This series features writing from inmates at the El Paso County Jail. The articles stem from weekly programming facilitated by the Colorado College Prison Project. Through contact between the CC community and Colorado Springs, this series aims to simultaneously broaden the CC perception of incarceration issues and provide a platform for incarcerated writers. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office requires approval of written material prior to publication and the removal of authors’ last names.
There are many reasons why families, new parents, or even a single parent choose to adopt kids. When it comes to these people adopting kids of other nationalities or other races, are these soon-to-be parents thinking of the challenges that lie ahead on the level of racism?
First off, let me say this: I truly dislike calling certain races of people “black people” or “white people” because there is no such thing; this was a color scheme created for one group to seem superior and the other group to feel inferior. There is only one race, and that is the human race. However, for the sake of this piece I am writing and the readers who choose to read it, I will use these terms. We can save that issue for another article another day.
Transracial adoption is no longer unique, and it’s becoming more of a common part of life. More white families or white parents are adopting black children. A lot has to go into consideration when adopting from a different race, especially a black child. How will your family react? Do you live in a diverse city or county? Can you provide for the child on a historic level by teaching them who they are, where they come from, and their culture?
I’ve heard some white women say, “I could never raise a black child because I am not prepared to teach them about being black.” In some ways, you can say this is a true statement. In return, let me ask this question: Just because I myself am an African-American, does that make me better equipped to raise a black child? Is a white woman or white man automatically better at raising a white child just because they are white? It is, without a doubt, important for children from any race to know their culture and history, but that does not limit who they are as an individual. Rather, it is what I would call a piece of their overall self.
I myself have come from a somewhat similar situation. I have four siblings: three sisters, one brother. My two sisters and one brother are half-white, and they look white. Our mother is fully black. As my mother went through trials and tribulations when we were all young kids, we were all split up and put into foster homes. My half-white brother and sisters went to stay with a white family who treated them very well, and they fit right in to their community. In fact, most people in that neighborhood had no idea that they were half-black. My younger sister and I, who are fully black, went to a few different foster homes. We stayed with a nice white family that treated us well but was ashamed to integrate my sister and me into their community because we were black. As a result, we never went anywhere, and in the end, we were moved out of their house because they did not know what to do with us.
After that experiment, we were put with a black family that really didn’t care too much for us, but at the same time we fit into their society and community. This black family was well-off, and even though they were not too keen on my sister and me, we learned a lot about our culture and our history from being around other black people.
Here is my evaluation of that time of my young life: neither parents, white or black, were good parents. The black parents were not concerned about our well-being—it was more about them getting paid—but we learned a lot. The white parents were truly ashamed to bring black kids around family and friends, so we learned nothing, but they were very nice people and treated us well when others were not around.
In closing I’ll say this: if you and your spouse or you as a single parent are ready to have a child by adoption transracially, it comes down to love. If you love and care for that child as your own, because—whether you realize it or not, in that moment when you adopt that child— regardless of race, he or she is now your family. You are in it together and you both are on a journey and will grow together, as a family. Everything else will fall into place if you are patient. We are all bound together by living cords, no man or woman unto themselves. Become great parents and teach the youth.