Adoption can be a really beautiful act for a child who is in need of a loving home.
But it’s a complicated process, as well, and future parents must think about everything their adoptive children will need.
Their past lives and birth families should not be swept under the rug and forgotten, stressed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor No_Carrot1682 urged her sister-in-law (SIL) to reconsider when she discovered that she, a White woman, intended to adopt an Asian baby but to not introduce them to their culture.
When her sister-in-law’s feelings were hurt, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was too harsh.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for telling my SIL (sister-in-law) that she shouldn’t adopt an Asian baby if she wasn’t prepared to learn about their culture?”
The OP was excited about her sister-in-law’s chance to adopt a baby.
“I am Chinese American and my husband is White.”
“My SIL (sister-in-law) and her husband have been trying to adopt for a while now and were recently told they have been approved to adopt from a Southeast Asian country (being deliberately vague for privacy).”
“They were really excited and were telling us all about it.”
She wanted to make sure they would consider the baby’s familial needs.
“I asked if they were going to try to connect with the local community of people from that country, and they seemed confused and said they weren’t planning on it.”
“Then I asked if they were going to try to learn the language (no), learn about the culture (no), or try to teach the kid anything about their birth country (maybe?).”
“My SIL kind of laughed and said we are going to raise the baby just like we would any other baby.”
“I told her she shouldn’t adopt an Asian baby if she wasn’t prepared to learn about their culture.”
The OP was blamed for how the evening went.
“She got distant and then they left.”
“My husband told me I was being an AH and if I feel so strongly about it, I can be there for the kid.”
“But I feel like that kid deserves to know about their birth culture.”
“Also, I’m not from that country, so that’s like saying a German person can help an Italian person learn about their heritage.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some agreed with the OP about her concerns for the child’s upbringing.
“NTA. As a therapist who specializes in adopted children, I can’t emphasize enough how important it becomes for children of color being raised by white parents to be connected to their culture of origin.” – poopbuttfartbreath
“And depending on how old the child is, they will be already be deeply connected to the culture and language.”
“My friends adopted a baby from China, and they tried speaking Mandarin with her but she never really responded.”
“One day a friend came over who spoke Cantonese and he sang to her a Cantonese lullaby, and she instantly perked up and responded to the language, 6 months after being out the country.”
“That child is going to be raised by people who look like them and speak their language, and then all of a sudden, your SIL is going to come in, take the child away from that environment they’re used to, and only speak a language they’ve never heard before? That will be such a shock for them.” – Legitimately-Weird
“It is pretty difficult to be born and raised in a different country even with same nationality parents. You could be born and raised in a country, speak its language, eat its food, and still be considered an outsider in your own home. Especially in the more racist communities.”
“Though I also recently watched this (I think?) Swedish guy who was born and raised in China with Swedish parents. He was a native Chinese speaker, went to school there all his life, and visited Sweden maybe once.”
“All his friends are Chinese. He has no memories of being anything other than Chinese. For all intents and purposes he considers himself to be Chinese, but of course, neither the government nor his community would recognize him as such. Basically no solution and very challenging identity issues.” – verdigris-fox
“NTA. You can look up a number of POC authors and speech givers speaking about their experience being raised by ‘white savior’ parents and the general mixed experience of transracial adoption in general. I would get some research there first for ammunition.”
“Just because they are detached from their cultural heritage doesn’t actually save them from racism. Their peers know they look different, they know they look different, and by not addressing it or giving them the power to decide who they want to be and how they want to present themselves the parents are committing a hurtful thing.”
“We aren’t post-racial. We can’t just acquire a kid, change their name, and say: you’re all good! No trauma here!”
“Heck, it doesn’t even save them from their well-meaning parent’s racism. Good intentions are not parenting skills: education is.” – crumpledwaffle
“I just had my first baby. I’m Italian and Middle Eastern and my husband is Dominican and Venezuelan.”
“I’ve been actively learning Spanish, learning to cook the cuisine, and listening to the music.”
“My husband has learned to cook a bunch of Italian dishes as well as some Middle Eastern dishes, and I’ve taught him some Hebrew and Arabic and we listen to a lot of traditional Arabic and Hebrew music.”
“This kid is gonna feel so much connection, he’s not gonna know what to do with himself.”
“We also celebrate both Christian and Jewish holidays. It’s gonna be a strange household but I’m so excited.”
“Also, we plan to adopt someday. I’ll be d**ned if my future adopted child doesn’t feel that same level of connection that our biological children will. We will learn whatever we need to learn.” – rinnreaper
Others also took issue with the husband’s behavior.
“My favorite part is the racist husband who says you can be there for the kid like any ol’ Asian can support any ol’ Asian.”
“Like, what dude? I suppose I’m drawing too much of a conclusion about hubby without really asking questions, but for him to suggest that you could just ‘be there for the kid’ like Asian cultures are just interchangeable is wildly inappropriate.”
“Cultural genocide is bad. They may be too far along in life to learn a whole-ass second language to teach the kid, but they could at least commit to regularly visiting the country, participating in the holidays of the culture, and helping the kid feel like they have a cultural identity. You are NTA.”
“NTA.” – sccforward
“People and cultures aren’t interchangeable!!”
“Would the American husband be happy to be ‘supported’ by a Canadian, or an Aussie, or someone from the North of Ireland because we (white folks from British territories/settlements) are interchangeable??”
“I 10000% bet you not.”
“(I am absolutely assuming this guy is a Basic White Dude.)” – captainbjern
“NTA. I think what you said was right and I hope those prospective parents rethink things when they are less defensive.”
“Your husband’s response is concerning and bordering on ignorant.”
“I think this is a subject that is hard for a lot of people to understand, especially if they come from certain types of privileged upbringings.” – humorouslyominous
“NTA – you’re raising valid concerns. Your husband is being an AH if he thinks your questions are AH-like. Given what’s been happening the past few years, he and your SIL seem willfully blind to challenges that your future nice/nephew will encounter both as a non-white American and a transracial adoptee.” – ciaogo
“You were combative, and quickly, with people who were caught off-guard by your questions and didn’t actually show any refusal to teach their child about their culture. Ok, they hadn’t thought of it, and they assumed they’d raise kiddo like any other child in their country.”
“That’s not evil, it’s just misinformed, but you had to basically say they shouldn’t even be parents? Get over yourself, you projected like they were some whitewashing racists with nefarious or neglectful goals. The conversation didn’t have to go that way.”
“Shining your interrogation lightbulb in people’s faces ensures the conversation will go badly.”
“But ultimately it’s your husband that’s the biggest AH. He wasn’t just ignorant, his comment was straight-up racist.” – Ladyughsalot1
The OP felt conflicted after being called out by her husband for how she approached the conversation with her sister-in-law, but the subReddit was overwhelmingly in her favor.
Though it would ultimately be the child’s decision, once they were old enough, to decide the level of involvement they would want in any aspect of their family, it was important for them to at least have access to their heritage, both where they were born and where they were going with their adoptive parents.
If the family, including the OP’s husband, couldn’t see that, it seems more conversations might need to happen before a new baby is brought into the family.