Acceptance speech

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Here I am applauding my “co-conspirators” right after my award acceptance speech. You can read the transcript of my 2-minute video here:

“First, I’d like to thank the founders of NAME for creating such a welcoming community of dedicated and inspiring activist-scholars. I’d like to thank the current NAME leadership and staff for their tireless labors to sustain an organization that I’m proud to be a part of.

I’d like to thank my friend and mentor, Sonia Nieto, for her support and encouragement over the 37 years that I’ve known her. She is largely responsible for me becoming a teacher, and she introduced me to NAME and what it’s all about.

I’d like to thank my UMass Amherst posse, as well as my colleagues at other institutions, because it truly does take a village to do any of this unglamorous work in education. I say thank you to my sons and my grandchildren, and to my students over the years, for reminding me why the struggle must continue.

And I’d like to say thank you especially to the Indigenous people and nations for allowing me to visit and live in their homelands, and for teaching me in different ways, and for reminding me. For reminding us all, of the debt we owe to their nations.

Lastly, I’d like to thank my different sets of parents: My foster parents, Mr. & Mrs. Kelly who were African American. They started me out in life until I got adopted. They showed me the true meaning of Nikki Giovanni’s poem, “Childhood,” the one where she reminds us, ‘Black love is black wealth.’

I say thank you to my white birth mother and my black birth father, who gave me life. Even though I was not allowed to know them, I thank them for giving me the chance to experience life on planet earth.

And I thank my white adoptive parents, who are both immigrants, who showed me by their example that those imaginary lines called borders are for crossing. They’re bridges, not walls. I thank Mom & Dad for raising me in a progressive faith community, and for making it possible for me to go to college, so that I could join a community of awesome co-conspirators like the people gathered here at this conference.”

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Multicultural Educator of the Year 2017

I am honored to have received the 2017 Multicultural Educator of the Year Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education.

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The photo above shows Dr. Pritchy Smith about to hand me the award (named after him) at the President’s Awards Banquet in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was thrilling to meet him and get to know him on a personal level. Coincidentally, Pritchy has a connection to education in Belize, the Central American nation that I visit with UNL’s College of Education & Human Sciences students.

The criteria state that the educator must show the following as a teacher:

  • There is evidence of long term, scholarly commitment to teaching from a multicultural perspective.
  • There are multiple facets of diversity (e.g., race, ethnicity, social class, gender, language, sexual orientation, exceptionality, belief systems) addressed in the recipient’s work.
  • The recipient is an example of multicultural ideals and practices (e.g., teaching excellence, service in the community, participation in local, regional, or national organizations).
  • The recipient is able to blend theory and practice in a manner that develops awareness, acceptance, and affirmation of diversity.

Past recipients include Carl Grant, Christine Clark, William Howe, Jioanna Carjuzaa, Ann Lopez, Aukram Burton, and Sonia Nieto, among others. I am humbled to be included in this list of distinguished scholar-activists whose work I admire so much.

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Still hoping for change

A few days ago, I received a surprise email from a new student at the university where I work. Her heartfelt message touched me, and she gave me permission to share it with my readers.

I feel grateful that she wrote to me, because it reminded me that the work I have done over the years in the so-called adoption community has made a difference, at least to some people, which is something I often wonder about.

In her message, this student talks about being labeled as a ‘birth mother.’ She alludes to the anguish caused by the momentous decision to place her baby boy for adoption. She basically thanked me for my perspective that tries to bring to the forefront the frequently overlooked participants in the oppressive system that we have come to think of as adoption.

Now that I’ve given you some context, I will share the message sent to me from this birth mother. We agreed that I would not use her name on my blog, for obvious reasons. (And even that right there calls attention to the injustice created through this oppressive system…)

Dear Dr. Raible,

My name is _____. I recently transferred to the university as a nontraditional college student. I was elated to discover that you work for the university as an associate professor. Here’s why:

In 2014, I was pregnant with my first child. It was an unplanned pregnancy, and the only option I had ever considered before this was abortion. But as you know, things change in an instant.

I was contacted by a nonprofit organization in my town at that time that provides services for expectant parents as well as prospective adoptive parents. I soon learned that even before giving birth to my son, I was seen as a birth mother, and trust me, that is a title no one wants to have. Then one day, I came across a quote of yours (please see attached), and it gave me hope, hope that maybe one day birth mothers and birth parents like me will be respected, loved, and held in high esteem, like their children/our children are. Unfortunately, that has not happened for me yet, but I still love looking at your quote from time to time, still hoping for change.

Anyways, I would love to meet with you if you have some time in the next few weeks. Grab a cup of coffee, or whatever works for you. That being said, I look forward to hearing back from you at your earliest convenience!

All my best, ______

She attached the following quote to her email message:

adoption-quote

I plan to ask _______ where she came across the quote. I know that she was not aware of my blog, so I am curious to hear how she found it. I have a few other questions for her, as you might imagine, and I’ll be quite interested to learn more about her perspective and experience.

Anyway, I agreed to get together for coffee, and I will share with her the story of being found recently by my own birth family, thanks to my cousins in California, who took the 23&Me test that finally brought us together.

Damn the agencies, I say. Let’s use the latest advances in DNA science to get around their inhumane policies and the outdated laws they pushed through to keep children from knowing their parents. At the same time, we’ll keep working for justice for adoptees and our first families/birth families.

The power of the pro-adoption lobby that profits literally from the separation of children and parents is intensely hegemonic. The loudest voices in adoption discourse–adopters and those who prey upon them– adoption facilitators, adoption attorneys, and adoption agency executives– make it nearly impossible for us to envision a different way of meeting the needs of children and families in crisis. They make it difficult to imagine how women’s rights, even reproductive rights, include the right to keep and raise one’s children.

Even so, I have come to believe that the days of the pro-adoption lobby are numbered. Mark my words: There will soon come a time when society will eventually awaken to see the adoption business for what it really is: unethical, emotionally and psychologically violent, and essentially untenable from the perspective of human rights. Yet despite their best efforts to maintain business as usual, some of us are still hoping for change.

I will be giving two talks in the Washington, DC area in late February. You can catch me at the Barker Foundation’s annual conference on Saturday, Feb. 22 in Rockville, Maryland.

Talk 1: Preparing Families for the Complexities of Transracial Adoption In this session geared to professionals, participants will learn about the special issues that must be addressed as adoptive parents prepare to raise children in transracial placements. Included topics: Assessing the “preferred qualifications” of potential parents, pre-placement and post-adoption issues, and helping families understand what works and what does not work in transracial parenting.

Talk 2: What Works and What Doesn’t Work in Transracial Families

In this session, Dr. Raible shares research-based strategies that support the development of healthy individuals and relationships in families formed through transracial adoption. Participants will come away with a “To Do” list of practical steps that families can take to address the complexities of race and adoption.

One of the best Adoption conferences…

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It’s time to plan your trip to NYC for the Adoption Initiative Conference hosted by St. Johns University and Montclair State University. We’ve moved it from its usual spot in October to the Spring of 2014, and to a new site, the Queens campus of St. Johns. Mark your calendar for May 29-31!

If you want to present at this amazing conference, click here to submit your proposals. The link takes you to the conference website.

This biennial event promises to deliver another round of thoughtful, critical perspectives on adoption for researchers, students, clinicians, social workers, adoptees, family members, and others interested in understanding the complexities of the adoption experience. See you in New York at our new conference location!