Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Race and Adoption

In some ways I feel like we have it easier in the TRA (Trans-Racial Adoption) than others. C looks like a blend of us, M is brown like daddy, D is also brown like M and Daddy. Me and C are the only ones that don’t have a match in the family. Yet, in other ways it is still just as hard. I still have all the worries I read about on blogs of other trans-racial adopters. I worry do we have enough people in our lives that look like M and D? Do we have enough role models (or as Mama C calls them People of Power)?

There are a few things that I have sought out that I feel good about.

I started an interracial playgroup when C was 1. I did this for a few reasons, I wanted him to see other families that looked like us, other families that looked different, and make some friends of all different races. I am pretty happy with the long-term result. We made a lot of good friends and we continue to expand our circle and he gets to play with kids that are all different shades of tan/brown. I realized after we adopted Miss M that it was even more important that she also see other adopted kids in the playgroup (which we already had).

The girls’ pediatrician is black. I didn’t pick her because she was, we saw her once for a sick visit at our current large peds practice and loved her, not because of her skin color but just because she was that awesome. Also, the other pediatrician we see there was a foster parent and adopted two of his foster kids. How lucky is that, that we happened to stumble on these great resources?

One place where I tried and failed was joining an “African American Playgroup”. I still feel so disappointed at how I was excluded. I am glad that M wasn’t old enough to see us get slighted. We went to two of the play dates and I mistakenly thought I was welcome. When I asked to join their discussion/planning group on-line I was given the run-around and then finally told “it's just sticky... some folks would not express themselves freely if they saw an "outsider".” There it is I am an “outsider” and not welcome. I was and still am in shock. Aren’t we all just moms with a child of color? Doesn’t M deserve to have friends and be in a playgroup with kids that look like her? Maybe it is only about me and because I am white. Who knows? In the end I decided that it doesn’t matter. M has a best friend that is also adopted and we love their family. We see them a lot. M also has baby D who is only 15 months younger than her and what is better than a sister. So maybe she didn’t need it after all. I do worry as she gets older and makes friends in school that are also black, will she get teased because her mom is white. I hope not.

She has family that looks like her, her grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins. She has her daddy that looks like her. Her birthday party will be diverse. (Yes, that is one of my crazy worries). I can’t help but cast judgment when I see other TRA Families and see their pictures and their kid is the only kid of color at parties, at their own birthday party. I know it has to be hard, but we have to make an effort, right?

6 comments:

Mama P said...

I agree, as hard as it can be sometimes! We have friends who have TRA, and when we encountered them at a wedding, their little girl was so taken aback at our Princess! You could tell she has NOT been around people that look like her...she just stared and stared, and then wanted to feel all over Princess and her hair. It made me very sad. :( We do not have a large surrounding of diverse friends yet, but she does encounter diversity on a weekly basis. (Hairdresser, neighbors, adult friends of mine, all the social workers, WIC ladies, etc)

awomanmyage said...

I'm sorry you went through such a horrible experience with that AA play group, your instincts are always right. Sometimes you just have to forge your own way with like minded people. I've always had the benefit of a multicultural environment but it's always difficult - people are always trying to touch his hair because it's so different than theirs. The exotic thing again. Of course, I was used to it because people were always trying to touch mine whenever it was in braids.

awomanmyage said...

I'm sorry you went through such a horrible experience with that AA play group, your instincts are always right. Sometimes you just have to forge your own way with like minded people. I've always had the benefit of a multicultural environment but it's always difficult - people are always trying to touch his hair because it's so different than theirs. The exotic thing again. Of course, I was used to it because people were always trying to touch mine whenever it was in braids.

harriet glynn said...

Hmmm.... tough. It's political for a lot of people. I think you just need to keep reaching out and doing what you're doing.

Quackenbaby-CQ said...

I call my girls my chocolate muffins. As well as sugar muffin, muffin stuff, etc. Tonight, Makayla said, "I love being your chocolate muffin, it's like I am the chocolate cupcake, and you are the vanilla icing, and then on top there is a big cherry for our hearts!" I just made me smile so big. She is more accepting of our differences.

In a talk earlier today, Layla told me she wanted to "paint myself white". That made me feel sad. I told her I love her being brown, but she insisted that being white like me would be better, because I only have brown moles, but not brown skin.

We have the same doctor of course. I love their hairstylist. Our babysitter is black. Layla's teacher's aide is black. We made a conscious effort with our move to surround the girls with positive black role models. So far we've been fairly successful.

I'm Tiffany. said...

It's a prickly situation. No matter what you do, people on the outside looking in are always going to think that you're going about it the wrong way and that you're not doing "enough" (whatever "enough" entails).

I think it's important that kids have a sense of normalcy - that the way they look isn't an anomaly and there are families that look just like theirs. At the same time, you've got to assume that not everyone is going to be helpful because they don't think you've earned full-fledged membership into "the club."

I think M will be fine. If anything, she'll be better equipped to navigate through some of the cultural stuff than other kids because she's got a foot into both worlds.