On December 9th I began drafting a response to the situation in Ferguson, to the denigration of black bodies, to the growing and needed conversation of race and racism in America, to the inevitable link between transracial adoption and racism. The conversation was on the main stage, in the forefront now, and I wanted to respond. I wrote words over and over again. As I wrote I watched the adoptive community respond to current events and the ongoing conversation with increased vigor – but not how I thought we would respond. We were not unified – specifically transracial families – we were splintered and dividing.
I watched and listened as transracial adoptive parents denied that the #blacklivesmatter movement had anything to do with their family. Many said they had simply turned off the news to avoid the ‘world’s troubles’. Others told their children of color NOT to worry, “This all happened in Ferguson honey, you are safe.” Because somehow in this moment safety is paramount to truth.
I want to believe that many families in my adoptive community are in the first stage of grief – DENIAL. But it seems after many conversations in my inbox, at coffeeshops, and in forums, that some are not moving beyond this stage and in fact are digging in behind what they believe will fix the historical illness of racism in America – to NOT address race, and thereby NOT to engage.
So I will risk this post, with the potential of lessening my readership to plead with those in my transracial adoptive community to engage with your children about what is happening in our country – to become an ally for your child. Stop believing the lies. Love is not enough. Colorblindness is ridiculous. Our children suffer. We must with responsibility engage our children in an understanding of who they are. Implicit in that statement is an invitation to learn. Today is an opportunity to learn. It’s not too late, there is no shame to a beginning. To start down a road that will leave both of you more loved, more engaged, more affirmed, and I daresay healthier than where you are now.
The truth lies here: Having a child of ethnicity in our home does not make us non-racist. Having a diverse nuclear family does not give us a pass. Having a child of a different race under our roofs does not give us a leg up on racial understanding. We must do the hard work. That hard work is the prerequisite needed to parent our children in healthy holistic ways.
Be the model. Be the parent. Our children are watching