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Shades of Gray in Transracial Adoption

Last night, I story I’d been trying to ignore popped up front-and-center on CNN.com.   There, in the space usually reserved for people like the President of the United States or the latest terror suspect, was a story about transracial adoption.

More properly described, the story was about peoples’ opinions about a story about transracial adoption.  The first paragraph was literally a series of comments left on a previous story by CNN readers.  Suddenly, what people were saying about the news became the lead news story.  This must be some new self perpetuating model of digital media, where we consider our individual reaction a part of the story itself.

The story dropped from the top headline this morning, but it’s still spectacularly displayed on the front page under the “DON’T MISS” banner.

I’d been ignoring the story because it irritated me.  Admittedly, I’m a little closer to the story than other people – what with three transracial adoptions in the past few years.   I didn’t want to react solely out of that…but after pondering it, I realized there is more to this non-story that irritates me.

It leads with adorable photos of Sandra Bullock’s adopted son. He is African American, and she is not.  To CNN – and many readers – this seems to be a big deal.   It’s not.

To me, the big deal is the fact that her marriage is in a complete shambles, the question surrounding this adoption relates to what color everyone is.  Presumably, the marriage did not disintegrate overnight.  I’d love to ask the star-struck social worker who approved the home study of she and her husband “What on earth were you thinking?”.   The issue is not the color of her child, it’s the health of her relationships and the failure of the system to perceive that.

It presents peoples’ arguments regarding transracial adoption in a way that inflates their importance. Read it through carefully and almost everyone quoted in the article is an anonymous commenter or an internet gossip site publisher.   Opinions are not news, and uninformed opinions are not only non-news, they’re just noise.

It does mention a few interesting statistics.

  • Half of the children in the US foster care system are African American or Hispanic.
  • Nearly three quarters of all couples wanting to adopt are Caucasian.

If we insist on matching colors to make it all pretty for the yearbooks, we’re going to leave a lot of kids in the system – a system so broken that even those charged with stewarding it wonder about it’s effectiveness.

You know, our president’s multi-racial background was touted as a plus during the election, so in the words of that president, let me be clear.

I am highly in favor of African Americans adopting African Americans. Recently, we heard of a birth mother who was looking for a bi-racial or African American couple – something that is certainly her right to request – and the agency was scrambling to find one to present to her.

I am in favor of Caucasians adopting African Americans and vice versa.

I am not in favor of internet theoreticians’ blabbermouth ideas being typed out on their gamer computers in the safety of their mother’s basement and as published as news.

I’m not sure where they would have preferred to place my three daughters, whose biological families’ skin tones would stretch the Sherwin Williams palette beyond recognition.

For those who read this entire post, here’s a bonus – one of Shelley Paulson‘s recent shots of my dear little Anna River.  As you can see, Anna’s reaction to this story is “That’s goofy!”…and she says it in Thai, Japanese, and Midwestern English.

This one could totally be the president.


9 Responses

  1. LOVE IT! Excellent rebuttal!

  2. reading your post today I suddenly wondered what my life would be like if you had only adopted one of the twins, and wondering which one it would be and how dramatically different she would be because of not having the other one.

    I love those gargantuan eyes and the crazy, curly Einstein hair, the way they both call each other Anna & how Kat & I are convinced they try to say our names when they are probably calling both of us Grandma.

    So many bad days have been destroyed by walking in your front door and having Mercy burst into smiles and run on her chubby baby feet for me to pick her up, or by singing Anna to sleep when she’s teething. OR by opening the kitchen door & hearing Zoe from upstairs in her bedroom yell “Chris-TINA! She wants you to come play with her!”. That little girl squeezes me so hard sometimes I think my head is going to pop off. But we’re so thankful for the price that you’ve paid 3 times over in those little girls, and the price you pay everyday.

    Any of your kids will get my vote for president.

  3. I shudder to think that the comments page a news site would become the news it decides to report. Shudddd-er.

  4. I wonder why there is no similar fuss about trans-racial foster care parents?

  5. Well said!!! ….Amen, let’s stand! 😉

    And thank you for the bonus photo at the bottom, she is so adorable! She has my vote for president!

  6. Thank you, for putting MY thoughts into such eloquent words that I could not…hehe
    LeAnne K.

  7. This story drove me crazy too!I am a transracial adoption “survivor”. My parents are white and I am Columbian. I am now a “transracial” adoptive parent. My son is black, my husband is white, and I am a lighter shade of caramel. I for one, cannot remember ever looking at my parents and thinking, ” Wow, I really wish I could receive the love you are giving me…but sorry, we are not the same race.” Hopefully CNN is reading this comment so they will write a story around my opinion.

  8. I completely agree that the real story is the quality of the parents. Recently I reported a mother to DFACS whose actions completely condone the removal of her children from her custody. I provided about 20 stories that point to abuse and neglect very clearly, including accompanying photos.

    I was surpised to find out that DFACS responded within 48 hours to interview the mother. I was further surprised that after the interview, NO further contact was made by DFACS. The children remain in the abuser’s custody. (We all know stories like this happen every day)

    And so we pray that the real issues would surface, that justice would roll like a river, and that every dark lie and secret would be exposed. And so I pray that the children would find and know truth, that the mystery of Christ would be made known, and that Christ would be exalted in the midst. And may God abundantly bless every family willing to take a stand for truth through adoption…

  9. I agree with Anna River- that is goofy indeed!

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