Hope shared an interesting tidbit with me today. We were recently asked to participate in a video for our adoption agency recruiting other potential adoptive parents for older foster kids. We haven’t decided to do it yet, I’m leaving the decision up to Hope. She was telling me about the reaction she gets when she shares that she is adopted.
Hope said most of her peers are like, oh wow, that’s interesting. But, invariably, there is always at least one person who says they don’t believe her because her mom is black.
Say what now?
Yeah, Hope says, kids think only white people adopt kids, especially black kids. They think we’re rare. That’s messed up, right?
Uh, yeah, that’s messed up. I am so done!
Of course, there are folks of color who adopt, but we’re largely invisible. Unless it’s a transracial adoption (POCs adopting white children) we just sort of blend in. Our voices in the adoption sphere tend to be muted and the few of us who are vocal and visible are just not enough of a critical mass for folks to take a shine to us. I just made the wonderful list by Healthline of the best adoptive mom blog (Second year! Woot, woot), but I’m the only person of color.
The only one.
This invisibility means that folks think we aren’t here. It leads grown folks and kids to think my daughter is just joshing them by saying she’s adopted because if it was true her parents would surely be white.
Sometimes it feels like the only reason we’re invited into adoption spaces is to help white people raise children of color with free advice and well wishes. This phenomenon makes it hard for people like me to construct our support systems, our villages. There may not be folks comfortable talking to us, building relationships with us, not having one-sided transactional relationships involving our kids. It makes for a lonely journey unless you hunt down and/or fall into your safe space that includes folks who are willing to share their lives with you.
Adoption journeys require intimacy. As parents we open our homes and our lives to children; children who need homes have to find a way to learn to live with and hopefully trust these parents. The people around us don’t simply play voyeur; they often are parts of our extended family and close friends. Even if they don’t see everything; they see a lot. Parents and kids need specific support systems, and those systems must be safe enough to share some our darkest secrets about our wins and our challenges.
We are invisible, we aren’t able to even build the scaffolding necessary to create what we need.
It is so hard sometimes.
And on top of everything else, our absence from the adoption narrative makes kids doubt my daughter’s adoption story.
That’s effed up.
July 12th, 2017 at 9:22 pm
That’s completely effed up!!! I imagine it must be hard for Hope to discuss her adoption just to have people not believe her! That’s totally screwed up!
July 12th, 2017 at 9:41 pm
I completely identified with your post. There are days I wish there were other black adoptive parents I could talk to.
July 12th, 2017 at 10:43 pm
Oh ABM I’m so sorry for both of you. It’s not right.
July 13th, 2017 at 8:31 am
Ugh, Im so sorry for hope that she has to go through that – so hard
to be totally honest, I was so excited when I found your blog because I have found so few people of color that have adopted. Being an adoptive mother myself, I am much more plugged into the adoption community than my non-adopting friends, and it is so rare to find anyone of color who has adopted…. why is that? do you think its a cultural issue – or maybe people of color just don’t embrace the social media aspect of it (so they are out there, but just not as visible?)… I don’t know, but Id love to have some more perspectives like yours
July 13th, 2017 at 11:40 am
I actually have been feeling and seeing this quite a bit. People ask me if my children were\are relatives. I have to remind people several times that they are not my relatives’ children. They are always shocked. I am trying to reconcile to the possibility that meany people that black people take care of their own or family member would step in and help out. It’s just not an untrue narrative, but it is a hurtful narrative that impacts the number of black children who get adopted by black children.
July 13th, 2017 at 11:27 pm
I just realized how crazy my above post reads. I didn’t proofread because I was so excited about the topic. Sorry readers!
July 13th, 2017 at 12:52 pm
when our older daughter was a kid, she would tell her friends (who were all black like her) that she was adopted. We were surprised how many of the friends then told her they were adopted too. She has at least 4 black friends who were adopted by black families but they never told her until she “came out” to them first.
I wonder if part of the invisibility is caused by stigma around adoption, and kids who look like they match their families are less likely to be open about being adopted?
July 13th, 2017 at 9:20 pm
[…] I wrote about being invisible in Adoptionland, but other times, my presence is seen but only as a source of information, not as an equal in […]
July 16th, 2017 at 12:54 pm
I feel like the adoption community needs more critical mass in a lot of places! I’m in a weird place because I’m Asian, but adopted by white parents. I’ve had the advantage of white privilege but have also been the subject of awkward racial conversations, prejudices, and discriminations. Plus we have 6 kids who are all non-white–2 AmerAsian, 1 Korean, 3 Ethiopians.
I know a handful of other black adoptive families. I’d love to start connecting you all. Maybe you could find that critical mass! Are on FB?
July 16th, 2017 at 2:31 pm
I’m in an AFAm adoptive families group–one of the few online safe spaces.