authority on cross-cultural or transracial adoption. It is an emotive and important subject. But whilst a positive outlook is important for anyone embarking on such a journey, the prospective adoptive parent will also need to acknowledge the negativity that could arise and make sure they don't shy away from confronting it. Really confront it.

You can't behave like the mother in my book, who brushes off her daughter Lara's questions after the child is racially abused in the street by saying, "I have ginger hair -- I'm also different."

2 comments: said...

I think the question in some cases may be is it better to not be adopted or be adopted by parents of a different race. Unfortunately there are not always parents of the same race available to adopt. What do you do in that case? I am talking about the real world as it is today. In domestic adoption parents of the same are usually preferred but you do not always have that option.

B.A. said...

I found a blog written by a black woman yesterday where she had written a post about "commuting while black". She was talking about her fear of riding the bus home at night following the shooting of the black teenager in Florida. It really brought home to me that my brown-skinned child will live experiences that I will never have to face. How do I prepare her for this? And sadly, why do I have to? Why couldn't that teenager in Florida walk through his own neighborhood without being shot?