Towards ethical (transracial) adoption

As someone who wants to adopt someday, I found the article “Transracial Adoption” to be an interesting and challenging read. I have not thought much about the race of the child I will one day adopt. It was surprising to me to read that some black women believe that white women cannot raise black children as well, but of course this makes sense. Superficially, as the author points out, I do not know how to braid hair. Of course, I could learn (and I want to). On a deeper level, however, I did not grow up facing the challenges of racism everyday because I am white and I therefore do not know how to best raise a black child to face a racist world. In this way, if I adopted a black child they could be at a disadvantage. I agree with the author’s standpoint that, ideally adoption would be race-blind but, of course, we do not live in a colorblind society. What is important, therefore, is a critical feminist perspective on adoption and raising children. The author is right in pointing out that feminist (especially, I imagine, white feminists) tend to think about how they will raise their children to see gender issues, but not race issues. I agree that white women need to raise their children to know what it means to be white. This is as important if not more important than white mothers teaching their black children what it means to be black.

I agree with the author that a truly feminist adoption pays attention not to the individual needs of an individual child but rather to the social, political, and economic conditions that require a woman to give up her baby in the first place. As a feminist, I agree with the author’s standpoint that, in an ideal world, all women who gave up their babies for adoption would do so of their own free will. While, of course, there will always be women who choose to give their child up for adoption, there are some women who are forced to give up their baby for reasons outside of their control. The author suggests that, as feminists, we need to feel as deep empathy for these women as we do for their children. Outside of mere empathy, we need to remain motivated to at least acknowledge and hopefully address the circumstances that necessitate adoption. With the way it is now, the adoption system reflects an unequal world in which the resources of poor women of color are co-opted by predominantly white well off women in the name of compassion. I do not want to fuel this system and am thankful that this article has encouraged me to treat the subject of transracial adoption more critically.

This article has made me realize that adoption in and of itself is not enough to aspire to. As I am made aware of time and again good intentions are not enough when working towards treating people with true compassion and dignity. A critical analysis both of my own position as a white, middle-class educated woman as well as the position of the black mother giving up her child for adoption is essential. If adoption is still necessary after I have worked towards addressing the systemic problems facing black women, understanding the limits of transracial adoption is essential in providing the best possible life for a child of any race.


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