Monday, November 18, 2013

Interracial Adoption and Racism

Last night I watched an investigative journalism program doing a piece on adoption obstacles in South Africa.  They featured a South African couple who wanted to adopt a boy and a doctor from the United Kingdom who, after many years of struggle, managed to adopt her HIV+ daughter whom she had fostered.  Both stories were heartbreaking and only one had a happy ending.  Being in the process of adopting ourselves these two stories touched both my and hubby’s hearts.  Perhaps it was because it is a little too close to home or because we could so deeply empathize with both.  Either way both stories just brought the message home, once again, that adoption is not easy.  There are no short cuts.  It’s an emotional rollercoaster and not everybody is up for the challenge.

Next week hubby and I will be completing the screening phase of the adoption process.  This phase ends with a panel interview.  It’s hard to believe that we have been in this process now for four months.  It feels like it has been years.  Luckily, this is the last part where the adoption agency and our social worker decide on our suitability to become adoptive parents.  Thus far everything went well and I am really pleased with how PROCARE has treated us.  I am also sure the panel interview will just be a formality.  I am fully expecting to he asked some difficult questions during the panel interview but I think we are prepared and ready for it.  After the panel it is the long wait for “the call” informing us that there is a baby and that the placement is to be made.

During the last couple of months the adoption process has caused hubby and I to do some serious introspection about ourselves, our families, our marriage, our careers and our ability to be parents.  It is amazing how far we have come in the last fifteen years and how much we have grown individually and as a couple.  We have weathered a couple of storms, went through highs and lows and always emerged from difficult times stronger and more connected to each other.  Through the adoption journey we also found that we have grown even closer to each other and as we stand on the verge of a new chapter in our lives we do so with excitement and also some nervousness.

To be completely honest, there are some days that we do feel the tingling of cold feet.  We do get days when we ask ourselves if we are doing the right thing, if we will be able to cope.  There are days when the gravity and the enormity of the responsibility of raising a child sink in.  Fortunately, the days when we doubt ourselves and have little miniature nervous meltdowns are outweighed by our intense excitement and readiness to take this next step together.  However, there are also days when little things really upset me and one such thing happened on Friday.

As many of you already know we are busy with an interracial adoption.  Put bluntly, our child will not be white.  Living in a country with a history of racism this seems to not sit well with some sectors of our society.  There are still loads of ignorant people out there, black and white, who do not want to see couples with children outside their own racial group.  On Friday one such asshole posted a statement on the Facebook fan page of the program we watched last night.  The ignoramus posted a response to a woman’s comment who wrote that she had adopted two daughters and that they are colored.  He asked her why she adopted two monkeys (amongst other rather nasty and racist things) and needless to say I lost my shit!  Just as I was about to respond to him with a fiercely worded response the administrators of that page deleted his racist, boorish and ignorant statements.

Being a gay couple we do realize that we already face some prejudice because of it.  Throw in a gay couple with a child and the prejudice increases.  Add to that an interracial child and you have a recipe for a lot of potential prejudice and discrimination.  For some reason some people cannot look past the color of people’s skin and I say the hell with them!  If they want to live in the dark ages it is their choice but they should leave the rest of us who embrace diversity alone.  My only concern with adopting an interracial child is that one day, while out in public, some person will come up to us and say something racist and that our child will be old enough to understand it.  Knowing us, we in all probability would have prepared our child for such an event but what really pisses me off is the fact that we would even have to do so.

Luckily none of our friends who have adopted interracial children had any racist comments directed at their children.  However, the comments and questions that were raised had an underhanded racist tone connected to them and were directed at our friends.  The question they are most frequently asked when they are out alone in public with their child is if their partner is black.  Isn’t it odd how perfect strangers feel entitled to ask you such inappropriate questions?  I decided that if I am ever asked this question that I will respond with a very confident “Yes.  My HUSBAND is black.  What race is your spouse and children?

For those of us with certain reproductive challenges who want to have children adoption and/or surrogacy are the only options.  My husband and I chose adoption because there are many children in South Africa who need and deserve a loving home.  Sure adoption is not the easiest process.  Sure it is not something that happens overnight.  Sure there is red tape, bureaucracy and the whole process seems rather daunting and invasive.  But once you understand that all this is done to ensure that the child is protected, the child’s best interest is taken into account and that the child is placed in a safe and loving home, the red tape, invasiveness and bureaucracy seem less intimidating and are indeed necessary.

When it comes to adopting an interracial child you are also faced with a whole new set of challenges, but a child remains a child no matter what the color is of their skin.  After all children are not born racist; they are taught this from their parents.  In conclusion, what last night’s program clearly showed is that if you decided you want to adopt you need to make use of a reputable and accredited adoption agency, make sure their social workers are dedicated and passionate about their work and accept that the whole process is a journey and that it takes time.  We are lucky that we found just such an agency in PROCARE and that the adoption horror stories that we saw last night is sure not to happen to us.  My heart would just not be able to take it!

(To read about our adoption journey click HERE)


Till next time.

5 comments:

Lise said...

I watched Carte Blanche last night and it stuck such a chord with us because we have been dealing with Social Development for a few years. I think it must be said, for balance, that there is a large difference between adopting through a private agency such as procare (who are superb) and going the government route. That said, my dealings with the baby adoption section of Social Development was also good if less organised!

The problem we face is that we have taken an older child into fostercare with a view to adoption. Both cases shown on Carte Blanche were very similar to ours in that the people weren't trying to adopt a newborn.

These older children are left to languish in children's homes. They are not adoptable because no one has got their bio parents to sign the release form. In my opinion, there should be a time frame after which the bio parents lose their rights. Something has to be done for these kids or we are going to face a massive problem in the future.

Tanya said...

I am a mother,a Birthmom and a surrogate and I still get ignorant comments from people. I now try and educate rather than get angry.

Adoption is filled with red tape and yes expect those comments from ignorant morons. Family is Family. Love sees no colour and knows no boundaries. I wish you and your hubby all the best and I hope you dont have too long to wait for that call to say you have been blessed.

Lise There is actually a law that states no child should be in foster care longer than two years. However sadly this country doesn't have the adequate Social Welfare system or Social workers. This means laws like these are ignored and children sadly get ignored and fall through the cracks.

Pierre le Roux said...

@Lise, thank you for your comment and sharing your experience. I agree that there should be a time frame after which the biological parents lose their rights. If they cannot or will not take care of their child it is not fair that the child should be punished for this and be left to languish in an orphanage.

@Tanya thank you.

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