Friday, January 05, 2007

Warning: Unformed thoughts ahead

So as I mentioned previously, I've been obsessing about the next stop on our baby train. I have been researching some new adoption agencies, thinking that domestic private adoption is the way to go. But I find myself bumping up against some pretty serious ethical issues that I am struggling with. As the title suggests I'm not sure that I'm expressing myself the way I want, but I really need to process this so here goes.

PB and I are *very* open to transracial adoption. We honestly do not care what ethnicity the child we adopt is, and we really don't have a preference for a caucasian child. We really just want a healthy infant. Period.

Turns out we are (apparently) in the minority. There are lots and lots of people who don't want to adopt outside of their race. That's fine and I think it's great that people know what they do and do not want. But it leaves me with two questions:

1) Is there some reason we're missing about why we shouldn't adopt transracially?

This really gets at my biggest fear about adopting a child of color, which is that we will somehow rob them of their culture or heritage. I think we would make efforts to respect their ethnicity and to help them learn about it but the fact is that living where we do, we are mostly surrounded by white people. At the root of it, I think I'm afraid that I don't know how to prepare my children to become biracial or African American adults.

The thing is I'm a social psychologist. I know a lot about how stereotyping and prejudice work, cognitively. I understand how and why people form judgements of other people. And that means I also know how hard those stereotypes and prejudices are to change. And I know that discrimination, while more subtle than it used to be, is still *very* much with us. What I don't know is what it feels like to be on the receiving end of discrimination, well aside from some jerks who treat women differently than men. I worry that I won't be able to give my kids the tools to deal with what they will undoubtedly face in life.

I don't want to fail them.

2) Is it OK to participate in a system where children are literally valued by how white they are?

I am troubled by the "sliding" scales in private adoption. The holy grail (a healthy white infant) is apparently most in demand and is therefore the most expensive to adopt. Nearly every agency I've checked into offers a cheaper program for biracial and African American infants. Now, I'm torn because this really appeals to my self interest, to be honest PB and I don't have 25 - 35 thousand dollars just waiting to be spent on an adoption. And, I swear that we aren't saying that we're open to biracial and African American infants because of the money. We were open to them before I started researching adoption and realized the differential adoption fees. But now I know and I feel like a schmuck for condoning this by participating. It's one of the reasons I was turned off by international adoption - it seemed like such a marketplace that I felt weird considering it. But honestly, I'm not sure that domestic adoption is that much different.

But dammit, we're desperate to have a baby! n. We originally turned to foster-to-adopt because fostering was something we'd wanted to do anyway and it was a free way to build our family. But now I'm even beginning to wonder about that - is it better to adopt a child that was forcibly removed from its first parents? At least in domestic adoption, first moms are (or at least are supposed to be) in charge of the decision.

In all reality we will probably go with one of the biracial private adoption programs because they are faster and cheaper and race simply isn't an issue for us.

I just have to figure out how to rationalize that decision.


Renee said...

Have you looked into Pact yet? Shana and I registered with them a few years ago to persue domestic adoption--but then decided on fost/adopt. They are GREAT check them out :o)

TeamWinks said...

I've had this discussion with my husband too. We didn't like what felt like a rat race in domestic adoption, and had no desire to adopt abroad. With all of its added flavor, we are choosing foster to adopt. It's all a very personal decision, and I'm sure you will do what's right for you.

As far as race goes,I'm sitting in your boat. I simply don't care about the race of the child. I'd have one of each, and form a mini UN if I could. However, also consider how accepting your family is of children of a different race. You may think they are ok with it, but ask them seriously. I say this so you can be prepared. It may in no way change your mind (it didn't mine,) but it is good to know for your child's sake.

My next door nighbor and good friend is white, her husband black. There amazingly sweet daughter is obviously mixed. We talked about race, and keeping the children understanding of two cultures and she said, "It's really quite simple. You hug them, kiss them, play with them, and put them to bed. They will grow, you follow their interests. Let them guide the way. If she likes country music, she likes country music. Give her the same words to use when combatting those who pick on her, as you would for anything else. You will know what to do."

Amanda said...

Thanks for the comments, ladies. Renee, I will definitely check out PACT.

Ahauna said...

About the race, I had a discussion with my mother that kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. We are in the middle of two potential girls to adopt (one bi-racial, the other full AA) and my mother had the nerve to say "you're not really considering the black baby, are you?". Uh yeah, what the heck does the color of her skin matter? Both girls need homes, love and parents equally.

I'm embarassed that racism still exists in this world, never mind right in your own family.


Dream Mommy said...

We decided to foster/adopt after hubby's friend that was a foster parent was offered a 3 week old infant. He didn't want babies but told his worker we wanted him. Of course we weren't licensed so he went to another foster home. 6 months later, after we finished class, he needed to be in an adoptive family, so now we have Smiley and will soon be bringing home a baby girl. They are not free for adoption yet, but hopefully they will be soon.

baggage said...

Well, look at it this that become available for adoption in foster care aren't really taken forcibly either. Their parents DO have a choice. If they work their case plan and they want their kids back, then their kids will not come up for adoption. I think parents whose kids are removed DO make a choice, except in a very few cases.