Adoption Runs Both Ways

Daniel Carlisle, FCNI Supervisor and Adoptive Parent
November, 8, 2017 -

In honor of November being National Adoption Month, we're revisiting a blog written by Daniel Carlisle, an adoptive parent, as he shares how honoring his children’s race has changed his perspective.

Recent events in the National media and celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday have resulted in some interesting and revealing thoughts and conversations in my multiracial family.

It started with a short vacation in Southern California where I found myself and my children walking a crowded path along the beach. As I people watched, I realized that my children were beautiful spots of color in what seemed to be a sea of white, which I am a part of. Then it happened. All of my children simultaneously broke the law. In blatant disregard for the clearly posted sign reading “Keep Off Grass”, they were running and chasing each other on said grass. In that moment, I realized that all the conflict I had seen and read about in media, between law officers and black communities far from my safe world were directly attached to my sons and daughter whom I deeply love. Doubts of being able to prepare my children for the life experiences they will face flooded my mind.  My wife and I have always strived to honor and develop our children’s culture and race, but this was different. This was the difficult side of being in a minority which I, as a white middle-aged man, am unable to identify with, or so I thought.

Shortly after this vacation, we approached Martin Luther King Jr.’s celebrated birthday. As I shared in conversations with my children about the lives of civil rights heroes the conversation turned. We began to imagine how the life of my children would today be absent the actions of these great heroes. Then my daughter said something I will never forget, “And you wouldn’t have been able to adopt us.”  Those simple words connected me to my children’s race and culture in a way I had never dreamed I could be connected. As her words sunk in, I realized that I am not on the outside looking in. I have benefited and continue to benefit from the actions of past and present civil rights heroes and I am intimately connected to the continuing struggles of my children’s race.

  • Although my children do not share my biology, they are unequivocally my sons and daughter.
  • Although I do not share my children’s same race, I am unequivocally a part of their culture.

Adoption runs both ways.