So recently, I lay awake one night fretting about the lack of folks to talk to about the adoption process. I’ve read books and found them to be useful, but pretty dry. My agency is really, really into promoting what I call the Cult of the Support Group. Ok, ok, I got it, and I needed something a bit more interactive than the books, so in the wee hours of the night, I booted up the laptop in search of a web-based source of support.
- Adoption support
- Older child adoption support
- Single parent adoption support
And so the searches went. I discovered a few pretty vibrant support communities. With a few keystrokes, I registered for sites and asked for permission to join other sites. Current anxiety attack sated, I drifted back off to sleep.
The next morning I found acceptance into one group on a social media site. Awesome! Grabbing some java, I settled in to read posts and blogs for a while. All good stuff, until I slammed into some major points of difference that left me feeling some kind of way.
- No one on these sites looked like me (where are the other People of Color (POCs) who are adopting?).
- So very few adoptive parents adopted domestically. I’m sure there are lots of similar issues but there are a lot of different issues as well.
- Most of the posters were very religiously conservative in ways that don’t align with my own world view.
I felt like I shared part of the experience but was still left out of the group on a number of levels. Oh it wasn’t them. It was me.
Was my major contribution to the support group conversation really going to be serving as some kinda expert about hair care for their adoptive girls from African countries with curly, tightly coiled hair? Where are the threads about nurturing whole-self-identity, inclusive of racial identity of our children? What am I supposed to say on this site about being perfectly fine if my kid comes to the realization that he/she is gay or believes they are a gender that is different than their biological sex when clearly that position is not going to be tolerated in this support group? Is this a space where I can safely ask about parenting for progressive, left leaning Christians, like myself? Is this a space where I can talk about my fears of raising my would-be Black son in a world where he will be viewed as threatening while walking home from the 7-11 with a Slurpee and some candy because he doesn’t have the privilege of just being where he is, doing what he’s doing?
I’m not really feeling like it’s that kinda space. And I’m not an online hair consultant, though my hair always looks good! (You betta werk!)
Now I work on diversity issues as a part of my day job, so yeah, issues of race, racial identity and culture have deep meaning for me. It doesn’t mean that I don’t participate in other realms; frankly I LIVE in all other realms, but I bring this part of me to that space. It’s a part of who I am.
My adoption agency has encouraged me to plug into support groups and get connected with people who are sharing this experience. I’m trying. And I know that this post highlights my dilemma with just one group I stumbled over in the middle of the night. But I haven’t found a group (on ground or online) where I don’t feel limited or silent or even invisible because I hardly see anyone who looks like me and shares some critical experiences with me. So, I’m diving back into other group searches that will hopefully produce what I need or at least more than the group I excitedly stumbled upon. I realize I’m also going to have to moderate my expectations (seemingly an ongoing theme in the adoption process) I’m not quitting the group that I found, but it is only meeting a slice of my need as a parent-in-waiting, and I anticipate that it will only address a slice of my actual parenting life.
New search terms….
- Progressive Christian parenting
- African Americans for adoption
- POCs and adoption
- Adoptive parents who are ok with maybe one day joining PFLAG