Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Why We Adopted an African-American Baby

I've had the privilege of guest-blogging at EmbraceRace.  Here's the second of two blog posts I've written so far.  You can also find it here.  

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Why We Adopted an African-American Baby

In response to my first EmbraceRace post, Reflections on hyphenated identities & my hopes for my children, someone asked me: “why do Asian American and white parents who’ve adopted Asian kids internationally then choose to adopt an African American child?” Sounds like a good tee-up for a second post. :)

Let me start by offering three non-reasons:

1. To be like Brangelina. If you know us, we’re about as far from Hollywood glam as you can get.

2. Race doesn’t matter. “We don’t see color, we just love all our babies.” Um, no.

3. To save Asher. All babies come into the world utterly helpless and completely dependent on their parents. And all parents consider it the highest honor to take care of their babies and would run through a brick wall for them. We are no different.

Here are our three actual reasons:

1. Diversity is beautiful. Differences stretch us and make us deeper, better, and more tolerant people. Sign me up for more of that, please.

2. Black is beautiful. The African-American experience in this country is a rich mosaic that includes both soaring triumph and shameful treatment. We are richer as a country, and Amy and I are richer as parents, to make it part of our story.

3. Asher is family. Jada and Aaron run in diverse circles at school, in their neighborhood, and in their extra-curricular activities. But, there’s nothing like bringing the African-American perspective into your own family. And, at ages 11 and 9, they are beginning to consume more news about the wider world, and I’m heartened that they are processing what it means to be black in America not as an abstract idea but as something that relates directly to their own little brother.

We have a lot to learn, about practical things like hair and heritage and about squishier things like societal perception and cultural norms, and we are eager to learn them in order to be better parents for Asher and also because it is for our own good.

In the end, isn’t that what the magic of parenthood is? Laying down your life is how you truly find it; emptying yourself fills you up. So it has been, and we hope it will be, with Asher.
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