Last night I watched this movie. It was probably the most painful instance I have ever known about the foster care and adoption system in the United States. But I want to start out by saying this is a PRO ADOPTION story. I also would like my readers to know I am myself pro adoption/foster care. Do I believe that it is the best solution for children? No. Do I believe that some kids have great relationships and never want to know about their biological families? Yes.
This was one of those stories.
This girl bonded and found a great mother figure in her life at the children's home she was staying at. But because of racial and cultural bias, she was continually told that she needed to be with a black family to support her culture/heritage, so the request for adoption was denied. And ultimately, they never saw each other again for over 30 years.
One important thing to know about children in the system or adopted since birth is the constant losses they suffer. Loss at birth/given up. Loss of relationships over time. Loss of history/culture. So to take away a positive supportive relationship at any age, is another HUGE loss for a child. Especially since studies have shown that having at least one positive adult relationship as a child can help build resilience over time.
So what does culture and heritage really mean to an adopted child/adult? Well, lets start with trans-racial adoptees who come from foreign countries. They can be raised two ways: forced upon by the adopted parents cultural identity, or the adopted parents force the culture of their biological homeland. Either way that is chosen has lasting effects. And no one ever asks what they want, but only insist that they are doing what is in the child's best interests.
What is really in an adoptees best interest? What could they want? Most often when a child does ask about biological history they are shut down by lies and secrets. For myself I was inundated with my adopted family's cultural rituals. Always knowing deep inside that it was not me, and that I could not accept it wholeheartedly. But as a child you don't have a choice, and even when you express what you think is in your best interest, people don't listen.
I saw a very well written post on Facebook today about adoptees. It was using a metaphor about cutting a branch off a tree, and then trying to reconnect it to another tree. This is a very good representation of a child in the system. Cut off from the family and continually trying to reattach it to something completely different. You can't force a relationship or culture upon children.
If you are interest more in the movie, or Regina Louise, check out her website: https://www.iamreginalouise.com/
"Love is never wasted"