Things They Never Tell You: Reflections From My Interracial Adoption

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Things they Never Tell the Parents

Any self-respecting psychologist is going to tell you that adopting interracially is going to create some challenges. Translation: you and probably everyone else involved is going to lose their shit.

There isn’t going to be a self-help book that will hold your hand for the ignorant people whom will suddenly and passionately believe that commenting on your family is their job. 

Friends and family members will suddenly start Googling interracial adoptions. In their earnestness, you will begin to be swamped with stories. And more stories. They will only be horror stories. You will wonder if you can live life in a forest somewhere without any technology or people. 

You will contemplate changing your answer machine to a compilation of highly offensive swear words just so that anyone who wants to tell you something urgent has to stomach all of that first.

You will learn to say things like, “yes, they are my real child,” “no, I am not a saint for adopting this (insert nationality/ethnicity/race here) orphan,” and “of course I love all of my children the same.”

Side-eyeing that stranger clutching her purse while staring directly at your children for ten straight minutes does in fact make your eyes hurt. But hell, you will persevere.

It is in fact still illegal to accidentally strangle and burn the stranger that just told your adopted child that he/she/it/they were lucky enough that someone actually wanted them

To that family member reminding you again for the seventy-seventh time that her friend’s best friend’s son knew someone that read an article that an interracially adopted child cooked their entire adoptive family and ate them. Yeah, blood isn’t always thicker than water. Or fire. Or an ocean.

To your mother-in-law who keeps asking what you’re going to do about all of the problems. Because, you know, these kids are really damaged. And, like, I guess you can always return them if it doesn’t work. Sometimes, it is okay to really say: STFU

You are enough

Unconditional love is transformational and can break one thousand walls 

You will make mistakes

You will need a village

Trust your village

You will be one of the most important advocates for your child

Diversity and inclusivity matters

Things they Never Tell the Interracial Adoptee
You are probably going to lose your shit

When you do lose it, get prepared for a label like: Reactionary, Physically Aggressive, Troublesome, Provocative, Attention-Seeking, Disruptive, Obnoxious or Developmentally Delayed 

People will stare. All the damn time

You will learn to say no, I’m not a “fresh air” kid

You will wonder if they really do love you the same as “all their real kids”

People will classify you as real or not real. 

You will begin to wonder if you are real

Yes, being called an “orphan that nobody wanted, not even your parents” is probably every bully’s favorite phrase to use in Middle School

Ignorant Predominate White Institutions (PWI’s) mixed with religion can be dangerous and painful

You still matter even when you feel like you don’t

You are still enough

That emotional roller coaster will sometimes control you but it doesn’t always have to

You are still enough

Not everyone deserves an answer 

You are still worth loving

You are not alone

Your voice counts

Your parents will trigger you

Reactive Attachment Disorder: no one ever truly “graduates,” but you can manage it and transform into something that feels almost beautiful

You are still enough

It is okay to feel the pain even when you aren’t sure what words go with it

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