And hair, and teeth, and…well…pretty much everything else. Roxanne points to a hint at why the New York Times was interested in the Roberts’ adoptions. It turns out the Roberts’ kids were born in Ireland. So, why were they adopted in Latin America? There’s an explanation for that too, via an Atrios reader.
While I very much doubt either one of the Stepford’s would run a stop sign let alone skirt adoption laws, one has to wonder why they would go to so much trouble to adopt such lily white kids when there are a multitude of children of color all over the US who need good parents.
Who knows? As Trey noted deciding what kind of kid you want to adopt is a very personal, intimate decision, encompassing everything from race to health problems and the mental health of the birth parents. Of course, babies born to drug addicted, alcoholic, or mentally ill parents need homes too, but adoptive families also have to make honest assessments of their abilities to take on those challenges if they’re going to avoid doing themselves and the child a disservice. On the other hand, we were specifically seeking to adopt an African American infant, and were able to do so while avoiding the issues mentions above.
Maybe it’s the "honest assessment" part that comes into play with the Roberts’ decision regarding their adoption. After we adopted Parker, I remember speaking to a group of gay men considering parenthood, and hearing one couple say they didn’t think they could adopt an African American kid, because they weren’t equipped to help him/her deal with racism. But, as I wrote yesterday, that’s something that I struggle with even as an African American parent to an African American child, and some non-black adoptive parents are willng to take on the challenge.
The point is that it’s not easy for anyone. But I don’t think that means that black parents are necessarily better equipped than non-black parents to deal with the issue racism as involves raising a black child. What’s important is that the parents are willing to take on the challenge, which may mean educating themselves about the realities of racism, in our history and in our present soceity. That includes something else that’s essential for parents adopting cross-racially or cross-culturally; a commitment to educate yourself about your child’s culture of origin, and to make it a part of your family’s life. Again, it comes down to a familiy’s honest assessment of their willingness and ability to do it. That’s something that families can only answer for themselves.
So, if it turns out — as seems to be the case — that the Roberts’ adoptions were done nice and legally, that’s pretty much the end of the story and chances are we won’t see a New York Times piece about them. But that doesn’t mean the questions raised by the story — beyond the Roberts family themselves — aren’t worth asking and discussing.