Episode 28 – Adopting Across Racial Lines

A good friend and regular listener questions something we said in the past about the appropriateness of adopting across racial lines. So we devote the full episode to that sensitive but pertinent topic.

We refer to:

15 thoughts on “Episode 28 – Adopting Across Racial Lines

  1. Hi Tim and Wendy,

    I just have to tell you guys that you are amazing! :) You guys make me smile, you make me laugh…you make me want to be older and in the right time and place to jump into this whole foster parenting world!

    I’ve only made it through the first 17 podcasts (in 3 days!) and still have a lot more to catch up on. I’ll be sad when I get to the last one and have to actually be patient and wait for another one. I’ve loaded all of your available podcasts onto my iPod so that I could listen to them anytime I have available since my iPod goes pretty much everywhere with me. I’ve even been listening to them in the car! I’ve turned off the music and been listening to the two of you – you guys have become my traveling companions. I even had the debate of listening to the two of you or watching a movie!

    I feel like I am in your extended family the more I listen to you. I learn more about you guys and learn more about the whole foster parenting world and can’t wait to get up to speed on everything!

    Keep up the good work!
    Ashley

  2. Hi Tim and Wendy -

    Ashley again…haha… I just have to say that the two of you have sucked me in. It is closing in on 4 am (I am not a late night owl type of person either) but I just made it through your 28th episode. Yay! I had every intention of being in bed by midnight, which is late for me, but I was in the midst of scrapbooking and listening to your podcasts and I kept saying, “I’ll just listen to one more.” And that became my mantra along with finishing the scrapbook page that I was working on.

    Now I have to patiently wait until the next episode…
    :) Keep ‘em coming!

    Ashley

  3. Hi Tim and Wendy,

    I love your podcast. I finished all of them now. My wife and I are in the process of adopting in BC canada. I hear what your saying about it being preferrable that adoptions be within the same culture/ethnicity, but not probable because the ethnic groups are not readily available. It would be nice if a whole wide vareity of ethnicities would come forward for the adoptees represented, sadly it is not happening.

    Here in BC, the Natives make up over half of the kids that are available for adoption. I am pretty sure that it like that all across canada. This is disturbing considering that Natives are only a small portion of the population. One would think that the ministry goes out of its way to take in Native children. Whatever the reason, it is still the fact.

    Well our family is already a transracial family. I am Native and my wife is white. We have two children already. And are looking to adopt a toddler boy.

    The ministry is crying for Native families to come forward to alleviate the system. But that is just not happening. I am happy to be helping out in a little way ourselfs.

    Just another reason why like cultures should be made for adoptions, is the very fact of racism. How to deal with it, and the proper ways to go about it, particularily if the child does not even tell you about it, because they do not believe you would understand.

    I know I’ve experience a whole variety of forms of racism growing up and couldn’t imagine not having someone to confide in through out my childhood.

    Anyway, I look forward to your next podcast, Later

    Lionel

  4. Tim and Wendy,
    Is this how I can leave a message for you?
    Trying to figure out where I can leave a post to you or for *Listener Corner* is a little bit difficult here on your website.
    Can you point out the best way to do that, if this is not it?

    I am a school teacher. I live in Seoul, South Korea and I have been listening to your podcast EVERY week since the very beginning. I bet you didn’t even know you had an international following! I wish you would make more than one podcast each week because I am always saying prayers for your family and waiting for a week to hear updates sometimes feels like a lifetime! (:

    Do the girls ever ask about their biological dad? Do you ever bring him up to them to answer deep questions that may be lingering in their little hearts?

    I would also like to point out that episode #28 did not have a listener corner theme song. Those theme songs are great! Keep ‘em coming!

    -Lex

  5. Somehow I managed to get to your comment page this time without the script error (Hooray!). Anyway, I am so glad that you came to your final conclusion about transracial adoption. One reason that we have actually requested a transracial (African American) adoption is that our neighborhood has many of the role models that you mentioned. We are also blessed to have a number of young men of color in our close vicinity (on our block and the next one) who have been adopted transracially who range in age from 6 to 16. It is right to take all of these things into account when preparing.

    As I write that, we still have not gotten a placement yet. However, our house has passed inspection for another 6 months (YIPPEE).

    I will be thinking of you these next few days as a possibility for mediation approaches. Look how many lives you are touching with your blog! If you ever decide to stop podcasting, you will have to warn us all. Like when you give your kids 5 more minutes on the computer before you turn off the monitor.

    -Chicago Area Groupie Laura

  6. I have not listened to this podcast yet – I’m still on episode 25 – but the title caught my attention. We are in process of adopting a biracial baby girl. The sad part is, we will never know with certainty what her ethnicity is because mom was unable to determine who the father is. But to us, she is beautiful and we love her so much. It’s just sad that she will grow up without a definite identity to her race. Time will tell how much that will impact her as she grows up, but we will raise her that her heart is what’s important, not the color of her skin.

  7. Hi there! Just started listening to your podcast and am loving it! We are in California and just starting(or trying to) the process to become foster parents. I am curious what agency you went with? IT sounds great and I want to know if they are in my area too! We found only one Christian agency and they seem alot harder to get certified through than the others but they have been great about returning calls and emails so we are hoping to get certified through them! I am wondering if it is the same agency you use? Just curious, also if for some reason ours doesnt work out and it isn’t the same, we may give yours a call!

    Thanks for doing this podcast. It is so hard to find much about foster care as many resources are about adoption strictly. We do hope adoption will be in our future as well, but for now we feel we have been called to do foster care. Thanks for being so open and sharing with all of your listeners.

  8. Well, if you need a Hispanic (particularly Guatemalan) role model in your children’s life, I’m always here :-D

  9. I think it’s great that Lionel and his wife are stepping up and becoming parents to waiting Native children. I am also in Canada (Ontario) and have been troubled by a situation I’ve seen with a foster parenting friend of mine. She has a half-native foster son whom she has had from birth (he was immediately apprehended while still in hospital) who is now over 3 years old. She would love to adopt him but is running into a lot of red tape over the issue of his ethnicity and the desire (mandate?) to place him in a Native family, actually back on the reserve where his father descends from. Despite the long standing bond that he has with his foster family they continue to be put off while a native family is looked for who would be interested in adopting this little boy. I think I’ll look into the law here a little bit for my own curiousity because it certainly doesn’t seem that the same laws are present here (i.e. an adoption not being held up over race).
    Thanks for the podcasts, I love listening in on your experiences. Your and your girls feel like friends and I wish your family all the best. My husband and I (along with our three young children) are just at the beginning stages of gaining approval to become a foster family.

  10. Hi, I have been listening for a while.

    In this episode, you responded to Hannah’s question to you regarding your views on “transracial” adoption. I had wanted to write you an email similar to the one Hannah did, but did not get around to it.

    lI have to say, I still feel very unsettled and unsatisfied by the explanations you give, regarding your opinions and preferences for which children should be placed in what type of adoptive or foster homes.

    You refer to your girls as half Puerto Rican, therefore you say your adoption will be “transracial.” However, Puerto Rican is NOT a “race”! Nor is Hispanic. At best, it is an ethic or cultural categorization.

    Not to mention that scientists have already determined that what people call “race” actually does not exist, in any case! It is an entirely culturally and politically determined, ARTIFICIAL classification system. It does not actually have any basis in scientific or genetic evidence. These categories are simply not real. At best, skin color in humans can be described as a sort of continuum– there are really not distinct categories or classifications that hold up to any sort of scientific testing.

    Furthermore, just because someone is from an ethnic group (or so called “race”) biologically, they are not necessarily “part of” or “belonging to” the culture that corresponds with that ethnic origin. Culture is determined entirely by life experience, not by genetics or personal appearance. For example, someone may have an Asian-looking phenotype but have absolutely nothing in their lives at all which could be called culturally Asian in culture.

    Therefore, I really do take issue with your “preference” that children should be placed with families that are as close as possible to the child’s family of origin with regard to culture and “race.” There simply is no guarantee that by “matching” color of skin between the family of origin and the foster/adoptive family, that you are “matching” culture or lifestyle in any way at all. And who is to say that the most loving family experience for the child might not come from bring adopted by a family that is culturally different? You have no way or determining or predicting that, yet you have narrowed the child’s placement options by selecting/preferring they be placed with a family that is superficially and artificially “the same.”

    You say that selecting for children that are closer to the foster/adoptive family in appearance keeps people out of your business– I think that we ought to depend on interpersonal skills, personal boundaries, and tact to do that! Do you really want to be teaching your listeners that you think it’s valid to try to keep your family’s skin all looking “matchy-matchy” out of the fear of what others will think? Because that’s the message that you’re sending– that “differently hued” families are some sort spectacle, and we ought to try not to create a scene by having multiracial/multicultural families.

    The cultural adjustment issues of the child’s placement that you mention ARE of course valid, and of course children moving to a placement with different languages, food, and living style, will need to adjust to those things– hopefully helped along in the most gentle way possible. But you CANNOT predict what those lifestyle and cultural elements will be, simply based on the skin color or ethnicity of the potential foster family. Also, many differences in lifestyle are based on family income, regionalisms, and various socioeconomic factors– again, NOTHING TO DO WITH “race”/color/genetics!

    Especially in a culture like ours where fewer and fewer families have any true involvement with their original cultures, and everyone just eats and shops for whatever plastic landfill fodder is mass-produced and sold at the local MALL-WART, and each family in town just does and sings and thinks whatever the mass media tells them to. True cultural pockets of a specific culture or subculture are really becoming scarce, so let’s not pretend that “THIS” family and “THAT” family are REALLY so different from each other, when they all dress the same, eat the same, sing the same, shop the same, and watch the same TV shows, yet the two are different skin colors, and therefore some categorical distinction needs to be made between them. Simply ridiculous.

    Thank goodness at the end of the episode, you switch positions, and come out in favor of trans-”racial” adoptions after all. But the earlier opinions you voiced, well, I am worried that they can do some damage in spreading covertly racist myths.

    I was also displeased by some of your comments, in whichever episode, that talk about how you view two-parent families as best. The amount of love and quality of care that a child receives CANNOT be predicted by the number of parents (or the number of caring adults) in the household. Any parent, single or coupled, can be very generous with their time and affection, or very stingy with it. Some parents may not be home much due to travel commitments for work– so how much is that type of two-parent family REALLY a two parent family on a daily basis? And what about other relatives nearby or in the household, who might be major caretakers to the child? So there is really no reason that two parent foster-adoptive placements should be put on such a pedestal and in such a preferred status. There are way too many factors in play to predict that a two parent family upbringing will be qualitatively better than a single parent upbringing.

  11. I just wanted to say I thought this episode was great and thanks for elaborating on some of the issues. It’s really great to hear white, privileged people talking about race and class. As a biracial woman who grew up in a multiracial family (and is now involved with someone who wasn’t even born in this country!), I don’t think there are any steadfast answers- especially considering you’re dealing with children, not adults, and they are not steadfast in how and what they are. Knowing children who grew up in situations where part of themselves was denied, even bringing up these issues can mean a lot to children in the future. Congrats to you, but keep learning and questioning yourselves, please! There are many multiracial resources on the internet (I believe I mentioned the Anti-Racist Parenting blog on a previous post?) and they can be a godsend for folks such as you.

  12. I have finally found a podcast that keeps me thinking until the next one. Thank you! I keep telling my husband that it fascinates me.
    I was very interested to listen to this one, since we adopted a baby girl from China 1 year ago. Even though we wish race wasn’t an issue and we can pretend all we want that it isn’t an issue, of course it is.
    We know Asian families that we see weekly through our older 3 children’s piano lessons and they help us stay connected with Chinese cultural events in our area. Our plan was to adopt 2 girls one after the other, but the wait for adopting her grew to 2 1/2 years and now the wait is much longer.
    I think it would be ideal for us to have at least one other Asian face in the family to lessen their anxiety in the future, but that might not be an option for us anymore. I also have seen perfectly happy children raised in interracial homes where they look different from the rest of their family, and with all of the family and religious support on our side I can see that happening with us. . but I still worry. You mentioned that your two girls look different than you. How important do you think it is that they have each other because they look the same?

  13. Hi Jessica,

    Our girls don’t actually look all that much like each other either. The #1 question we get about them is “are they sisters?” In addition, they are just now starting to figure out race differences. Sorry, that’s not much help.

  14. I’m a mother to both a bio,and a fost/adopted daughter.I can tell you that 3 weeks before our adopted daughter was placed with us,we were presented with another 3 yr.old hispanic girl,and were turned down because we were not hispanic,and they felt she would do better long term if placed with another hispanic family.The ironic thing here is that our now adopted daughter is Native American and Mexican.Wish we had known more about the multi-placement ethnic act,at the time.Many blessings to you and your family,love the program.

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