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!