Interview with Rhonda M. Roorda – Part 2

Rhonda Roorda

Earlier this week I posted Part 1 of a fascinating interview with Rhonda Roorda, author of In Their Siblings’ Voices: White Non-Adopted Siblings Talk About Their Experiences Being Raised with Black and Biracial Brothers and Sisters. You can read Part 1 here. In this installment Rhonda shares more on the power of diversity for Blended families. Here is Part 2…

Much debated today Rhonda is the value of living in a racially diverse area for adoptive transracial families. Can you weigh in on that hot button issue?

Well, I am not going to tell Transracial Adoptive families that they must move into a racially diverse area. What I will say is that each family needs to find a long-term inclusive plan that honors each member’s wellbeing, personality and racial and ethnic heritage. If parents choose to live in a predominately white community, then they need to work extra, extra hard to bring diversity to their family striving beyond culture camps, eating at an ethnic restaurant or taking a trip into the city. The multi-tiered efforts need to be intense, intentional, and long term. That is why living in a racially diverse community is so beneficial for Transracial Adoptive families. A diverse environment provides access to people from a mosaic of backgrounds, thoughts, styles, and experiences. Through interactions with a diverse community we form a paradigm in which we learn to solve problems in a more creative and useful way. I know through my own experiences of living in a racially diverse community that when you build meaningful relationships with people from different backgrounds one step at a time, you actually push through stereotypes, find the heart of the person, and develop a confidence to navigate effectively in different worlds and arenas.

 In your opinion, do you think that birth siblings would also benefit from living in a diverse area?

Yes!  Being a blended family means that every member, every birth sibling, is a part of this lifelong journey. This is not an exercise about ensuring that the black/biracial adoptee gets a few cultural experiences. This is about a way of living where every member of the family truly becomes more blended. So it stands to reason that even though birth siblings or adoptive parents do not share the same skin tone or racial background with their brother or sister, son or daughter, they have been shaped and forever changed by this Transracial Adoptive experience. Birth siblings in my opinion must learn similar things that the Transracially Adoptive child must learn. They can benefit from the same arenas that their black/biracial brother and sister benefit from. Birth siblings should be nurtured to understand that as they go into their adulthood years they must continuously educate and advocate for persons of color and adoptees in the board room, on the basketball court, on the golf course, at one’s place of worship, in one’s family through marriage, and in society because in an ironic way they are advocating for themselves.

What was the number one thing you learned or that interested you most from interviewing whole families on transracial adoption?

I learned that we are members of extraordinary families. We have formed unique family units out of love and through this lifelong process are refined in ways that we could never imagine. It has taken and will continue to take courage, awareness, forgiveness, humility and inclusiveness within our family structures and among neighbors that do not look like us in order for us to walk this journey with integrity. It is because of the path that is being chartered by those illustrated in the Simon-Roorda trilogy on Transracial Adoption and many others – including your readers – that we can truly begin to value lives and be valued across boundaries, humble ourselves to others’ stories and raise our children so that they will gain the ever versatile tools that they need to thrive in society.

Another huge thanks to Rhonda for sharing her experience and expertise. If you are interested in adding the Simon-Roorda trilogy to your personal library, here are the links: In Their Own VoicesIn Their Parents’ Voices, and In Their Siblings’ Voices.

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