I have been working on compiling a list of things that I want to share with potential adoptive parents and adoptive parents in general.
I can only speak from my experience as a Chinese adoptee and only speak for myself. Anything written here is not sponsored by China's Children International and is simply my opinion. This is also not a call out post, but rather things I have thought about for a long and hard time that I think are important to say. Ultimately, this post is real, but I hope that through being honest it can be helpful for parents. At the end of the day, I'm here to make sure that adopted kids don't feel as alone in this as I did as a kid. I want smaller versions of me to build a healthy identity and feel worthy, to feel brilliant as they are, and to feel a sense of belonging. And in many ways the adoptive parents have a huge role in this. Thanks for reading!
- If you are adopting from an Asian country because you don’t want a child of color (aka a Black child), stop and reflect and understand that Asians are people of color too. We are labeled as minorities and will be seen as foreigners in the US even though this is our home. If you cannot be an ally to your immigrant, child of color please do not adopt internationally. Also, if you dislike the place the child comes from and are not willing to respect the community from which they come, don’t adopt from there.
- Chinese dance and making dumplings are great (very fun and important)! But I cannot stress how important it is to have real life role models who look like us. The kids need real life examples of adults who look like them, so they don’t feel that they are the only one in the world like themselves. Role models can be found through mentor groups like Connect a Kid.
- Unfortunately, your love does not make issues surrounding adoption go away. The world is unfair and it is naive to believe that the love of the adoptive family will protect a child from racism, issues with identity, and policies that impact them as immigrants and as people of color. Like no amount of love will protect a child who’s adoptive parents didn’t do the correct paperwork for their citizenship. So love your kid, but also stay informed and be willing to be their advocate.
- Adoption comes from loss. While as adoptive parents you might feel “lucky”, just a reminder that another family has lost a child. Please come from a place of humility and know that this child was placed in your life from a previous family. From a real-life family of human beings with feelings and hopes and dreams just like you.
- If your child is not talking about race, identity, birth parents, etc. that does not mean they are not thinking about it (ex: I thought it was normal to be called Chinese kid instead of my name. And so I never told my parents because I thought I deserved the way I was being treated). Dialogue, truly listen, and create a space in which the child feels comfortable talking about this with you. Make sure they know that in talking about birthparents, race, or identity they are not hurting you.
- Finally, Chinese people have been successfully rearing children for thousands of years. So just because the family is poor doesn’t mean that these people are immediately disqualified from raising a child. Indeed, Chinese are highly capable of raising children, they’ve been doing it longer than almost anyone else in the world. So please don’t dehumanize the people of their birth country, people everyday are raised and thrive in China. Instill a sense of pride in your child that they are Chinese and a member of this ancient ancestry.