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Adoption, Race & Language

(7 Posts)
WyfOfBathe Wed 19-Oct-16 22:47:48

I am in extremely early stages of thinking about adoption... it's basically hypothetical at this point.

DH & I talked before TTC about adopting rather than having BC, but then decided to try for a baby biologically. I'm now pregnant so I'm not sure if it's just hormones that's making me think about this again (i.e. whether we could adopt in the future).

The things that I think made us decide that having BC would be the 'easier' option (it probably is easier, but I mean for us especially):

- Our family is a mix of races/ethnicities. I'm white & DH is mixed Caribbean, he also has a daughter from a previous relationship (who lives with us full time) whose mother is black African. Having many different colours & backgrounds, it would be hard to find a child who "matched" us exactly in this way - we would be open to kids from any race but I don't know whether SW would place them with us.

- At home we speak both French and English and are raising our kids bilingually. I imagine that this would basically rule out foster-to-adopt and would also limit us to babies/very young toddlers (or kids who already speak French)

I've been reading this boards for over a year but as I said, it's extremely early at this point, we probably wouldn't be ready to start the adoption process for around 3 years at least, so I haven't looked into LA/VA/international etc but any advice would be welcome!

WyfOfBathe Wed 19-Oct-16 22:48:30

Sorry, that was longer than intended!

CrazyCatLaydee123 Thu 20-Oct-16 07:02:42

There is a higher than average amount of children from different racial backgrounds due to most adopters being white, so the fact that your family is pretty mixed anyway would probably be a bonus.

With the language thing, I would figure that yes you would need to adopt a younger child as an older child might feel a bit isolated if people are speaking a different language. However, it is usually recommended that adopted children are at least a couple of years younger than any BC, so you might be limited to younger children anyway.

Allington Thu 20-Oct-16 08:46:14

In general SWs don't look for an exact mix of ethnicity, but they do want families that can 'promote a positive sense of identity' - or similar in SW speak!

There are all sorts of factors involved in that.

Some things are not specific to whether the child's heritage is from e.g. a particular country or region. Something as simple as looking as if they could be the biological child of the parents cuts out a huge amount of intrusive questioning. Having first hand experience of the everyday expressions of racism means you would be more able to support your child when they have similar experiences.

The specifics can be met with a bit of willingness to make an effort. Familiarity with the child's culture of origin helps them to understand and value that culture - but you could also learn about the culture and find a way of integrating it into your broader family culture.

DD is black, I'm white (we're not in the UK). The biggest issue for us (so far) is that we look so different and all too many people seem to think it's OK to ask/ speculate about why. I've made a point of choosing housing, school, church etc to be diverse and reflecting both our heritages, and we know a number of other families who have adopted trans-racially.

The next challenge is to learn her first language (which she has since forgotten, but can still pronounce), I can speak a little but not really sustain a conversation. Our church is starting classes, so we'll go to those.

So, I doubt the ethnic mix in your family would be a problem, probably quite the opposite.

Re: the language, DD spoke very little English at 5 when I adopted her (she had learnt a bit at pre-school). Within a few months you wouldn't have known. It wasn't ideal - and she does have some mild speech/ language difficulties which may be connected to that, but they are the sorts of difficulties that are quite common in children who have experienced chaotic early years and don't switch language, so who knows. You might need to start by speaking English and gradually introduce French, but again, as long as you had a child-sensitive plan I doubt it would be a deal breaker.

Allington Thu 20-Oct-16 08:49:06

Mine was longer than intended as well!

And although we're not in the UK, I am more involved in UK-based internet support as here few children are adopted through the child protection system, so we have more similarities in that respect. So I have got a sense of the UK 'scene'.

DorcasthePuffin Thu 20-Oct-16 11:50:48

Hi, your ethnic mix would be considered a strength and you would likely be matched with a mixed (white/black Caribbean or white/black African) child as there is a need for more adoptive families who match this (or was when I adopted 6 years ago).

With the language issue, I don't think there is any one answer to this and it will be about you negotiating with the social worker about what suits any particular child. What I would warn, though, is that SW are very keen to see that you are flexible and that you put the child's needs first. Clearly there are limits to flexibility, and the rest of your family have needs too, but I think they might have problems with you saying, in essence, "We speak French and English at home - find us a child who fits with this". Rather, they want to hear: "We speak French and English at home. We see bilingualism as a gift we give our children, but we understand that a newly placed child who speaks only English will find this an extra challenge at a already stressful time. Clearly we would want to work with you to find the best way to settle the child and find the right time to start building up their French" or something like that.

Do you see the difference? Social workers will want you to understand that they are there to find families for children, not children for families, and they want adopters to understand that family life does not just continue as normal when children join us by adoption. Everyone has to adapt and change, not just the new child.

WyfOfBathe Thu 20-Oct-16 18:37:32

Thanks all, that's a lot more positive than I was expecting!

We would want to wait until this baby is a toddler before adopting anyway, but I'm now thinking that maybe waiting for a little bit longer would be a good idea as that would allow us to be a lot more flexible in terms of language without worrying about our bc's language development.

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