Don’t miss this week’s New York Magazine feature on transracial adoption. The author, Emily Nussbaum, centers the piece around a central question:
Celebrity blended families have become a cultural flash point, revealing a broad anxiety: Do parents really love adopted children differently than their own offspring?"
In her interviews with several families with both adopted and biological children, Nussbaum uncovers many layers of adoption and shows the struggle parents face when trying to determine whether their children’s behavior is a reflection of adoption, race, sibling rivalry, or age. These families are quite candid in explaining their reasons for adopting, their reactions to meeting their adoptive children’s biological family members, and their struggles upon returning to the U.S. with their children.
Nussbaum draws her own conclusion that our culture might be too obsessed with genetic explanations for our children’s behavior ("He has your eyes." Or, "She gets her stubbornness from me.")
In a country that has gone mildly bonkers for sociobiological
explanations, adoptive parents may be the last holdouts. It’s not that
they don’t believe that anything is genetic; they do. But they take
seriously the idea that that stuff is not the be-all and end-all,
because they need to in order to love children from such different
She ends with this quote from the mother a four-year-old son (biological) and one-year-old daughter (adopted from Ethiopia):
My husband is six foot seven, highly educated, intelligent, athletic… With Huck, for three years, I was expecting him to be those things. And then I brought home Tana, and I have no expectations. And I realize the injustice I’m doing to my biological child. It’s just very freeing—to find that I’m so excited to see who these two little people are going to be. Because it made me realize, I have no idea. And before, I thought I kind of knew who Huck was going to be! I don’t have that feeling anymore. Because Tana taught me that."