Sunday, June 29, 2008

For Parents Considering a Transracial Adoption

****Please Note*****Parts of this post contain information from a 10 year old report that uses the term 'oriental' which is considered offensive by many people. The correct word should be Asian. At the moment I am not going to change it - although I am considering this. I don't know if I have time or if it is even right of me to change old text to reflect new understanding. I think it negates the hard work that has been done in the past and might make someone read it and assume the past was easier than it was. Please leave a comment if you disagree, I would love opinions on this topic. Thanks! Thanks Andrew for bringing this to my attention!
Thanks go to Casper Anderson at for posting this and for offering so much needed insight into the world of transracial adoption.

Questions on Intercountry AdoptionReprinted from the report on Intercountry Adoption: 1995

COAC Collection” Mar/Apr 1999 Knoxville, TN Council on Adoptable Children

We cannot overemphasize the importance of your being involved with a parent group before, during, and after your adoption. Parent groups provide education and support that will greatly benefit both you and your child.
Transracial adoption is not for every family, just as adoption is not for every family. Some very nice people are not necessarily good parents. Many good parents cannot really accept someone else’s child and love it as their own. Many adoptive parents are excellent parents to a child of their own race, but not to a child of another race or background. It takes parents with a certain sensitivity and understanding to parent a child of a different race in our race-conscious society.
Adopting a child of a different race: What is involved for the parent and the child?
1. From the parent’s point of view: Your family will now be interracial for generations. It is not just the question of an appealing little baby. How do you think and feel about interracial marriage? How does your family think and feel when people assume that you are married to someone of a different race? How do you feel about getting some public attention - positive or negative stares, comments? A possible problem could be that the child gets too much attention and others in the family tend to get “left out”. What are your thoughts about race? What characteristics do you think people of other races have? Do you expect your child to have them? The children get Americanized. Do you raise him to have the same identity as you or your other children? Do you help him to develop his own identity? Should he have a foreign name? What relationship will his name have to his sense of who he is?
Imagine a child you know and love being sent to a foreign country to be adopted. How would you want him to be raised? As an American in a foreign country or as a native in that country? How can you learn what it is to be non-white or non-black, and growing up in a white or black society? You don’t know this from your own experience, so you’ll have to find out to teach yourself to become sensitive to your child’s world.
Discrimination against Asians, Indians, Mestizos is more subtle than against blacks, so it is less obvious to a Caucasian or Black, and will require more sensitivity to subtleties.
2. From the child’s point of view:
Preschool years- The people he loves best look different from him. It will be natural for him to want to resemble those he loves, or else understand why he looks different, and learn that difference is not a bad thing.
Latency Stage- The child will need help in understanding his heritage and background so he can explain and feel comfortable about his status with his friends. He needs to be able to answer the question from other children, “What are you?”
Teenage Years- This is the time where he tries to figure out, ” Who am I?” Curiosity about his birthparents or background may become stronger. Questions about dating arise, and you should look at your community. Try to guess how many of your friends and neighbors would wholeheartedly accept their child dating yours. How would you feel if your child developed a special interest in his native country, and identified himself as a foreigner, involved himself with a group of Oriental, Indian, or Latin American teens, wanted to visit his native land? Hopefully you would have kept alive his interest in , and knowledge of his original country’s culture and progress and not feel in the least threatened by his wanting to identify himself with such others.
On to Adulthood- “Whom will I marry?” is a rather different question from “Whom will I date?” Do you have any idea now that your child might marry a Caucasian, an Oriental, a Mestizo, a Black? Would you recommend for or against interracial marriage for your child?
Summary: In addition to your qualities, thought, and feelings as parents, it is important to understand your motive for this kind of adoption. Do you feel you are doing a good deed for a poor homeless child? Do you feel that you’d be acquiring a status symbol, a conversation piece? In her book Adoptions Advisor, Joan McNamara on p. 41 bluntly and accurately remarks, “You are adopting a child, not a tropical house plant to put in your living room.” It is important that you respect the child’s country and culture.
If you feel that your own values and culture are superior to those of your child, or if you feel your primary orientation is to help this child become absorbed into your culture at the expense of his own, you might find transracial adoption is difficult for both you and your child.
It is important to keep in mind that children are removed from their own country ONLY because they essentially have no future in that country, and no possibility of being cared for by permanent nurturing parents, either by adoption within that country, or strong long term foster care. Their only alternative to intercountry adoption would be institutionalization until they reach maturity.
Posted in Adoption

Friday, June 27, 2008

*** Parenting Tips

"Parenting Tips for White Parents with Adopted Children of Color" by Sun Yung Shin in the Summer 2007 issue of MN ASAP Family Voices newlsetter.

I found this on the Harlow's Monkey Website. The tips are straightforward and helpul.

Adoption Means Forever

This is not easy. Talking about children who are abandoned for one reason or another, not once but twice, or three times or more.

This post is about a Dutch Diplomat who 'returns' his adopted daughter, age 7 (after parenting her for 6 1/2 years.)

By Jae Ran

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Book Report - Dragonfly's Tale

Retold and Illustrated by Kristina Rodanas, Clarion Books, NY 1991
Ages 5 and up (Please Note: In this story two children are left alone when the tribe forgets about them when they are sleeping. This is not recommended for children for all children in the preschool age.)

The retelling of a Native American (Zuni) Tale that is century's old. First translated by Frank Hamilton Cushing and published in The Millstone (Volumn 9, 1884) The author has changed it from the original.
Wonderful illustrations and a lovely story from the southwest about gratitude and kindness. I especially like this story as there are two children at the center of the story who show kindness to beggars when the adults do not and who are later repaid for their kindess in a magical way. The children are abandoned for a while by the tribe - so this may not be suitable for some children. However, the children are resourceful and the tribe comes back to find that the children have been abundantly blessed. The tribe changes it's ways. The tribe is considered very prosperous because they have plenty of food. Nice to be able to talk to children about prosperity then (enough food and warm shelter) compared with prosperity now (huge cars and over consumption.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

White Kids in Transracial Families

Wonderful summary of study done by John Raible. Very positive in some ways especially when discussing the experiences of children who grew up in families with parents who educated themselves and were prepared.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Graduating from Preschool

Precious Quinn,
Today you stepped onto a stage and received your preschool diploma. I couldn't be there so Daddy took a photo for me to see. That was very very hard for me and I know it was a little hard for you. I know you say I have told you a million times but I plan on telling you 101 million times, so here's a million and one, I LOVE YOU.

This is a picture of you and Jake a long time ago, but it doesn't seem like a long time ago it seems like yesterday morning I was driving you to day care and you were talking and talking and talking in the backseat. You were a delight. You are a delight. Even though sometimes I say the time is going by too fast, it is not. It is going by just right. I love the way you bring the world into our home in a way that is fresh and lovely and curious. I love the way you look at things from all sides - even underneath. I love that you dance everyday - my favorite is that fast feet dance you do that seems to be all the joy in your body just bubbling up and coming out. I love your hugs and your talks in the morning. I love going to the cafe's with you and sitting and watching the people. I love your questions "Mommy, is the sun light a liqued?" "What is spatula?" "Why does he want to hold her hat?"
I love your poetry and your singing rap songs that you make up. I love that you like stories that are long and have lots and lots of big words. I love that you love and love and love all over the place.

I love being your mom. And I LOVE YOU! That's one million and two.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Preschooler Activities

There was a post on one of the groups today from a soon-to-be first time mom who is adopting a four year old. She wanted to know some activities that she could do with her daughter.

The most important thing I've learned is that most preschoolers would rather spend quiet time with mom or dad than go to a zoo, a museum or some big show. Not that they do not like those things occasionally but what preschoolers want most is your undivided attention.
Here's our family's favorite activities:

Kitchen time. A child's size apron and their own cookie cutters, dough scraper and half moon vegetable cutter are wonderful tools. Don't fuss over cookie dough if you don't want to - buy the already prepared stuff in the grocery. We love to bake and sometimes we go all out but there is always dough in the freezer ready to slice up for cookies. Muffins are good too as they can be frozen and kept for school snacks. Friday nights are pizza night in our house. My husband stops off at the pizza parlor and buys the dough. Then he and my son make pizza and rollies (an invention of Q's that he's very proud of - rolled up pizza dough around whatever fillings he likes.) My husband slices up veggies (no my son doesn't use the veggies - but hey one day - you never know) puts out tomato sauce (homemade, from the jar or from the same pizza place) and cheese and maybe ham. My sons total time in the kitchen with dad is probably 30 min (of course, dad is in there for much longer) but the memories they are making together are pricesless. Fruit smoothies are great for breakfast or quick lunch and we always have frozen fruit on hand to make them. They can be made with milk, soy milk or just a banana and oj. This is a very noisy activity and I can see how it might be frightening for children are not accustomed to the sound.

Garden time.
You don't need a garden. 6 small herb pots a few seeds and some dirt, cover with plastic wrap and have the child mist every day. Soon they will have their own herb garden! Mint is one of my favorite herbs for children as it makes a terrific tea for tummy aches. Of course if you do have outside space that's nice too. Gardening for a preschooler means digging a hole - and watering, lots and lots of watering. Don't plant anything precious or expensive, preschoolers are going to kill half of what they plant. For that reason I buy a full tray of bedding plants and let him plant the full tray pretty close together. That way when half of them are all smashed up from gettting stepped on and squished (or drowned in over zealous watering) he doesn't really notice. This is not about the look, it's about getting dirty and feeling the earth between your toes.

Beach, lakefront, riverside;
Any place that you can wiggle your toes, run from waves, feed ducks or throw stones into the water is pure heaven for preschoolers. If they collect stones and sticks and seed pods give them some paint and glue and sparkles and let them make some art when they get home.

Movie night.
We are not big movie watchers and the language issue can make it difficult but I highly recommend the Pingu dvd. If you don't know Pingu he's a penguin and he doesn't speak english or any other human language. He does speak but it's penguin, so no one in your family will be able to understand it. Pingu lives in a snow covered land of course, with his mom and dad and his baby sister (her birth from an egg complete with doctor penguin helping with a spoon is one of my favorite episodes.) They are charming and adults as well as children will laugh throughout the episodes. We can't do movie night without popcorn and our prefered is jiffy pop for the dramatic effect of the inflating tinfoil.

We have an art table that is all his with paints, markers, oil pastels always out. I like the big artist sketch books with the wire binding. They can pull out the pictures if they want but if they leave them in you have a sketchbook of life as they see it. when one book is full put the dates on the front and keep. You'll be amazed at the progress.
When we work together we always make abstract work. Perfectionist preschoolers can get very hung up on "but I can't draw a dog as well as you!" and they can give up. So we make a lot of abstract stuff. Put a piece of paper in the bottom of an old 8x12 cake pan, roll some marbles in paint and then put the marbles in the cake pan and roll around. Or take the same pan, fill up with cheap shaving cream (about 3 inches deep) smooth it out and drizzle food coloring on the shaving cream. take a small fork and swirl the food coloring dots through the shaving cream. Now lay a piece of paper over the shaving cream and pull up slowly. You'll have a beautiful swirly masterpiece. And take yarn paint the yarn and use the yarn to paint on the paper by laying the yarn down in patterns. Lastly, we don't use crayons in our house. My son wouldn't touch them, I'm not exactly sure why but he had boxes of them and never used them. Then I bought him some inexpensive oil pastels and he's been drawing ever since. They feel very different from crayons and any child that likes hard lines and edges and drawing within the lines will not like them. But for the true budding artist you can't beat the depth of the colors and the emotion of the lines that your child will produce. Much of what he produces are literally frame worthy.

Tea parties are great for boys and girls, just invite all their stuffed animals and dolls and serve real tea (mint or fruit flavored) and of course cookies.

Camp in the living room/ dining room/ kitchen. Lots of pillows, chairs, blankets, flashlights and picture books. Make sure you get in the fort also. Don't forget the band-aids and first aid supplies, there's always a stuffed animal who gets hurt and will need some medicine.
The most important element to all of the above activities is YOU. Do not think these are activities for them to do on their own, although they may be capable. The idea is to spend some time together doing an activity that they enjoy.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Another Phone Call with WH

I spoke with Erica who works in the Ethiopia program for Wide Horizons. It was a terrific phone call with a lot of information on big and small things. I am thinking more and more that we will ask to be referred a child up to 36 mos. That way if the age turns out to be a bit older Q will still be the big brother. I think he'll make an amazing big brother. Now we wait for the social worker to contact us. I cannot wait to get started.

Father's Day

Had a wonderful Father's Day. Perhaps next year we'll be close to having our child home. Y, Q and I ended up at our favorite restaurant for special occasion meals. They are very child friendly inspite of the white table cloth and wonderful food, it's a delight to go there. Q, at 5 years old seems so grown up in a way. We handle fun conversation and really laughed all throughout dinner. He has the energy and patience to sit through a nice restaurant meal. It was really a delight. I thought several times throughout the day of our youngest child. I do not know if they are a girl or a boy or exactly how old. I do know they are there in Ethiopia and they and their family may be going through very hard times. I find myself saying little prayers throughout the day for them.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Application Mailed

Last night I filled in the Application paperwork that goes with our first big payment. This morning Y filled out his part and Q and I went to the copy place and made copies. We then went to the bank and got out the rest of the cash that I needed. Lastly, the post office to get the money orders and mail the packet in with the $1,600. I've had an online bank for a year and never needed checks before this. So money orders. I was thinking while doing all this paperwork how different this was from being pregnant with Q. There to there was much reading and a fair bit of money going out as we got the necessary equipment. But this money is to help bring our child home. And then there is always the possibility that something will go wrong and we won't be able to finish the process.

After I put the letter in the box I realized I didn't put a return address on the envelope. A money order for $1,600.00 and an envelope with no return address. I will probably call starting Tuesday to make sure they recieved the package.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Celebrate Juneteenth

Our most important national holiday. The celebration of the day in Galveston, Texas June 19th, 1865, when the last of the enslaved African-Americans were officially informed that they were free.

As long as one American was enslaved, we all were. The United States as a nation was not able to begin it's democratic journey until that day.

It was the beginning of our journey toward wholeness and while we have not yet reached our destination we shouldn't forget the sacrifices as well as the accomplishments of our ancestors.

For Ideas on how to celebrate:

From the

"But, if this part of our history could be told in such a way that those chains of the past, those shackles that physically bound us together against our wills could, in the telling, become spiritual links that willingly bind us together now and into the future - then that painful Middle Passage could become, ironically, a positive connecting line to all of us whether living inside or outside the continent of Africa..."
Tom Feelings

The passage above truly captures the spirit of Juneteenth and the mission of Read it slowly, several times, until you internalize its message - then you will know and feel the passion, the inspiration and the necessity of our cause.
Juneteenth is a day of reflection, a day of renewal, a pride-filled day. It is a moment in time taken to appreciate the African American experience. It is inclusive of all races, ethnicities and nationalities - as nothing is more comforting than the hand of a friend.
Juneteenth is a day on which honor and respect is paid for the sufferings of slavery. It is a day on which we acknowledge the evils of slavery and its aftermath. On Juneteenth we talk about our history and realize because of it, there will forever be a bond between us.
On Juneteenth we think about that moment in time when the enslaved in Galveston, Texas received word of their freedom. We imagine the depth of their emotions, their jubilant dance and their fear of the unknown.
Juneteenth is a day that we commit to each other the needed support as family, friends and co-workers. It is a day we build coalitions that enhance African American economics.
On Juneteenth we come together young and old to listen, to learn and to refresh the drive to achieve. It is a day where we all take one step closer together - to better utilize the energy wasted on racism. Juneteenth is a day that we pray for peace and liberty for all.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Older Children

The more I am reading about Ethiopia and in particular the children that are referred to Horizon House, Wide Horizons transition center, the more I am pulled towards older child adoption. This is not an easy place to be. Infants are so much easier. An infant will not remember their birth parents being too ill to care for them or too poor to be able to feed them. There is less likelihood that they have been mentally, physically or sexually abused.
I spoke with AH at WHFC today. She told me that almost all the waiting children at Horizon House are adopted. The reason for this is that most of the children wait at their relative's or birth parents home. They only go to live at Horizon House once a family has been found for them. I have such mixed emotions about this. I understand the many reasons for this but my heart aches for them. As I understand it, and I could be wrong, the family somehow is in contact with social workers who are in the field. The social workers then start working to find a family for the child. Once they do they are taken to Horizon House. I have such sympathy for the family, for the child. Do the relatives, siblings talk about what is taking place? Are the children aware? How does it feel to leave an older sibling and go to a new country? It is all heartbreaking. I am beginning to look into whether we have the skills or can gain them to help mend the broken heart of a 4 or 5 year old who has lost everything. I'm hoping I can answer yes to that question. I've asked WHFC for the names of therapists in our area who work with children who have been adopted.