Thursday, February 11, 2010

An Unexpected Opportunity to Share

Tonight our agency held its first panel discussion group about trans-racial adoption. Originally Michael and I were asked to speak on the panel; however, the community response was overwhelming for the agency so they politely asked us to be audience members instead. The email we received said something to the effect of, "The response to our proposed meeting about trans-racial adoption has been very positive with many more people than we anticipated agreeing to be on the panel of speakers. Several adult adoptees have been added to the panel, which will allow less time for adoptive parents to speak."

Honestly when I got that email my reaction was mixed. I was one part relieved because we've been so busy and this was one less thing to add to the list but the other side of me was miffed because, although I am by no means an expert, this is one topic about which I do have a lot of thoughts. Besides--what adoptive parent doesn't want an opportunity to share their story?

So whatever, I let it go. Michael ended up having to work tonight anyway and today was an exceptionally busy day for me at school. I decided I would attend the meeting as an audience member and absorb what new information I could. For some reason I had it in my head that the meeting started at 7:00 but it was actually scheduled for 7:30. It was a good thing I arrived early though because one of the panel members was unable to attend. When I heard that, I ceased the opportunity and volunteered to sit on the panel in her place. As my SW said after the meeting was over, "it was serendipitous."

I'm so glad I got to share our story! I felt like a valuable part of the group of speakers and it was so nice to look out into the crowd and see 20+ families, most of whom were listening intently to see if trans-racial adoption was something they could envision for themselves down the road.

The panel was amazing. There were four members from one family consisting of 11 children, eight of whom were adopted. The parents were there, along with their son and daughter, both of whom were African-American adult adoptees. There was a woman I've met a few times in the past who has adopted three children through our agency, two of whom are African-American, there was an adult adoptee from Columbia, there was a man with whom Michael works who, along with his wife, adopted their now three-year-old bi-racial son when he was a year old, there was me, and there was my good friend and her husband whose daughter is almost two and is of Hindu Indian dissent. Quite an interesting mixture of speakers to be sure.

We were each given a few minutes to introduce ourselves and share a little bit of our story with the audience, which was pretty powerful. After that they opened up the floor for general Q & A. Some of my favorite quotes from the evening were:
  • "You know, if we hadn't adopted our children, five or six of them wouldn't have lived."
  • "You love who you love, it's not about color."
  • A first-graders response to the question, "Why are those white people your parents?" "Because they adopted us! And besides, my dad is pink."
Many of the topics addressed tonight were issues I discussed in my recent post about race. The main points I took away from the meeting were things most of us already know but which still serve as good reminders. The bottom line is that while there are intrinsic issues surrounding it, trans-racial adoption is very doable. With the wealth of knowledge and information out there, combined with networking such as this meeting afforded me and others like me, white adoptive parents can and do raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted children even when physical and cultural identity are completely different.

I let the meeting tonight feeling really good about what our future holds and about us as the unique and valuable family we are.


Evergreen said...

I'm so glad you got to share your story. and show off Charlie! And I love yesterday's post and pictures. THOSE EYES!

Wendy said...

I'm so glad that you got to talk during the meeting, too. I always looked forward to the meetings our agency had when we got to listen to adoptive parents speak - we walked away feeling like we really learned something.

Glad it went so well!

Patti said...

Glad you got to share, there and here :)

Just Believing said...

Great post I Got a lot of unwanted comments today about Faith being hispanic and us white and it annoyed the crap out of I am really glad you posted this today!

Rebekah said...

So cool Melba! We've only been asked to speak once at our agency, but I was thrilled! I love telling our story - it never gets old.

Karen said...

There is real power in a public forum to share your story and your thoughts...I'm so glad you got the opportunity!

Lane said...

You are an inspiration!

M.B. said...

So cool you got to be a part of that!!! I love the "you love who you love" quote! That's great.

Tracey said...


Kelly said...

How exciting! God had his and in that for sure! Yes, you love who you love...sometimes that's the best way to sum it up!