This is an article written by Brittany Brooks. She placed her son for adoption in 2013. Since then, she decided to work at Adoptions From The Heart to help create more awareness about birth mothers and interracial adoption. She wanted to write this article to help those that are looking to adopt outside of their race or are currently raising a child outside of their race. Brittany and her son’s adoptive parents figured out the key ingredient to a healthy and fulfilling interracial adoption…bonding between the birth parents and the adoptive parents.
Back in 2013, I placed my son for adoption. Race or sexual orientation didn’t matter to me when I was looking at families and I was hoping to find adoptive parents that felt the same way. Fortunately, for me I did. I found the best adoptive parents for what my son and I needed, and they just so happen to be white.
In the beginning, we didn’t know what our situation was going to look like. However, we were willing to work toward the best scenario we could give our son. My son’s adoptive parents and I have a very open adoption. We text and talk a few times a week. His adoptive mother texts me pictures of whatever crazy thing he did that day. She even tells me about his little attitudes and the not so “nice” side of him. I enjoy all of this, the good and the bad.
Over the years, we’ve learned how to talk about the hard things with each other. It all started with his adoptive mother addressing the elephant in the room. She told me, “Brittany I’ve never been black. I can’t pretend like I understand the underlying problems and issues that you face every day. But, I’m willing to learn and I want to learn for the sake of our son.” That warmed my heart in more ways than one. One, hearing her say that validated my decision in choosing them to be my son’s parents. Two, I was happy that they realized that there is a problem in our society that won’t allow our son to be accepted by all people. We know we can’t change society as a whole, but we can be the drop in the bucket that initiates change.
Give & Take
Early on we knew that the only way this was going to work was if we stayed in contact and worked toward being as open as possible. Openness to us is more than sharing addresses and telephone numbers. Openness for us includes staying in constant contact. Throughout the adoption, there were times when I didn’t reach out for a while, but his adoptive parents would always check up on me. But to me that wasn’t fair to put the burden on them all the time, so I started putting more effort into reaching out. In doing so, we all felt comfortable to ask each other certain things.
His adoptive mother asked me what would I teach him if I was raising him. I told her that in my family we teach our children about the great kingdoms of Songhay, Mali, Kush, and the Mende people. We teach these things, because these are facts that are often left out in grade school history. She was utterly shocked. She had never heard of any of those things and wanted to learn for herself. Over the past few years, I’ve sent her books to educate herself, so in turn she can later educate our son on his self-identity.
This made me think about all the times I went months without speaking to the adoptive parents. It wasn’t because they did anything wrong, I wasn’t upset with them, but for some reason I just pulled back. It made me think, what if I continued to pull back and never developed a comfortable level for his adoptive parents to ask me these questions? Would my son know where he comes from? Would he know his history or the history that’s only taught in schools? I noticed I would be doing my son a disservice.
I was also glad to have chosen adoptive parents that kept pushing for openness even when I closed up. And it really wasn’t for them to keep reaching out to me with no results. Like all relationships, open adoption is a lot about give and take. Both parties have to put in a constant effort for openness. It doesn’t work if it’s one sided. Especially in interracial adoptions. There is a need for openness in interracial adoptions. There is a need for adoptive parents and birth parents to bond in interracial adoptions. We can’t change what race or color we are, but we can learn about each other. And yes, I mean each other. Just because I’m black doesn’t mean only his white parents have to learn about me and my culture. I had to learn about them too. I’ve never been white and I’d like to know how my child is going to be culturally raised.
What We’re Working Toward
We are working towards a common goal. We have to bond for his sake. We have to bond to discuss the best ways to deal with racism in society. We have to bond so he can learn his self-identity, so he doesn’t feel misplaced in his environment. We want him to be fully equipped for whatever society may throw at him.
Our goal is for him to grow up feeling loved from both sides and understanding that he does come from two worlds that came together. He’s racially black and he is growing up in a white home. And together we’re making this the best situation that we can for him.