The way we've decided to talk through the adoption process probably isn't the way other couples might do it. But, we do what we do, and I may as well put it out there.
We found an agency through my church, and downloaded their adoptive parents pre-questionnaire. The first pages are easy enough -- questions about us, our ethnicity, jobs, religion, health, age, etc. Then there are the pages about what kinds of children we would be interested in adopting. This is a really loaded part of the questionnaire, because who wouldn't want to adopt any child who needed them? But it's harder than that. This isn't a matter of pulling up to the drive-through at McDonalds and ordering up your perfect kid. But it is about what kinds of adoptive issues you're prepared to deal with. And going through these questions are helping us sort through our reasons for adopting and have good conversations about our fears and hopes for how this process may go. Anything that fosters honest conversation is a win in my book. It may take us a long time to work through that questionnaire, but at the end of it, I think we will have a much better idea of what we want to do next with it.
For example, the first question asks about the race of the child. We'd all like to believe we are colorblind and none of us are racists, only willing to adopt a child that looks like us. On the other hand, if we adopt a child of a different race, everyone knows we've adopted that child. Say we adopt a black child. We will get every manner of question from random strangers who might ask (right in front of the child, no less) whether we love Caleb more than our adopted child, or if we didn't believe that the black community would have been a better place for that child, or who knows what else. Do we need to be showy about the fact that we've adopted? Or would it be better not to attract the immediate attention of people around us because we're a "different" looking family? Would it be better for the child to be able to plausibly blend in rather than sticking out? Would we be lining them up to be rejected by their black peers for having a white family while also being rejected by their white peers for not being white? Or does this require everyone around us and them to have to figure out how to make the world a better place for people of all races? And as long as we're talking about "better," better for whom? Is it better for that child to grow up in foster care? Shuffled from family member to family member? Not having anyone to call "mom" and "dad"?
Ultimately, we decided there are only two options. Either we are only willing to adopt a white child, or race doesn't matter. We couldn't think of any reason we would be willing to adopt a black child but not an Asian child or a Native American/Hispanic child. So, we're either wanting to make it look to a stranger that we have a "natural" family, or we're okay with random people looking at us and knowing we have an adopted child. There were a lot of options on that list, but finally, we checked the "Any" box.
I don't think we have rose-colored glasses about what that could mean. We know it will be hard, and we will deal with rudeness. But the thought of rejecting a child from being part of our family simply because of the color of his or her skin just broke us down. We couldn't do that if we could provide them with a better life.
Thirty-Five, The Up Series, This is Us
3 weeks ago