This week is International Blog Against Racism Week - go over here
to read a pile of awesome stuff.
My contribution is scatterbrained--motherhood has been kicking my ass recently. But here is some stuff I can share.A few thoughts for white people who are not adoptive parents:
1. Some babies who are ethnically Chinese are actually born in America! It's amazing but it's true. Stop being so startled.
My son Charlie, a gentleman and a patriot.
2. Chinese children come in "boy" as well as "girl" versions, even the ones who are adopted. Stop being so startled.
3. Asian children in America are of multiple different ethnicities and nationalities, including the ones who are adopted. Stop saying Ni Hao to random Asian kids.
4. You are seriously going to tell my my son "doesn't look Chinese?" What the hell do you think Chinese people look like? This
5. Black birth mothers who place infants for adoption generally do so because they cannot afford to add a child to their family, not because they don't care about their baby. Stop talking shit about them.
6. The law is unfair to black people. And poverty, with its associated ills, disproportionately affects black people. Black parents who lose custody of their children are not necessarily bad parents. Stop talking shit about them.
6. Oh hey I know, how about you just stop talking shit about ALL black people? And thoughts for my fellow white interracially-adoptive parents:
1. Black mothers do stuff with their daughters' hair. Look here
. If you have a black daughter, for God's sake, do some stuff with her hair. Your average black mom would no more send her daughter to school with her hair in a mess than she would send her son in without a shirt.
2. Your child loses something of value when they are placed in a family that doesn't share their race. You can and should take steps to mitigate that loss and help them to develop as healthy of a racial identity as possible, so they don't feel like a fraud. But don't kid yourself that they haven't lost anything.
3. Chinese people in America do not, actually, stick their kids in adorable tiny silk outfits with frog closures at every fucking opportunity.
4. Know your ethnic slurs! Do not, for example, put your Asian child in a shirt with bananas on it, like I did once upon a time. If you are white and have a black son, notice that monkeys are ubiquitous on boys' clothing, and then NEVER BUY ANY OF THAT SHIT.
5. Be aware that many proper names have ethnic or racial baggage attached. "Charlie" is such a name (Charlie Chan, 5 o'clock Charlie...). If you're naming your child (as opposed to keeping their birth name) (which is what we opted to do), make sure you vet their name thoroughly before settling on it (You should probably check their birth name too, just in case there's baggage their birth parents are unaware of).
6. That "red thread" saying is not about adoption
. Please stop repeating it. Also? Most adoptions involve some level of personal tragedy for the birth parents, and also for the child. Chinese adoptions in particular involve quite a lot of pressure on the birth parents. Sentimentalizing that as "destiny" denies your child the truth of their story.
7. Did you know that Hinduism is an actual religion, where they revere their gods and stuff, and probably don't like blasphemy any more than other religious people? IKR? If you put your Indian kid in a Siva/Shiva tee shirt
because "he's my little destroyer--he's in the terrible twos and he destroys EVERYTHING!" I hope someone is very rude to you. (ETA: Not because it's bad to put your kid in a Shiva tee shirt, but because if you do it you should be able to explain who Shiva is for real, and not be glib and reductive about it).
8. If you name your kid "Martin Luther King Smith" people will know that MLK is the only black person you've ever heard of.
9. If your home is going to be a safe space for your child--and it really, really should be--you are going to have to work hard to fight racism, and to overcome your own prejudices, and to understand and check your own privilege--EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE
REST OF YOUR LIFE.
10. People of color who are against interracial adoption often have good reasons based in sociology, history, and personal experience, and are worth listening to even if you don't agree. White people who are against interracial adoption often have a bunch of dumbass bullshit reasons based on racial biases.
11. In cases where a child is actually "saved" from poverty or oppression by being adopted, the credit and gratitude for that should go to their birth parents, who made an excruciating personal sacrifice in order to give the child a better life.
12. Going to a poor country to adopt a child and then complaing about all the poverty? Makes you an asshole. If you return from a poor country and say "the building where they finalized our adoption was so run-down, it was like something you would see in the projects!" you are an asshole and also very obtuse. If you complain that the child you brought home from a poor country had diarrhea for a whole month OMG, when the people from the orphanage swore he was healthy, you are an asshole. If you refer to your adopted daughter's home village as "pretty much the armpit of India," you are an asshole. (I met all of these people in my adoption training; they were giving us advice about how to be parents. I also met awesome adoptive parents who do stuff like take their son to visit his birth mom in prison--it seems like it was 50/50 assholes/not assholes. Kinda like humanity in general.)
Feel free to ask questions or add your own advice in comments (screened & lightly moderated)!