Great commentary on people who have the wrong motives for adopting transracially–i.e., to “rescue” an infant of color. On a personal note, I was dismayed to learn that Sandra Bullock opted for unnecessary genital modification of Louie and that his circumcision was a “happy moment” for her. Both of my sons (bio and adopted) are intact because my husband and I firmly believe that the decision to circumcise belongs solely to the person whose body will be permanently affected by the surgery. It is not a parent’s “right” to make that kind of decision.
I respect your comments on the Sandra Bullocks adoption. However, my issue is with your statement about adopting from a breeder. Adopting a dog from a breeder is by no means rescuing a dog. It is promoting the over breeding of dogs. If you truly want to resuce a dog go to your local animal shelter and save a dog or cat. Many of them have come from a breeder.
Wondering what term IS appropriate in regards to preventing a child from having to stay in the system, or preventing them from entering the system through adoption… Thoughts?
We are adopting yes, because we want more children in our family, but we chose adoption versus more biological children because of the great need–the need for children in the world who have no parents, to have parents. Are not children who are adopted indeed rescued from those things a life without a family would possibly bring? Vulnerability, no advocate, no haven, no unconditional love, no comfort/support/fill-in-the-blank, being in the system or an institution (we’re adopting domestically and internationally), etc. etc.
Maybe it’s the idea that if someone uses the words “save” or “rescue”, there would be many people who would doubt that something less than pure love is a motivation (just wanting to do a “good deed” perhaps?)? I guess you touched on that in your video, saying that if someone enters adoption for the SOLE REASON of rescuing, that’s wrong. Just wondering how we can talk about these things, though, because it is a fact that our adopted children will be spared a life full of those above-mentioned things, and needs that can only be met in a family.
Us being able to meet those needs were in fact a primary reason for us to choose adoption for building the rest of our family. Not infertility, not hard pregnancies, etc. I know of many other families who choose adoption simply because they have a desire for more children, and a heart for the children already in the world who have no one. And the reason we all have a heart for those precious ones, is because of what their life would be like if they have to face it without a family.
Of course, overarching all those things is LOVE, NOT wanting to do the good deed of a lifetime, not wanting a charity project, not a savior-mentality, etc…. just LOVE for our next child(ren). But because of the need in the world, our love is for a child already in the world.
So, not sure exactly what my question is, I know my thoughts are a bit disjointed. I guess I’m just always wondering, why the hype about the terms rescue/save. We always hear we should not use those terms, but I’ve yet to see the alternative (what we CAN say about all that) presented. I’m assuming the primary reason is that others would perceive it the wrong way.
1. to bring (someone or something) out of danger, attack, harm, etc.; deliver or save]
Kevin, if you don’t like it to be thought of as “rescuing” a child from the foster care system or from a young, poor mother, then how would you want it to be worded? There are people out there with a soft heart for children in the foster care system who prefer to adopt from the foster care system for the reason of getting them out of the foster care system. Seems to me there is nothing wrong with that. A child and a dog are very different from each other but both can find themselves in a situation that requires help by a caring adult before it’s too late. Tammy
I read that Bullock spent four years in the adoption process waiting for a child- unwilling to use here name/reputation to get picked by a birth mother. That leads me to believe she did it because she wanted to mother a baby. No one spends that kinds of time (and paperwork) just to be trendy.
Our son was adopted from Africa. We didn’t adopt to be altruistic, we adopted because we wanted a family. If someone makes a “rescue” comment to me, I respond that we all rescued each other. Being a parent is a gift and a privilege- it is sad that some people lose sight of that.
I think it’s important to remember that folks who do not see themselves adopting frequently assume that those of who did, did it to “rescue”. There are still unfortunately a lot of folks out there who think that adopted kids aren’t your “real” kids, and therefore attribute the wrong motives to those of us who have adopted. I doubt those us who how know better will ever really stop that, although I do try to point it out whenever I can. Whenever someone thanks me for my sacrifice I point out I did not sacrifice. I got the chance to love the best 2 kids in the world… MY kids.
I think it’s very important to recognize that adopting is hard work. You have a whole series of choices to make. The first choice of “I want to be a Mom” is about the only simple one in the whole deal. And just because you have to make some of them (IA vs domestic, racial background, medical conditions) someone will criticize the decision you make — it is different from what they think you “should do”.
For example, I chose to adopt internationally for my first adoption because it is well known that orphanage life is very detrimental to children if they are left there long term. I can point you to any number of studies that show that. And I had the opportunity to give one child a chance outside an orphanage. I did not rescue him. I just found my child in circumstances that I didn’t want him in and I was able to do something about it.
I DO NOT want thanks for that, from him or anyone else, it was just a choice I made because I think it was the right thing to do. I have had people offer me congratulations.. I have also had them tell me I took a stupid risk. Fortunately pleasing John Doe was not an expected outcome! I did because it was the right thing for me at the time — and I have the most wonderful son any mother ever had as a result.
You can criticize me just as you can Sandra Bullock for that decision. You could choose to criticize the fact my 2nd adoption is not the same, that I went domestic for it. But in the end, it’s how well I take care of the kids that matters, how much I work with them to make adoption as normal a part of their life as I can, to be as open and accepting as I can and to celebrate their successes and help them through the hurdles. That is, how well I do at being a Mom. She looks to me like she has the potential to be a really good Mom. And we will really only find out in a few years!
We often have people refer to us ‘rescuing’ our children…and it always makes me cringe. We adopted 2 children that needed a home, a family, someone that would love them unconditionally….and we feel blessed to be that family. And yes, we are a transracial family, our son is hispanic and our daughter is black. We feel blessed that they are our children, and I feel blessed that their birthmother’s chose us.
I don’t know S.Bullocks motivation to adopt, but from what I’ve read she does seem to have a genuine desire to adopt and be a mom. Let’s face it, she could have put out a public announcement if she chose that she wanted to adopt and would have easily been able to…or like some other celebs, simply paid more, or altered the process for their own wants…but she didn’t. She didn’t use her fame and/or money to adopt and went through the process like the rest of us, even waiting longer than many of us. I think, for the adoption community (adoptive families and expected mothers considering adoption) this is very positive.
I never want adoption to be ‘a trend’….makes me cringe to no end. I want to see families united because of love, not because it’s the newest thing to do. Children are not property and should never be treated as such.
I love my 2 children with every breath that I take. I cannot imagine my life without them. 🙂
“I don’t know why transracial adoptees have become the new accessory in hollywood”
Okay. This comment I am really getting sick of hearing. First of all do you really think that these hollywood stars are adopting these children to have an accessory? That is the biggest joke ever. I hope not anyways. An accessory is a purse, jacket, diamond necklace. Accessories don’t whine, cry, get sick, keep you up at night, puke on you, bite you, etc. I just cannot believe anyone even in hollywood would adopt a child for an accessory. They probably just want to have a child or more children and they may or may not be able to do that the old fashion way. I would assume many factors contributed to them adopting a black child. And really there aren’t that many hollywood stars adopting black children are there? I can count less than a handful.
I do however agree with your point on “rescuing”. I cringe when I hear this. And I doubt Sandra Bullock believes she rescued this child.
And about rescuing a dog. A dog will probably give an owner more than that owner could ever give a dog. So I don’t think dogs need to be rescued either. Because anyone who has had a dog knows that that dog has also rescued them.
Adoption is a personal decision and it’s nobody’s business why Sandra Bullock adopted and if she circumcised her child. How awful to be in the public eye….
Until you choose to adopt and go through the process, you really can’t comment on people’s motives!
Doesn’t our media have anything else to report? There are two wars going on, people starving, unemployment, etc. Our obsession with Hollywood is killing our brain cells.
Also, I agree with the comments about breeding. If you truly rescue a dog, you get it from the shelter! Your dog has special needs due to overbreeding/line breeding. Also, the creation of new breeds, like maltipoo or labrodoodle, just result in more dogs suffering. Until all the shelters are empty, nobody should be breeding their dogs. Spay and neuter!!
I wanted to clarify somethings and respond to some of the comments.
As some of you will recall, my definition for adoption is this: A divine appointment in which God causes the lives of individuals to intersect and become family.
Staying true to the definition means that one doesn’t rescue the other. It is my belief that there was something missing in me that could only be filled by my parents and ALSO something missing in them that could also only be filled by me.
My interpretation of rescue leaves one side indebted to the other so that is why the term rescue doesn’t sit well with me.
I hope that make more sense.
Also, my intention was not to comment on the intentions of Ms. Bullock. As I said, I don’t know why she adopted Louie but I am excited that she did. I was simply responding to the on-line chatter about her adopting and not her adoption itself.
“A divine appointment in which God causes the lives of individuals to intersect and become family.”
I am not a religious man, but I have often said that my kids delivered me from any regret in life. I have told others that if I had done anything different in my life, I would not have been in the right place for my life to intersect with my kid’s lives.
The process of adoption is a pregnancy of a different sort. You are making the same plans and, as far as I can see, get the same emotional response from the referal picture as you do from an ultrasound.
It’s the same tears and laughter of joy when that child is finally placed in your arms and the same period of aqauintance and growing together afterward.
I doubt Sandra wrote the words “Rescue” from the foster system Its the writers attempt to sensationalize the event.
Rescue is an act by the birth mother surrenders her child. It is a rescue from bad circumstances whther it is poverty, safety, health issues or she does not want to raise the child.
I was glad to listen to your post, Kevin, as I’ve had similar concerns about the way the media has reported the story of Bullock and Louie.
Like you, I dislike the term “rescue” because it has all sorts of problematic connotations. If a child is “rescued,” then s/he must be “rescued FROM” something and someone, so the implication is birthparents = bad/dangerous and adoptive parents = good/benevolent. That’s not the adoption story I want my child to grow up hearing.
Also, if someone were to rescue me, I would feel gratitude or indebtedness toward that person. That’s not the relationship that the members of our family have toward one another.
Finally, I want to be prepared to acknowledge that while many aspects of my daughter’s life may be better for having become a member of the family, she has also experienced loss as a result of her adoption. She won’t have a clear sense of family history and how her own story began generations before she was born. She will not get to have the experience of being raised in a home with parents who have experienced the same race-based situations she has. (Most kids think that their parents “just don’t get it,” and in my daughter’s case, there will be times when that’s true.) To say that we “rescued” her implies a simple situation when the reality is complicated and beautiful and bittersweet.
I saw your video as commentary on the media and less about Ms. Bullock. I liked this essay.
If she is anything like me, she also winces at the term “rescue”. If I want to give the best of motives to all the transracial adoptions among well-known people, I will just assume it is due to greater acceptance within society and less of a fashion accessory. That said, I agree that most media outlets will treat these kids as an accessory.
When my wife and I mention that our son was born in Africa, several people have remarked: “Wow, just like Madonna.” Yeah right, I did it to be trendy.
When people find out about our family story, specifically about how we adopted our daughter from foster care and how our two “newest” children came to be in our family, we often hear that they are “so lucky” to have been “rescued”, or “saved”.
The truth is, it was indeed fortunate for them that they were able to come out of their former circumstance. To have remained in it would have only meant that they were destined for continued abuse/neglect/possible sexual abuse/drug & alcohol abuse/prison…a perpetuation of the family cycle that goes back generations in their families of origin. Rescued? Sort of – kinda…maybe….on a very BASIC level of trying to describe how things changed for them. I prefer redeemed. God redeemed their lives and snatched them from the plan that Satan had for them. WE did not redeem/rescue them….God did it, we simply presented ourselves ready to receive them and love them.
I think that the handful of celebrities who adopt, do it for the same reasons that ANYONE adopts – they want a child to love and care for. As for the issue of the kids being of other races, well, I think again that the celebs are no different – transracial adoptions are happening more and more in the general population. It’s the press who makes a HUGE deal out of it when the celebraties do it.
I also believe that MOST adoptions by celebraties are on the up and up, meaning that those adoptive parents went thru the process just like everyone else. There may be a few – I won’t mention any names – who have done things to adopt that some would see as unethical.
Angelina Jolie is often targeted. But I know that she jumped thru all the same hoops as me and my husband. She used the same agency for her Ethiopian adoption as we did for our Korean adoption. And she had to do her homestudy, be approved by USCIS, wait for a referral, etc., just as all the other families did.
The famous live under a microscope. Anything that they do that’s the least bit different from the norm is written about, and commented on, by the press and the readers/watchers. Someone asked me if I was copying Angelina, after finding out I have a child from Guatemala, a child from Korea, and a black baby girl from Detroit. “Oh, yes, I try to do everything she does – she’s my idol!” I hope they caught the sarcastic tone!
I have two children – both adopted, my daughter is from China, my son is domestically adopted and bi-racial (African American and Caucasian). I have appreciated your insight on trans-racial adoption and have even purchased your book. But this blog upset me. A LOT!
I work in Hollywood – Why do you feel that because I have children of color I consider them an accessory? Why am I so different because of where I live than someone who lives in the mid-west, northwest, south? I did not adopt these children to be trendy. Nor do I think that most of the people in the entertainment industry adopting children of color do it to “accessorize”. I find the fact that you accuse us of doing so insulting as though my children are little more to me than a pair of earrings or sunglasses.
The 2nd point I have an issue with – WE don’t call ourselves rescuers, Sandra Bollock doesn’t call herself a rescuer. It isn’t the adoptive parents who use this concept – it’s usually other people who have very little understanding of adoption, the process of adoption, or the feelings that we parents have towards our children (that the divine ache they bring to our hearts has expanded our capacities to love so much that we would do ANYTHING for them to keep them happy, safe and raise them well), feelings that differ very little from any loving parent.
I chose to adopt my children – not because they are a different ethnicity than me. But as you say – many of the children available for adoption are of color. These amazing little people happened to be the children who were brought into my life. They happen to be of color. And the fact that I live in an ethnically and culturally diverse city like Los Angeles, with friends of every color and hue made me feel as though I could raise these children well. The fact that they are of color has expanded my world and world view. They have blessed me much more than the other way around. So on that note, another reason many people in Los Angeles are comfortable adopting children of another race is because of the multi-ethnic/culturally diverse nature of the city. We know that our children will be surrounded by others of their race, culture and heritage. Opportunities to see “people like them” are everywhere. And as you have said yourself – that is important if the children have white parents. So – please stop promoting the idea that we sling our children over our shoulders like a Gucci purse. We choose to adopt for many different reasons, like any other adoptive parents, we love with the same ferocity, and that is why I felt it necessary to comment. God forbid when my children are old enough that they hear something like this and are hurt by the insinuation that they are either a trinket or a rescue project. They are nothing less than my heart.
This will be my last attempt at clarifying my intention of this post. I apologize for the confusion. Bob who posted a comment earlier was right on.
I obviously don’t see transracial children as accessories and my issue was with those who have commented in the media that transracial children and adoptive children, like Louie are being rescued. My post was about those comments in the media and as Bob states had very little to do with Ms. Bullock and her decision to adopt.
Perhaps I should stick to writing the blogs versus video–lol
I think your post was great and I totally get what you are trying to say. It’s not necessarily the PEOPLE in Hollywood that are “accessorizing” children (or specifically, adoptees) but it’s the media. Just yesterday I was both relieved and disappointed to hear a radio host talking about one of Angelina’s kids. This time it wasn’t about her “collecting them from around the world” (my source of relief) but was about how “she is dressing the girl like a boy” (my source of disappointment). Good Gracious! Anyone with a kid over 3 knows that parents don’t get to dress their kids! Kids pick their own clothes at that age! Anyway, it must be difficult living under such scrutiny and I appreciate your attempt to scrutinize the scrutinizers! 😉 I think anyone who was listening for the substance in your message will understand where you are coming from and anyone who is defensive either didn’t listen well or has something to be defensive about. Great Job Kevin!
I am the proud mother of an Ethiopian son. I don’t consider myself an “adoptive mother” but rather “a mother”. We did not rescue anyone from anything. My heart knew that my son was in Ethiopia and through a series of many, many events we found each other. I don’t believe Sandra Bullock had any motives other than wanting to be a mom to a beautiful child, and the race of that child did not matter to her, just like it did not matter to me. I just don’t understand why people feel it is their “job” to talk about a mother and her motives for wanting to become a mother. It is really not our business to judge or ridicule. Every child deserves a mom that loves them 100%…the color of my skin does not make me a better or worse mother. The way I care for my child does.