Interracial adoption adds new perspective to family tree

Asia Porter | Online Editor

These interracial families don’t make up your average family photo.

When adopted children or siblings are a different race from the rest of their family, families adapt to a new routine aside from feeding an extra mouth.

Dan and Tina Broaddrick are parents to their biological son Seth and adopted daughter Lydia. Lydia, born in Ethiopia, was brought into the Broaddrick household at the age of 11 months.

Prior to bringing Lydia home, Dan said it was important to discuss with his family the idea of adopting a child that did not have fair skin.

“We made the conscious choice and effort to have a conversation with my parents and ask ‘Is this going to be an issue?’” Dan said. “We had to have conversations beforehand, knowing that in bringing a child with brown skin into our family, we had to make the decision or commitment that we would be more committed to her and be willing to make a break or protect her from my family.”

When traveling outside of Mason, particularly on the way to Chicago, Dan said his family receives negative stares from people who see their mixed family.

“There’s one stop in particular (in Chicago) that we had such a feeling–and it was a negative feeling–that we intentionally choose not to stop there anymore,” Dan said. “We’re both from Sydney, Ohio, and even in Sydney if we’re out and about, we get more stares than we would here.”

For advice and a look into their daughter’s culture, the Broaddricks have turned to friends, colleagues, and have subscribed to African-American media outlets. In order to preserve this culture, Dan said the couple tries to incorporate Ethiopian food and decor into their home.

“Part of our decorative choice is that we’ve got pictures from Ethiopia in our house,” Dan said. “We’ve got baskets hanging up from Ethiopia in our house, and she’s got some decorations in her room, the Ethiopian flag, things like that, trying to display some of that culture or at least give her knowledge of it.”

While raising her daughter, Tina said she has had to view the world from a new perspective.

“We need to prepare her to be a black woman in the United States, so I need to know what does it look like to be a black woman in the United States,” Tina said. “I’m not gonna learn it just by walking through my life. I have to really look at what are some stories and learn those; whereas, before, I had the luxury, and I think a lot of white people have the luxury, of not having to ever think about what it’s like to be someone else because they’re not raising someone who is that somebody else. I’d be doing a disservice to her if I just raised her thinking she’s gonna be treated exactly like I’ll be treated; she won’t be, not every time. It’s not the sixties, but it’s also not what you think it is.”

For adopted children, their experience in a family of a different race takes adjustment. According to Child Welfare Information Gateway, approximately 28 percent of children placed with public agency are placed interracially.

Senior Sophia Wells was one of the 28 percent. Wells was born in the Hunan Province of China, but her adoptive parents are Caucasian. Wells said she has received questioning looks from the community.

“I have gotten looks at stores when I’m just with one of my parents,” Wells said. “Some people aren’t 100 percent educated on it, but I feel like adoption from China is one of the most common adoptions, so sometimes people can associate with that.”

Wells was eight months old when she was adopted and has grown up surrounded by American culture. As a result, Wells said people think she has forgotten about her Chinese heritage.

“Another stereotype I get from families is that I’m Americanized,” Wells said. “They think I don’t know much of my own culture, because I didn’t grow up in China with stereotypical Chinese parents.”

Adopting a member into a family, however, doesn’t solely affect the adopted child. Sophomore Emily Waldon said she was 12 when her parents brought home her three siblings Julner,  Julena, and Vindy from Haiti.

Waldon said she initially had preconceived notions about Haitian children and worried about bringing them into her family.

“I definitely viewed Haitian children as poor and that they were very down,” Waldon said. “When I first met them, I was nervous it was going to be really awkward. Now I definitely think that Haitians are very strong people. They were really sweet and the perfect fit for our family.”

After the adoption of their daughter, the Broaddricks said their worldview has widened to encompass more perspectives. Additionally, Tina said she is quicker to discuss race with her son, Seth, now that she has been exposed to a new perspective.

“He’s got a friend who’s Ethiopian and adopted,” Tina said. “We were talking about getting in trouble, and I said ‘There might be times when you and your friend could do exactly the same thing, and he’s going to get in trouble, and you’re not because he has brown skin. You need to stand up for him.’ You get to use who you are to stand up for people, and that’s something that I would not have had a conversation with him about because I wouldn’t have known.”