Transracial Adoption and What Not to Say
Dear Non-Adoptive Parents,
I share these nuggets to better educate you on what it is like to be the parent of adopted children. These nuggets are the result of years of questions, comments, and rubbernecking that we experience. Likely due to our conspicuousness, easily noticed because we are a family created from three races and of kids born to us and adopted by us.
We know that you find us fascinating; we feel your curious eyes. But we don’t want to be the poster family for interracial adoption. And we are especially appreciative when you do not approach with comments or questions.
Our family looks different and that makes us interesting. But we would rather that you didn’t smile at us with that “I-want-to share-with-you” look. Sometimes my kids feel so bothered by the attention that they turn their annoyance into a game. Once my kids noticed a restaurant patron’s obtrusive staring. Their giggles grew louder after each pass by your booth. The diner was so intent on my mismatched kids that he leaned out further and further from his booth, finally tumbling onto the floor. My kids ran back to our table, full of their success.
Mostly, we realize that you just want to connect. And while that comes from a place of kindness, my family—and others may feel differently—wants to be left alone because we feel ordinary.
So here are a few tidbits about my family:
My Interracial Family
We love and respect one another. We’re proud of our differences.
We use the terms brother, sister, mom, and dad to denote our relationships. We’re closely knit and compassionate due to our differences and our histories.
We don’t share our kids’ stories with anyone. Our kids’ stories are theirs. We will not share our child’s story with you, not even if you are a “bestie,” a family member, a trusted teacher, or a stranger.
We’re not saints or special people because we adopted children. We find these comments particularly insulting. We’re regular run-of-the-mill adults who planned on growing our family through birth and adoption.
We did not “get” our kids. We adopted our kids. “Get” makes us feel like we have ownership. We don’t own our kids; we parent them, raising them to be productive responsible adults. “Get” denotes a purchase. The thought of buying a child (and child trafficking does exist) makes my heart ache, my stomach nauseous, and my soul weep. My kids were not purchases like loaves of bread.
We are our kids “real” parents. We’ve cleaned up after all of their pee, poo, and vomit. We hold and comfort them when they are sick, tired, sad, or frightened. We celebrate their milestones and accomplishments. And we stand by their sides when they are emotionally or physically injured. We’re their protectors, guides, and biggest supporters. We love them wholly and unconditionally.
My kids are not any more “lucky” than all kids who are raised in loving families. Yes they have gained a lot by being adopted, but what they have gained can never replace what they have irrevocably lost: ties to their cultures of origin, growing up in their biological families, and knowing their birth histories.
My kids are not “blessed.” They have had the trajectory of their lives forever altered by being adopted. The intimate links to their rich heritages have been severed, regardless of what we do to connect them.
My husband and I are the ones who are blessed, with the privilege of loving and raising our kids. For the profound lessons that all our kids so wisely teach us about love, life and living.
An Adoptive Parent