In yesterday’s post, I wrote about the concept of missional living to answer the question of why we’re adopting transracially. In today’s post, to answer the how question, I’ll use the term incarnational.
During our transracial adoption training at Bethany, we were required to watch a lengthy video of several adoptees evaluating their experience being raised by adoptive parents who were of a different ethnicity than their own birth ethnicity.
It was eye opening. Definitely, the common theme was evident – if their adoptive parents did not make an effort to expose them to, educate them in, and celebrate their ethnic origin, it was a double grief to the adopted child. The first grief, I’ve already written about, is grieving the loss of their birth parent and the second grief, in their case, was the loss of their birth culture.
So Bethany had us do an exercise where they gave us different colored beads representing different ethnicities. We had to answer questions like, “What is your pediatricians ethnicity?” “What is the principal’s ethnicity at your child’s school?” “What is the ethnicity of your neighbors on each side of you?” We dropped the appropriate color bead representing that ethnicity to answer the questions. At the end, the point was to reveal how monochromatic (white majority) our lives are if we are not intentionally building relationships and immersing ourselves in a culture other than our own.
They encouraged us to see our family as having a transracial identity. We should not think of ourselves as a white family with a black or bi-racial child. We should think of our whole family taking on our child’s identity in an incarnational way – willingly laying aside our privileges and preferences to identify with our child’s birth culture and history and weaving it into our family’s new identity.
These trainings were meant to make us count the cost of taking on the responsibility of raising our child who is of a different ethnicity. They wanted us to leave their office grieving the loss of our own ethnicity – not because it’s better, although admittedly it is easier – so we could more adequately understand what our child will go through.
And that’s exactly the effect it had on us. We left accepting the fact that although our skin color will not change, collectively as a family, we had to be willing to see ourselves and be seen as the ethnicity of our child. So we knew we needed to prepare to experience racism ourselves for the first time in our lives. My mom already had when she told someone we were pursuing an African American placement. The individual said, “Really?! Well, it will be fine when that child is small, but Matt and Erica just need to be prepared for what that child will become as an adult.”
Blatant racism that minority cultures have been dealing with for decades. May God help us and use our family for his glory and our good and greatest joy!