Wednesday, April 6, 2011
What Would You Give For Your Children?
I just returned from the 17th Annual Barker Foundation Conference in Rockville, Maryland and had the opportunity to hear a powerful duo speak - Judy and Aaron Stigger. Judy is the white adoptive mom of Aaron, who is biracial. They approached the idea of transracial adoption in a humorous way, yet emphasized that transracial adoption is work and adoptive parents have to be willing to put in the effort required to raise a healthy, happy, confident transracial family.
Aaron comfortably got up to speak in a t-shirt that said this on the front - "Black is Beautiful, White is Wonderful" and on the back - "And I'm Both!". That's a confident guy who had parents who weren't afraid to get out of their comfort zone and allowed their child to appreciate his heritage from both cultures.
He began his lecture by saying that the first three points in having a healthy transracial adoptive family are location, location, location. What stuck with me was his acknowledgement that most adoptive families would give their lives for their children, but why are they so hesitant to give their homes and/or their neighborhoods for their kids? Hmmm, that was a powerful moment.
Too often we see Caucasian families pursuing the adoption of an African American or Biracial child who feel like "love is all they need" or that their completely Caucasian family, neighborhood, church, school system, etc. will be accepting of a child with African American heritage because they're "so nice and excited about the family's adoption plans". Unfortunately, this is not the case - there is great value for children in the school years and adolescence to be raised in neighborhoods, churches and schools where there are other people who physically look like themselves.
Don't get me wrong, those are all good things, but it's not enough. We must get to the place where we can integrate transracial adoptive families into more than one cultural experience and, in doing so, fully be able to appreciate the diversity within your adoptive family. Once you get to the place where you're willing to put in the work - you won't be disappointed by the rich, full, joyful experiences that you can enjoy as the result of having a transracial family.
What have you done to put in the work of having a transracial adoptive family? I would love to hear your ideas!