Black Adoptees Talk About Growing Up in Transracial Families.

“If you’re going to adopt kids, it’s the white parents’ obligation to shepherd them in same-race maturation,” he said. “When you have a transracial family, mixed-race family, you’re going outside the normal. Somebody has to be uncomfortable and it shouldn’t be the child. … Your child should not be your first black friend. That’s the bottom line. If you don’t know no black people, why are you trying to bring one to your home?”  Read more in link below…

3 Black Adoptees Speak About Growing Up with White Parents

Colorblind

Color blindness:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_blindness

“I am/we are colorblind,” is a common phrase that I have seen written in a news article, on a Facebook comment, a blog post, and I’ve heard multiple persons use this phrase with my own ears.   And it’s often used in correlation with an individual justifying his or her stance on racism, as if to say, “I am colorblind so therefore I cannot be racist”.

As a mother of a multi-racial family, I find it odd that someone feels they need to be colorblind in order to not feel racist.  Especially since being colorblind is an actual condition and form of a disability.  It’s like when I hear someone say, “I’m practically deaf.”  And this person is nowhere near deaf nor do they wear hearing aids.  As a person who is hearing impaired, I take offense when someone makes a comment like that.

I’ve read blogs about adoptive parents claiming their colorblindness and on the flip side have read blogs by adoptees being very aware of their trans-racial experience from the time they were young.  How can one family have two very differing experiences, one being so blasé about skin color as if they don’t even notice and another experiencing some sort of emotional detachment because of skin color?

So let’s examine this color blindness a little deeper.  I wonder why some people claim to be colorblind as opposed to acknowledging they can see a person’s skin color effortlessly.  Seeing colors is not a bad thing, is it?

How is it that we can we see the beautiful colors of the rainbow, the wild flowers in the field, the blue skies, the tiger’s and zebra’s  stripes, our red, white and blue American Flag and be in awe, but then deny that we recognize someone’s skin tone?  It’s like saying; you don’t notice someone’s striking blonde hair or their piercing blue eyes.  Does that make sense?

One of the things that drew me to my children’s father was his rich darker skin tone.  

On the contrary, the other popular phrase is, “People of color,” while referring to every other ethnic culture or race except the white race, as if to say white is not a color.  This is a strong misconception.  White is a color in the Crayola Crayon box, just like, brown, black, tan, yellow, pink or red.  To claim that white people are not “people of color” is to claim that white people are clear or translucent.  As far as I can tell, my skin has color.  My skin color may or may not be as beautiful as others but it still has color.

Perhaps that’s part of the problem.  When we are all permitted to recognize each other’s skin colors free from preconceived notions or judgments, while acknowledging that every human being is a person of color, then maybe we can move from colorblindness and racism to acceptance.

Trans-racial, Bi-racial

Ying Yang

Ying Yang (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, I was reading a post on a group page where an adoptive mother wrote about an issue within her transracial family that had me stunned.

“Is it possible that my 21 month old biracial son will get darker as he gets older?? Or are most little ones as dark as they will get by this age?”

The reason for her inquiry is that her and her husband had adopted an African American girl, now six years old.  She stated that her daughter was very drawn to people of African American descent so when they chose to adopt again, they wanted to adopt a child of African heritage so their daughter could have someone in the family with a similar appearance and ethnic makeup, all of which is very commendable.  But then the story takes a very different tone.  She states that their 21 month old adopted biracial son doesn’t seem to be dark enough for their daughter to connect with so now they are considering adopting again but they are not sure if they should wait for a full blooded African American child or adopt another possible biracial child that was available.  

As a birth mother of biracial children, I take personal issue with this.  Since when do people get to treat children like merchandise in a store?

Naturally, this sweet little girl in the post is attracted to people who look like her.  She was born to people who look like her.  But buying more Black babies is not the answer to fulfill their daughter’s needs.  Thoughts and comments like the one this white adopted mother has expressed are irresponsible, inconsiderate and very disrespectful to her darker skinned children and to the biological birth families. 

When my son’s adoptive parents took their new son to the doctor for his first post-birth checkup, they were confronted with some derogatory comments.  One of the staff members seemed to be concerned about our mutual son’s future skin color.  They warned the adoptive parents that he would have really dark skin and questioned if it was ethical for this all blonde-haired, blue-eyed family to adopt him.

Personally, I don’t have an issue with people adopting outside their race.  I believe the most important things a child needs is a stable home, love and protection.  However, the one thing that does really irritate me is when white families adopt children outside their race and then make their children fit in their white world.  That is an ethnic crime.  For a child to be raised in a white family is one thing.  But then to live in a predominantly white neighborhood, and attend a white church and predominantly white schools is another thing all together and is a grave disservice to the adoptee and their ethnic birthright.

When an adoptee is surrounded by another race and ethnicity, there are other ways that adoptive parents can introduce and include the adoptee’s ethnic culture.  But often times, this is not the case.  

Now I understand that some ethnic communities may be harder to locate than others, depending on where you live.  But, if your adopted child is of African descent, there is no excuse.  Even the smallest of towns have African American Communities with hard working black families.

I wonder why these white adoptive families don’t make more of an effort to be around their child’s ethnic societies.  Why some white adoptive parents of African American children refuse to go out and eat in a Black neighborhood?  Or visit an all-Black church once in a while.  Or shop in a predominantly Black district?  Why indeed?  Is it because they fear that they will be the minority and only White people there?  They might feel uncomfortable?  Will they feel as though they do not belong or fit in?  Or is it because they fear as though they might feel out of their comfort zone?  Surely, it could not be because they don’t like black people since they have adopted a black baby, child, person, right?

So why would they force this upon their child?  And…what message is this teaching their child?

As adoptive parents, if you don’t have any friends (and by friends I mean that are invited over to your house or socially hang out with you) that are non-white folks, you are not part of the solution; you are part of the problem.

We should ask why a transracial adoptive parent chooses not to have any relationships with people of different races especially of the race that mirrors their adopted child.

That doesn’t mean a “token” ethnic friend.  It means acquiring ethnically diverse friends organically.

I understand that white adoptive parents many times, have not experienced a romantic love interest or relationship with someone of their child’s ethnic heritage, unlike biological parents.  But that’s no excuse.

As a biological mother of biracial sons, I too have a responsibility to honor my child’s diverse heritage.  Most biological families don’t have to go searching for it.  We have fallen in love with someone who matches our offspring’s race.  Our families and our friends are all among our community in which we live and breathe.  Even when our children are being raised in single parent homes, many of us still understand how important it is for our children to be able to identify with his or her ethnic heritage on both sides of his or her racial makeup.  That doesn’t mean we understand what it means to be black or the spectrum of racism but it does mean that we have probably had to deal with some level of racism or bigotry due to our mixed race family.

As parents, it’s our job to lead by example, no matter if we are a one-race family, a bi-racial, trans-racial or multiracial family; we all have a responsibility to teach our children about diversity.  We can preach diversity and acceptance all we want, but if our actions don’t match our words, the point is rather mute. 

The only way to truly teach acceptance is by your example.  Many Americans of ALL races, ethnic, religions and social status have not learned that.

So, my question for adoptive parents is, if you are willing to adopt outside your race but you don’t choose folks who look like your child to be invited into your home or chosen to be among your closest friends, what does that say about you?

LIVING BI-RACIAL

Yesterday at church, I introduced myself to one of Jaren’s Sunday school friends.  He gave me this surprised look and said to Jaren, “I didn’t know you were mixed.”  Jaren said, “Yeah.”  Now this doesn’t bother Jaren or me at all. I appreciate someone’s honesty, as long as it is respectful.  And this isn’t the first time that someone looked surprise when they learned that I was Jaren’s mother. Jaren has told me on a number of occasions that he has had kids respond this way at school when his classmates find out he is bi-racial. He said they will often say, “I thought you were straight up black.”

When Jaren was an infant, he was neutral looking and could pass for Latino, Asian, and bi-racial and he seemed to spark a lot of curiosity. I had people stop me often to ask me about his ethnicity, like the time I was in the hospital recovering from giving birth for the second time. My mother and a friend brought Jaren to the hospital so he could meet his new baby brother. One of the nurses came over to me and said she was wondering about the race/ethnicity of my newborn. She informed me that once she saw my toddler, she knew he was of a mixed race. She commented how beautiful Jaren was and asked me what his ethnic background was and I told her. She said, “Makes me want to have a baby with a black man.”

I remember one time, when Jaren was about three years old.  His father hadn’t been over to see him in a long time.  I don’t remember how the conversation started but somehow the subject of race came up.  Jaren’s father asked him, “What are you?”  Jaren proudly said, “I’m black and white!”

Jaren often referred to himself as tan.  And when he saw someone else similar to his skin color, he would say, “They’re tan like me.”  As he got a little older and he noticed in his pictures that his skin tone changed as he aged, he told people, “I was born white but turned black.”  This always made me laugh.  I think others weren’t sure how to respond or react, but we would make light of it.

I let Jaren express himself anyway he wanted, as long as it wasn’t derogatory.  And yes, there were times when I needed to step in and say, “That isn’t appropriate,” just like any other parent of a one-race family/child.  I, like most of you, have heard time and again that prejudice is taught.  And people assume that it always derives from home but I can tell you from experience that my son learned more about prejudices from classmates at school then he did at home.

Recently, we sent in for DNA testing to see how diverse my son really is.  He is mostly of African, European, with some Asian and American Indian and even some Neanderthal.  How about that?  Yes, my son is rich in diversity.  But he is also rich in love.

In the end, we are of ONE race….the human race.