Black Girls Are Not Your Prop
It starts innocently enough. I truly believe that. But it happens. And it happened again recently. I had shared something about Penelope on social media and the DMs started coming in. Most of them were hearts and love from close family and friends and some (as usual) were from a few people who had either adopted themselves or were considering it. The adoption community is tiiiggghhhtt and as soon as someone even whispers that they need help navigating the space most of us who have gone down the road buzz around willing to happily drop words of encouragement, guidance or support.
So I clicked to open up another DM and it started out innocently enough. A woman was reaching out because she was interested in adoption, in fact, she felt “led”. Great. Love that. But then it was said. The thing that takes it from me wanting to be super helpful and dish out all my resources to me tightening up and feeling super defensive about my daughter.
Something was said along the lines of “I feel led to adopt a black child”. She, a white woman, felt led to adopt a black child.
First, let me set the record straight in our own scenario. We, a white couple, sought out adoption to be our way to become parents. We, a white couple, were race, gender and ability neutral when it came to which child we wanted to adopt. We, a white couple, got the call 7 months into the process from our Agency that a woman of color would like to place her baby with us.
Six months later we became proud first time parents to Penelope (a baby of color).
Since then I’ve fielded comments that have questioned our ability as white people to raise her properly (yes, from someone at Target) to how it must feel like I have my “own Barbie doll to play with” when I do her hair to asking if our birth mom was on drugs to someone asking us if Penelope was from Africa.
All of these, to me, have a foundation in racism. And so is “feeling led to adopt a black child”. Black people have a long history of feeling put on display and being adored/feared/judged for their “exotic” features. There is also a “white savior” concept that has existed in regards to white people stepping in to POC places to “fix” them.
Adoption also has a long history of being looked at like adoptive parents are “saving” children and are “lucky” to have been placed with their child.
Let me tell you there is nothing “lucky” about a mother deciding that she is not the right fit to raise her own child. That decision is hard, traumatic, devastating and life changing. But that’s an entire other rant.
Listen, if you want to adopt, adopt. For the love there are plenty of babies and children out there in need of loving and safe homes. But do it for the sake of wanting to impact a child’s life that needs you. Not for you to have a prop in your family portrait.
She is not there for you to play dress up and do her hair. She is not there for you to have something exotic in your life. She is a living, breathing human being. One that, in the right time and space, ended up being our daughter.