Wednesday, February 18, 2009

International Adoption and Racial Attitudes

Another race question. International adoption is a wonderful thing allowing children to find adoptive parents who love them, who deeply want children, and who live in sufficient affluence to give children who might not have such opportunities in the lands of their birth a chance to find their own dreams. It is becoming not uncommon because of this to see children and parents of noticeably different ethnic backgrounds. My children have several friends who look nothing like their parents and think of the parents, simply as their friends' parents. Heritable properties and family resemblances will not be part of their lived sense of family.

Will this result in a separation between race and culture? We had a candidate a couple weeks ago who argued that Latino identity was a result of culturally constructed, but lived community experience. In the case of international adoption, the lived experience may have nothing to do with the culture of the birth parents. Is there a loss if the culture of your birth is not a part of your life, but the culture of your raising is? If a Jewish adoptive father and English adoptive mother together raise a Salvadorean child, does it even make sense to ask whether she is Salvadorean or Latina? Is it how she is treated in the culture or in the community? If it is in the wider culture, will the prevalence of international adoption change how we treat people who aren't white?