In June, The Diary of a Not-So-Angry Asian Adoptee posted a very informative piece that was shared everywhere I looked in the adoption community, An Adoptee’s Perspective: 15 Things Transracially Adoptive Parents Need to Know.
I am totally on board with 14 of the 15 points – all of them except number 8:
8. If we do not live in a diverse area, and are financially able to do so, you may want to consider moving to an area that is more ethnically and culturally diverse, or an area that reflects my racial and cultural identity.
Antioch is 34.5% Hispanic, 31.5% White alone, 15.4% Black alone, 10.7% Asian alone, 6.4% Two or more races… you get the idea. Antioch is very diverse.
“Salem” (the pseudonym for the town to which we’ve moved) is 59.6% White alone, 30.4% Hispanic, 4.3% Asian alone, 3% Two or more races, 1.4% Black alone… again, you get the idea. Salem is very not diverse. It’s really like a lot of California – mostly White and Hispanic. The town I grew up in was the same way (still is, actually).
So, we moved from an area that was very diverse to an area that is not very diverse, which is a direct violation of what most people in the adoption world say to do when you’re a family through transracial adoption.
Too many people were getting shot in Antioch. And the one recent kidnapping put us over the edge. We had to get out, so we chose to get out where we have existing friends (Hi Christy! Hi Annemarie!), where the schools are better, and where crime – especially the homicide rate – is lower. There are other benefits as well – a specific type of year-round sports venue, a Unitarian Universalist church, trees, weather that doesn’t make you feel like you’re in a frying pan.
Safety comes first. Where we were was not safe. Friends come second. We have friends here. We need them. A lot.
One of the best things about Jackson’s school is that there are a lot of African (as in, from Africa or early-generation African American) and Black students. When I dropped him off on the first day, there were four brown children in his class, three of them boys, and all the kids hadn’t arrived yet. Cassie’s school is more problematic. There are a number of children who appear to be Latino, but none who appear to be Black. I haven’t met everyone yet, though. Some of the children who appear to be Latino could be light-skinned Black children, or children of other races/ethnicities. You can’t tell by looking at someone, you know.
It could have been worse – we could have moved to New Hampshire. (Actually, we still could. We like New Hampshire. But one of the problems with New Hampshire is its lack of diversity. I believe it is the 4th whitest state in the union.)
I liked Antioch, until people started getting killed, and a little girl we knew was kidnapped from in front of her house. We’ll just have to try harder here in Salem to make sure our kids are connected to other people of color.