Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tuesday Talk: Transracial Families

       I've blogged about it before.  Every family that has children of multiple shades of color has experienced the comments, "Are those your real children?" (pointing to Molly and Blake); of which we always giggle and say that each kid is real.  We then encourage people to touch, "Go, ahead, touch them! They are all 4 real!"
     Choosing to adopt a child outside your racial group is taking a risk.  It's opening your family up to skepticism, stares and tough conversations.  We knew that and I dare say most every transracial family would agree that yes, they thought about this before they jumped through, over and around every hoop to bring their child home.

This is the alternative.
Go ahead, look.
See, those walls line with broken bottles, those were Etienne's home.
My baby Zeke shared space with hundreds of other kids.
     And there are 210 million kids without homes today.  Do critics really, really wanna say that I am messing my kids up by raising them in a white household?  I have indeed heard that before and to those that believe this, I would invite them into our home.  Spend some time with a child that doesn't know love and see if at the end of the day, color was still that important.  Good gracious.  Family is family.
     I also know that I had better embrace, talk about, acknowledge and celebrate my children's black skin.  To say that we are "color blind" is probably one of the most detrimental statements people can make.  And let me give my reasons why this phrase makes me wanna vomit:
  • It is obvious to my children and anyone with vision that their skin is black and mine is not.  
  • Avoiding talking about anything can send a message that you aren't comfortable or don't accept it.  Here's a professional weighing in on this having this talk 
  • By avoiding the subject, children don't learn what to say, how to say it or, most importantly, how their family feels about it.  As soon as my boys leave my nest, whether it is for Sunday school or the playground, they are going to (and already have many times) be asked about why their mama is white.  They need to be prepared to handle questions.
  • It's a lie.  I am not color blind at all.  I see my boys skin and hair and the whites of their eyes differently than I see Molly or Blake's.  And I need to see them as they are because they require different care to maintain their health.  And I love that.  I want that.
     Ryan and I walked into adopting black children with our eyes wide open.  We heard the pros and the cons.  We even heard from adoptive children and adults that were raised by white parents.  We were not naive on this.  Ultimately, our household finds a lot of humor in the whole thing and I love the reactions Blake and E get from people when they say, with a poker face, that they are "twins."  They are comfortable with it and they set a tone for anyone that comes in contact with them.  I love to think about when they grow up.  Will Blake marry an Ethiopian woman like he says he will?  Will Zeke and E fall in love with women of color or vanilla?  I would almost bet money that Molly's children will be Asian.  And how beautiful our family reunions will be.
     I am sure that you have comments.  Kylie, no doubt, you may want to weigh in on this.  I am grateful and in debt to MLK.  I know progress regarding race still needs to be made, but that isn't what this post is about.  I'm talking the nitty-gritty, real life stuff.  How do you talk to your kids about race?  Does your extended family get uncomfortable?  What do your kids say in the grocery store line? 


1 comment:

  1. How do we talk about race? Really we talk a whole lot more about culture... and we enjoy and encorperate as much UG culture into our lives and home as possible, because, we feel at this point that we want to instill in our children pride/confidence and understanding in who they REALLY are, which is Ugandan. Race talks will be more important later, but I don't want to make it a big deal to them now. We talk about skin color and how beautiful they are and how we are all the same on the inside. We remind them that just because we see people with brown skin doesn't mean they are ugandan... they might be, but it doesn't mean they always are. We talk about how all kinds of people can be "mean" to others because they don't look "like them"... and that is called "discrimination"... we keep it simple. Our extended family can be awkward about it. They generally try to treat them all the same... and we enforce this. We also realize that they are learning and growing too in this. In the store our boys say they are twins too... :-)