Thursday, March 4, 2010

Should Race Matter in Adoptions? - ABC News

Should Race Matter in Adoptions? - ABC News

I have spent all morning Googleing this subject!!!!!! Watch the video. I have watched and re watched it several times today.

From my earlier posts you may have learned we adopted Gibson almost 2 years ago. His birthday is June 15th!!! He is a gorgeous mocha mix of African American and Puerto Rican heritage. Sean and I are "white." He is of Irish heritage and I am of Italian and German. There is a wee bit of African American in my lineage as well. I'm sure most of us have a wee bit as well if we investigate.

We did not set out to adopt a child of a different race. We simply wanted another child. I had a hell of a time conceiving. After several years we hit payday and Sean had to move his drum kit to the attic. We lost that pregnancy on a New Year's Day. I was five months pregnant and we had just picked out a name for our baby girl.
After several years of grueling fertility treatments we were blessed with success!!!!! Lola will be 5 this April.

Our doctors advised against another pregnancy but said it was ultimately up to us to try again. While pregnant with Lola, I was ordered to strict house bed rest for the last five months of my pregnancy. Needless to say, I was not up for that again and was truly afraid of more complications or worse, another lose. Adoption seems to be the perfect answer.

We took 12 weeks of classes to educate ourselves about fostering through the state. We knew there was such a need for these kids in our own backyards and felt this was how we wanted to do it. Our caseworker said "It's free to foster but expensive emotionally." We had no idea how emotionally draining this experience would be. The stories these children carried with them from foster home to foster home were horrendous and heartbreaking. Just like the few belongings they had in black garbage bags they carried them from place to place. These children were essentially damaged by their families.

Our experience with The Dept. of Social Services was not a positive one. We knew what we could handle. We did not want a special needs child or a child older than Lola. It seemed every panicked call received from DSS was in need of placing a special needs child with us immediately!!!! I felt horrible saying NO. Time and time again they would phone me at work and say there was a child who needed placed ASAP, but then the caseworker would never call back. Emotions were running high and patience was running low.

Then the call came. I left work an hour early. A child would be at our home for placement. He wasn't "legally free" for adoption. We were to foster with the hope of adopting him. The caseworker said there would be no way the mother would or could get him back. He was African American and about a year old. He had just learned to walk. He was incredibly clingy and cried constantly. He had a stomach bug and diarrhea. With only an hours notice, I borrowed a crib from Lola's daycare and went clothes shopping for him the next day. It was a rough couple of days. I learned from our caseworker he was kept tied in a crib for almost his first full year and his mother had tried to drown him several times in the bathtub.

Before the weekend was over, he was gone. A family member spoke up for him and he was off again. The caseworker came to pick him up and asked if I could make him some sort of lunch. "These kids never get to eat" she said. I remember making him peanut butter and jelly and packing a granola bar into a baggie for him. I had bought him a pair of little Converse high top sneakers. I watch those little sneakers being carried down my front porch. I couldn't look at him.

After taking a break for a year or so, we decided to permanently adopt. One door slams shut, and a window opens to usher in the spring air. Our story of adopting Gibson is miraculous. He was born on Father's Day of 2008. We along with about 7 other families had submitted photos and a biography to the birth mother. The hitch for us, we were notified the night before that she had signed papers giving up her parental rights. Other hopeful families had spent years perfecting their life stories on hand pressed paper and having glossy family portraits done to show. Our story was the last to be given to the birth mom. Sean drove the papers to the hospital 45 minutes away. He couldn't find our caseworker and was leaving in a panic when he spotted her with a baby in her arms in the parking lot. She was just handing over the baby to the foster grandmother. Sean got to see our Gibson that morning. Our caseworker Laurie stammered and looked embarrassed. It was fate that Sean saw him!

When we first talked about adoption we wondered if it would be complicated integrating a black child into our family. We were concerned about heritage and birthright. We wondered how Lola would feel having a black brother, how would they treat her at school? How would he be treated if he were attending a predominately white school? But what we really wanted was a child, a sibling for Lola, a completeness to our family. To sit in a booth at a restaurant. Two to each side!
Black, white, purple, red. He's a glorious boy with the widest, infectious smile. He adores his big sister and has to do everything she does. He has a great sense of humor and squeals when his "Dada" comes home from work. Gibson races our family dog to the front door to see Sean first!

It won't always be the fairy tale it now is. Will he feel he fits in? Will he resent his birth mother and not want that connection? Will he not want any of his cultures or want to deny his heritage? Who will his peers be? For us, for now, we want to celebrate who he is, to maintain his cultures, to support him, to be there for him, to listen, to celebrate who he is, our son.

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