Two words that really shook me were ‘white savior.’ I read it in a blog and maybe a book and thought about it a bit. I then worried whether that term applied to me or not in regards to my desire to adopt transracially. I kept thinking about it and decided that it was not the case. But, I ran into a friend who advised me not to list a preferred race on my adoption application because people might perceive it as the ‘white savior complex.’ I value this friend’s thoughts on the topic and so this comment really got me thinking. After all, I don’t think she thought of me this way, but how in the world can I help others to understand that it’s not in my heart to adopt “just to feel good about myself and bring up a non-white baby to be white-like”?
All my life, I pictured a diverse family. You see, I grew up in an interracial family. My brother and I were different skin colors. He is Indonesian and I am white. Being 11 years younger than him, I didn’t discuss his entry into our family (adoption), and he didn’t discuss mine (biological). We just were family. As an adult, I now see there was probably times of discomfort on his end in being a different ethnicity from the rest of the family, but I also hope there was joy. This wasn’t the only picture I saw of interracial adoption either. Of the 14 adoptions in my extended family, they’ve all been interracial, even the ones by non-white adopters, like my brother. What I saw of adoption was beautiful and colorful (can I say that?). I pictured my future family as being interracial and growing through adoption.
Define White Savior…
Wikipedia defines white savior as “a white person who acts to help non-white people, with the help in some contexts perceived to be self-serving.” Let me just clearly say, this is not what we are doing in wanting to adopt a non-white child. We believe God is calling us to adopt transracially. Ultimately, this isn’t about our choice, it is about obedience.
Even though God’s showing us that now is time to move forward with adoption, the truth is that God placed this dream in my heart as a young child and has been preparing me throughout my life. My experience of growing up in a transracial family (immediate and extended) is just one of the ways He prepared me for His desire for my future family. As I reflect back to my childhood friendships I realize that many of my friends were fostered and/or adopted. This did not shape my view of my friends, but it was a part of who they were. Finally, being on the younger end of my extended family has given me many opportunities to see my cousins and brother love, nurture, discipline/train-up, and fully accept their adopted children, while still encouraging the cultural heritage they are a part of and preparing them for the world ahead of them. God has been preparing me (and He still is) for walking in obedience to His direction for us to adopt a child that’s racially different from us.
We choose to obey the call of God on our lives to adopt transracially. We are not unaware that it will be hard and that we will be stretched to grow in so many areas of our lives. But we are committed to take the hard along with the plentiful good. We are committed to learn what we need to learn to help all of our children understand not only my husband’s and my culture, but the culture of our adopted child. We will not be afraid to ask questions, seek answers, and find support for each unknown in our future. We are excited to grow in our adoption and we are honored to be the ones to love and cherish our next child.
No, I am not the savior in this adoption. I am white, but the longing for our future child comes out of a deep place, a calling put inside me by my Savior, Jesus Christ.
Post Script: After talking with another friend about this topic, she said something that was a really good reminder and a truth I’ll need to keep in mind:
“Some people are just going to think about you in this way (white savior complex) and you won’t be able to change their minds.”
This is always a good thing to keep in mind. We need to be more motivated by what God says and what is true in our heart than by what other’s might think.
3 thoughts on “White Savior?!?”
Beautiful! We have four children of three different colors. We never found that having black children elicited controversy. Adding a child in need to our family was too important to let ourselves be distracted by the wounds that caused some to respond negatively. What others think of irrelevant. God is calling you to a beautiful, lifelong ministry. Thanks for being obedient. Celebrate His goodness and don’t look back. ❤️
I’m so glad to hear that your adoption was well received by the people around you. I do believe that the people I am surrounded by will be supportive and loving and all those good things. Actually, so far, it’s been just that! I write more from the perspective of what people that I don’t know will think of me and of the many media posts, blogs and books that have enlightened me to just how charged a topic this can be. I agree, it’s important to follow what God calls us to and it’s also important not to focus on those that speak against the God-call on us. Thank you for your comment. It is very encouraging! I am looking forwards to His goodness!