On Friday I had the opportunity to visit my alma mater, Simmons College, to attend a panel discussion: "Transracial Adoption: Personal, Policy, and Practice Perspectives." The discussion was filled with rich information, and was led by Margorie Margolies, an inspiring woman and great speaker. The presentations included both research on and personal experiences with transracial adoption, and provided a lot of food for thought for my long ride home in traffic and beyond. What identity am I projecting on to my daughter? How will she see her own identity? How do others here see her, and how will others in her birth country see her? Lots of questions that don't have answers yet, but it was also good to hear the panel underscore a few points that I already knew: the evolution of E's identity (and ours as a family) must be a fluid thing, and parenting an internationally adopted child requires a very different--and expanded--toolbox than that of a family created through biology.
It was upliting to hear some of the ways in which transracial adoption has progressed over the years, but it was also interesting to discover that some things haven't changed much at all. "Is she from China?" was asked 20 years ago, and is still asked today on a trip to the supermarket. But Ms. Margolies reminded us that people who ask questions and make comments are rarely trying to be hurtful. I know that some people--myself included at times--are quick to snap at the lady at the checkout counter who is just trying to make conversation, or perhaps create an opening to share her own adoption story.
I learned a lot, had the chance to meet some considerably more experienced adoptive parents than I, and of course chimed in to share our adoption story (which was warmly received with lots of smiles). Since I often look to the internet or books to inform myself about adoption related issues, it was nice to experience such a wealth of knowledge right here in my own backyard.
Fifteen years ago Simmons looked a lot different, I looked a lot different (yes, I was blond for a time), and adoption was only a dream I had. It was nice to be back there today, dream realized, participating in a discussion of the one thing that has become most important in this woman's life.