This has been quite the summer for me what with travelling to California for the Pact Family Camp in July and only having returned recently from Colorado where I attended the NACAC Conference. The chance to have spoken with so many parents at both venues this summer has been fabulous. I also believe being able to partake in a variety of the sessions available to children and making friends with those same children was very rewarding and the best part of all!!
I am looking at things a little more clearly now after having had the opportunity to listen to the variety of people, including social workers, counsellors, and others who appear to be fairly involved at the initial stage of placing the rainbow of children in care with families. Unfortunately where the breakdown seems to be starting for so many adoptees is within the system those same children are a part of.
The system breaks down by not ensuring the staff are all being educated enough with race issues in their own offices and then taking the same training to the families who are interested in adopting a child of colour. Offering courses after the fact is absolutely not acceptable because not everyone is taking the courses - especially not the child welfare workers to begin with!
There is no way that these children are being offered the best choice when the parents who are adopting them do not, have not and may not, ever decide to have any other people of colour in their lives besides the children they adopt or the ones whom they see when they participate in their annual heritage or family camps. These children are not being given an opportunity to be raised knowing their parents are confident and secure around the many people of colour in our society - the occasional few in their passing lives is definitely not good enough. It never has been and it never will be!
The children need to see their parents with and around people who look like them from the very beginning of their adoption. It is not good enough to take a class or attend a conference or workshop that is based on transracial adoption after the child has been placed within the family setting. Parents need to have already joined groups with people of colour in them - they need to already have friends whom they socialize with on a regular basis - they need to bring race into their daily lives as much as it will be in the child's daily life.
What is it the parents are so ashamed of? What are they hiding from? What are they afraid of when there is nothing of colour in their life until a little workshop has been attended and THEN all of a sudden it sounds like they now need to have a friend who is of colour in their life. NO WAY! Totally unacceptable and completely unfair to the children who are now becoming a part of their white family and will definitely have some questions or situations throughout life as a person of colour and having a family who has not participated in the colour of their lives throughout their life, is showing their children that the people who look like them are not good enough for them, as parents, to be friends with. How is that a benefit for the children of colour now that they are home in their new family? How does this help them to grow into strong people who feel a sense of pride being amongst other people of colour when their own parents would not acknowledge and befriend those some people of colour?
Children are growing up with parents and in the system with people who are trying their best to do what they think is what the kids need however what the kids need is to be considered in the equation. I understand, as a parent myself, how one would say some things are too much for a young child to understand or comprehend or if a parent wants to "protect" the child from the many dangers of society, of the world. However, when a child is shielded or treated as inferior to parents because the parent believes everything would be fine in the end, this is actually more harming to the child than helpful. Every child goes through the growing up phase in life and when parents pretend their child is not old enough to understand or handle situations, especially race issues, the child can grow up with an uneasy feeling towards self and how many parents really want that?
There are many ways for parents to ensure a healthy happy child who feels confident and secure from within. The books in this series are a definite asset to have in ones library - positive messages to increase a positive feeling towards self is what all children need. What better time to instil confidence in our children than from the very beginning of their lives - reading with them, providing reading material for them, and consistently being there for them in every way is so important and is something I will continue to provide for my children and for the many children out there in the world!!!