Weighing our choices – especially race

We’re getting back on track to move our adoption forward.

First up, reviewing and signing the 20-page contract with our agency, then filling out their client info sheet. In addition to the usual questions of name and contact info, the client sheet also requests things like age, ethnicity/religion, employment info, annual income, driver’s license numbers, answering if we’ve ever been arrested… and so on.

In addition to all that, some other things we have to consider and questions we have to answer right off the bat include:

Do you have a gender preference?

What races are you open to? Are you open to a racially mixed child? If so, what fractions of each race?

Are you open to a birth mother who used drugs during her pregnancy?

Are you open to a special needs child?

Are you open to twins?

The first time we did this, I’ll admit there was a lot of guilt. Am I a horrible person if I answer no to being open to a special needs child? Am I racist if I say I’ll take certain races but not others?

Thankfully, you are encouraged and reminded over and over that there are no right or wrong answers to these questions. It’s all about what you feel you realistically can take on.

It’s one thing to have a special needs child born to you; it’s another to openly and willingly walk into a life of caring for one knowing the challenges you’ll face, the care they could require, the time it might take, and the potential expenses you could incur.

We didn’t think the race question was such a big deal, until we started learning more about what it means to be a minority in this country. My husband and I are both white, and neither of us has ever experienced racism. In our naiveté we thought, “we will love this child no matter his or her skin color, isn’t that enough?”

The reality is, no, it’s not enough. At some point in that child’s life, the world will notice his/her skin color. And we need to be equipped to help him/her through any potential negative experiences or discrimination – no matter how subtle or how blatant – that may be brought on by the color of the child’s skin.

Thankfully, we live in a place like Los Angeles, where there is a lot more racial and cultural diversity than in many other parts of the country.

The race categories that our agency uses for the babies they most often represent include Caucasian, Hispanic, African American, Pacific Islander, and Asian. Since our first adoption, we’re grateful to realize we have friends (and even some family) in our immediate circle of contacts from each of these categories, which means we have access to resources and those with first hand experience with what it’s like to be a minority.

We were blessed with a beautiful biracial son the first time we adopted. His birth father is African-American and his birth mother is Caucasian. Raising him (and he’s only 2) has opened our eyes more than ever to the racism and discrimination that goes on all around us, every day. We consider that a gift and want to know and understand more, so that we can help him navigate and understand life and the world he will grow up in.

If you saw my husband or me out alone with our son, it’s entirely possible he could biologically be one of ours. In fact, we’ve gotten comments to that effect: “He has your eyes!” (We just smile and nod.) On the other hand, if you see the three of us out together, it’s a pretty safe guess that this child is not biologically from us.

Because he is racially different from his parents, we have decided that we don’t want our son to be a racial lone ranger in our family. So in adopting this second time around, we are ruling out 100% Caucasian but are open to any other racial makeup.

Gender is the other big question we are debating. This will probably be our only other adoption, so it’s our last chance to get a girl if we wanted one child of each gender. Thing is, I can build a case for wanting either gender.

They also say if you want a specific gender, that’s when you typically wait the longest in an adoption. So maybe we’ll leave that one to chance.

Then again, this whole process is up to chance.

That’s something we’re getting used to.

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