Thanks to celebrities known to us on a first name basis, the controversy over white Americans adopting babies from African countries is in the news. An article in the Washington Post, African Adoptions Raise Big Questions, talks about being involuntarily displaced from your cultural roots:
While some may see a great need being left unfilled, international adoptions are not "an easy option," said Jackie Schoeman, executive director of Cotlands, a South African organization that cares for children affected by HIV.I'd like to compare the lives of "African-child-growing-up-in-Finland-has-white-Finnish-parents" and "African-child-growing-up-in-Finland-has-African-biological-parents." Does the presence of two people, this biological mother and father, with facility in what would have been his primary language, their physical resemblance to him, connections to the history and culture of his origin, stories from their childhood, and contact with his extended family, make all the difference for a displaced child? Is the company of these two people, or even one of them, enough to alleviate concern "about the long-term effects of such a big move?" Or is it really better for every child to stay in a community of people who share the same cultural identity, language, history, heritage, and skin color? Hey, wait a minute -- that sounds a bit like ... apartheid. How did I end up here? Hmmm....
"For us, first prize is to place the kids locally or even regionally. If the only other option is for them to be in a long-term institutional then we would consider international adoption."
Schoeman said there were advantages to international adoptions. Recently one of the children for whom her organization cares was adopted by parents in the U.S. and now can receive medical care unavailable in South Africa.
However, Schoeman and others are concerned about the long-term effects of such a big move on a child, particularly in the development of cultural and individual identities.
"We don't really know enough about what a black child growing up in Finland is going to feel. I don't think it would be an alien culture because they would have grown up exposed to it. But will they have felt better staying at home?" she asked.