I was raised as a poor black kid

I’ve never liked The Jerk. There are some great moments, and I’d pretty much watch Steve Martin paint a closet, but on the whole it’s not a fave.

Great moment, though, when he is told that he’s not a black kid.

The first step in deciding to adopt is figuring out what “flavor” of child you feel qualified to parent. Many people choose international adoption in order to help a child who would otherwise have grown up surrounded by poverty, disease, and the effects of war. You may feel led to a particular country because of a tie to that place (maybe you visited and were impacted by the place, maybe you have experience with the people of that nation).

So the first step is the country. R and I have felt led to Ethiopia, for any number of reasons. We saw a movie called Les Choristes, about a man who goes to a reform school to teach music. Great movie, if you like all things French. That was the beginning. “We could adopt, maybe…”

Then we were treated (courtesy of Netflix) to Hotel Rwanda and God Grew Tired of Us, about the Lost Boys of Sudan. We had a visit from a good family friend who has worked in South Africa for many years, in programs to educate kids about sex and AIDS.

And don’t even get me started on Angelina Jolie in Beyond Borders.

Ethiopia also boasts one of the most open, welcoming adoption programs in Africa.

But is adoption the preferable solution for Africa’s crisis? NO. Absolutely not. Preferable would be foreign aid in terms successful enough to supply every sick man, woman, and child with antiretroviral drugs. Preferable would be economic and educational opportunities to allow families to keep their children. Preferable would be ponies and rainbow sparkles and world peace.

So what “flavor” of child do I feel qualified to parent? Does skin color determine my ability to raise a healthy, well-adjusted child? Am I unrealistic to think that skin color, national origin, or gender should make no difference?  Am I right to raise a minority child in a highly race-conscious country, knowing what I do about people’s cruelty and bias?

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7 Responses to I was raised as a poor black kid

  1. Every child needs love. Your love and care of that child should equip him or her to better handle this world, even if faced with racism. Congratulations on your decision. I have often been so close to taking in foster kids just because I believe every child deserves happy childhood memories and I think we could provide some. Our entire society would be better off if all of the world’s children had a healthy loving start in life.

  2. Jen says:

    I agree with Les. Every child needs love. If you know you can provide a safe, healthy, loving environment for a child, race and ethnicity shouldn’t factor in. And to be honest, you are already raising minority children in a race conscious country. You would be adding an extra challenge by choosing a race other than your own, but it would be worth that challenge. I think it’s interesting that we are so concerned about race with adoptions. If not you, then who? An African-American family would only initially share that child’s skin color…but not a heritage, not a lineage. Would a child be raised to value Ethiopia and its traditions more in an African-American home? Maybe.

    Maybe not.

    The questions, then, are 1. Can I love this child, providing a safe, happy, and healthy home? 2. Will I be able to blend some of the traditions of that child’s home country with the traditions we already celebrate as a family?

  3. insider53 says:

    Your doubting and this is causing you to question yourself. Ask yourself this, do you love your children because they look like you or because of who they are, your children. If you adopt will you feel this child is yours and love them as much as the others. If your answer is yes then stop doubting and just love them as their Mother. I don’t think skin color should matter but I know it does for some and those will be issues you have to deal with. My own grandchildren will be bi-racial and it bothered me for about 5 minutes and then I realized they’re my grandchildren, who cares, I will love them and the color of their skin is not important. We all have doubts when confronted with new concepts but it’s just fear of the unknown and we can get over that. You are good parents and you have a lot to offer a child in need, now that is a great concept.

  4. antropologa says:

    You guys would do great. Every childhood has difficulties. What matters is having parents to help you along.

  5. faemom says:

    I think you’ll do wonderfully. I think you shouldn’t worry about people’s cruelty. There are lots of jerks out there who are going to be cruel. If it’s not race, then it’s age or intellegence or hair color or clothes or jobs or anything.

  6. Catherine says:

    Congrats! I’ve always wanted to adopt. When I get married, that is something that my husband and I will be doing. It’s not easy. A relative of mine did that and it was a rocky road, but it paid off.

  7. amy2boys says:

    You will be perfect. You are so attentive, you will know the right thing to do and you will be, like Les said, such loving parents. It’s going to a very lucky little kiddo.

    I would also watch him paint a closet, but you know I’ve never seen this movie! Now I need to Netflix it.

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