GiggleBlue--we're not naive about race relations here in the US. That's a large part of the reason this decision is so hard. By "classes" I mean ongoing workshops and education within our religious community through which we have relationships with people of color trying to transform our community to be truly anti-racist and anti-oppressive. Without the education those friends have given us, we'd probably adopt kids of color willy-nilly as nice liberal color-blind whites. I am also talking to those friends about this decision too.
I know I don't see the extent that racism happens, but my eyes are much more open than they were! We also parented our biracial nieces for a year and that was another eye-opener. Everything from them being given white baby dolls by clueless parents at day care to a hair dresser who purposely gave one of them a larger trim than I'd asked for because she thought my niece's hair was too "big" (read ugly). That then meant it was too short to put back easily, resulting in more snarling...
I have a huge frustration with the foster care system right now. We feel led (spirtually) to be foster parents and to adopt any children that need homes. It's so maddening that there are more kids of color than families of color and that the darn law won't allow the agency to choose, between two otherwise equally good homes, to place a kid of color with a family of color. The racism is all over the place from the greater number of times (I think it's ten to one) who will report a mother for use of drugs who happens to be African-American than a mother who is white, despite equal levels of drug use to the biases of the social workers who right now I suspect of recruiting foster parents of color, but not putting enough effort into recruiting adoptive parents of color, perhaps assuming that all black people will need the foster care stipend and that the others can't afford to adopt or something like that.
Do we know everything there is to know about raising a kid of color--absolutely not. Do we know we need to learn more if we're going to do the best job possible raising a kid of color--yes. (And feel free to keep giving me advice in this area.) But, should we not adopt a kid of color and let that kid, instead, be adopted by a totally clueless white family simply because we know there's more we need to learn while the other family doesn't even know how much they don't know? And some of those kids don't get adopted, they just languish in the foster care system because fewer people want to adopt black kids and the longer the stay the more placements they have and the more placements the more troubled...? Makes me furious--the system takes black kids in at a higher rate, but then can't get them homes. ARGH! kwim? I'm willing to listen to arguments about why we shouldn't adopt these kids, but, that's where we're coming from.
And...I am so not adopting kids of color for show. The people--in general--whose opinions of me matter most to me are the ones who for the rest of my life will be questioning why we adopted kids of color and will constantly be cross-examining me and giving me advice and letting me know if I don't do the kids' hair well. I realize that's part of what white parents who adopt kids of color take on, but I understand we're not going to be lauded for adopting kids of color. Do I get some credit for being willing to start a conversation, ask for advice, and engage--just a little?
I think the area we're, frankly, least prepared to raise Black kids in is the area of culture that you've raised. I'm coming from a CrossRoads' anti-racism analysis experience and my partner from People's Institute, but that has given us more experience with working with systems and identifying and confronting racism within systems, not with culture. That's where our lives will need to change the most. Any advice on how to find the best neighborhood, school, and social gatherings for our kids is most welcome. We currently live in Ohio in a pretty diverse elementary school zone because the foreign professors live in our neighborhood with their kids (the kids in the houses surrounding our house are mostly brown, but from India, Asia, and Kenya, not from African-American families and cultures). In the next two years we'll be moving east and intend to intentionally chose a neighborhood that has more African-American families.
And, this issue of culture and racial identity development is the reason we're considering a donor of color. He's gay and will eventually raise his own kids (he'll be able to afford surrogacy). (Btw, his brother is also gay.) He loves kids and wants to be involved in our kids' lives. He isn't talking to his mom about it now (does any sperm donor do that ahead of time?), but if she's like any other mom, I'm guessing she'll want to be involved in her grandchildren's lives. I know that doesn't get us off the hook for making other choices that support our children's cultural upbringing, but it seems a plus. But, I could be off base, so if you have another perspective, fire away.
Any advice on raising biracial kids and kids of fully African-American descent together? I hear you that people will see them differently. Have we missed something major and would it be better to raise white kids and kids of fully African-American descent together rather than having bio biracial kids?
Really--bring it on. If we end up raising kids of color, I'd rather know as much as possible about the questions and critique we're going to get. So, any critique and questions you give me now is doing us (and our kids, whoever they turn out to be) a huge favor. That's why I posted here because I know there are lots of thoughtful people here at MDC, even if I only float in every few months when I have a question.