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Last week a Cheerios commercial starring a Canadian couple, Andre and Jonathan, and their daughter Raphaëlle made the rounds and there were quite a few strong feelings about it from some folks in the adoption community.
I encourage you to read the blogs by Red Thread Broken and Frank Ligtvoet as they both brought up issues related to ignoring first/bio families and dismissing the loss that adoptees feel. I’m glad that people are bringing this issue to our minds and continuing to remind us that adoption is not something to be taken lightly.
But something else was bothering me about this commercial. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it and even now, I find it hard (uncomfortable) to accurately articulate it.
The mainstream version of adoption is one where white people adopt brown children.
I would like to understand what is so compelling about that narrative that it continues to be the storyline for commercials and movies. If the couple had adopted a white toddler, would people think this story was as cute? What if it was a black couple with the same adorable little girl? Would the commercial have went as viral?
The reality is 49% of adopted children are White (non-Hispanic origin). About 16% are Black (non-Hispanic) and 10% Asian. According to the census data, ~24% of adopted children were of different race than the householder. Adopted Children and Stepchildren Report: 2010
So less than 1/3 of adoptions are actually transracial/transcultural but yet, this story seems privileged in the adoption narrative. It makes me wonder if there is more of a reason for this than just the public interest in seeing stories about color-blind love. What impact might this have for those involved in the adoption process from expectant mothers, potential adoptive parents, recruiting adoption agencies, social/placement workers, etc?
*shrug* More thoughts to come as I continue to mull this over in my mind.
By the way, here’s another commercial that I saw last week that also got the wheels turning.