“We are hoping to adopt a white baby. Its not that we don’t believe every child deserves a loving home, its because our family (friends) wouldn’t accept a black child.”
I can't count the many times I have read or heard this or similar sentiments (usually on adoption platforms) .
So far I was never quite able to voice or even acknowledge all my feelings when I read or hear such statements. Other people are quick to jump in with: “nobody judges you for wanting a white child, “everybody has the right to choose” and “it is better if you adopt inside your race if your family wouldn’t accept a child of colour”. Of course I agree.
Maybe it’s the casual tolerance of a racist family and how this seems to be a shrug of the shoulder situation for so many people, kind of like having an annoying relative who spits while he’s talking; something that wouldn’t even be note-worthy, if there wasn’t the possibility of a black child in the picture.
Instead of being outraged, we seem to think we need to accept our family’s racism as “one of those things” that come along with the package. You take the good with the bad.
I am left with a (rhetorical) question for prospective white parents who adopt within their colour lines because of their racist family:
Let’s just say there was a known (to you at least) pedophile in your family. Would you decide to rather not have children, because they would never be safe around that person? Or would you expose the perpetrator (family or not) or at least distance yourself not only from him but also from everyone in the family, who protects and enables him?
In other words would you not take it upon yourself to make all the changes in your life to ensure your child will be safe? Would you not change friends, move to different neighbourhoods, and hell even move mountains for your child?
Or would you think to yourself: since uncle so and so has a preference for 3 year old girls, I ll just make sure I’ll have a boy…..
What makes us tolerate racists in our own families when we would not knowingly share and raise a child with any kind of abuser? (Of course the level of denial when it comes to abusers in families is another subject altogether).
I am not suggesting for a moment that transracial adoption should be a “cure” for a racist family. I am whole heartedly supporting the decision of any family with overt or lingering racist attitudes to not ever adopt transracially. Unless you are prepared to radically change your life.
Adopting a white child is an equally flawed answer to a racist family. Raising a white child in proximity to racist relatives may alleviate some of the immediate stress of having to respond to racism because we might think it doesn’t affect our white child.
We are failing our children if we don’t protect them against the racist indoctrination within our own families and social circles. We are failing them by not modelling a clear and uncompromising stand against all forms of racism.
As parents to white children we need to be aware of how our family’s (and our own unconscious) racism will affect our child’s ability to navigate an increasingly diverse society, where what seems like innocent play at age 5 will turn into wilful racist ignorance as soon as they are adults and find themselves in the middle of a social media storm, because they jokingly asked their black co-worker to fan them plantation-style.
When we become aware of racism in our family or social circles and don’t want to (or think can’t) make the changes required to meet the needs of a child of colour, we are not solving the problem by adopting a white child. Tolerating racist behaviour from those close to us will only set our children (white and black) up for heartbreak and failure.
If you know you can’t raise a black child in your racist family, don’t raise a child in that family at all.
Make the changes.
Don’t tolerate racism for the sake of family peace.
Your children will thank you later.