Our Shared Struggle

In the past few months, my wife and I have finally begun our God-given quest to adopt our first child.  We have both seen this as God’s will for our lives since before we were even married.  We came to this decision through different ways. As a child, my wife knew a “rainbow family” who had adopted children from many countries and backgrounds.  I was struck by a short story of a man walking along the beach throwing starfish back into the ocean where they would survive.  Someone came up to him and asked him about the futility of this action, noting that there were so many and he couldn’t possibly make a difference.  As he threw another into the safety of the ocean, he responds, “I made a difference to that one.” That is what we want to do.  Even if we can only make a difference to a few children, we have made a difference. There is nothing that any child could ever do to not deserve a loving father and mother. 

We are adopting from Ethiopia, a country with poverty many Americans wouldn’t even understand.  Some children in Ethiopia do not have parents, and others have parents that cannot even put enough food in their mouths to keep them alive.  We can’t save them all, but we can surely give one or two of them a family.

In preparation, we have been taking adoption classes, including classes on mixed race families, which is what ours will be.  In these classes we are learning about how people are going to question us.  We are learning how people will ask us why we decided to adopt transracially.  They will ask us if that is our real child, and some will be downright racist.  It is something we are preparing ourselves for as a white couple preparing to adopt a black baby.

Apparently we are not alone.  Recently, black football player DeMarcus Ware and his wife adopted a light-skinned Hispanic baby after several miscarriages.  While this has been a great blessing for them, there are now people criticizing their adoption.  They aren’t criticizing them for adopting, but for adopting a child of a different race.  Many of the critics argue that there are so many black children in the foster and social systems that black parents should adopt their own race to help even things out.

I don’t think orphans care all that much about the numbers game.  I don’t think an orphan wakes up in the morning and says, “Wow, I hope the black kid in the next room gets adopted first so that we can even out the national racial adoption statistics.”

I also don’t think that the color of one’s skin should qualify or disqualify someone from having a good family with good, loving parents.  Now, I know that a lot of parents think that way.  I know that mixed race children are considered special needs children because people are less likely to adopt them due to that. That is a failing of our society that each family needs to evaluate and correct on a personal level. But when someone adopts a child regardless of race or racial differences, that is when we should celebrate, not nitpick their decision based on the racial preferences of their community.  Those who are criticizing Ware for adopting a Hispanic child are no less racist than the white and black people who will talk behind our backs when we adopt a black child.

The worst kind of racism is the kind that tells a child they don’t deserve parents because that wrecks some sort of statistic, disturbs some racially preferred community balance, or stirs up prejudices among ignorant people.

Every child deserves a good home, and I pray that every child gets one.  Until they do, the only qualification a child should have for deserving loving parents is that they don’t already have them.

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