Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cross Racial Adoption

The subject of white parents adopting African American children can't possibly be exhausted in one blog. There are so many factors to consider, and like raising biological children, every single case is unique, and one outcome can't predict another. I adopted my two girls (both African American) back in 1994--after having them as foster children for three years.  Did they have identity issues as teenagers? Sure they had some. But my best friend's two daughters also had identity issues and they weren't adopted, and were the same race as their parents.


Recently my husband and I watched a video at an adoption training given by the state (GA). It was regarding adopting children of a different race, and all of the examples were of African American (or black & white mixed) children being raised by white parents. During the video it struck me that the two main spokespeople, an adult black male and an adult black female who had each been adopted by white parents, seemed to have had so many identity and self esteem issues growing up, even though, at their own confession, their parents seemed to do everything right. Both of them shared how their parents made it a point to celebrate "black" holidays (like Kwanza, which, in my opinion is not a black holiday, but a Muslim holiday that not even Muslims care about) and they socialized with African American families, and visited African American festivals, museums, etc. They made "African American food" (I don't know exactly what foods they were referring to, because my African American friends eat the same foods that I eat). And they listened to "African American music." (Again, not sure what that means--do they mean the singer is African American, like Seal, Rihanna, or Dianna Ross...or are they referring to a certain style--rap, raggae, jazz?) But anyway, my point is that these two individuals said that THEIR parents, more than most white parents adopting African American children, did EVERYTHING right. Yet, they were still talking about all of the issues they had growing up--the constant questions arising--"Who am I? Where do I fit in? Who will accept me 100%?"


So this got me thinking--could it be that their parents did too much to try and help their adopted children find a solid identity, that, quite frankly, most kids and teens don't develop, adopted or not, until they are in or close to their thirties? To be honest, I never did most of the things that these "perfect" parents did, and I think my girls, now adults, had less of an identity crisis than the two spokespeople on the video. Why? Well first of all, because each adoption case is different. But my guess is that raising your kids to be so centered on themselves and THEIR identity, and where THEY fit in, and who THEY are, etc. etc. must be a recipe for disaster. What about raising kids to focus less on themselves and more on those in need around the globe? What about instead of introducing them to "black food and music" we introduce them to starving people in South America and Haiti; to kids whose feet are literally corroding because they don't own a pair of shoes and they've picked up so much bacteria from the ground that they will end up having their feet amputated or having the infection spread throughout their whole body. What about teaching your child that s/he belongs to the family of God--that our identity is in Christ Jesus and that he died for us and adopted us into God's family--that we are now seated together in heavenly places with Christ Jesus and that because of God's adopting us, we are now joint heirs with Jesus!! Isn't that amazing? To think that God has made us to share everything he has--equally with Jesus! When you live that way--outside of yourself--eyes on the Kingdom of Heaven; and here on earth focused on loving the unlovely and those in need, I don't think you grow up with so many identity and self esteem issues.


So do we just ignore that racial differences exist? Of course not--they're obvious and they'll need to be addressed, but it's so important to remember that this is not our permanent home--we have a Kingdom waiting for us--where we will be in God's presence for eternity, and I'm 100% sure that at that point, race is not going to be a factor--so why spend so many precious hours dwelling on our differences here on earth? I like the saying--"we are all part of the human race" and we have SO many more similarities than differences. Let's get our eyes off of ourselves and onto the hurting people in our communities and around the world. And see if that isn't a great cure for the dreaded teen identity crisis.



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