PDA

View Full Version : A sad but moving account of one person's experience of interracial adoption


DelMonte
Nov 30th, 2006, 12:33 AM
Don't know if people are still interested in this topic (tales of Madonna's exploits having been replaced by tales of the adventures of Britney, Paris etc) but anyway.....

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

'Part of me wished my parents had given me back'


After the outcry over Madonna, Elizabeth-Jane Elising Jeffcoat explains how her own experience of trans-racial adoption was good and bad

Thursday November 9, 2006
SocietyGuardian.co.uk


"It was your Mum's idea," my Dad said. What followed left me in shock. It was 1990, I had recently left home and my parents separated six months later. We had been out somewhere, my Dad and I, and we were sitting in his car. He turned to me and said: "It was your Mum's idea to adopt you."
My Mum had always been so cold towards me, distant and unreachable. The anger would flare up in her eyes at times. On other occasions she would be hostile and abrupt. I always had the impression that she was embarrassed and ashamed of me, that I dragged an otherwise respectable family down. Why? Because I was black.

I was born in 1972 to a Ugandan mother and Kenyan father but was trans-racially adopted several months later. My parents already had two children of their own, Richard and Rupert. Three more were to follow over the next 13 years, David, John and Andrew. In the main we were private school educated.

The positive times of my childhood were the wonderful times I spent with my Dad and my brothers rambling through the many hills, gullies and woods near where we lived. My mother rarely joined us on days out. She was the sole breadwinner and worked very hard as an accountant. I used to rationalise in my head that she had to work all the hours there were in order to support such a large family. But I knew deep down that an element of it was to avoid me.

Throughout my childhood I would try to stay out of her way. I was so nervous and uncomfortable around her that I found conversing with her difficult. Often she would ignore me or switch off halfway through what I was saying. By the time I was 12 communication had become very stressful. At 13 I stopped kissing her goodnight, after one night when I kissed her and she flinched. In fact it was then that I decided to stop trying altogether.

I believe the root of her problems was her inability to articulate her disappointment that having a daughter hadn't worked out the way she hoped. I think she struggled to cope with the racism she experienced being the white mother of a black child.

My Dad loved me. He could be great fun to be around, very warm, caring and worked hard as a parent. But the relationship between him and my mother was strained. I believe he was frustrated with her attitude towards me but he could also be cruel to me. It wasn't unusual for him to refer to African and Asian people as Wogs and Paki's. It never failed to amaze me that when someone would shout a racial slur at me in the street Dad would shout back "Bloody fascist!" I'd look at him and think but you say things just as bad.

It always seemed that when things were particularly strained between my parents my Dad would turn on me. He'd say things like: "Just because you're black, you think you can get away with everything." He'd say I was a "black bastard", at times revelling in the double meaning. When I was 14 I overheard him talking about me to an older brother. He said: "She's not one of us." I was profoundly hurt.

My parents needed support. When I was 16 I went to Marriage Guidance to try and get some advice on my parents' behalf. The counsellor told me it was my problem. A part of me wished that my parents had given me back to the adoption agency as the struggle they went through was tearing them apart.

I felt very guilty about how it affected my brothers, especially the younger ones. In 1992 I made the decision to cease contact with them as I felt I was a harmful influence.

The last time I saw my youngest brother, Andrew, he was five. He was a lovely child and a delight to be around. We were in the car with Dad. He was singing Baa Baa Black Sheep, as he was singing he turned to me and said "you're a black sheep" and started laughing. He was curious about me being in the family, curious that I wasn't about so much anymore.

I loved him deeply and I know he missed me a great deal. I believe that my parent's attitude towards my ethnicity had left him bewildered and confused. My Dad turned to him and told him off for what he said to me. I thought enough's enough I have to get out of this child's life in order to bring him some peace. In hindsight I was wrong to leave him, terribly wrong but I couldn't bear to see any of my brothers suffer anymore.

A heartfelt memory I have of Andrew is when I fetched him from school one day. We were walking back hand in hand and he turned to me and said: "Liz, I don't mind that you're black." Never will he be forgotten.

It's been 14 years since I had a productive relationship with any of my brothers. I have made contact with Rupert and John in the last 12 months and hopefully this will continue. They have achieved great things and through them I have learnt that Richard, David and Andrew are also doing well. Even if I never see them again, they will always be in my thoughts.

My parents are what they are. I neither agree nor disagree with trans-racial placements. What I think is important is looking at the motivations of potential adoptive parents who seek to adopt a child of a different ethnicity/culture to their own. Through this process expectations can be properly examined and this in turn will assist in assessing the stability of the potential adoptive family including extended family. I think this is what's important in relation to Madonna's case.

I'm proud to be an African-Scot, I'm proud of who I am. Being brought up in the Jeffcoat family gave me five wonderful brothers and a fabulous grandmother. That's what I try to remember.

http://society.guardian.co.uk/children/story/0,,1942601,00.html

tennisbum79
Nov 30th, 2006, 12:59 AM
Excellent post!!

Rocketta
Nov 30th, 2006, 01:08 AM
boy oh boy.....how sad. I'm all for adoption but really sometimes you wonder if they do anything to check people out before they put a child's life in their hands. :(

The lady who wrote that article was lucky that she survived that experience with any self-esteem. I say any because no where in the article does she acknowledge that NONE of that was her fault and she wans't bringing ANYTHING negative into that home. :help:

Steffica Greles
Nov 30th, 2006, 02:04 AM
What a load of sentimental cobblers!! It gets me so mad.

Look, I'm absolutely sure that children adopted to parents of another hue in some cases find themselves picked on, lost, searching, etc.

But don't children already experience those problems?

I'm sorry, but I remember vividly the amount of problems I went through as a teenager. And both my parents were biologically related to me, good, caring people and, if it really matters, the same colour.

It is time that we start seeing each other as ONE race. For Christ's sake, at the rate we're going the world won't last much longer anyway. I know there's research here and there to determine racial characteristics, but it's all rubbish. For example, all white people are from a mixture of gene pools. Some have black hair, some blonde, some brown eyes, some blue. Black people, too, have variations in skin tone, hair type and not to mention the uniqueness of our personalities.

My bottom line is that I, as a white male, can be standing next to a black female and have far more in common with her than another white male. In fact, that is often the case.

It doesn't just seem to be white people against "inter-racial" (I hate that term) adoption. I've heard many blacks voiciferously uncomfortable with it as well. That's no surprise really.

But we must understand that there is no such thing as the perfect parent. Also, part of our growing up is learning to cope with our environments. If two black people want to adopt a white child or vice versa, it must be allowed. I cannot even believe this is an issue.

Stamp Paid
Nov 30th, 2006, 02:12 AM
Why did they even adopt a black child if they were going to take out the obvious frustrations that accompany adopting of a child of a race other than your own out on her??

Rocketta
Nov 30th, 2006, 02:14 AM
What a load of sentimental cobblers!! It gets me so mad.

Look, I'm absolutely sure that children adopted to parents of another hue in some cases find themselves picked on, lost, searching, etc.

But don't children already experience those problems?

I'm sorry, but I remember vividly the amount of problems I went through as a teenager. And both my parents were biologically related to me, good, caring people and, if it really matters, the same colour.

It is time that we start seeing each other as ONE race. For Christ's sake, at the rate we're going the world won't last much longer anyway. I know there's research here and there to determine racial characteristics, but it's all rubbish. For example, all white people are from a mixture of gene pools. Some have black hair, some blonde, some brown eyes, some blue. Black people, too, have variations in skin tone, hair type and not to mention the uniqueness of our personalities.

My bottom line is that I, as a white male, can be standing next to a black female and have far more in common with her than another white male. In fact, that is often the case.

It doesn't just seem to be white people against "inter-racial" (I hate that term) adoption. I've heard many blacks voiciferously uncomfortable with it as well. That's no surprise really.

But we must understand that there is no such thing as the perfect parent. Also, part of our growing up is learning to cope with our environments. If two black people want to adopt a white child or vice versa, it must be allowed. I cannot even believe this is an issue.

who said it was only white people against interracial adoption?

Honestly, your dismissal of her feelings is really quite common to come from someone who has been in the majority their whole life. You have no clue what it's like to question your worthiness on a racial level. It's also quite arrogant considering you haven't a clue as to how the world is viewed from her eyes.

This has little to do with perfect parenting. Who expects perfect parenting? For a white person to adopt a black child or vice versa the minimum you would expect is for them not to be prejudiced. How exactly or where exactly was she suppose to get her self-esteem from? The air? A book? The black people she sees on tv? :rolleyes:

Now where has anyone said interracial adoption shouldn't be allowed? Maybe you need to look at yourself and try to figure out why you jumped to that conclusion specifically since the person who wrote the article says she's neither for nor against interracial adoption. :confused:

drake3781
Nov 30th, 2006, 02:14 AM
What a load of sentimental cobblers!! It gets me so mad.

Look, I'm absolutely sure that children adopted to parents of another hue in some cases find themselves picked on, lost, searching, etc.

But don't children already experience those problems?

I'm sorry, but I remember vividly the amount of problems I went through as a teenager. And both my parents were biologically related to me, good, caring people and, if it really matters, the same colour.

It is time that we start seeing each other as ONE race. For Christ's sake, at the rate we're going the world won't last much longer anyway. I know there's research here and there to determine racial characteristics, but it's all rubbish. For example, all white people are from a mixture of gene pools. Some have black hair, some blonde, some brown eyes, some blue. Black people, too, have variations in skin tone, hair type and not to mention the uniqueness of our personalities.

My bottom line is that I, as a white male, can be standing next to a black female and have far more in common with her than another white male. In fact, that is often the case.

It doesn't just seem to be white people against "inter-racial" (I hate that term) adoption. I've heard many blacks voiciferously uncomfortable with it as well. That's no surprise really.

But we must understand that there is no such thing as the perfect parent. Also, part of our growing up is learning to cope with our environments. If two black people want to adopt a white child or vice versa, it must be allowed. I cannot even believe this is an issue.

^^Too bad we cannot goodrep people more than once in a while; ITA again with your post.

Rocketta
Nov 30th, 2006, 02:17 AM
Why did they even adopt a black child if they were going to take out the obvious frustrations that accompany adopting of a child of a race other than your own out on her??

probably because they thought they would receive praises and kudos for being such great people? :tape:

Anyway, why was the mother the primary breadwinner and all the while popping out kids? :confused:

Steffica Greles
Nov 30th, 2006, 02:27 AM
who said it was only white people against interracial adoption?

Honestly, your dismissal of her feelings is really quite common to come from someone who has been in the majority their whole life.

Oh really. Have I?

So all white males are the same are they? What a great insight you have. We're all homogenous. I never knew!

As it is, I don't need to go into my private life to justify my position.

You have no clue what it's like to question your worthiness on a racial level. It's also quite arrogant considering you haven't a clue as to how the world is viewed from her eyes.

Well I do if because I'm a white male my view is somehow less valid.

And I do have an idea of how she might see the world. As I stated in the first few lines of my post.


This has little to do with perfect parenting. Who expects perfect parenting? For a white person to adopt a black child or vice versa the minimum you would expect is for them not to be prejudiced. How exactly or where exactly was she suppose to get her self-esteem from? The air? A book? The black people she sees on tv? :rolleyes:

Of course you'd expect a person who adopts a child of another colour to not be prejudiced.

She will get her self-esteem from interracting with her own environment. From growing confidence. And from living in a society where blacks and whites marry, where there are more mixed-race people (although I don't like the term) and where she knows that having parents of another colour may not be "normal", but isn't such a rare or stigmatised thing.



Now where has anyone said interracial adoption shouldn't be allowed? Maybe you need to look at yourself and try to figure out why you jumped to that conclusion specifically since the person who wrote the article says she's neither for nor against interracial adoption. :confused:

The title was "Part of me wished my parents had given me back".

What would you infer from that?

And yes, I know exactly why it is that it struck a chord. Because I have been reading about adoption laws a great deal lately and so I expressed my view. So there you go.

harloo
Nov 30th, 2006, 03:05 AM
What a load of sentimental cobblers!! It gets me so mad.

Look, I'm absolutely sure that children adopted to parents of another hue in some cases find themselves picked on, lost, searching, etc.

But don't children already experience those problems?

I'm sorry, but I remember vividly the amount of problems I went through as a teenager. And both my parents were biologically related to me, good, caring people and, if it really matters, the same colour.

It is time that we start seeing each other as ONE race. For Christ's sake, at the rate we're going the world won't last much longer anyway. I know there's research here and there to determine racial characteristics, but it's all rubbish. For example, all white people are from a mixture of gene pools. Some have black hair, some blonde, some brown eyes, some blue. Black people, too, have variations in skin tone, hair type and not to mention the uniqueness of our personalities.

My bottom line is that I, as a white male, can be standing next to a black female and have far more in common with her than another white male. In fact, that is often the case.

It doesn't just seem to be white people against "inter-racial" (I hate that term) adoption. I've heard many blacks voiciferously uncomfortable with it as well. That's no surprise really.

But we must understand that there is no such thing as the perfect parent. Also, part of our growing up is learning to cope with our environments. If two black people want to adopt a white child or vice versa, it must be allowed. I cannot even believe this is an issue.

Considering you had the luxury of growing up with your biological parents, you have no idea what it's like to be adopted into an interracial family. The fact that you quickly discount her story exemplifies a lack of sensitivity.

The young woman didn't demonize interracial adoptions, neither did she blast Madonna. She only stated her experience with a mother who didn't love her because she was black. We are only talking about one story here, but I'm sure their are many other children dealing with the same problem. It's not to say all white adoptive parents are unfit to raise children from different cultures but this type of problem is more common that anyone ever mentions.

hdfb
Nov 30th, 2006, 03:11 AM
That was a really nice read and I wish her happiness....

Biologically speaking there is no such thing as race. Only socially so.

Steffica Greles
Nov 30th, 2006, 03:12 AM
Considering you had the luxury of growing up with your biological parents, you have no idea what it's like to be adopted into an interracial family. The fact that you quickly discount her story exemplifies a lack of sensitivity.

The young woman didn't demonize interracial adoptions, neither did she blast Madonna. She only stated her experience with a mother who didn't love her because she was black. We are only talking about one story here, but I'm sure their are many other children dealing with the same problem. It's not to say all white adoptive parents are unfit to raise children from different cultures but this type of problem is more common that anyone ever mentions.

I do concede that I read the headline and skim read the article. So you're right about that much. I reacted to the headline and other things I had read recently.

As for insensitivity, I am extremely sensitive to disillisionment and isolation. I won't explain myself because I don't have to. But rather than be defeated by it, I am looking in the wider picture. As a world we need to transcend division rather than allow it to remain inveterate. I'm sorry more people can't see this.

P.S As for Madonna, I can't bear her. And the adoption and the general trend of removing children from the developing world rather than genuine investment in them leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But I have no problem with the interracial aspect of the adoption.

Steffica Greles
Nov 30th, 2006, 03:14 AM
Biologically speaking there is no such thing as race. Only socially so.

:woohoo: :music:

kabuki
Nov 30th, 2006, 03:38 AM
This is, as the title says, one person's account.

There are millions of children (and adults) of interracial adoption who are happy and healthy. Don't let one story overly influence your perspective.

harloo
Nov 30th, 2006, 03:46 AM
I do concede that I read the headline and skim read the article. So you're right about that much. I reacted to the headline and other things I had read recently.

As for insensitivity, I am extremely sensitive to disillisionment and isolation. I won't explain myself because I don't have to. But rather than be defeated by it, I am looking in the wider picture. As a world we need to transcend division rather than allow it to remain inveterate. I'm sorry more people can't see this.

P.S As for Madonna, I can't bear her. And the adoption and the general trend of removing children from the developing world rather than genuine investment in them leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But I have no problem with the interracial aspect of the adoption.

You stated that you basically skimmed over the article, if you read further you would of understood that the author didn't have a defeatist attitude about her life. She only shared her experience of what it was like living with a mother who resented her because of skin color. She has opened the line of communication with her brothers and moving on.

RVD
Nov 30th, 2006, 04:01 AM
What a sad sad article, and I must say that I really feel for that poor young lady. Obviously her situation has affected her significantly, judging from her emotional account. What I do not understand, and probably never will, is why in the world would white families adopt black children.
I have to admit that from all I've read over the decades, I'm not for such pairings. Mainly because most white families simply can't handle the stress and ostracism from their peers. And honestly, the black child loses all the way around, unless he/she has extraordinary adoptive parents. :worship:

Here in the U.S., I've personally never met or witnessed a white adopted child in a black family. I have my doubts that adoption agencies promote these pairing at any rate. In fact, I know that they don't because my mom worked with foster agencies [years ago] who commented on this. Maybe others here in the states can shed some light on this. :shrug:

Steffica Greles -
You sound very bitter towards this young lady's emotional "plight". I won't ask why since you expressed a desire to not be questioned. However, your words of disbelief lead me to surmise that there is no other situation that counts save for those you are intimately familiar with. That's pretty sad, IMO. However, we all deal with sad situations the best way we can. And I hope that you are able to resolve your feelings, just as I hope for this young lady in the article to find peace as well. :)

Rocketta
Nov 30th, 2006, 04:31 AM
Oh really. Have I?

So all white males are the same are they? What a great insight you have. We're all homogenous. I never knew!

Did I say white males or did I say the majority? I didn't realize White males were the majority everywhere in the world. :rolleyes:


As it is, I don't need to go into my private life to justify my position.

Great, because I don't remembering asking you to? :shrug:



Well I do if because I'm a white male my view is somehow less valid.

And I do have an idea of how she might see the world. As I stated in the first few lines of my post.

I don't think your view is less valid because your a white male....I think your view is less valid because it's not based in any experience having been a black female who was adopted by white parents all the while spouting some :bs: that all it is typical teenage angst....parents aren't perfect as if those are the two choices perfect parents or someone who hurls racial insults in your presence and blames their unhappiness on the fact that you are black.


And I do have an idea of how she might see the world. As I stated in the first few lines of my post.

is that the line that you ended with etc.... and then you minimized by claiming isn't that what all children experience? Do you think all children experience their parents blaming their race as the cause of all their problems? :confused:



Of course you'd expect a person who adopts a child of another colour to not be prejudiced.

why would you expect that when that is a problem that all children deal with, you know parents aren't perfect.


She will get her self-esteem from interracting with her own environment. From growing confidence. And from living in a society where blacks and whites marry, where there are more mixed-race people (although I don't like the term) and where she knows that having parents of another colour may not be "normal", but isn't such a rare or stigmatised thing.

So in other words in some imaginary fairy tale world? She lives in this world and this reality and that is not possible. :tape: You're talking about how it should be but she's talking about how it 'actually' was and those two views are nowhere near each other.



The title was "Part of me wished my parents had given me back".

What would you infer from that?

That she had an unhappy childhood and I would wonder what happened and then I would READ the ENTIRE article. I would then make the point that adoption people should spend more time checking out the parents. If the article was about her parents beating the crap out of her, I seriously doubt you would minimize it into well all children have problems.

btw, are adopted children suppose to just be grateful or can they expect a certain level of care and when they don't receive it have a right to express their displeasure?


And yes, I know exactly why it is that it struck a chord. Because I have been reading about adoption laws a great deal lately and so I expressed my view. So there you go.

yeah well maybe you should take the time to read the entire article before you belittle someone else's experience as they see it.

RVD
Nov 30th, 2006, 06:33 AM
Did I say white males or did I say the majority? I didn't realize White males were the majority everywhere in the world. :rolleyes:



Great, because I don't remembering asking you to? :shrug:




I don't think your view is less valid because your a white male....I think your view is less valid because it's not based in any experience having been a black female who was adopted by white parents all the while spouting some :bs: that all it is typical teenage angst....parents aren't perfect as if those are the two choices perfect parents or someone who hurls racial insults in your presence and blames their unhappiness on the fact that you are black.



is that the line that you ended with etc.... and then you minimized by claiming isn't that what all children experience? Do you think all children experience their parents blaming their race as the cause of all their problems? :confused:




why would you expect that when that is a problem that all children deal with, you know parents aren't perfect.



So in other words in some imaginary fairy tale world? She lives in this world and this reality and that is not possible. :tape: You're talking about how it should be but she's talking about how it 'actually' was and those two views are nowhere near each other.




That she had an unhappy childhood and I would wonder what happened and then I would READ the ENTIRE article. I would then make the point that adoption people should spend more time checking out the parents. If the article was about her parents beating the crap out of her, I seriously doubt you would minimize it into well all children have problems.

btw, are adopted children suppose to just be grateful or can they expect a certain level of care and when they don't receive it have a right to express their displeasure?



yeah well maybe you should take the time to read the entire article before you belittle someone else's experience as they sees it.I'mmmmmm...just gonna kick back and watch the fireworks. :lol: ;) :angel:

Crazy Canuck
Nov 30th, 2006, 06:38 AM
What in the world would we do without amateur cyber psychologists to figure us out?

RVD
Nov 30th, 2006, 07:12 AM
What in the world would we do without amateur cyber psychologists to figure us out?In therapy ourselves, more likely. :tape: :lol:

"Sluggy"
Nov 30th, 2006, 09:44 AM
oh jees, that is sad. I would love to adopt a child.

morningglory
Nov 30th, 2006, 04:38 PM
Well, at least she's got a loving grandma and brothers :hug:
still... sad story

No Name Face
Nov 30th, 2006, 05:40 PM
yeah, another stupid argument.

anyway, this article is really sad. i'm not fundamentally against interracial adoption, but i understand that my opinion is somewhat because of my whole situation.

Kart
Nov 30th, 2006, 11:59 PM
I read this article yesterday - it's a sad tale.

The author appears to have issues to rival the ones she attributes to her adoptive mother and father.

If her adoptive parents were to give their side of the story it would make equally interesting reading I'd imagine.

Rocketta
Dec 1st, 2006, 12:05 AM
I read this article yesterday - it's a sad tale.

The author appears to have issues to rival the ones she attributes to her adoptive mother and father.

If her adoptive parents were to give their side of the story it would make equally interesting reading I'd imagine.

yeah it would be interesting but I know my empathy would be low for them. They were adults who chose to adopt, she was a baby and had no choice in the matter. When things weren't going well they should've done their best to deal with it but it looks like they didn't. :tape:

Kart
Dec 1st, 2006, 12:17 AM
yeah it would be interesting but I know my empathy would be low for them. They were adults who chose to adopt, she was a baby and had no choice in the matter. When things weren't going well they should've done their best to deal with it but it looks like they didn't. :tape:

We don't really know though how it was for them though do we ?

It's a pretty one-sided account.

Rocketta
Dec 1st, 2006, 12:28 AM
We don't really know though how it was for them though do we ?

It's a pretty one-sided account.

no we don't but what could ever make a parent of a child of another race yell out racial slurs to others in the presence of said child? I don't think there is anything that can make that understandable or reasonable behavior. Could the girl be lying? Sure. But if half of what she said is true, my empathy for the parents will be low.

Kart
Dec 1st, 2006, 12:49 AM
no we don't but what could ever make a parent of a child of another race yell out racial slurs to others in the presence of said child? I don't think there is anything that can make that understandable or reasonable behavior. Could the girl be lying? Sure. But if half of what she said is true, my empathy for the parents will be low.

Oh I don't think she's lying nor am I excusing her parents' behaviour for a second.

I'd just be interested to hear what they have to say - eg. she's basically said her mother practically froze her out which I find just a little bit melodramatic for a grown woman to write.

I doubt anyone forced them to adopt her.

I guess what I'm getting at is that things may not have been quite as gloomy as she makes out - her parents might well love her which (even though they might have a funny way of showing it) must count for something (?)

Rocketta
Dec 1st, 2006, 01:11 AM
Oh I don't think she's lying nor am I excusing her parents' behaviour for a second.

I'd just be interested to hear what they have to say - eg. she's basically said her mother practically froze her out which I find just a little bit melodramatic for a grown woman to write.

I doubt anyone forced them to adopt her.

I guess what I'm getting at is that things may not have been quite as gloomy as she makes out - her parents might well love her which (even though they might have a funny way of showing it) must count for something (?)

yes it's possible her parents loved her, I think her dad loved her for sure but that doesn't mean his prejudice isn't real. That type of stuff is ingrained deep down in some and if you go through life in denial about it then it's bound to come out at the worst times, imo.

I also think it's possible her mother did freeze her out. It's happened before for many different reasons. Maybe her mother has mental illness? Unfortunately people do some crazy things in life but her story didn't sound over the top to me. I mean she could've said things about her dad throwing racial slurs at her not someone else. She basically blames all the problems on her not being the same race as her parents, ie her fault somehow. However, what she describes is not her fault and it's not even close to being her fault if we go by what she wrote.