During the course of this journey, I’ve received many referrals on books and support groups for would-be adoptive parents. They’ve also been helpful in their own way, but I was consistently disappointed by the absence of people of color, in general and African Americans specifically, and our unique voice in the adoption discussion. First I was sad, then I got frustrated and then I just found myself very angry.
I sat through my PRIDE session as the only POC. When we got to the session on cultural and racial identity development, things got a little awkward. I’m used to talking about race. Being African American is a huge part of my identity. I also happen to earn my living as a diversity professional. Discussing race identity development in the PRIDE class eventually devolved into people asking me questions about hair and skin care, as though that’s really just the gist of it. I found that support groups also pigeon-holed me into that space as well.
A quickie Amazon search for POC related adoption books pulls up some “ethnic” Cabbage Patch dolls, a couple of children’s books on black identity and eventually books on caring for ethnic hair in cross-racial adoptions. Um….yeah. That’s about it.
Apparently people like me don’t occupy much of this space. Apparently our thoughts on adoption, child-rearing and same race and domestic adoption don’t get much airtime. Maybe POCs aren’t writing much about this path. Maybe, like many other elements of this life, all the other books on adoption are just believed to be appropriately one size fits all.
I care about all children. But I especially care about our brown and black kids. My parents nurtured me and my sisters, taught us that we were beautiful and strong and smart. I was raised to know who I am as a Black woman. I don’t like not having a voice or not hearing voices like mine, somewhere out there.
So, this blog is as much about my trying to occupy some of that space in the adoption narrative as it is about being my own journey-journal (which is rather therapeutic, by the way). It may not be representative of all POCs’ adoption journeys, but I do want it to be one of the voices in the discussion. Sure I’ll still talk hair sometimes, but this journey is bigger than whether I decide to braid my daughter’s hair. It’s about the realness of living as a Black woman on this journey. And yeah, I think it’s a bit different than the cannon of adoption literature suggests.