I have been a supporter of the Charlotte Justice Conference since the beginning
but 2021 was the first time I have been asked to participate. And, to be honest, the invitation to be a part of the conference was the first time I considered adoption, particularly transracial adoption, an issue that fits into the justice paradigm. Now, however, it seems an obvious fit- thank you, CJC! Transracial adoption is a justice issue and treating it as such will, I hope, help make “doing it well” an important goal.
Oftentimes, adoption is painted in broader society as a purely joyful, magical, beautiful process that brings orphaned children to forever families who then live happily ever after. And, I, by no means, mean to diminish the joy, magic and beauty in adoption. It is there and is a blessing to many families. However, adoption always begins with loss. Always. There is just no way around it. And so, when we paint the process as a purely positive one, we are doing a disservice to the experiences of the adoptees and the adoptive parents who see in their daily lives the unique complexities of building a family through adoption.
One unique aspect of many adoptions is that through adoption, members of different races and cultures become family members. And, transracial adoptions have become more common in recent decades. A study conducted in 2017 shows the proportion of adopted kindergartners being raised by a mother of a different race or ethnic group rose by 50% between 1999 and 2011. At Adoption Support Alliance, we believe that it is vitally important for transracial adoptive parents to get the education they need about the intentionality that is required in order to successfully raise children from different racial or cultural backgrounds and how to promote positive racial identity development for their children. One of the best ways for parents to do that is to listen to the experiences of transracially adopted adult adoptees, as they are the greatest source of information for what it is like to be raised by white parents.
To the Charlotte Justice Conference, we invited two transracially adoptive parents, one who adopted domestically (Molly Mayhoff) and one who adopted from foster care (Mary Kulp). We also have one adult adoptee who was adopted internationally from Haiti (Myrlene Mondesir). These women are so gracious (and brave) to be willing to share their stories today in the hope that their experiences can positively impact the next generation of adoptive families and adoptees.
Here is the video for the Charlotte Justice Conference. The transracial adoption panel starts at 2 hours and 30 minutes. There are some audio issues at the beginning of the panel- but they get resolved!