While I would love to sit down and write out everything someone should know about transracial adoptees, that would take weeks and who really has time for that? Instead, I decided to discuss three of the most common misconceptions I, a transracial adoptee, come across when having conversations about adoption.
Misconception 1: Being Adopted As A Baby “Isn’t As Bad”
I don’t know who started this myth, but let me tell you as someone adopted at birth, my adoption experience was just as traumatizing as anyone else’s. No matter what age someone is adopted, there are still going to be unanswered questions and lingering feelings of not belonging. Especially a transracial adoptee (TRA). It’s kind of hard to not notice that you’re the only black people in your family. The only thing being adopted as a newborn did for me was make me realize at an earlier age that I was not actually related to my family.
Misconception 2: Love Is Enough
Sorry, it’s just not. Raising a child of color takes work. Yes all the love and basic parenting you would give to anyone is needed, but there’s also an additional layer that needs to be there – the additional parenting that involves raising a child who’s born hated in this world. Just like you would teach your daughters to not go off with strange men or to avoid dark alleyways, you have to teach your child of color how to survive not being white in this world. As a white person yourself, that means YOU have to learn these lessons first and pass them along. You have to do the work to realize your own white privilege and to do better. Love will never solve racism, doing the work will.
Misconception 3: Being Colorblind Is Helpful
Also a big no. Being ‘colorblind’ is actually harmful and helps perpetuate racism. By colorblind I mean “not seeing race”. Common colorblind phrases are things like “we all bleed red”, “I don’t see race, only people”. While your intention may be good, this mindset doesn’t help anyone. By dismissing race, you’re dismissing the fact that racism exists and subsequently, our experiences. No one ever stopped a murder by pretending murder doesn’t happen. It’s the same idea here. Furthermore, why should we pretend like race doesn’t exist? Race isn’t the problem, people villainizing race is the problem, which is exactly what “colorblind” people are doing. Don’t ignore my blackness, acknowledge it and my experiences AND also see me as an individual black woman. We’re not all the same, we’re not robots, we all have different life experiences and race contributes to those experiences.
Look, I don’t ever expect people to know everything about everyone, but you have to be open to listening to others who are different than you. Take these three things as a starting point and put in some time to learn more about the TRA experience from TRAs. Self-education is an important part of adopting, and the tools to be better are not always going to be handed to you. You may have to put the work in. Remember, you’re not just a parent anymore, you’re an ally too.
About The Author
Rebekah Hutson is a transracial adoptee blogger and advocate known online as onlyblackgirl. Adopted as a newborn from Houston, TX and raised in Olympia, WA, Rebekah started a blog to vent about her experiences as a black transracial adoptee. You can follow her work online at www.onlyblackgirl.com.