Deaf Transracial and Trans-country Adoption
Edna shares her family’s experience with Deaf transracial and trans-country adoption.
Deaf transracial and trans-country adoption: Hello everyone, I’m Edna Johnston. My topic is adoption. I have four children, all of whom I adopted, including one who was conceived and born with my wife of 16 ½ years. I think adoption is a beautiful concept and the perfect solution for straight people’s mistakes. Since gay people don’t procreate – well, now they can have babies with their own DNA, but couples can’t both pass on their DNA together (video screen moves, “stop, I’m filming” – “that’s my kid”, fixes screen). Adoption is an awesome win-win – we can have children and children who need families get them. I did choose to have Deaf children and my wife, who is hearing, agreed. Things changed later though, and we ended up with two Deaf and two hearing children – two girls and two boys. It’s really nice that I wanted Deaf kids and I got what I wanted.
Do’s and Don’ts – Adoption Questions
Anyway, I think people are more open and curious about adoption today and view it positively. There are, however, still some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” when it comes to adoption. I notice that people often want to know how the adoption process works. I don’t mind sharing that information. What’s important is the intent behind the question. People ask if it is expensive, how we could afford it, why we picked this country to adopt from – this last one is probably because there are not many countries to adopt from that have Deaf children, and it’s usually the same few countries people adopt Deaf children from, so I can understand the question. Often when people ask why we chose a certain country, it’s because our children are Black. This is called transracial adoption, or adoption across race. My wife and I are white, while our children are a different race – Black – and they are also from another country, which is called transnational adoption, although I rarely use that word. I usually say transracial.
Deaf Transracial and Trans-Country Adoption – White Parents and White Privileges
I have learned so much about my children’s country through celebrating their food, culture, clothing, values, and through meeting people in the community, including Deaf people from their native country. It has been an incredibly rich experience. I have also learned a lot about myself as a white person and my white privilege. For example, I have my Deaf lens, which means as a Deaf person, I expect hearing parents to learn how to sign if they have children, no exception. If you have Deaf children, you must celebrate Deaf culture, community, values, art, history and so on. In the same way, I also have another lens as an adoptive parent. I believe that I should celebrate and acknowledge my children’s heritage in a similar way.
Reciprocal Relationship with the Black Deaf Community
There are some needs that I cannot meet as a white mom. For example, braiding hair is something that I am just not good at, so I share this activity with the Black Deaf community. It’s not a threat to me as a parent at all. The more open I am with the community, the more my kids benefit. It’s like teamwork, a reciprocal relationship. It’s similar to how in the Deaf community, Deaf and hearing parents collaborate for the children’s best interest. That’s a beautiful side of adoption.
Transracial and Trans-Country Deaf Adopted Children as Strong Beings
I have the utmost respect for children who are adopted from any other country. They are survivors, strong beings, transplants from other countries who moved here and had to learn everything about a new country, a new language – both a complex written language and sign language – new everything, including new people, new demographics that are completely different from their native country, new families. They have to learn to trust, to deal with trauma from their past, to handle people who say bad things about their being adopted, and on and on. I think they are some of the strongest people on earth.
No Need to Call Children “Adopted Children”
I ask that you own up to it when you say something by mistake. For example, someone came up to me and said, “I met your adopted kids”. My response is, “They are my children and I don’t call them my ADOPTED children – they are my kids, period.” I’m like a mama bear – if anything threatens my children, I will protect them because they are my kids. I don’t see them as my “Black kids” or my “adopted kids” or my “African kids” – they are MY kids and that’s it. This isn’t to say that I am colorblind, of course. They are my kids and carry our names. So own it if you slip up and say something that might be racist. Just check – it’s okay. Everyone is human. Own it. “How much did the adoptions cost?” is a question I detest. So is profiling, or assuming that all children who are adopted from other countries have language delays, special needs, or aren’t really Deaf but are autistic or something like that. The stigma is real.
Don’t Put So Much Importance on DNA and Genes
It’s important not to place so much importance on DNA and genes. DNA does not always guarantee that a family is close. Some families are so dysfunctional and not close at all. I’m close to my kids even though we don’t share DNA. I feel there is way too much emphasis on DNA. For example, some school activities ask students to bring in baby pictures, which doesn’t show much sensitivity to adopted children who may not have any baby pictures of themselves. It’s important to be sensitive. Overall, adoption has been a good experience. I hope you might consider adoption one day, or be open to the idea of having your own children and adopting, too, or even be less fixated on the importance of DNA and continuing your bloodline. There are so many different ways to have a family. Many thanks!