Feeling “Othered” — Multiculturalism, Diversity, and Adoption
Adoptees tell us that they frequently feel like they don’t quite fit in either their adoptive or birth families. This is not to say that they don’t feel attached, loved and welcomed. Rather it speaks to their challenge of living with the influences of their dual heritage. Not 100% of either family, they are a rich blend of both. This distinction sets them apart from their non-adopted peers and from families who are not touched by adoption.
Adoptive families are inherently different–not less than, yet definitely different. Our culture constantly reminds us of this distinction as they attempt to box us in as either the real parent, the real sibling, the real child, etc. We know that our relationship bonds and the love that we feel for our relatives through adoption are genuine. DNA isn’t essential to love, care about and be attached/bonded to another. We recognize that we are not in competition with our childrens’ birth families; they want, need and care about both! ALL of us are real!
It is easy to become defensive when our families and the love that bonds us are dismissed as less than if we were connected through biology. Our greater opportunity is to educate whenever the chance presents itself. Yes, our families are not the “norm” however, they are normal. We are uniquely situated to be a voice–a confident, respectful and outspoken voice–of diversity.
Jan. 27, 2016 marks the observance of Multicultural Children’s Book Day. As families committed to intentionality, it makes sense for us to support this event and the values which it upholds. Read and buy books that feature multicultural characters. Support multicultural authors and illustrators. Such choices might begin in the spirit of mutual self-interest (expanding cultural understanding and acceptance of how a normal “real” family looks and whom they include.) Ultimately, by increasing tolerance and understanding, it also benefits all who might otherwise be marginalized and or excluded. #ReadYourWorld
GIFT coach, Gayle H. Swift is proud to be both an author/sponsor and a participating reviewer in this important event. The mission of Multicultural Children’s Book Day is:
The world currently faces significant problems as we are divided into a them-against-us-mentality which asserts that my family, community, country or faith is better than yours. Ignorance breeds suspicion and hatred. It feeds intolerance, bigotry and mistrust. As adoptive families we can choose to nurture cultural attitudes based on tolerance, respect and understanding. This is a huge task which we undertake one interaction, one book, one conversation at a time.
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