What it’s like to go through interracial adoption

“I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about his race. To me, he’s just my super freakin’ cute kid… but I’ll never be able to relate to how it feels growing up a black child in a white home.” Leah Sannar on interracial adoption…

Leah Sannar, 35, lives with her husband Tim in a suburb of San Antonio, called Universal City, Texas, US, with their son Dominic, who is five.

“After my two-year battle with Crohn’s Disease and Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, we began testing for fertility issues because we suspected getting pregnant may not be easy for us after all that I had been through. We were right, and I was left unable to bear children of my own.

After a brief period of mourning, we knew we still wanted a family and began to seek out other options. Adoption had always felt like something I would love to do, but I always figured it would be after I had children of my own. I guess God had other plans in mind for us!

We spent four months preparing ourselves to be ready for the adoption list. There is so much paperwork and certification to be done. But once our profile went live, it all happened pretty quickly. Dominic’s birth mother selected us when she was five months pregnant. She was very open with us and invited us to doctor’s appointments, and even asked us to be a part of the delivery.

We’ve had Dominic with us since the minute he was born, and we’re the only parents he’s ever known. I guess, if I’m being honest, I didn’t know that he would make our family complete. We knew that we wanted children, and that this was the route that felt right… but we had our own fears about what it would be like to have an adopted child. Would we connect with him? Would he feel like our child?

While they were totally natural feelings and fears, they were completely unfounded. I was completely head over heels for him the minute he was born, and what I hadn’t realized, was that I had been in love with him from the moment she chose us. It was almost born out of our love for her and the choice she made that allowed us to become a family… if that makes sense.

On interracial adoption

In all honesty, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about his race. To me, he’s just my super freakin’ cute kid. But I think there are pros and cons, sure. I don’t necessarily feel like there are any cons from my perspective, but I can see how there may be some for him.

I’ll never be able to relate to how it feels growing up a black child in a white home. Understanding what it might feel like to him to be a minority in your own family is something I’ll never be able to give him. I hope and pray he never feels that way, but I recognize that throughout certain phases of his life, it might be hard on him.

But on the other side of that, I think what I can give him is a unique perspective on the human race as a whole. Not even speaking of racism, just growing up in a white family in a mostly white community doesn’t give you the same exposure to other cultures. And the same could be said for black families living in mostly black communities.

Dominic is growing up in a multi-racial family and those boundaries just don’t exist in our tiny little corner of the world. Yes, he’s black and I’m white… but because it’s all he’s ever known, it doesn’t mean anything to him. I like that and I hope he carries that special gift with him forever.

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The way our adoption agency (and most agencies) work these days, is through profiles. You set yours up, and then birth mothers look through them and pick the ones they connect with. We were one of three families she liked the best, and after an interview she chose us. We just happened to get picked by a Liberian woman who was living in the United States.

It was a domestic adoption, and she still lives here stateside. A white birth mother could just as easily have chosen us. As far as connecting with Dominic, we did love him instantly when he was born, and we also connected with his birth mom right away. Though the road got a little bumpy throughout the rest of the process, as can be expected with so many emotions on the line, we definitely liked her right away. She was funny, sarcastic, outgoing… we liked her a lot.

On the #BlackLivesMatter movement

I worry a lot for Dominic, and I hope he never faces any battles, ever. I’d also like to wrap him up in bubble wrap and never let him out of my sight… but people are telling me that’s not very logical. So, I guess I’m going to have to let him grow up and face the world. I pray every day that our nation moves forward past our current struggles.

More than anything, I want to know that every person who meets my son will see the beautiful person he is on the inside and outside, without discrimination or prejudices. I just can’t understand how you could see anything else. I don’t want to worry that they will see something that isn’t there because of preconceived notions or misinformation.

Maybe this is my white privilege speaking, but I guess I haven’t considered how raising a black man would be different than raising a white man. Other than the things we’ve talked about previously, like being aware that he may feel certain things about being adopted or about being the only black man in our family, to me, I’m just raising a son.

White or black, I just want to raise a good, moral young man who respects and loves others without qualification. I want him to have a good work ethic and an incredible talent for thoughtfulness, like his dad, and a great sense of humor like his mom. I want him to value friendship and family over material things.

I most definitely want to teach him about his culture, but we are still learning how to make that a reality. We hope to take a trip with his birth mother and sisters to Liberia, so that he can meet his extended birth family and she can teach him and us about the culture. Reading books of course, and letting him ask his birth mother questions when the time comes. Aside from that, I’m honestly not sure how we will teach him… We’re still learning ourselves, and will definitely do whatever we can to help him understand where he comes from.

We do have plans to adopt more children – in fact; our profile is live right now on adoption.com and was presented to a birth mom this week. Hopefully we’ll be matched with someone soon so we can add another little soul to our family. I know Dominic would be such a great big brother and we all have so much love to give.

Is race a social construct?

Maybe I’m crazy or uneducated, but sometimes I think the word ‘race’ can take on two meanings. If we refer to race like it should be, as our diversity in culture and heritage, then I believe race can be real, and celebrated. However, if we’re talking about ‘race’ in the way that divides us and gives reason for inequality or separation, then I think the idea of race is definitely a social construct.

I like when people talk about there only being one ‘race’ and that’s the human race. But I also don’t think that we need to pretend we aren’t different colors. I think that different colors and cultures are beautiful and should be celebrated within the confines of our one human race. Much in the same way that different genders are celebrated. Men and women are equal, but bring different qualities and characteristics to the table. We are all alike in our differences, and I think that our nation needs to unify as a human race and move forward into what our future could and should be.

That’s basically just me rambling out loud. Sorry, this is all something that I never really thought too much about before I adopted a black child. And I’ll just throw that right into the ‘pro’ column, because anytime you experience something that teaches you, or changes you in some way… it’s a good thing.”