Manual TypewriterEssays, Reviews, and Commentaries

By Arlene (Ari) Istar Lev

Transracial Queer Adoption

Posted By on June 30, 2009

Trans-Racial Queer Families
02.16.01

By Arlene (Ari) Istar Lev

This is an except from “No Place Like Home” published in Jess Wells (Ed.) HomeFronts: Controversies in the Nontraditional Parenting CommunityLA: Alyson Publications. (2000)
Since many LGBT families are choosing trans-racial adoption, the faces of our community are increasingly filled with multi-racial families. This is yet one more way that gay and lesbian families represent a progressive and inclusive model for social change.

I did not realize the earthquake of changes that trans-racial queer adoption would unleash. I expected homophobia from the patriarchal heterosexist mainstream community, and I also knew that many lesbian and gay parents felt unsupported within the gay community. I suspected that the Jewish community would struggle with accepting a child of color, and that the issue of adoption would raise issues for my family. I expected resistance from both white supremacists and black nationalists whom I knew would find my family’s very existence offensive.

Even after 25 years of anti-racism activism, I did not realize how much white privilege I had until it was revoked. I had lived my rather queer life in a mixed race and alternative Jewish community, and many of my close friends were parents. I naively thought that within the confines of my alternative lifestyle my family would be bell-curve normatively queer. I was not prepared for the multiple levels of issues that trans-racial queer adoption would raise, even for the most progressive of my friends.

Racism for most white people is something “out there,” something that they witness from the comfort of their living room, watching a Klan rally on television, or reading a newspaper article about poverty in the black ghettos. They cluck their tongues and shake their hands and switch the station, or turn the page, to something less stressful. They view themselves as non-racist and abhor racist law and police violence. They explain the fact that all their friends’ are white as a random toss of the dice. They do not see themselves as participants in racist behavior, but as someone above or outside of it. This of course veils their own racism and ignorance, and absolves them of any daily responsibility in the perpetuation of the racist system.

I do not think that being the white mom of an African-American child and a bi-racial child has made me more conscious of racism. I do not think it has made me a better anti-racism activist. Being the mother of black children has meant that I no longer had the choice of moving within white culture as if it were my own; it has made me an outsider.

I make my home on the borders of many communities, not quite a part of communities of color, a bit outside of the Jewish community as well as the white community, and as a parent within the queer community. It is a good home, however, filled with laughter and friends, and my queer mixed family.