Of Ferguson, race & adoption?

holt-internationalBy Holt International
Eugene based adoption organization

It has been an emotionally exhausting couple of weeks for me.  My son, who is bi-racial, was home from college when the Ferguson decision was announced.  He was upset, confused, and after a while, filled with rage.  As his mom, I tried to do everything I could to show him that I cared about what was happening and how he was feeling about it.  But it was really hard and incredibly sad for me.

Then Wednesday’s decision came out from Staten Island, and while he has already gone back to college, I could still feel the same emotions coming all the way up the coast of California to Oregon through his Twitter feed.  Again, really hard. And then this morning, I came in to work to an email from one of our social workers asking if Holt was going to say something — that she has been providing counseling to one of our teen adoptees who was black, and he just sat with his head down and cried because he knows he is treated differently that his white parents because of his race.  And he is scared.  And what was Holt going to say about all of this?

I asked Steve Kalb, our director of adoptee services, to write a blog post about how our adoptive families should use the tragedies that are unfolding in the news to bring up the subject of race and racism with their children. We know this is a very challenging topic for many people, and we know many of our adoptive families struggle with how to bring up the subject.  I wanted Steve to use this opportunity to urge families to bring up the subject of racism and how it impacts our children every day.  To remind families that holiday family gatherings are times when white parents sometimes brush over the racist remarks from our uncle, look away when our second cousin’s kid makes a demeaning racist gesture to our son, and laugh uncomfortably when grandparents make a racist joke about President Obama.

But then I asked myself, why should Steve write it?  Because he is an adoptee?  Because he is gifted at writing about tough subjects? Or was it because it was too hard for me to write about – just like it is hard for our adoptive families to talk about it with their kids.

Steve wrote a great post, and I am sure it will be posted somewhere. But this post is from me.  I am the vice president of adoption services at the largest private international adoption agency, placing hundreds of children of color into white families every year.  And the mom of a young man who I tell not to wear his hoodie at night, to be careful around police, and whose heart breaks at the system of racism that exists in our society.

I urge our parents to take a stand against racism this holiday season, ask your kids what they know about Ferguson or Eric Garner, and bring up the subject of white privilege with your children who are home from college.  As loving parents of children of color, you must do this.

Lisa Vertulfo | Vice President of Adoption Services



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