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
How many of us in the “adoption community,” particularly in the USA, know about the heartfelt apology issued in March 2013 by the Australian government?
I want you to read the short letter from Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Read the ENTIRE thing! In fact, read it out loud. It’s not long. But it does capture the pain and frustration that many TRAs, other adoptees, birth mothers and other first family members, and various adoption reformers (and let’s not forget adoption abolitionists) have been injecting into the dominant pro-adoption narrative. These perspectives go largely unheard or dismissed as “too negative” because they do not “celebrate” adoption.
Deeply moved as I read the apology, I found myself muttering, “Wow” repeatedly. Does it change the material conditions of living people’s realities? By itself, no, of course not. But as a symbolic gesture, the Australian government’s apology is a start in the right direction of dismantling the hegemonic influence of an adoption industry that woefully under-serves children and families. In other words, I read the apology as an act by a collective of individuals who are beginning to hold themselves accountable for participating in a corrupt, harm-causing, hugely skewed system that is rooted in systemic oppression.
PLEASE DO READ IT. It is short and poignant. In fact, share it with the adoptees in your life, adoptees of all ages. I want my sons to read it. I think they will feel empowered, validated, and recognized. At last. It won’t take away their pain, but I am certain that it will send a message that they are finally seen, that their experience has been affirmed by people in power.
That’s how I felt, as an adoptee and as an adoptive parent. Allies, I DARE you to read it to younger children and youth. And then ask them what they think. Don’t be surprised if they burst into tears. That should be a lesson. Be ready to bear witness to the accumulated pain from the trauma of relinquishment or abandonment, from foster care, and from adoption. And if you are too scared to share this letter of apology with adoptees, then ask yourself this: “If I am too afraid to bear witness to their pain, as an adult or as a ally, how can I possibly deny them access to and connections with individuals that are making sense of a similar experience?” The least we can do is encourage younger and older adoptees to connect with each other to form supportive relationships.
CLICK ON THE LINK TO READ THE APOLOGY NOW: Nationalapologyforforcedadoptions
Distribute it widely. Let’s have this sort of courageous conversation here in North America. Finally. And thank you, Australia.
NOTE: You can leave your comment at the end of the post (down where it says “Like This” and “Replies”).
It’s your turn, dear readers! I invite you to send me your answers to the following questions:
What do you get out of reading blogs by adult adoptees (such as this one)?
What have you learned?
How does reading adoptee blogs make you feel?
How does it make you a better person?
I really need to know. Reply and I will post your responses.
Also, it will be helpful to know if you wear any of these hats:
–brother or sister of an adoptee
–social worker in adoption/foster care
–youth in foster care
–another connection to adoption and foster care (please let me know what it is)
I anxiously await your responses…You don’t have to use your name, either. And thanks in advance!