Advice for interracial adoptive children
Racism, psychological trauma
As long time readers know, I grew up in an interracial household. I am white and one of my biological brothers is a BIPOC. We were adopted together, by a white couple.
As a result, I observed first hand the similarities and differences between his and my experiences with adoption. We were both considered older when we were adopted, I was six and he was three at the time, so I remember our adoption experience quite well.
We had overlapping experiences that are common for all adoptees and transcend race. But there were some experiences that he had and I did not. Specifically because they related to interracial adoption.
Disclaimer: I’m not a psychologist or qualified to make any kind of diagnosis on any forms of mental health issues or abuse. What follows are merely suggestions coming from my own life experiences.
Common adoptee experiences include an identity crisis, hero complex, abandonment issues and low self esteem. These are not insurmountable issues and can be worked through either independently or with professional help depending on the individual.
If you are a white adoptee that grew up in an interracial household, it might be useful to look into race-based identity crisis. While this won’t reflect your own experience directly, it will shed light on your upbringing and family.
If you’re looking to learn more about any of the issues I’ve listed above, I’ve found it helpful to examine them in the following order because one builds onto the other. Your research can be as specific or broad as you choose and can take as long as you like.
For those reasons, I’ve kept it vague and left a lot of the customization up to the individual. All in all, there are only four steps to learning more about common issues adoptees and adoptees in interracial families experience.
Step one: Starting off
To start, research these topics until you can explain them in your own words;
1. Adoption identity crisis
2. Racial identity crisis
3. Hero complex
4. Abandonment issue
Step two: Introspection
From there, I suggest moving onto the bigger stuff. Reflect on how each of these has shaped you into the person you currently are. For me, I found it helpful to also think back to specific experiences that highlighted these issues and how I reacted and felt within those moments. I also thought about what, if anything, I would do differently if I could and why.
The goal on this step is to deeply understand why you are the way you are when it comes to these psychological experiences and to accept these parts of yourself. We cannot change or improve the parts of ourselves we cannot look at honestly and accept for what they truly are.
I didn’t have anyone to talk through this part with, but I suspect it would have helped. It’s up to you if you want to process this on your own or not, but I highly recommend professional counselling if it’s an option for you.
Step three: Application
This next part will help bridge the gap between the past and present. Take all the analytical skills you’ve been honing from step two, all the reflecting you’ve been doing and all the objective assessments you’ve been making on your past self and use them on your present self.
Pay attention to how you act, what you say, and why you do what you do presently. Reflect on how it relates to the psychological experiences from step one.
Just like in step two, the goal is to observe, without criticism, why you are the way you are. To deeply understand yourself.
Step four: putting it altogether
Now it gets even tougher, but you’re ready! Reflect on the parts of yourself you’ve learned about in step three. But now think about the aspects you’d like to modify. What do you want to work on? And how can you go about changing?
This takes the longest time because you’re breaking habits and changing behaviours that you’ve had your whole life.
The Next Step
This is merely work that has helped me process a lot of my experiences around adoption, but by no means is is all encompassing. Self development is a lifelong journey and doesn’t end at the completion of this article or these steps.
Question of the Week
Should the internet be selectively censored?
Studies have proven that exposure to certain forms of online content leads to an increased likelihood to dehumanize a specific group of people or even commit violent acts against them. Two significant examples to point to are violent porn and hate crimes. What are your thoughts on online censorship for some types of content? Should censorship exist? If so, who controls it, and to what extent? Can we trust them to remain ethical with this control? If not, how do we justify the harm that comes to people as a result of a lack of censorship? Who would be most negatively impacted and why?
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