This is a tough subject and one that I have not really touched on openly during this journey of ours. I always felt that this is the most difficult, as well as private decision to be made when choosing to adopt and it is a decision to be made where you are 100% honest with yourself and satisfied with your answer.
Last week The Blessed Barrenness had a post about her (utterly adorable) mixed-race children coming with their unique set of challenges, the empathy that she feels with people wanting to adopt from the same racial group, but also her frustration on counselling people who longs for a baby but limits their chances by only wanting a baby of the same race.
We had limited our chances.
When we started out more than 3 years ago contacting agencies we had a lot of doors slammed in our faces. We were still very "naive" at that stage and from the word go requested a white baby - therefor the slammed doors. We got a lot of e-mails explaining that there are waiting lists for white babies and no new applications accepted - and that we will not be put on a list for in case the applications open again so that they can inform us. We will have to call back every 6 months or so to find out whether new applications are being accepted.
This was very sobering but we were still keeping at it and had some hope that if we keep on digging somewhere something must give. And it did. A few months later Procare contacted us and said that they are opening their applications for white babies and whether we are still interested to be on the list? And so our journey started.
It was also during this time that we bought our house in the country. This was to be our "someday" but we also knew that this is the place where we would want to raise our child(ren). So while going through the process we were slightly coached by our SW to think about the option of adopting a mixed-race baby. It would be much easier, A LOT faster and with me and Riaan both being dark-skinned and -haired, it could almost be perfect.
While staying in the City and "blending" into the masses where nobody really knows you or your business, except close friends, our decision might have been different. But coming from the platteland ourselves, we knew the implications of living in a small town where people know you, either love or hate you and "skinder" a lot about you. Would we really want to add this burden onto a child's shoulders who will already have a lot to deal with?
For now of coarse we live in the country. Our town consist mostly of white Afrikaners, as well as an English factor slowly seeping in. A lot are farmers, owning land in the region for generations. Mostly friendly and really goodhearted people. But because the town has a history, it is difficult for people to move into the town and become part of the community. There is even a term for these people - "Inkomers" (Incomers). Luckily with Riaan's job and the fact that he is a very social person he has established our part in the community quite fast and we lost the label quickly.
At the other end we have a big coloured community. Also some very good people and a lot of them being here for generations. But on the other tip of the scale we host a fairly new government low-cost housing development, which has seen a lot of people moving into the area. Unfortunately resulting from this there is a lot of unemployment among these people, leading to alcohol and substance abuse and gangs of children roaming the streets, looking for some mischief to entertain themselves with or something to eat.
So the question is, if we brought home a mixed-race baby, where would this child fit in? Would the children of the farmers and townspeople accept our child with open arms (minds)? Would our child associate him/herself with the children of the coloured community and would he/she understand if we will not allow him/her to go play with friends in the township? (And do not get me wrong - we have friends from the coloured community and we visit their church on occasion but I will not send my child into their streets to play.)
In a small community it is very important to feel and be part of that community, otherwise your live can get very, very lonely. By deciding to wait for a baby of the same race, we are maybe putting ourselves in it for a long wait. But by bringing home a mixed-race baby, hoping that the risk will be worth it and that we will be able to provide the child with a good live and a loving environment (outside our home) might not be a good idea.
This is however a subject that Riaan and I sometimes revisit. Will the outcome differ in future, I do not know. It might, but for now the vote is unanimous to not over-complicate an already complicated situation.