I was at a high school basketball game the other night with my family. We sat in the bleachers, side by side, eating snacks and cheering loudly. Go, Tigers, Go! Patience was to my left. Little Man on my lap. Andy and the boys to my right.
That's when it hit me.
She didn't notice. At least not on a conscious level. But she will. At a basketball game some day in the not-too-distant future, she will become painfully aware of her minority status. And my heart is having a hard time figuring out what to do with that.
Some people do not approve of transracial adoption. They are aware of the many pitfalls of the practice, the potential for trauma and identity challenges, the loss of a child's cultural heritage, etc. - and they speak out against it. Other people approach transracial adoption with a "savior complex," as in, "look at all those poor black (or Filipino, or Indian, or whatever) children wasting away in orphanages, I must save them!"
At different times over the past three years, I've gone back and forth between "What have I done? I've ruined my daughter's life" and "She would've died if not for me" and everything in between. I've lain awake at night wondering what her life would've been like if we had not adopted her. Better? Worse? Maybe not better or worse - maybe just different. I don't know. I will never know.
Is transracial adoption a good thing? Would it be better if a child was adopted by a family of their same race? Would it be best if they had no need to be adopted at all, but could grow up with their biological family?
Part of me wants to answer YES to all of the above. But I can't. There are too many ifs, what ifs, buts, excepts, and maybes to give any real answer. There's no way to guarantee a child even a halfway decent childhood whether they're adopted or not.
Maybe Patience would've been better off with a black mother who would remember to put lotion on her legs every single day and could figure out how to do cornrows. Maybe she would be farther along in her development if she'd been adopted by a family who had experience with her particular kind of special needs. Maybe our family is not actually - gulp - the BEST thing that could've happened to her. But is our family good? Is a GOOD family better than no family even if it's not BEST?
These are the kinds of questions that run through my mind when I look around a very white high school gym and imagine my very black daughter playing there some day. I think about the people who would say I was selfish to take her from her native country and raise her in a white community. People who would say transracial adoption must be abolished before any more children fall victim to cultural identity loss.
And I wonder, and I fret, and I ask God to work everything out for good. And I ask Him to honor my imperfect efforts on my daughter's behalf and I pray she will have a happy, successful life regardless of whether it's because of us or in spite of us.
Then I kiss her nose and tell her how beautiful she is. And that's when I know that even if we're not the best thing that could've happened to her, she's the best thing that could've happened to us.