Wednesday Wisdom 16/9/2015

“We didn’t choose transracial adoption to be special. We didn’t do it to save a child. What we chose was to be a family. We know that our family doesn’t look like everyone else’s. We know that might not always be easy for our kids. But we chose to be a family and chose to love each other dearly and go through everything together hand-in-hand.”

http://www.adoption.com

Choosing to Become a Transracial Family Through Adoption

This post really resonated with me. Our family is made up in the same way and so we’ve had to deal with a lot of similar situations.

Choosing to Become a Transracial Family Through Adoption

My husband and I have two children. Both are adopted. Our daughter is white and our son is black. People will ask us when we decided that becoming a transracial family was right for us. Or they will ask why we chose to be a transracial family.

To be honest, I don’t really think we just chose to become a transracial family. We wanted a family. To become a family we had to fill out a lot of paper work. On that paperwork, there were tons of “Yes” and “No” boxes. We carefully thought over the boxes beside criteria like, drug exposure, alcohol exposure, and cigarette exposure. However, when it came to the box for race, it wasn’t a thought. We quickly checked, “Any Race” and moved on to the remainder of our mountain of paperwork. So, I suppose you could say that was when we chose to become a transracial family, although our first time we just became an adoptive family. The second time we checked the box, we became a transracial family. I guess you could also say we chose to adopt transracially when we accepted a match with black expectant parents.

To me it was never really a conscious choice. I didn’t care what my children looked like. I just wanted to be a mom and love and raise that child the best way I knew how. The second time, I felt the same way and also wanted a sibling for my oldest. My husband worried that having a child of another race might be a constant reminder to both children that they are adopted. We worked through the worry together, but I always knew that we were going to be given the children we were meant to have.

We didn’t really choose to become a transracial family. We chose to be a family. Now this being said, we didn’t go into transracial adoption blindly. We did a lot of reading on the experiences of children adopted transracially. We also read up on skin and hair care. Some of the things we read were overwhelming, scary, and even heartbreaking. We still chose to adopt transracially. We chose to be the family we are. That means when I walk into a classroom, store, or playground with my son, many heads are going to turn. It also means that when I go to a new doctor’s office I might be asked if I’m his foster mom. It means I will refer to myself as “Mommy” loudly when strangers stare. And it means that I have to teach my children that not everyone in the world is accepting of us; everyone will not always view us as family.

We didn’t choose transracial adoption to be special. We didn’t do it to save a child. What we chose was to be a family. We know that our family doesn’t look like everyone else’s. We know that might not always be easy for our kids. But we chose to be a family and chose to love each other dearly and go through everything together hand-in-hand.

This post was originally posted on www.adoption.net.

Wednesday Wisdom 8/07/2015

“The quickest cure for racism would be to have everyone in the country adopt a child of another race. No matter what your beliefs, when you hold a four-day-old infant, love him, and care for him, you don’t see color, you see a little person that is very much in need of your love”

Robert Dale Morrison

Sibling Love Knows No Boundaries

This photo blog is just beautiful! Mom captured moments between two siblings (one biological and one adopted).

http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/anna-larson-barely-different-sisters-photography

It reminds me of precious moments that I’ve also pictured with our two children. Nina really adores her brother, and always loves to tell anyone asking that it is her brother – not understanding yet why people may question this.

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The Real Cost of Adoption – Speed Bumps vs Stumbling Blocks

Good insight into the current bureaucracy surrounding adoption in South Africa.

The Real Cost Of Adoption – Speed Bumps Vs Stumbling Blocks

speed-bump-appendicitisIt seems adoption and the challenges contained in the processes have been in the spot light lately. Several articles, opinion pieces and radio shows have highlighted the challenges currently faced. The latest such article entitled Babies “not for sale” who will love these innocents? inspired me to throw my proverbial weight into the mix.

The article, for me ,hits the nail squarely on the head. It brings home the message that we need to protect children, we need to establish processes and practices that have at their core a desire to place a child into a forever family as quickly as possible, while not forsaking the need to make sure that the child’s past, current and long-term needs are taken into account. Picking a family for a child cannot receive the same scrutiny as what colour paint should be used to brighten up the north facing lounge wall, but it also cannot receive scrutiny that is artificially prolonged or justified because of a governments inefficiencies and lack of focus. To throw a dart into a board covered with adoptees as a process of picking a new family can be just as dangerous as an official expressing some god complex in his uninformed-opinionated-thought process when deciding if an adoption should be finalised or not. The whole process has actually very little to do with us, our ego’s, flippant comments or second-hand-I-know-someone-who-told-me-something-theories. IT IS ABOUT A CHILD WHO NEEDS A MOMMY AND A DADDY!

The numbers speak for themselves, fewer children are receiving forever families! We can play the name game, we can justify our stance with a desire to curb child trafficking, rape etc, we can profess that there aren’t enough families willing to adopt, we can even get the spin doctors in the mix and have them weave a tale of deceit and corruption blaming the situation on inaccurate reporting and misconstrued facts.

Here’s a couple of facts for the powers that be to chew on while a child somewhere out there spends another afternoon in the care of yet another volunteer as she goes from child to child, trying her best to nurture and be attentive to the 30 or so children in a home realising she has 2 hands, one body and limited time and resources.

  1. Our first adoption order was granted in a month, by an amazing Magistrate. Professional, thorough and so supportive of the idea of giving a child a home. I know of several other situations where just the court date has taken months, some have yet to be graced with the opportunity to have their documents scrutinised.
  2. Our second adoption is currently under way, the police clearance has taken around 10 days and our form 30 took under a month. Why is it others are waiting 6 months to a year?
  3. I have a beautiful black son, and soon a daughter. Some Magistrates openly declare that they want the black child to go to a black family. These gifts to humanity eventually run out of stalling tactics and the child gets a home, but the damage has been done as the process had nothing to with the best interests of a child. Instead we see a public servant parading opinion as fact, all the while, relying on nothing other than simple-minded prejudice; and
  4. I applied for my son’s new birth certificate last year July, as of today, there has been progress in finalising the matter but I am still waiting for someone in Pretoria to push this mystical button that is obviously mind numbingly difficult to push, which will allow my local home affairs department to print out the certificate. Yes that’s right, everything is finalised, all we need is someone to check a box which enables another person to click print. But it’s ok, because I am comforted by the fact that it’s a difficult challenge to navigate for them, otherwise it might get frustrating.

While departments, magistrates and officials play the mine-is-bigger-than-yours game, a little child sits, at best, in the corner of a home, surrounded by other similar children and their caregivers. They sit and play looking around for mommy or daddy, looking for permanence, looking to belong. Don’t worry sweetheart, it will happen soon, or at least it would if you were seen as a priority!

South Africa, we are failing our children! With every hungry tummy, lonely heart and abandoned child, we are nailing the lid on the coffin of our future. Our systems are too slow, too inefficient and too cumbersome. There are some amazing social workers, magistrates and government officials who are going to war against the disease of orphanhood, tirelessly waging a daily war against the notion that some children won’t have a family. These silent warriors are having their light and energies snuffed out by a system that promises what is best for the child, all the while, employing and retaining people who not only fail to uphold this ideal but flagrantly drag knuckles heels and whatever else they can in an attempt to do as little as possible for as long as possible, under the auspices of process, best practice and following protocol. You know where you can stick your protocol don’t you!

We can never stop working towards and engaging with the need to do what is best for each of these children. We cannot succumb to an approach where would be families are not scrutinised, but evaluated. We should never think of giving children away to anyone who feels the need to raise their hand without first checking whether they will be able, as best they can, to uphold the need to do what’s best for the child. I say, check, equip, screen, support and even charge for the service. But once a family has equipped themselves as best they can, shown a desire to become a forever family and welcomed a new son/daughter into their hearts, surely it would be best to expedite every other process so finality can be found and this new family can begin to do life together.

So in conclusion, speed bumps are great, they slow things down, help us navigate the terrain safely and with a better awareness of what lies ahead, while still allowing definite forward progress. Stumbling blocks on the other hand, prevent, frustrate and eventually cause movement to stop, and with that, lives, hopes and dreams.

What are your thoughts?

* This was posted originally here.

Please Reconsider That T-Shirt

This is so true! No adopted child is “saved”, “fortunate”, “lucky” to be adopted so don’t advertise it!

PLEASE RECONSIDER THAT T-SHIRT

March 12, 2014

This isn’t a fashion blog (wouldn’t that be fun!), but let’s talk about clothing. And I’m sure you’re wondering how this topic could possibly relate to adoption, but I promise it does.

I remember the first time I saw one. The lady was confidently wearing it and toting her transracially adopted child in her arms. And then I saw another one sported by a mom who was holding the hand of an unknowing toddler with black hair and dark brown eyes.

One Less Orphan was screen-printed on the first mama’s shirt. Just ADOPT!  said the second mother’s tee.

With the same cotton fabric but with different texts and graphics, similar t-shirts say:

Save the children! (with a graphic of the country of China)
Orphan No More
147 Million Orphans
Expecting… (and then a graphic of Ethiopia… or China… or Korea…)
Adopt Ethiopia!
147,000,000 orphans… minus 1!
Change One Life

or a t-shirt that gives statistics of third world countries and then the words, Adopt One!

Before I write any further, I realize that the people who make and wear these pieces (or dress their kids in them) are likely coming from a place of love. They mean no harm. In fact, they are likely compassionate and creative and want to care for children just like you and I do.

But when I see these t-shirts, I cringe, recognizing the incredible amount of attention they put on adopted children. Just walk a day in the life of a transracially adopted child, and you’ll see he already gets copious amounts of attention given the mismatched appearance he has with his parent(s).

Then add the presence of one of the t-shirts, pushing him into the spotlight further and without his consent, and it screams, “THIS KID WAS AN ORPHAN!” It makes the child, even if unintentionally, the poster child for international adoption or for orphan care. Yes, the child instantly becomes an advertisement for adoption.

Beyond the issue of elevating the child as an ambassador for international adoption, these t-shirts connote far more than the actual words and graphics. Strangers and others start seeing the child as a service project. Or view the first grader as a charity case rather than a boy who likes Legos like his friends. Or perhaps others will believe the child is continually in need of saving or rescuing, given that the a-parents wear these t-shirts again and again and again. Some will fail to see the child as any other child but rather first as an orphan in need of pity.

And what comments and conversations do these t-shirts evoke?

Oh, you’re child is so lucky to have been adopted.
That poor, poor child. He’s so fortunate.

And to think she would have grown up in an orphanage without you.
You’re such an angel for adopting!
She was once so helpless and now she has you!
Thank goodness she could come to America.
I sure hope he grows up to know how lucky he is and what you went through to adopt him.

You can imagine how these comments and ensuing conversations might be internalized by the adopted child and how they may affect identity formation. That, however, could be a whole other blog post.

I understand that these shirts are worn proudly to raise awareness or to celebrate adoption and/or children. I recognize that proceeds for some of these shirts are used to feed and shelter vulnerable children, but could we think of other ways to accomplish these same goals — perhaps ones that do not dehumanize adopted children into numbers or charity cases in their presence? What an unnecessary and tremendous burden to put on adopted children, reducing them and their personal stories to pity, propaganda, and statistics.

I’ve surely stepped on some toes, but I urge you to consider what you might not have already.

* This post was posted originally here.

Wednesday Wisdom 24/12/2014

“I love adoption. I love the whole messy, rich, textured, complex world it has given me. I do not love it because it is one long Disney happy ending. Rather, I love it for the way its struggles have defined my life and made me strong. I love it for the fascinating, crazy quilt of a family it has stitched together for me.”

Jillian Lauren

* Taken from the blog post “Why I Love Adoption”

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