Week Five – Multicultural and Transracial Considerations In OVC Care

CAFO Course Forums OVC Essentials – 2018 Winter Week Five – Multicultural and Transracial Considerations In OVC Care

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    • #30326
      Leah St. Pierre
      CAFO Staff

      Feel free to respond to just one or all of the prompts below:

      Write about any learning or piece of the content that is sticking with you, challenging you, or causing you to re-consider currently held assumptions or beliefs.

      Where do you see this content intersecting with your personal life or the life of your church community? Do you sense any “call to action” after this week?

      If you have experience with transracial adoption, please share how your experience intersects with the reading and content from this week. Please also feel free to share any other insight, learnings, or convictions based on your own experience.

    • #31399
      meghan rivard
      Participant

      We are a transracial family through adoption. it has not been easy and we get looks and questions frequently when we are out. Now that she is starting to get older, Anna is starting to realize more, so my response needs to continue to be something that is adoption positive, and use it as a learning experience for the person I am talking to, and not a time of negativity for the person just not being educated on adoption. I want to educate about transracial adoption, but not share my daughter’s story, because that is her story to share with who and when she wants.

      • #31413
        Alexis Martens
        Participant

        Hey Meghan,

        I applaud your last thought regarding your daughter’s story and how she should be the one to decide who she wants to share it with and when. I also admired your thought of not allowing negativity to enter when talking to people who only have limited knowledge about orphans and their stories. This really reminded me of this week’s TED talk about “The Danger of a Single Story” and how the majority of our peers have just never been exposed to enough information or perspectives regarding this topic.

    • #31405
      Ariel Meneese
      Participant

      Yesterday, I met with a lady at my church who runs the foster care/adoption/orphan care ministry. While we were chatting, my one-year-old daughter was smiling at an older gentleman at the table next to ours. She was totally making his day! When we were getting ready to leave, the man stopped me and said he overheard that we were talking about orphans and adoption. He then told me the following:

      He was adopted when he was three months old and his adopted family pretty much slammed the door on any conversation about his birth family. They even burnt his original birth certificate. His adopted family took really great care of his physical needs, but his emotional needs were pretty much ignored.

      About ten years ago, he was finally able to get into contact with his birth family. They are Jewish and he had no idea about that whole part of his identity. His birth family is also kind of a mess overall. Lots of his relatives are divorced and remarried, some are on drugs, etc. Some of his siblings remained with his mother and they had a really rough life. He said he’s conflicted as to whether or not he wishes he could have stayed with his birth family.

      It was a very interesting conversation with a man I randomly met in Panera. It was also interesting timing with this week’s lesson being about multicultural adoption. This guy is probably in his 70s right now and didn’t even know he was ethnically Jewish until he was in his 60s. That is so sad and I hope that other adoptive families do a much better job with learning about their adopted child’s culture and encouraging the child to ask questions.

      • #31412
        meghan rivard
        Participant

        what a wonderful story! it is amazing how God’s timing is just perfect. it is so disheartening to hear about that man’s story and his life. I so wish that the Church would come along side adoption and orphan care, so stories like this are few and far between.

    • #31414
      Alexis Martens
      Participant

      One piece of content that is definitely sticking with me is definitely the TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story.” This one is challenging me to look at all the single stories I have held on to throughout my life simply because I did not think to hear or seek more. This food for thought has been an amazing blessing is helping me to become more aware when talking with individuals all around me. I feel God smiling down in so many ways for our course.

      • #31416
        openarms
        Participant

        Hi Alexis,

        I agree, I love the TED Talk! I’ve seen it a few times now, and every time I walk away encouraged and challenged. I also liked your comment about God smiling down on this course. How beautiful it must be to Him when His children want to learn more and DO more for these children who are so close to His heart 🙂

        Blessings,

        Laura

    • #31415
      openarms
      Participant

      One piece of content that kept coming to mind this week was the Think Orphan podcast with Tara Vanderwould from last week. I loved her observations about how to naturally include a child’s birth family and culture of origin in their daily life, letting them know that it’s okay to think and wonder about them. Questions like, “I wonder if your dad liked that food too?” or “I wonder what the weather’s like in Ethiopia right now?” seem so simple, but I liked her insight about the ways it can create solidarity with your child – telling them that you’re thinking about it, too. It can be so easy to allow a fear of saying the “wrong” thing paralyze us, but those small comments can pave the way for such larger, deeper topics. As someone who hopes to one day adopt – likely transracially – this was incredibly valuable advice!

      Because I hope to adopt, I was also challenged this week to look at the friends, community, and even city around me through the eyes of a multicultural family. How would transracial adoption fit into my current life situation? Would my child feel welcomed and supported? It made me realize how often I support certain ideas (like diversity) in words but not action. It’s up to me to take the risk, to reach out, to leave my comfort zone, and to learn through the difficulties and beauty of transracial relationship now so that I’m better prepared for adoption when the time comes.

      – Laura

    • #31445
      Caitlin Snyder
      Participant

      I appreciated the practicality of the article “Building Relationships with People from Different Cultures.” Not just when it comes to race, but also in terms of people with special needs or even friends of different religions, I’m scared of saying the wrong thing, so I often don’t say anything or ask any questions. One of the ways the article gives to expose yourself to different cultures is to risk making mistakes. I’m learning to be more comfortable with this, and asking for feedback. A couple weeks ago, I was speaking with a woman who is deaf (through an interpreter), and I said, “I’m not always sure how to speak about deafness. You wouldn’t offend me if I say something offensive or incorrectly. Please do. I want to learn.” I can do this for race, too! Asking for feedback demonstrates humility, and a desire to learn to be better, but it requires you to be okay with someone telling you that you’re wrong or could be better.

      I’m definitely going to seek out relationships with people of different cultures than me because my life can be so insulated.

      • #31453
        Jessica Rush
        Participant

        Caitlin,

        This is something that I was thinking about  as well. I want to develop friendships with people of other races and ethnicities that are deep enough for us to have conversations about experiences, questions, or perceptions we have about each other. It is not an easy thing but once we start the conversation, I believe it will get easier!

      • #31562
        Brittany Dealy
        Participant

        Caitlin,

        Thanks for sharing! I love that you are wanting to step out of your ‘comfort zone’ and reach people that are different than you! That’s definitely God’s heart, and is so important for everyone.

        I have found, through living internationally and travelling… that it’s actually pretty normal to talk about your differences from someone, ask what religion they believe in and just talk about what is different between what the two of you experience or believe. I find it refreshing and eye opening, and it easily brings me back to the gospel: To love people where they’re at, because THAT is when you have an opportunity to show them who Jesus is. Sorry if I’m off topic. But I want to encourage you!

    • #31450
      Jessica Rush
      Participant

      My favorite thing this week was the TED talk about single stories. I think that is so easy for all of us to make assumptions about others based on a single experience that we have had with someone who even slightly resembles the other. I was challenged to not let single encounters that I have had (or will have) effect my opinions on others. Everyone is different and deserves to be given a fair chance and not to be judged based on someone that probably don’t even know. It has challenged me to have more conversations with friends and family members about this topic to hopefully educate them.

      • #31469
        Kaitlyn Stutts
        Participant

        Hey Jessica!

        My favorite part of this week’s content was also the TED Talk. There were so many valuable lessons and experiences in the talk that add value to working with people from different cultural and racial backgrounds. I feel that the talk really challenged us to be aware of our own opinions and biases and how they can influence our interactions with other people. I think it is great you also pointed out discussing the topic with family and friends to increase awareness. Discussion and increasing awareness is so important to really change the single story mindset. Thanks for bringing that point up!

      • #31506
        Lindsey Hughes
        Participant

        I totally agree, Jessica. It can be so easy to just group everyone together and assume that they have had the same experiences based on our limited knowledge or based on our own previous experiences. I, too, was challenged to be intentional about not allowing single experiences to have an affect on how I view other people. I don’t want to fall into the trap of generalizing anyone or of putting them into a singular category without even knowing their individual story.

    • #31465
      Kaitlyn Stutts
      Participant

      I think the content this week from the TED Talk on “The Danger of a Single Story” is what stuck with me the most. I found the speaker Adichie’s comment that people tend to group Africa together as one group, but then identify other areas of the world by their individuality, such as Haiti or China. I began to think of this more after my seminar class for my internship when one of my classmates was discussing her internship at an adoption agency. She stated she was in the department that oversaw adoptions through Haiti, India, and Africa. Adichie’s comment stood out to me at that moment when it was evident to me that Africa does tend to get lumped together. It can illustrate the importance of going beyond the surface and single experiences to define my thoughts and actions towards a certain person or situation. It is important to remember that everyone is a unique individual and cannot fit perfectly into the mold our own mind and experiences wants for them to fit into.

    • #31490
      Jonathon Sampson
      Participant

      It sounds like the TED talk was powerful for everyone! It’s definitely the part that sticks with me the most as well. Too often people’s perception of foster care and adoption are based on a single story that they’ve heard, and if they don’t personally know someone who has fostered or adopted, they probably heard it in the news. Even in just the past few weeks, there have been news stories locally that paint foster care agencies in a very negative light. Positive stories are such a powerful tool.

      • #31869
        Ariel Meneese
        Participant

        Yes, Jonathon! I have heard some of the negative stories that you are referencing and it is so heartbreaking. Thankfully, that’s not completely the norm. I absolutely LOVED the TED talk. I have not stopped raving about it. I want everyone I know to watch it! Positive stories are definitely very powerful!

    • #31505
      Lindsey Hughes
      Participant

      The thing that stood out to me the most this week was the TED talk. The idea that we group everyone together and try to fit them into one category, sometimes without even realizing that we are doing it, was challenging to me. It challenged me to look at and seek out opportunities to learn about people’s stories, rather than just assume I know or understand where they are based on a previous experience or conversation that I might have had. I was challenged to be more intentional in my conversations and in the formation of thoughts and opinions as it pertains to this topic.

    • #31522
      Brittany Dealy
      Participant

      I am so excited for today’s webinar! This week has been so fascinating and heartbreaking and interesting. I have many friends that have adopted transracially, and felt I needed to hear these teachings. In Preparing For a Transracial Adoption, the quote “people immediately know something very personal about me that I did not have the choice to tell them” really hit me hard. I can’t imagine having to carry that as a child. As adults, we’ve spent a lot of our lives often having to cope with the way people see us, but when it comes to your family being seen differently, I can imagine would be very hard. My husband and I have been praying about adopting, and reading about the young man who is African American and wanted an adult that could relate to what he’s been through, has made me really think about where we should adopt from, based on the community we are already part of. The community we just moved two (within the last two years) is not racially diverse, compared to where we were in Canada, and we talk about that all the time. I know that would be only heightened if we were to adopt transracially, and I would love to make that purposeful move for my child to feel like they belong and have plenty of amazing adults to look up to, of all races. 🙂

      • #31560
        Lis Doane
        Participant

        Brittany, I am the white parent of two adopted black children and while it can be hard at times, it is much easier to negotiate if race is an open and frequent topic in your home.  You are asking all the right questions.  We live in a very racially diverse area so our kids see and socialize with people of color all the time.  Interestingly enough, I have always found the black community much more accepting of our transracial adoption than the white community.  I cannot even begin to tell you how many times black friends reached out to us with help or advise.

        I too was struck by the quote you mentioned and I asked my daughter about whether she felt that way about her adoption.  I had actually felt it made things easier in a way because our adoptions were just always a visual fact.  My daughter said it never bothered her.  She said she never thinks of her dad and I as white and herself as black.  She has no problem with people knowing she is adopted.  So while the transracial piece can be complex and should be thought through and planned for, it can work in a beautiful way.  When God’s calling is clear, He will always give you what you need to make it work.

      • #31561
        Brittany Dealy
        Participant

        Lis,

        That is so encouraging to hear! I love that that is your daughter’s experience, and your experience.

        Thank you for sharing 🙂

      • #31585
        Kaari Vasquez
        Participant

        Brittany,

        It is so wonderful that you and your husband are having discussions and being so purposeful in how you prepare to potentially welcome a child into your family! I pray that God clearly directs your paths as you make decisions.

    • #31563
      Lis Doane
      Participant

      I am the white parent of two adopted black children.  I always use it as an educational moment when we are approached.  I have never found people to be intentionally rude, simply ignorant.  We have always been open and transparent about the kid’s adoptions.  Race and adoption were always up for discussion at our house and we live in a very racially diverse area.  Both my kids did, however, go through a period in finding their identity as a person of color.  My son especially spent some time, during his high school years thinking he had to dress a certain way, like certain music and be a certain way to “be black”.  We, of course, accepted it but encouraged him to just be himself.  He is 21 now and has settled in his skin as a preppy young man, who loves country music.  He has a tattoo on his arm that is his birth name in Amharic (he was adopted from Ethiopia), along with the date of the day he came home to us.  His name in Amharic means “my destiny”.  We have learned a great deal about race raising these two children but we have also learned a lot about God’s transforming grace as well.

      • #31644
        Emma Leitson
        Participant

        Lis,

         

        Thank you so much for sharing a part of your story. I applaud you for always being open and communicate with your children because I think that is the most important thing. It’s hard because some people in this world still have on the “black and white” lens but you’re right – this is an educational opportunity to teach people about how Jesus does not have that lens. You have a beautiful story and I am so glad your son has really found who he is and has settled into his skin – how encouraging!

    • #31586
      Kaari Vasquez
      Participant

      One thing that Amanda mentioned this Thursday that stood out to me was the importance of building genuine relationships with others who are the same ethnicity as our children rather than superficially choosing people just because it is the ‘right thing’ to do.

      I have realized how blessed our family is that my boys have a father who looks similar to them. When they were younger and we would go out, people would make comments to me such as, “They must look JUST like their father” and I could in all honesty say, “Yes.” Although, sometimes I was tempted to say that I had no clue because I have never met their fathers:).

      We were a foster family and the social workers would always place children with us who had families that spoke Spanish since my husband is bilingual. Therefore, I was quite used to parenting children who didn’t look like me. Then, one day we got a call for a baby boy who was Caucasian. I still remember driving in the car with all three boys and my oldest happily exclaiming, “Mom, now you aren’t the odd one out anymore!” Haha.

      While it is a blessing that my husband can be a role model for my boys in a way that he might not be able to if he were white, I think it is still really important for us to remember that it doesn’t erase the fact that they are going to desire to know about their biological fathers and that we need to support them as they inquire and share their thoughts on not being able to know them in the same way they know their biological mothers.

    • #31810
      Emma Leitson
      Participant

      I do not personally have an experience with transracial adoption. However, my cousins do. Similar to the blindside story, my aunt and uncle adopted a black 17 year old male. He was not in a good home life and I believe they found him through the church they want to. I know it was hard for them because a lot of families did not understand and asked the question “why?” but my aunt and uncle knew they were called to adopt him. He has been such a blessing to them and to my family as well! His story is incredible. He was able to finish up college and now he is going to seminary school to become a pastor! I know that for him, it was an adjustment (as well as to his new family) and there were difficult transitions BUT because God had his hand on it and the adoption, it brought glory to HIS name and blessings to their family!

      • #31979
        Courtney Schmidt
        Participant

        Emma,

        That is such a cool story. I love that they adopted him and that God is using him to be a pastor. It is really neat how God can take our broken stories and turn them into something beautiful. I’m happy to hear that your aunt and uncle were willing to adopt him and make a difference. I’m sure he has made a difference in their life as well. Thanks for sharing.

      • #32285
        Emily Evans
        Participant

        Emma, this reminds me of my best friends boyfriend. Him and his 3 brothers are african american and were adopted by a white couple when they were just 1-3 years old. In our church, people are still surprised sometimes when they find out they were adopted-because they had no idea. They have a great home life and couldn’t imagine not having the parents that they do!

    • #31976
      Courtney Schmidt
      Participant

      This week has really allowed me to consider aspects of transracial adoption that I had never thought about. I appreciated learning about how to consider the family as a whole unit and celebrate everyone’s culture. It also helped me realize that some children who are adopted might feel out of place or struggle with being a different race than their adopted family. It is important to consider the people, church, culture etc. that we are surrounding a child with and find ways to help him/her engage with people of their same race (and other races). A really practical idea they gave was to find a mentor from church of the same race and have people in a child’s life that can help them navigate struggles that perhaps the adoptive parents haven’t experienced, or wouldn’t be able to speak to as much as someone who has personally lived it. That just made a lot of sense.

      Before taking this course, I think I only saw the good sides of adoption and thought any kid would be super happy to have a great family. I wasn’t really aware of the many challenges, and this course was really helped to open my eyes to some of that. With that said, I have only been working in social work for a couple of months now so I’m just now being exposed to many of these issues.

      • #32818
        Natalie Cormier
        Participant

        I think that we all tend to only think about the good sides of adoption because of what a great story it is. We are reconciled with others being known, wanted, and loved. But, along with that, there are trials of not believing that truth or there are distortions of that truth. This course really shows the struggles and realities of OVC issues which is one reason why I like it so much.

    • #32284
      Emily Evans
      Participant

      The piece that stood out to me this week was Tara VanderWoude’s Podcast on Ambiguous Loss and Transracial Adoption. I loved her concept of “Tossing Pebbles” to start to get your child wondering about their past. I think its important to be very open and understanding with your children when you adopt them from a different country or ethnicity. Its important to let the children know its okay to be sad and talk about their past.

      • #32575
        Emma MacDougall
        Participant

        I totally agree with you, I think that it is helpful to encourage children to know about their past and where they came from. It also encourages them by teaching them that questions are okay to have and encourages them to process them in a healthy way rather than completely keeping them inside.

    • #32574
      Emma MacDougall
      Participant

      One thing that really stuck with me from this week is the TED talk The Danger of A Single Story. I often times think of people from an area as having the same story once I hear about someone from there. It challenges me to get to know people before thinking they have the same story as someone else and really asking them about their story. I went to Zimbabwe to serve with orphan care last summer and there were so many times that I was challenged as I heard different stories of people who were from the exact same area and none of them were alike. I think that its so important to remember this too.

    • #32683
      Natalie Cormier
      Participant

      If you have experience with transracial adoption, please share how your experience intersects with the reading and content from this week. Please also feel free to share any other insight, learnings, or convictions based on your own experience.

       

      I am a transracial adoptee which defined a lot of my identity when I was younger. I am Chinese, my mother is Hispanic, and my father is Caucasian. Many people expected me to be smart because I was Asian, not because I, as an individual, was intelligent. I was expected to like rice (which I did) and to know how to speak Chinese. People were astounded when I spoke my Spanish and I even got a comment once of how I eat like a real Mexican.

      I took pride in my Chinese looks and my Hispanic culture, but people didn’t know this about me until I told them. They believed the single story that they assumed from my Chinese image. Because of this story that they assumed, I got weird looks from people when my family went out, especially if it was just me and my dad.

      I think it is so important to learn about someone and ask them about themselves to understand that a person goes beyond just one dimension of a stereotype in media.

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