Thursday, April 30, 2009

What If Blacks Adopted Whites??

Raising Katie
What adopting a white girl taught a black family about race

Several pairs of eyes follow the girl as she pedals around the playground in an affluent suburb of Baltimore. But it isn't the redheaded fourth grader who seems to have moms and dads of the jungle gym nervous on this recent Saturday morning. It's the African-American man—six feet tall, bearded and wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt—watching the girl's every move. Approaching from behind, he grabs the back of her bicycle seat as she wobbles to a stop. "Nice riding," he says, as the fair-skinned girl turns to him, beaming. "Thanks, Daddy," she replies. The onlookers are clearly flummoxed.

As a black father and adopted white daughter, Mark Riding and Katie O'Dea-Smith are a sight at best surprising, and at worst so perplexing that people feel compelled to respond. Like the time at a Pocono Mountains flea market when Riding scolded Katie, attracting so many sharp glares that he and his wife, Terri, 37, and also African-American, thought "we might be lynched." And the time when well-intentioned shoppers followed Mark and Katie out of the mall to make sure she wasn't being kidnapped.

Read more here.

This article is intensely interesting to me. I'm fairly confident I would respond in similar fashion, not because I stereotype blacks as violent, but because this type of transracial adoption is so very rare. As a transracial adoptive mom, I'm very aware of biracial families and I have never seen a family that "looks like" this one.
It is very interesting, though, how very different are the responses I get to my biracial family.

What do you think?


Angela said...

I think I would have responded much the same way as the people in the article. Not because I think black men are menacing, but because I have NEVER seen a black couple adopt a white child before. I do however find families of mixed races beautiful. Everytime I see one I think of Heaven and how beautiful it will be to see all races, in community, praising God.

Dustinsdreamer said...

I've seen Black men with white children around here because they are dating or married to the children's white mother. I've never seen a black couple adopt a white child, though.

I have no issues with adoption outside of your race. But I do understand why a black couple would. I can understand not wanting to face the judgement that this family does on a daily basis. It's very sad. It's an awesome thing they are doing and not just because of the race issue. Adoption is wonderful and so many children are in need of loving homes. It's sad that the color of someone's skin could interfere with a child getting what he/she needs.

Faith said...

It is truly sad that this is not more common and that we, even as transracial adoptive parents, would have to second guess the situation. Very interesting though. Would you mind if I put this up on my blog too?

Ginger said...

Ha! Angela, that's exactly what I said!

Faith, help yourself. :)

Rachel said...

Thanks for popping over on my blog for my give away!! AND now another great blog for me to follow. Your family is beautiful and I look forward to reading!!!

The Herd said...

Now this is a new concept for me to...but beautiful!!!
Thanks for sharing this one!

Janelle said...

I find this very interesting. I am a bit amused by the comment "I'm fairly confident I would respond in similar fashion, not because I stereotype blacks as violent, but because this type of transracial adoption is so very rare."

Don't get me wrong, it is good that you are honest about that, but you may find that you have to dig deeper to find the root of this. Just my .02 cents of course.

When I met my husband I remember how incredibly uncomfortable he was about black men dating/marrying white women. Yet here he was doing the reverse, and thinking nothing of it. Why the double standard?

For all of you transracial adoptive parents, I would like you to consider how you would feel if this dad were your son. The reality is that people seem to feel that black kids that are raised by whites are going to be or do better, than if they were raised by a black family. Is that true?

How many opportunites do you give your black/hispanic/asian children to really experience and interact with their culture and heritage? Or do you try to steer them clear of it? Are you preparing them for the reality of what they will face when they leave the comfort of your home? How will they be received before the world finds out that they have white parents?

I pray that you all will take a deeper look at this matter and see just how much work there is to be done for true healing to be possible.

Ginger said...

The root is this: I have never seen a black family with white children. We live in a big city and I have never seen it. I'm sure I would probably give them a double-take myself, wondering if that child belonged to those parents or not. Just like people look at my family that way.
Why was your hubby uncomfortable with black men marrying white women?? I don't get that. And I don't understand why people think black kids are better off with white parents. Are whites somehow inherently better people?? That has not been my experience.
Why would you assume that we are trying to make our black kids turn white? We want them to embrace their culture and heritage. We talk about and read about it a lot.
We talk to them frequently about the way the world thinks. But God is sovereign. He is so much bigger than the opinions of man.

Niles, Langston, & Katie said...

Thanks for posting this to your site. My goal for allowing my family to be featured in Newsweek was to broaden the conversation about race. This is particularly important given the media attention to "post-racial America". I appreciate that you are adding to the dialogue.