This is what happens when people who adopt internationally are not
informed/prepared/or are in denial about the fact that their children
are immigrants (and mostly immigrants of color). And that they will
grow up to be people of color and sometimes perceived as "foreigners"
and "immigrants" for the rest of their lives.
It is also a reminder to me that just because an internationally or transracially adopted individual can
be loved "unconditionally" by their adoptive parent, it doesn’t
automatically mean that said adoptive parent is aware of their racist
and prejudicial biases. And that these biases can be subtly woven into
the fabric of the family in such a way that the adopted person
internalizes rather than recognizes it for what it is.
The following is a chain e-mail that my adoptive parents sent to me
this past year. Reading this will explain why I bother to dialogue with
adoptive parents about the importance of recognizing the internalized
values of racism, prejudice and superiority that white parents might
project on to their adopted child of color, if the parents don’t look
inside and do some work before the kids come into the home.
Even as a 37-year old woman, this e-mail cut to the bone and made me
feel completely pushed out of the family, who proposes to love me "like
one of their own."
Samuel Thompson wrote:
I don’t believe in Santa Claus, but I’m not going to sue somebody
for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I don’t agree with Darwin, but
I didn’t go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught
his theory of evolution.
Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered
because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game. So
what’s the big deal? It’s not like somebody is up there reading the
entire book of Acts. They’re just talking to a God they believe in and
asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans
going home from the game.
"But it’s a Christian prayer," some will argue. Yes, and this is the
United States of America, a country founded on Christian principles.
And we are in the Bible Belt. According to our very own phone book,
Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1.
So what would you expect? Somebody chanting Hare Krishna?
If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a
Jewish prayer. If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to
hear a Muslim prayer. If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would
expect to hear someone pray to Buddha. And I wouldn’t be offended. It
wouldn’t bother me one bit. When in Rome…
"But what about the atheists?" is another argument. What about them?
Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We’re not going to pass the
Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that’s asking too much, bring a
Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the
concession stand. Call your lawyer.
Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell
thousands what they can and cannot do. I don’t think a short prayer at
a football game is going to shake the world’s foundations.
Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights.
Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating, to
pray before we go to sleep. Our Bible tells us just to pray without
Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease
praying. God, help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well …
just sue me.
The silent majority has been silent too long. It’s time we let that
one or two who scream loud enough to be heard, know that the vast
majority don’t care what they want.
It is time the majority rules! It’s time we tell them, you don’t
have to pray. You don’t have to say the pledge of allegiance, you don’t
have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That is your
right, and we will honor your right. But by golly you are no longer
going to take our rights away. We are fighting back… And we WILL WIN!
After all, the God you have the right to denounce is on our side! God
bless us one and all … especially those who denounce Him. God bless
America, despite all her faults … still the greatest nation of all.
God bless our service men who are fighting to protect our right to pray
and worship God.
May this be the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions.
Keep looking up… If you agree with this, please pass it on. If not, delete it!!
Of course, I didn’t pass it on, but I didn’t delete it either. I
chose to save it, as a reminder of what those who are not in the
majority have to deal with.
I also chose to share with my mother (the one who sent the email to
me) why this was offensive to me. I understand that she either forgot
that I wasn’t white (the most likely theory), or believed I had
internalized a white, fundamentalist Christian world view (which she
clearly KNOWS I haven’t).
In sharing this, which some of you may find shocking, my point is
not to ilicit comments about how racist my adoptive parents are. It’s
to highlight that adoptive parents may not understand to what extent
their world views and values might subtly (or not so subtly) hurt their
I decided to share this with you because recently, two well-known
adoption agency forums have brought out similar type responses by
adoptive parents, especially in light of the experiences or views of
adult adoptees. The most recent one had such arrogant and hostile
comments that I have to say I was taken aback, and I think I hear a lot
of negative things from adoptive parents in my work.
There are still adoptive parents out there who believe that racism
doesn’t exist. There are adoptive parents who believe that when we
adoptees talk about our experiencs of racism we are just "whining" or
attention-seeking. Yet they send out e-mails like this, or participate
on adoption forums and list serves with this kind of language.
There are still adoptive parents out there who find nothing wrong
with the e-mail I posted above and won’t understand why it’s offensive.
Five years ago, if my mother had sent me this e-mail, I would have been angry and just deleted it.
This year I responded.
And that is why I am still here, talking about it and writing about it. And making sure that adoptees have a space to be heard.