This just is just an observation that I've made lately...so take it for what it's worth. Trans-racial adoptions have many complexities -- and this is one of them.
Before Vince and I returned home with Micah -- actually, before we even submitted our application to adopt from Ethiopia, we frequently discussed how outsiders might perceive our family -- both white and black people. Living in the deep-south we expected some resistance to our trans-racial family, but we just weren't sure what that resistance would look like. The sad reality is, in the US skin color has been at the root of many problems for many years...long before Micah was born...long before I was born. (So please understand I do not share this observation flippantly.)
No, I did not expect the African-American community to do black-flips because a Caucasian couple adopted an Ethiopian child, BUT, I did not expect the coldness either. I'm not completely sure how to process the blank stares and looks of contempt. Sometimes it's the lack of eye-contact that is most noticeable...I don't think we'd earn a glance even if we were standing next to Jesus.
Part of me wants to share our story with these strangers, but then part of me wants to simply glare back. Most often I just look away...at a loss to initiate some type of connection. I'm not sure if the image of our family elicits insult -- i.e. you can't get it right, so we're going to do it for you??? NOTE: our goal in parenting an African child is not so we can make him white!!!! People with light skin are equally as screwed up as people with darker skin!! What's even more complex about the situation is that Micah is not even African-American...he's Ethiopian. Kind of like, though I have light skin I still have NOTHING in common with someone from Eastern Europe...other than skin color. (An African-American friend pointed this out to us...his culture is completely different from the Ethiopian culture.) So, to be nit-picky about it, Micah is Ethiopian-American, not African-American -- we will raise him according to this Ethiopian heritage. But, I digress...
On the other hand, white folks have their own unique reaction to us...which, interestingly enough, I often find insulting. Comments like, "Oh, he's much better off now..." Really? Why? Because we're white Americans?? I kind of understand their thinking: access to better health care and education are definitely benefits. But, those opportunities are not the end-all-be-all --- they don't necessarily out-purpose the opportunity to remain in one's home land with one's birth family. Micah has not been adopted into our family because America is superior or more resourced, but because God works all things (in Micah's case, all things being some very sad circumstances) together for good (my paraphrase, Rom 8:28).
So, I have been trying to view our family through the eyes of strangers. What would be my knee-jerk reaction be if I encountered an African-American family with Caucasian children? Would I do a double-take? Probably. But, would I experience anger toward that family? Oh, I pray not!! What look do other trans-racial families read on my face?
This is the attitude I strive for, even while being misunderstood by suspicious on-lookers:
Ga 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Col 3:11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
...again, just thought-processing in hope of greater understanding...
UPDATE: SHORTLY AFTER WRITING THIS POST, MICAH & I VENTURED OUT TO TARGET WHERE WE WERE TREATED VERY KINDLY BY TWO (YOUNG-20S) AFRICAN AMERICAN GIRLS...MAYBE THE VIBE I'M CATCHING HERE & THERE IS JUST A GENERATIONAL THING...