Friday, August 15, 2014

Would Black Transracially Adopted Males Rather Be White Right Now?

Many of us know about the fatality involving an unarmed African-American 18-year-old named Michael Brown. I won't rehash what has already been said and written (in very passionate and poignant ways) by firsthand witnesses and ill-treated journalists in Ferguson. Instead, I will focus on bettering the future of transracially adopted black males by encouraging a discussion around how we are preparing them for the reality of our "post-racial" world.

I cannot recall how many conversations I've had with white prospective adoptive parents who would say; "I'd just love to adopt a little black boy - they are the cutest!" I always wondered if they realized that the little black boy they so fondly dreamt of would become a teenager in a matter of years, and that between the time of his infancy and his teen years that he'd also morph in to a walking crime. Could those parents also gleefully say "I would just love to parent a black teenage son who is being profiled by the cops!"? Not likely - although these two sentiments are largely one in the same right now. Between Micheal Brown, Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner and Ezell Ford it's clear that in America's current climate it is a crime to Be Black.

How will white adoptive parents teach lessons of safety to their growing black sons? How will they teach that it's okay for some people to talk trash during a spirited football game, but not them? How will they explain that daddy can walk to 7-11 with a hooded sweatshirt for some skittles, but if they want to make a midnight run to the convenience store then they need to code-switch and whistle Vivaldi as they walk with their hands in plain view in an attempt to lessen the fear from strangers who automatically perceive them as a threat. How will a black boy learn appropriate behavior in a city like Ferguson if he grew up in a culture where he was consistently fetishized by his teachers and joyously picked first to play basketball as classmates espoused to the black athlete stereotypes? How might a transracially adopted black child gain a healthy identity when the world that you've created in your home or community does not match this world we live in where the police, Congressmen Steve King, Cliven Bundy, Janelle Ambrosia, Donald Sterling (shall I go on?) don't care if they grew up in a stable and loving adoptive family? Their skin is still black and according to some, that in and of itself is a crime.

Many adoptive parents have kindly asked for my opinion on the correct time to bring up these topics with their sons. My gut tells me that just as there was no "right" age for us to be adopted, there is no right time to introduce the reality of our world today. I'm sure the parents of young toddlers living in Ferguson would rather not have to explain to their child why their eyes are burning while they play at the park because of the lingering teargas in the air. I'd imagine it's hard for parents in Ferguson (of any race) to explain to their children why cops are killing people, since they'd previously taught them that the people in those uniforms are the people who we call on to help keep us safe. If you have the great fortune of living in an area where rioting is not happening outside of your window then perhaps this difficult reality is hard to believe and putting off the conversation is doable. But these times are real, scary and dangerous and your child is part of the systemic racial profiling war and thus they must be discussed. Perhaps the happenings in Ferguson would feel closer and less avoidable if you think about your child's birthparents - what if your child's birthparents live in Ferguson right now? How might you talk about it then?

By nature of being a trans-racial family, your son cannot gain an understanding about his identity from simple role modeling of appropriate behavior as the rules are different for Whites right now. If your children mirrored your behavior (as children are hard-wired to do), they may be in grave danger.

Are white adoptive parents more inclined to reminisce, reflect and eulogize Robin Williams than they are to educate, advocate and act upon these current systemic tragedies that directly impact their family?


About me: Angela Tucker is a trans-racial adoptee, adopted from foster care – born in the South and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She recently reunited with some of her birth relatives, and is still actively searching for another birth sister as is chronicled in the documentary, Closure.  Angela is a columnist for The Lost Daughters and her blog The Adopted Life and has been featured in Psychology Today, Adoptive Families Magazine,, Huffington Post and other mediums.