Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Openness to Life: Part Four: Fear Not!

At the request of the social worker who completed our homestudy, my husband and I went to a seminar on Saturday that addressed transracial and transcultural issues in adoption.

It was actually very interesting. We'd heard and read about such issues in preparation for Olivia's adoption, but this workshop really brought it home. There was a panel of adult adoptees talking about the challenges of living as a minority in a white household/neighborhood. Their lives have been positively affected by their parents, but they didn't gloss over the challenges they faced either.

At lunch, our social worker introduced us to another couple from our agency who are "on the fence" about whether or not to be open to a transracial/transcultural placement. I understand...even with the positive tone of the workshop, it is intimidating to face the unknown knowing that there are many unavoidable pitfalls in your way. Our social worker was hoping that we could make them feel more comfortable with the idea because of our experience with adopting transracially.

I don't know if we helped them make the decision at all, but the whole workshop did get me thinking. There are a lot of issues I hadn't considered. Our children will grow up in a family and likely in a community where no one else looks like them. They will face racism. It exists. No matter how welcoming and wonderful our home life is, at some point they will have to leave this house and face other people who may judge them unfairly simply because of their race. We, as parents, have to teach our children how to deal with situations that we've never had to face.

I think I will be forever grateful that God sent Olivia to us the way He did. Assuming that we were chosen for this child, we didn't pause to consider the consequences. I'm glad we didn't. Now that we are parents, there isn't anything we wouldn't do to help our child have the best possible life. But if we had spent too much time dwelling on the "what ifs", we might not be her parents today. We might never have had the opportunity to be stretched and challenged the way we have been and will continue to be, and we wouldn't be the people that we are today.

Fear Not! It was a theme of Pope John Paul II's papacy, and I think it is fitting for this whole discussion of Openness to Life and adoption. If adoption is part of God's plan for your family, He will lead you to it and give you the resources to be the parents you need to be for your children. Fear only gets in our way. We all fear the unknown, but if we let that fear paralyze us, we can miss out on the most precious gifts and moments of our lives.

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!


Jen said...

I always think that one of the toughest things about a transracial adoption is that the child has to face questions all the time. Every time they go to the grocery store or the park, they'll get "is that really your mommy" and "are you adopted?" There's no break from that. Of course, I have no personal experience.

Stephanie said...

I have friends who won't consider adoption because of the turmoil it brings into their families, as children grow up and begin to make sense of their complicated birth stories. But my thought is - those children are going to have to process that either way. I can't prevent them from experiencing that pain, but doesn't having a foundation of love and acceptance better prepare them for their future? Doesn't it help to have been adopted by a loving family better equip them to deal with what's ahead of them either way? Olivia will have to face those issues no matter what. Her birth mother was not biracial, either. Surely she's better equipped to do that with a foundation of love and faith underneath her.

Sorry for the rant. I don't mean to sound argumentative.

Lisa said...

Stephanie, I agree, and I have argued that same point many times. The point is that many couples fear having to deal with these tough issues, so it makes it hard to decide to adopt transracially. It's not that these children will be better off without you, but that you might think you are better off without the issues that they bring into your life.

The truth is that all adopted children have to come to terms with their adoption, loss and issues surrounding that. My children will just have an extra issue to deal with. I hope, though, that the fact that they are OBVIOUSLY adopted might make the adoption point a bit easier to tackle head-on. If that makes any sense at all...