Every tree limb overhead seems to sit and wait, while every step you take becomes a twist of fate.
Up on the watershed, standing at the fork in the road...

If you are new to our adoption blog please take a moment to scroll down to the archives at the bottom of this page and start with July 2009 post "Watershed."


Elephant in the Room

Last Friday I was part of a radio interview for a call in show.

The topic was supposed to be haiti and child trafficking.

I was being interviewed because of my professional work - not anything to do with our personal adoption.

The producer sent us advance questions before the interview.
I spent hours cramming my head full of talking points pertaining to those exact questions.

I have never been on a radio interview before. I definitely have never been on a call-in show before. In fact, I rarely listen to the radio and my experience with call in shows is limited to J's fascination with turning on C.ar T.alk to annoy me.

All of this lack of radio experience means that there was no way I could predict the twists and turns my interview would take. (J was all "I warned you about call in shows" when it was over like he is the call in show expert!)

Awkward Exhibit A:

Caller: Ummmm....yes....I am from xyz small town and I once took a first aid class a long time ago....will the Haitian government employ me to help?

My Ideal Host in Ideal Radio Land (obviously created just inside my head but not existing in reality): "well caller, that's a good question but not on the topic of ___________! So let's move on shall we? And remember...stay on topic!"

Actual Host: Grrreat question! Guest (insert my name) how do you respond??

Me: Aaahh. Yes. Um. (Now grasping for interview tactics I had gleaned from my tiny amount of prep time that day.) That IS an excellent question. But maybe a better question would be....(insert my own new theme for the conversation.)

Sigh. It went on for an hour. I got into the groove right around minute 59.

Now this is why I am posting about it on my adoption blog:

The Very First Caller asked This Question: (I did not hear it directly as I was accidentally dropped from the call at this time. The host called me back and summarized.) Something along the lines of...."Isn't it paternalistic and suspicious that so many white people want to adopt black babies from Haiti and Africa?"

Not prepared folks. Not in the preparatory questions!!
In my opinion not even on theme. And not really a question.

I had some adoption answers (specific to Haiti) prepared but not one answer flew to mind. I instantly reeled with the personal impact of the question/comment.

My answer was not all that profound. And I moved on quickly.

But what I wanted to do was rant at this person about how little he understands of love, about fighting for children to be in families and not in orphanages, and how trans-racial adoption has nothing to do with colonization or the assumption that African families can't be good parents.

My heart hurt after the program was over and I returned to this question. I feel like I may have sacrificed my personal opinions to the god of keeping radio land happy and not inviting more calls on the same topic. My colleague later told me privately that she feels this is the elephant in the room when talking about adoption.

Has anyone experienced a similar comment/question? If so, how did you deal with it?

Is it a big elephant in the room or is it just a baby elephant in a herd of adoption opinions?



  1. I think it would be perfectly appropriate to ask the caller what his/her solution would be. It has been my experience that the people that ask these questions are the ones that like to remove themselves from a messy situation by putting up intellectual arguements. Broken societies, and broken families are messy situations and the color of the skin of the people involved is irrelevent. Haiti is poor for many complex reasons that have nothing to do with them being black. The White people that want to help, just want to help and you will just have to excuse us for being White.

    I think it is very much like the man who wanted to know how to get into the Kingdom of God. When Jesus told him he had to love his neighbor he asked "Who is my neighbor?" They want to excuse their lack of involvement by judging those who are willing to get messy and love the people that need help. I think it would be very appropriate to ask them what they are doing to help Haiti. How are they helping the women that are in such desparate lives that givig their children to someone else to raise is what they believe is best for their child. I am not denying that child trafficing occurs, like I said this is a messy situation, but I think there are many many situations where there is truly no one to care for these children. I would encourage you not to feel guilty, not to let those folks criticize you into a corner. What you are doing is loving your neighbor, and if they want to criticize that ask them who they are loving?

  2. I've been meaning to comment on this for AGES. I've been thinking about it and... i think it CAN be the elephant, but it doesn't HAVE to be. On the Big Ethiopia Adopt Yahoo list, I read things that terrify me - people with attitudes that make me want to CRY with fear for their future children. I think adoption definitely can come from a colonial poitn of view (even when it's not conscious. ESPECIALLY when it's not conscious). This is why I agree with what you wrote a few posts down about not automatically always being an adoption cheerleader.

    But, I don't think that has to be the case. (Obviously I don't, and neither do you, or we wouldn't be adopting!) I just think that it is all so complex that most people would rather think adoption is either 'all good', ie all about love, or 'all bad' and necessarily about paternalism or colonialism or whatever. And, as with pretty much everythign in life... it's impossible to explain to a stranger all the nuances in a thirty second conversation. Especially when we will never understand all of them ourselves...


About Me

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J and I have been married for almost 15 years. We have shared many adventures and a lot of watershed moments. In 2009 I began blogging and in 2010 we adopted our daughter from Ethiopia. In March of 2012 we began the process to adopt a little boy from Haiti. This blog follows the many twists and turns on the road to our two children and beyond.