A place to start

Once upon a time, I thought that white people who adopted kids of color might be a little further along in their education about race and racism.  Of course I also once believed that college-educated people (and in particular college professors) were similarly enlightened.  And I used to wait up for Santa Claus, too.

When I first started encountering white adoptive parents with kids of color, especially Asian kids, it was dismaying.  And discouraging.  And heart-breaking.  And painful.  And worse yet, sometimes these parents wanted to become my new best friend.

I wanted to think that these parents were anomalies.  Outliers.  The exception that proved the rule.  But they kept coming.  I tried not to see.  Still more came.

So I started wondering where the agencies were in the educational process.  Because I was still thinking about good old Santa.

Santa gives you presents. Apparently adoption agencies do too.

This agency (CCI) sent a waiting parent a t-shirt that reads “Special Delivery from Ethiopia.”  (The parent was apparently thrilled.)  It has a monkey on the front.  But there was more:

A stuffed monkey, too.  Probably Costco was all sold out of the “Lil’ Monkey” dolls.

As we’ve written about adoption commodification on this blog frequently enough to make people’s eyes glaze over and give them extra froth at the mouth, we won’t go into the whole “special delivery” thing.  Just.  Don’t.  Do.  It.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time an agency’s representatives had some ill-thought-out ideas about what might be fitting for adoptive parents.

More adoption commodification here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

6 thoughts on “A place to start

  1. Horrifying. It is my understanidng that this particular agency is one of the worst, least ethical outfits operating in Ethiopia.

  2. I think that tide is turning in the blogosphere. These kids of ridiculous things cater to parents in the waiting process who still have “theoretical kids.” Not that it’s ok, even then, but they’re not thinking about the feelings of the very real people who will come into their families. Sometimes it takes years after placement. There are a bunch of us AP’s (white or not) who find this stuff every bit as offensive as you do. Adopting across racial/national lines means taking on an additional responsibility in raising a child to be comfortable in his or her own identity. Some of us truly do get that, I promise. But you’re right, it’s NOT in the up-front education at many agencies, and that’s a real problem.

  3. I too was HORRIFIED when I saw this blog post. Not only that some soon to be parent out there found these gifts to be acceptable, but also that some other adult out there came up with this idea, and NO ONE along the way thought it to be inappropriate!
    But lets remember, adoption in this country is COMPLETELY unregulated, ANYONE (including someone who thinks they are Santa) can start an adoption agency. Anyone!

  4. Just to make it clear, the problem is not the “offense” so much as it is the reinforcement of dehumanizing images and systemic racism.

    Like KT said, you have to wonder how exactly nobody thought twice about this.

  5. I remember telling one of my sisters that its more likely that an upper class Caucasian will have more racist tendencies than a lower class one because they might interact with no people of colour and so never get their white supremacist ideas challenged by folks whose very existence prove them wrong

  6. How can any agency that does not see the children (whose interest they are supposed to be looking out for) as human be any good. When I think of the abuse and other things that they are probably perpetuating that we do not know of its scary.

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