What kinds of issues around adoptee racial and cultural identity, racism, multiracial family dynamics, cultural interactions and complexities, are swimming around in your child’s head? Mark Hagland, Margie Perscheid and Terra Trevor talk honestly about six emotionally charged adoption topics, and what they’ve learned by living through them.
MARK HAGLAND: The reality is that virtually every adult adoptee I have ever known has at least to some extent avoided broaching these tougher, more challenging, more complicated topics with their family members, especially their parents. Below are several subjects that I’ve brought up, with Terra’s and Margie’s comments following each opening statement.
#1: Your transracially adopted child will have racial identity issues but will be generally reluctant to talk with you, particularly if you are a white person, about what he/she feels in that area.
TERRA TREVOR: Adopting transracially meant our family no longer fit standard racial categories. After adopting Korean children, we had a third race blended into our mix, a race we were initially unfamiliar with. From my own experience growing up half white and half Cherokee, Delaware and Seneca, I was familiar with calling two cultures home and acting as the solder between communities. I’d discovered early on the reality of America’s neuroses with race and skin color. In fact, I learned that having light skin meant that, even though I didn’t try to pass, society automatically granted me white privilege, something denied to my darker skinned cousins and friends who were never mistaken for white. Since I’ve stumbled across racial lines, straddling cultural expectations in my own development, naturally, I wanted better opportunity for my kids. I did my best to keep an open dialogue with my kids, but of course, like most children, mine were hesitant to mention the subject of race unless I brought it up first. On those occasions when they did want to talk, they wanted me to be a quiet listener. I also made sure my children were ar