Tuesday, November 13, 2007

African American Support for Your Adoption

Believe it or not, I did receive a few questions in my I Help Where I Can post. I have just been trying to come up with a witty response so here is my first response. We still have 16 days so I'm accepting questions! LOL

Question: Your perspective on how white adoptive parents can work at gaining support from the AA community in adoption (in terms of trust). I find that many of my AA friends/ acquaintances aren’t to keen about my adoption. I want to work at finding that support in my local AA community. I want to meet folks where they are I’m not expecting them to come to me.

Answer: Well, this is quite a dilemma you have here. Don't feel bad because you are not alone. I'll let you in on a little secret, a lot of African Americans aren't too keen on us (other AA) adopting African, Haitian or any baby of color that is not "African American." I get criticized regularly for my Ethiopian adoption so, my first point is: you will not be accepted by all African Americans simply because you are adopting a little brown baby. Now, once your little bundle of joy is here he/she will clearly be American and be considered African American through most eyes. So, how do you get the adults to understand you want to meet them where they are and you don't expect them to meet you where you are? Simply put, lots of hard work and effort.

Don't use where you live, your family, friends, work, community or any of that as an excuse. What I mean by all of that is, it takes a concerted effort. Let me give you an example. In Cleveland my Aunt has a friend who is white who adopted a black daughter. They live in an all white community yet weekly she drives 35 + miles (one way) to make sure her daughter can play and socialize with another black child and family. The mother has made friends with my Aunt who, in turn, has introduced her to other families. Her child may live and go to school in an all white community during the week but, on the weekend she is part of an African American community and activities (The irony of this is my Aunt lives in a white community also but hers has a few more Blacks). The mother joined a black mother's group and no they were not too keen on her joining at first. She said she joined for her child and kept coming back, they eventually got over it (she had a lot of "balls" and my Aunt had to fight for her). Ultimately, you simply need to have very, very, very thick skin and keep the course. Eventually, the community and your acquaintances will come around. And then the honest truth is some of them never will. I have lost some friends on my journey to adopt my child(ren) and you know what? That is fine by me! If they can't accept this new part of my life and that God has called for me to be a mother to 1 or 2 children from Ethiopia then they are not meant to be in my circle.
So, you have to continue to expose your child and make sure it is all about your child. Be clear, what they are saying under their breath is "uh hu" sure...we'll see...but is that really any different from what I would get if I decided I loved hockey and am now a huge fan. I want to know everything about it and go to all the games and become part of the community. I want to be accepted and I want everyone to love me. Nope! Probably not. Hockey is a predominately white sport. Are there any blacks that play? I'm sure there are at least 1 or 2 we are everywhere (heehee) but you get my point! Eventually, the people at the hockey ring would see I really am serious about hockey because I keep coming back every week...then I can speak the language, I know the people and I'm comfortable in the arena, nothing is made up.
Becoming part of the African American community will be the same for you. However, whatever you do please, please, I beg you as you try to meet AA where they are do not speak Ebonics or say one of my best friends is black, neither are cool at all! LOL


Anonymous said...

Adopting a child is a word to describe a wonderful event that gives the feeling of having a child to love her/him unconditionally and always. This is a personal decision/matter only the able and chosen can do it.

Therefore, no one has the right to say/do anything especially if it is about something that is not the interest of the child and parents. The AA conduct towards the adoption must not be different from country to country based on skin color that is nothing but like a cloth to the human body. Ethiopians are not AA but Ethiopians. Only Ethiopians and the wider human population in general have the word to say/do about the way we are witnessing the blessed and trusted American and Canadian parents are adopting them with unconditional love to raise them the best way as much as they can.

I think the race issue must be once and for all out off the issue concerning adopting the beautiful and handsome Ethiopian children. Because Ethiopians in Ethiopia are not thinking this way especially if the person is a committed Christian/ with Christian background. They also have no any bad/negative experience in their ancient history with people with European look. Instead they have good memories from the past happening based on Christian brother-/sisterhood relationship. Read the history of Islam against the old Christian greatest Abyssinian kingdom from time to time since the creation of Islam and mainly during 1529-1543.

The Ethiopian born children with heritage never experienced discrimination based on skin color. These are children with heritage no topic to talk about based on hate towards others mentioning the past. These are children with heritage ancient history that make them proud and love themselves and others, too. These are children with heritage having the feeling of natural beauty. Therefore, the Ethiopian children must be out of the race issue that some are sick with it while causing temporary troubles among the loving, caring and peaceful parents. Remember, the parents are paying limitless and the highest price to raise the children after lots of efforts to find them and travel too far to the unknown place to rescue them. These actions of their say everything about them and give the idea of lots of respect and admirations to the parents and their family.

When you are talking about AA, you must differentiate which part of the AA society. Those in the ghetto and trying everything in the name of Satan to stay there forever or those doing their best in the name of God/love/hope to improve the Ghetto? I think the vast majority AA are not the same in a sense the way some are talking about AA in general. After all each and every individual is responsible to his/her action. Stereotype is a bad word.

The adopting parents must know that no one but they are responsible to their action. They also must not have even the slightest feeling that the children will be intentionally discriminated because of their skin color as worst as it affects them. Because the beautiful and handsome habesha children natural look is not easy to be discriminated but respected and loved. In my opinion the children will create own identity that could sound like Amharic, Amharican, Habesh, Habesha or the likes.

Therefore, it is not right raising the race issue here which is not the interest of the wonderful, caring and loving parents and their wonderful children knows nothing about race but love to their mammy and daddy. The race issue is/will not work with the Ethiopian children. They will be the perfect children to their parents that will make them proud and give true satisfaction in the future. The Ethiopian children must be treated as Ethiopian born American not AA.

Tami said...

I knew this post would prove for good conversation...LOL...so here I go. This is America and race is a huge factor here, it is not going away any time soon, therefore it will not be going away from my blog. Next, race is a huge part of my life. I choose to identify myself as Blatino...Black Latino. I was only raised by my mother's family who is first generation American and we have no attachment to slavery so technically I don't have to say African American either but that is who I identify with...it is who I am in the United States and I am okay with that. I am proud of my entire history. You speak of African Americans like it is something to be disappointed in, like it is a disgrace...we are not. We have our challenges just like any other race but we are proud. I will teach my daughter about every part of her history and in the United States her history is African American. I live in DC (and am very committed) so I am fortunate that Baby I will know an Ethiopian community and will travel to Ethiopia however what about the children that live in communities where they are the only brown face? People will not care if they are from Ethiopia or Alabama they will simply see an African American. You may not like my viewpoint but I'm simply telling you like it is and trying to help educate other parents. We do not live in a utopia so your view is very nice and I love to hear it because we need differing opinions but respect mine and I'll respect yours and the two can co-exist on this blog.

When I speak of AA I don't have to differntiate because I don't know anything about the ghetto so be very clear about that. I believe you are mistaken and you need to be clear about who you are dealing with. Not all AA come from the ghetto. I'm not sure where you are getting stereotyped from in this blog...hey, people get the strangest things from my blog (the beauty of my writing) I'm simply telling it like it is. As a matter of fact I provided several different examples so why am I even entertaining this? LOL Anyway, stereotyped is a negative word but it is real because something tells me I think you are doing it yourself with your love of the Ethiopian culture but not so much fondness for the AA culture...could I be correct? As I have said and continue to say...with my blog I am speaking of inclusion and will raise my children that way...they will be una mezcla and proud of being: Ethiopian, African American, Dominican, and Jamaican...it's not only your DNA it's your exposure.

Tracey said...

The latest entry on antiracist parent speaks to this issue too.

Anonymous, it is interesting to have your input. You say that children born in Ethiopia ahve not experienced discrimnation based on skin color. That may or may not be true (I have heard plenty of talk among Ethiopians denigrating various ethnic groups within Ethiopia, particularly those with darker skin). In any event, once these adopted chilren come to America, the color of their skin will matter. The fact taht their skin color does nto mathc their parents will be important to them. The security guards following them in stores, the racists on the playground, the bosses denying them jobs - none of those people will be asking for Ethiopian passports or care about their cultural history. Those people will only see the color of their skin, and the kids need to be prepared for how to deal with idiots like that.

Anonymous said...

"You speak of African Americans like it is something to be disappointed in, like it is a disgrace...we are not."

Do you really think I can think this way? No. No. No. When I said those few AA in the ghettos and the vast majorities who aren't but trying their best to improve the ghettos life to other AA, means I have support, respect and admiration for them.

How can you think off me this way? I think you have no idea how much admiration I have to the greatest as well as ordinary AA that are numbering with millions and doing their best to live a decent life.


haze said...

Another great post with great comments. I have a very different experience growing up as a black woman in Canada (and before then as a child in England).

Although racial tensions are not as 'in your face' here as they are in the US, there are always racial issues & discrimination afoot. And being a black woman is much easier than being a black man. That said, my daughter will be faced with discrimination as she comes to Canada. Which is very sad to me as she probably wouldn't have the same struggles if she remained in Ethiopia.

And Tracey, I believe you are absolutely right - throughout African history there has been great blood shed amongst people based on the shade of their skin, the shape of their nose, etc.

Anonymous said...

anonymous sure has a lot of time on his hands. you leave some long-ass comments!

MM - no blog yet - I'm waiting for an inspired blog name! said...

There is a new PEW study out today about economics in the US and the difference between blacks and whites. NPR did a series of really good discussions today on the issues of disparity in the black community and between blacks, whites, and latinos. I feel it is best read this and interpret it as you will.

Tami, I gotta say that I learn a lot from you and your peeps. Thank you.
Have you seen this website?
It's so full of interesting satire. I'm white - I think it rocks.


Tasha said...

I'm confused. How many anonymouses (anonymi?) are there here?? Is anon 1 the same person as anon 2 or 3?


Tasha said...

and one last thing.. could anon 1 please just give us the reader's digest version of her argument? it takes too much out of me to have to read that much. my feeble brain can't handle all that information.


Ted and Lori said...

This post is so helpful. That metaphor you used about hockey makes things crystal-clear, and it's so encouraging to see it that way--that with persistence and thick skin, you can get to the point you want to be. Your aunt sounds like an amazing woman, and her friend is lucky to have her to go to bat for her. Awesome.