What has been your experience with bio and adoptive children? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 01-25-2011, 08:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have on biological son who is 3 and another one on the way.  I have decided this will be our last pregnancy.  It has really torn our family apart.  I am really okay with that, I had only ever planned to have 1 biological child any ways.  We would love more children though.  I always assumed adoption but now that I have to think about the details I would love some stories of how it actually works in the real world.

 

To be very frank race is one of the things that worries me.  I don't care what color my children are but that doesn't mean other people will all feel the same, including them.  Both DH and I are white.  I always assumed I would adopt a child that needed us and would still love to do that.   Here is my concern, and part of the reason I would like to hear more stories is because this is only one story.  My best friend and her little sister where adopted growing up.  Her parents where also both white, she was Vietnamese and her sister was mixed black, south east Asian and native American.  Where we live some how Asian people who speak good English seem to get clumped with white people very easily and she always felt very at home with her Jewish parents and friends.  Her sister didn't and had a really hard time with it in high school as she grew very tall and looked very different from her family.  She ended up having to go to a boarding school for kids that where struggling with emotional stuff to catch up on all her school stuff as well. 

 

My parents adopted my brother who is of Jamaican decent when he was 17 and he never had an issue with it but he spent most of his life in Canad and Norway so he was really used to it. 

 

We live in a very racially diverse city but I do feel like there is quite a lot of racial tension here and I really want to look at how it is going to affect the lives of the children and how we can best deal with what may come. 

 

The other thing is age.  Nursing has been one of the best bonding experience in our lives.  My son only just weaned since I got pregnant because all the milk dried up.  This is something I would love to share with my adoptive children as well.  I could easily go from nursing this baby that is coming when they are 3 or 4 to tandem nursing an adoptive child as well, but would that mean I would have to get a new born or I guess if I get an older baby I could express milk and give a bottle but that wouldn't accomplish the bonding quite as well.

 

Thanks for any advice you are willing to share.  I have just started to think about this more seriously and have a lot of questions.


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#2 of 13 Old 01-25-2011, 10:31 AM
 
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Since our family is like you describe this is a very valid concern for us.   After Little Sis comes we'll have two bio kids (white, or CC as some write), one bi-racial kid (AA/CC) and one black kid (African).  We have no idea what height or other characteristics they will have.

 

One thing we wanted for our family is to be multicultural, for all of us.  We also include disabilities.

 

Yes, I expect this will be an issue for our children as they grow up.  It could cause some pain and anguish, especially if one feels like they "don't fit" (and this could happen to one of the bios, you never know).

 

One thing I believe and will teach my kids is that God placed each one in our family and we worked very hard for each one.  The pregnancies were difficult and the adoptions were difficult but each kid is totally worth it!  I'll teach each one that they are beautiful and we love how each one looks and that we don't have to all look alike to be a family.

 

I was worrying out loud about this to our SW one time and she told me, "Yes she may struggle with this.  But she will have a better life with you than she would have had in the orphanage."  This gave me pause.  Yes our children may struggle and I will do everything I can to help them work through it if they do.  But this is still a good, safe, loving home for them.

 

One thing we try to do is minimize the "wow, she sure looks like you" comments about the bios and instead focus on "Wow, he sits just like you!" or "he hates peaches just like you do!"  Over time I hope that will create an atmosphere of finding the similarities rather than the differences in our diverse little crew.

 

Edited to add: I noticed you mentioned racial tension in your area.  We are lucky to live in an area of low racial tension.  We live in the west where it was historically less of an issue and we also live in a university town where students of every nationality come through and you see other races and hear other languages in the grocery store or on the playground all the time.  This fact makes me feel much more safe from prejudice.  In fact we have not yet had even one incident with my son and we've had him for a year and a half.  Not to say it won't come, just that we have not seen it at all.  I understand how that would be a consideration for you and if you do adopt transracially you might consider relocating or just be extra aware of the issue.


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#3 of 13 Old 01-25-2011, 12:41 PM
 
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I have four kids. My oldest son is bio, he is 14. My second son is three yrs old (today!), he was placed at three weeks old. My third son will will be three yo in two weeks, he was placed at 17 months old. My daughter will be 9 next month, she was placed in June. All of my adopted children are African-American children placed as foster children (the last two arent quite finalized yet.)

 

We live in a suburb of Detroit, but our immediate area/neighborhood is quite white. My daughter goes to a great school, but there are VERY few other AA kids in the school...maybe six? She is the only one in her class i think (oh, i think there is a biracial girl in her class?)...its hard to really describe but much like you, Asian people are basically considered "white", and the racism here is very "polite"...a woman at McD's playland asked me if i was babysitting, on more than one occasion other students have thought the little black girl in the K class was my daughter's sister simply because both are AA. That sort of thing. My daughter has expressed that she does not like being "the only one" but that being said, she has tons of friends and it doesnt seem to stand in the way of her having a good time. To my knowledge no one has really said anything to her. I think living here with us is a better alternative than the many other black homes she has lived in, so its kind of a tradeoff.

 

I do make an effort to shop and play in places i think will have more black kids...I may drive a few minutes longer to go to different parks or grocery stores, for example.

 

When my daughter first moved in, she had a really hard time processing what "adopted" meant, vs being in foster care. She said she was adopted lots of time. She also thought that once you were adopted, you were no longer adopted. She thought that once that adoption was finalized, then you were no longer an adopted child (because she was kind of confusing that with no longer being a foster child? i guess?) She also thought that my first adopted son was "not really black" (my other son is her bio brother and they both have dark skin, my other son looks a little more biracial i guess), she just didnt believe me when i told him that yes he was "really black"...that his mom was just as black as her mom LOL. She was trying to set up an "us vs them" (black vs white) thing, where she and her bio brother were on one side, everyone else on the other. But that was more of a control thing with her, and she's let that go it seems.

 

The other day she said when they were talking about MLK in class "i cried...but only a little and no one saw me." I asked why she was sad and she said "well...if it werent for MLK, you and I wouldnt be together!" happytears.gif

 

Obviously there is going to be issues with growing up as a transracial adoptee, but i hope to minimize any hurt feelings by being very open to learning and to hearing my kids' feelings and helping them any way i can. I used to think the biggest issue i would be dealing with would be how to help a child have a strong self esteem, and that sort of thing. But there are issues that didnt even really occur to me...if you adopt transracially you are a conspicous family (is that the right word??)...its obvious to the world that my kids are adopted, if they are with me. It invites questions sometimes that would otherwise not be asked (this hasnt happened too much so far.) My daughter was embarrassed when she first came, she said that everyone would know she was "a foster child" and that was shameful to her. Most kids just want to fit in, and thats hard to do when you are always being asked "why is your mom white??" (my dd would answer "well i guess she was just born that way!") Most people are very nice though.

 

Another issue is that i always feel like my kids arent just mine, they somehow belong to another community. I have NEVER had a black person say anything negative to me at all about my kids, their hair, clothes, behavior etc...but it was very difficult in the beginning to be on a msg list for adoptive moms and hear all this stuff about what i HAD to do otherwise black moms would judge me, that i wasnt being a good adoptive mom if i didnt force haircare or whatever else. So i have really conflicted feelings in that area that i dont have time to get into due to having a sick kid right now (this post has taken me like two hours to write, so it might be somewhat disjointed)...and there is a WHOLE world of hair and skin care to learn about.

 

I'll come back later and give my thoughts on breastfeeding...


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#4 of 13 Old 01-25-2011, 01:06 PM
 
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I'm currently reading Dim Sum, Bagels, and Grits and it talks about a lot of the things you are wondering about. 

 

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#5 of 13 Old 01-25-2011, 03:33 PM
 
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Some of our most recent training talked about being a conspicuous family, and I think that is true for the most part, but it's becoming more and more common, and with celebs adopting transracially now it seems like people don't even feel the need to ask.  I see that as a good thing overall, since comments from strangers can be so hurtful to a child, even when no hurt is intended by the person asking the question.

 

ETA: I have learned not even to ask!  Once in a coffee shop recently we got  chatting with a mom who had two white kids and two black kids with her.  My baby had begun flirting with them or we probably would not have even chatted. But at the end of the conversation I learned that the black kids were friends who were out for the day and not adoptive kids at all.  (This came up in a totally roundabout way and I was really glad I hadn't asked outright, thinking we had transracial adoption in common!)  Another time a while mom with an Asian child caught my eye in a restaurant and I thought they might have done an international adoption, but a short time later I saw her Asian husband join them at the table. 

 

I have also been pleased to see transracial families appear from time to time on TV, which also educates the public that this type of family is "normal" and it's not necessary to ask tons of questions about it.


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#6 of 13 Old 01-25-2011, 04:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all your thoughtfull comments.  Its sounds like it is an issue that we will have to confront but should in no way affect our decision about weather or not to do it.  I actually feel pretty comfident with the hair skin thing since I was around when 2 different friends with adopted mixed little sisters learned how to do their hair.  So I did too.  My brother tought me a lot about skin care in general he is a bit of a nut about that stuff.  So maybe there are less things to worry about than I thought on the race front. We are very open with our child and believe that talking about things openly and hearing his feelings is the best way to deal with any situation, I guess this is no different.

 

Having read all the responses has made me come up with tons of other questions though.

 

money

when to start the process?

how long does it take

then all the different kinds of adoption

 

I guess I have some researching to do.


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#7 of 13 Old 01-25-2011, 06:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whistler View Post

Some of our most recent training talked about being a conspicuous family, and I think that is true for the most part, but it's becoming more and more common, and with celebs adopting transracially now it seems like people don't even feel the need to ask.  I see that as a good thing overall, since comments from strangers can be so hurtful to a child, even when no hurt is intended by the person asking the question.

 

Oh i have no doubt its becoming more *common* to see transracial adoption families. I guess what i meant was that if you have a black kid people will automatically assume the child is adopted (or you are babysitting, or some such thing)...the fact that you saw a mom with black kids, and then a mom with an asian child, and automatically thought "adoption" is kind of the point. Over on the multicultural board there is an ongoing thread about people assuming one's birth child is adopted. Sure, my oldest child got "where'd ya get that red hair" every day when he was younger, but no one ever asked if he was adopted. But when you adopt transracially, keeping the adoption status a private matter isnt really an option. Its out there. Its obvious. Before I got my baby foster daughter (who went to an aunt after two months) no one ever really commented about where i got my adopted son...his features are more biracial and i guess he could pass for a bio child? I think people felt too awkward about asking anything. But add in a child who was clearly full AA and suddenly they assume adoption or foster care. So i think sometimes when people choose to NOT adopt transracially sometimes the reason is they just dont want to have adoption front and center every time they leave the house. It will not even be on my mind and then during some chat with a random person they will ask if my children are adopted or foster children. The fact is that in 99 percent of cases, if they werent a different race than me, that would not even come up.


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#8 of 13 Old 02-02-2011, 03:22 PM
 
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We have a 21 y.o. and 19 y.o. caucasian bio daughters and then adopted our full AA daughter almost 6 years ago at 3 days old through a private agency after having failed infertility treatments and being told we could NOT get preg. It is a closed adoption which works for us but not everyone wants closed.  I breastfed her until she was 3 y.o,. I am now unexpectedly preg. after 8 yrs. of infertility with yet another daughter.  We have had no issues with race within our family or anywhere else at all. People always try to say we are doing this wonderful thing and we just explain that we are the lucky ones to have her in our life because she is a true treasure!!!  However if the child will be an issue with the people within your direct lives you need to think seriously first about race because you never want them to feel or hear that type of unacceptance. As for assumption, people use to ask "is she yours?" when she was a baby but no one says a word anymore and I would either just say "yes" or if it was a bad day, I would say "why do you ask?"  I think for us one thing that offends us is that people we don't know sometimes just assume and vocalize it that they think she is from foster care and must have had a bad beginning.  We make sure they know that no, she actually came from a private agency at birth and she infact is in kindergarten but tested at a 2nd grade level = )  Not sure if people equate that because she is adopted or her color, but either way people just shouldn't assume a child that is adopted or is foster has "issues" We live in a very rural town of 1700 people so there definitely lacks culture at her school so we do make the effort to have her around people that are as she puts it "brown like her". As for hair it is definitely a committemnet you must make and never make them think it is a bad thing. It takes me 2 hours just to braid.  On hair washing days it takes me 4 hours to wash, deep condition, blowdry which is not like caucasian hair as you use a specific type of hairdryer and oils and then french braid.  As you can see my daughter has type 4 hair so taking care of her hair is a must and can't be skimped at all. In her picture her hair is actually waved from braids but if stretched out it goes halfway down her back but if left in an afro it will coil up to above her shoulders.  But again, she is full AA. A great book for all that is "It's all good hair".

 

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#9 of 13 Old 02-03-2011, 11:01 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by queenjane View PostBefore I got my baby foster daughter (who went to an aunt after two months) no one ever really commented about where i got my adopted son...his features are more biracial and i guess he could pass for a bio child? I think people felt too awkward about asking anything. But add in a child who was clearly full AA and suddenly they assume adoption or foster care.


I have a bio biracial son and have never been asked if he was adopted, but with DD she is full AA and I get the adopted question a lot. I have actually never had anyone mention foster care when asking. Sometimes I do have people assume she is from another country though. Even argued with a lady that she was not Ethiopian.

 

I think you have to be comfortable with it and she is right it makes adoption front and center and apparent every time you walk out of the house versus if you have a kid that could pass as your own if that makes sense.

 

I don't mind it and we did not specify race, in foster care you can specify which races you feel comforable with.


Carly, mama to DS C (5th grade), DD Miss M (07/09, fostered 1/10, adopted 08/10), and Little Miss C (11/10, fostered 01/11, adopted 11/12). Foster Son, Mr. A, age 11 placed 10/13.
My angel babies , ~01/08~ (twins), ~09/08~, and ~01/09~.

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#10 of 13 Old 02-03-2011, 08:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the responses.  I don't think anyone I know would be particularly faised by us adopting interacialy.  We live in the SF bay area so it is very diverse but I do think there is a lot of racial tention here, though there is also a lot of work being done on that front as well.  Its just a big place with a big history about race.  We will likely be moving at some point anyways since it is sooooo expensive to live here.  I wouldn't want to raise any of my children where there wasn't a certain standard of racial tolerance any ways.

 

Buddahmom, congradulations on your pregnancy and your beautiful little girl.  Hair is one of the things that I am super excited about having a little girl, what ever race.  I know how to do corn rows and all sort of things that I might be making my bio children look very dated if I did to them.  Well will see if that style comes back around. 

Its great to here breastfeeding success stories.  Did you have to suppliment at all?  How did you get your milk supply started?  One thought was to never let it dry up all the way.  I might end up tandem nursing my toddler and the one I have comming any ways.  He has weaned now since there is no milk but promises to start nursing again as soon as the milk comes in for the baby. 

 

Thanks


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#11 of 13 Old 02-04-2011, 06:19 AM
 
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Corn row never goes out of style! Here is my girl braided and beaded. Her hair is pulled back on top and the beads go down her back.  After she sported this do for a month all the other girls in her class (caucasian mind you) were asking their Moms for the same style *LOL*  Relactating was easy especially since there is 13 years between my second daughter and third.  I just pumped 3x/day for 10 min. each and added Domperidone to the regimine and had milk within a couple of days.  I got her within 2 weeks of signing with our pacement agency so I was able to put her right to the breast and then it really came in.

 

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#12 of 13 Old 02-04-2011, 04:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by queenjane View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by Whistler View Post

Some of our most recent training talked about being a conspicuous family, and I think that is true for the most part, but it's becoming more and more common, and with celebs adopting transracially now it seems like people don't even feel the need to ask.  I see that as a good thing overall, since comments from strangers can be so hurtful to a child, even when no hurt is intended by the person asking the question.

 

Oh i have no doubt its becoming more *common* to see transracial adoption families. I guess what i meant was that if you have a black kid people will automatically assume the child is adopted (or you are babysitting, or some such thing)...the fact that you saw a mom with black kids, and then a mom with an asian child, and automatically thought "adoption" is kind of the point. Over on the multicultural board there is an ongoing thread about people assuming one's birth child is adopted.


 

Exactly.  I was proving the point with an example from myself.  BUT since we have an adoptive family like that it's natural I might think of that first.  I read the thread you are referring to in the multicultural section quite a while back and I figured those families might see me with my black son an jump to the opposite conclusion...that I might have a black hubby.  That seems natural to me that they would think that.

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that hoping people will STOP coming to conclusions altogether is unrealistic.  BUT in my experience, living in the laid-back western United States, is that people simply don't really care that much.  Which is pretty nice.  We rarely get comments.

 


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#13 of 13 Old 02-04-2011, 07:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That's super great to hear! 

 

I also don't really know how much it maters when people make those assumptions.  We all make assumptions about one an other and I think it is equally great to have a birth or adopted child and if you can pass that on to the child hopefully if it is assumed they are adopted that will just kind of be a "so what type of thing"  or that my partner is a different race.  He isn't but it wouldn't affend me if someone thought maybe he was.  As long as people don't say things that the children take as offensive or excusionary I don't think it matters much if people make wrong assumptions about us.  I am sure that happens all the time.  There are so many things for people to group us into classes by, DH and imigrant, I live in a wealthy neighborhood and have an expensive stroller but can't give my money to homeless people or charities because we don't have much.  We live in my parents house and they gave us the stroller and are on medical and have been on food stamps.  We where very young (for where we live 23) when we had my son, I was always battling the assumption that I was knocked up and we had to get married.  No one ever said it to my face and definatly not with my son around so I imagin the race thing is somewhat similar.  I did always introduce DH as "my husband so and so" and that seemed to make people less likely to ask questions since they had some answers.  I imagin if I said this is my son L and my daugher T that would be enough to make people not ask but maybe not. 

 

I did have a friend who like you where saying had someone come up to here and ask where here daughter was from and she said "ummmmm my body". Some people do feel like they have the right to ask quite personal questions before they even really know you.


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