Straddling Two Worlds: Transracial Adoption and the Authenticity of Blackness
“You are my worst fear realized,” a black woman—and complete stranger—said to me after I concluded my keynote speech. She continued, “I came to hear you speak, and you have confirmed my worst fears. You aren’t a true black person.”
I am part of the first wave of transracial adoptees (I’m black, my parents are white) who grew up in a closed and secret adoption (I had no contact with my biological parents, nor did they know where I was). I was invited to speak at a national adoption conference to share how finally meeting my biological family helped me weave my racial identity together. Prior to taking the stage, I’d engaged in small talk with this same woman, completely unaware that I was speaking to a former member of the National Association of Black Social Workers, and one of the authors of a scathing rebuke (pdf) of transracial adoption. This was a woman who “…stands against the placement of black children in white homes for any reason...a white home is not a suitable placement...”
Donning my brightest smile, I stood confidently on stage and shared the beginnings of my life. I was abandoned at a Tennessee hospital, nameless and with a diagnosis of “failure to thrive.” After a few days, I was moved to my first foster home, where I remained for a year while social workers searched specifically for black parents to adopt me. But no one came. Instead, I was adopted by a white couple in Washington state. I didn’t see my birth family or my community of origin for 26 years.
Read my full article HERE.