In 6th grade, I had a very close friend named Parminder, I think we both got along because we were quiet and kept to ourselves. The one thing that always intrigued me about Parminder, was the contrast between her skin tone and hair. She had the blackest hair I had ever seen, and her skin was the color of copper. It was rare occurrence for Parminder and I to see each other outside of school, but one day she invited me over to her house. When I walked into her house, I expected to see parents that looked just like her, but I saw two very blond hair and blue-eyed people and that’s when it dawned on me that Parminder was adopted. Being the nosey kid I was, when I asked her about it, she told me she was from India and was adopted when she was 2 years old. I didn’t think anything about it until I was listening to the news these past couple of days.
In recent news, The Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (MEPA) has been questioned in regards to transracial adoption practices and procedures. Basically the MEPA prohibits race from being considered a factor in most decisions about adoption from foster care. Whether you’re black or white, you’ll go through the same adoption training as someone who wants to adopt a child from their own race. Statistics show that there is a larger number of minority children in the foster care system compared to white children.
Personally, I believe that it shouldn’t matter who adopts these children, as long as they’re given a chance to get out of the system, but I do feel that if a couple does venture out to adopt a child or another ethnicity, there should be some type of ethnic & cultural sensitivity training involved. I think these children should be able to live in an environment that provides the child an opportunity to participate in positive experiences with their culture, religion, and language. A child should be able to interact with parents who have an understanding what it feels like for the child to look different from their parent and also to have a parent that has knowledge of special dietary, skin, hair and health care needs. Although there are private organizations who take part in similar trainings, I think this should be mandatory and State funded initiatives.
One incident in particular that I remember was how Parminder would always lotion herself up throughout the day at school and she would never want to play outside when it was really sunny. When I asked her why, she always said she didn’t want to become darker and since the lotion was white, she would hope that it would change her to a lighter color, so that she could match her family.
When I look back at the years of friendship I had with Parminder, I can see where her parents failed her. She wasn’t taught anything about her Indian culture, she thought because her skin was darker than her parents and siblings that something was wrong. It wasn’t until we attended college at Rutgers University, which has a large Indian population, that she was able to learn and appreciate her culture and embrace it. I would hope that children that are involved in transracial adoptions are taught their history, culture & the ability to embrace their differences and to be proud of who they are.