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Adopting a Child of Another Race: Part 2

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As the parents of two adopted, biracial sons, I can honestly say we don't see color. We see our children the way birth parents see their kids: young people to love, guide and care for.

That concept was lost on my father, who grew up in an era when minstrel shows were funny and many blacks spent their lives in the back of the bus or last in line for any meaningful opportunity.

When we brought our first adopted, biracial baby to my boyhood home for the first time, my dad suggested we "teach him to tap dance" or "make sure he's a prizefighter." When Dad and I took my son to the Fourth of July parade in my hometown and I saw my first-grade teacher, Dad went out of his way to tell her "he's adopted," as if he needed to reassure her that her long-ago pupil didn't marry "a colored girl."

With that exception, we haven't really had issues with adopting a child of a different race from our own.

We live in a small college town. Even though the people are guarded and assume everyone who moves in will someday move out, they're used to nearly every race of people. If they don't try to form friendships, they at least treat people well on the surface. Our oldest son had a typical childhood filled with swimming at the pool on summer days, playing city rec league baseball and starring as the male lead in a production of "Singin' in the Rain," all with no thought to being "black." He was, and is, simply himself.

The challenges we faced as parents of an adopted child were the same as any other parent experiences. Stepping on a Lego in the middle of the night hurts every bit as much when left on the floor by a child who does not share your bloodline. (And while it would probably serve them right, you love them enough to not wake them up by holding in a scream as the hard plastic Lego digs into your foot.)

You also hurt just as much for the child when the driver's test doesn't work out, he doesn't get the part-time job, he gets stood up on prom night or he breaks his leg playing football. And when the adopted, biracial child shows off his new license, goes to work for the first time, has a great time at the prom with his date and his friends or scores a touchdown, you share his joy and beam even wider.

That collection of moments, from the Point A of introduction to the child to Point B of the young man going out into the world to see what he can make of it, means just as much to the adoptive parent with children of any race as to natural parents. Would we go back and take on the challenge and blessing of adopting a child of a different race again? In a heartbeat.

Also in this series

Adopting a Child of Another Race, Part 1: Nearly 75 percent of U.S. adopted children of color are welcomed into white parent homes

Adopting a Child of Another Race, Part 3: Finding a sense of belonging in a different culture



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