Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Feeling kind of burdened...

The last few weeks I've been doing a lot of web research on Ghana. If any of you know what it's like to research on the web you know that you can get WAY off track very easily because there is so much information out there. I have come across a group of websites and/or blogs from a segment of our society that I hadn't really given much thought to before now.
I know that there are a lot of white people out there that don't understand or agree with us adopting black children (I know they aren't "black" but this is a P.C. acceptable term, I'm told). I know that we'll run into racism at some point here in OK, either direct or indirect. And I've know for quite a while that there are African Americans out there that don't agree with white people adopting "their" children. Even though I've known that for a while, I've never really delved into it. I assumed that it was all about AA's feeling that to be adopted into a white family would strip the child of his/her culture.
But the last few weeks on the web I've read things that I had really never considered. There is a whole movement out there for African Americans (or Africans in America, as they may rather be identified as) to get back to their African roots--to even immigrate back to Africa if at all possible...to take African names...and even to go back to African tribal religions. In theory, I think that most of this is great! I think it's great that Africans in America are learning about where they came from and are incorperating their TRUE heritage into their American culture.
But along with this idea of "going back home" also comes opinions about all of the black children in the world who are without families. Historically African children never became "orphaned" because extended family or friends would always take the child in. But in todays Africa, where western culture is infilitrating traditional, and with the oncoming of AIDS, there are more orphans out there than can be absorbed into the traditional extended family system.
This segment of our society seems to strongly feel that *NO* white Americans should be coming to "take" "their" children out of Africa! (remember, these are African Americans I'm talking about, not Africans living in Africa). They seem particularly angry with the Christians who "stole" their tribal heritage and spread western thought like a disease throughout Africa.
This all makes me so sad! I am fully prepared to meet any white bigot head on to protect my children from their diseased ideas! But I don't think I have prepared myself to deal with the segment of African society that will see me as someone who stole their children!
I don't think that transracial international adoption is the ideal solution for any child. The ideal would be to be with their birth family, followed by close friends of the family, followed by domestic adoption, followed by same-ethnicity international adoption, and lastly comes transracial international adoption.
But the reality is that there are VERY FEW families of African descent waiting to adopt here in the US, even fewer who are waiting to adopt internationally, and even fewer who are waiting to adopt internationally from Africa. I think it would be great if there were thousands of black families waiting to adopt the thousands of black orphans in Africa. But there aren't. What should happen to the children then? Does this segment of "Africans from America" think that a visit to an orphanage in Africa for a few days (as one website suggests is the duty of all Africans stuck in America) does as much good as families who desire to adopt these children, to be a new and forever part of their families?
With every one of my children I have felt a heavy burden when I took them from the place of their birth. It is NOT ideal. It is NOT what is best for them. But it is the best that was available to them because of various conditions in each of their birth countries. Eric and I and our NOT perfect life are what our children will have. It isn't the best, but it is the best that we can give. Because we know that our ethnicity--and possibly our country--are not the ideal for our children* I think that we work that much harder to meet our children's needs. Maybe it's not like that for every white family that adopts brown children, but it's turned out that way for us.
In the end I think I am so bothered by this small segment of AA society because I worry that they might be right--that I am doing a horrible thing by "taking" their children out of Africa. But then, what is the alternative for the children?
*I want to make it clear that I think America is the best country in the world to live in. My statement about this not being the best country (possibly) for our children is tied to my opinion that it is best for every child to remain in their country of birth if at all possible.