Tuesday, October 30, 2018

5 Things I Wish Others Understood About Our Adoptive, Multiracial Family

Here we are, on the eve of the month we'll celebrate ten years of being a multiracial-adoptive family.  And there are things I wish I could tell the society about our family, things they would readily receive and accept.  Perhaps you've felt the same?

1:  We're a normal family.

Despite appearances, our family love and life are both real.  We live normal, busy lives and do normal, busy things.  Nothing special, exotic, or phenomenal.   Yes, there are things we do differently (at times) than an all-biological, white family:  but in the day-to-day of our lives, we are just us.  Homework.  Chores.  Appointments.  Outings.  School.  Work.  You know, family life.  

2:  Colorblindness isn't real.  (And in fact, it's ridiculous.)

In this family, we acknowledge and celebrate race.  We don't ignore it or attempt to neutralize it.  Our kids know they're Black.  They know we are white.  They take pride in their skin color, the kink in their hair, the deepness of their eyes, and their history as people of color.   There is no need to whisper "Black" like it's a bad word or a secret.  We all literally see the melanin differences!  Colorblindness is a lie

3:  We are raising Black children: which means that just because we're white, our parenting isn't.

I guess you'd think, duh.  But there's an expectation among some white people, that because we are white parents, we are raising Black kids as if they were white children.  Granted, some multiracial families DO this, and it's an incredible disservice to their children.   Because "cute" Black babies grow up, and our white privilege umbrella doesn't extend once our kids are older and more independent, such as when they go to the store with a friend or drive a car (without us present).  We are preparing our kids for teenage-hood and adult-hood as BLACK people, because that is who they are.   We do this with our "village," such as mentors, braiders and barbers, friends, and other influential, trusted people of color whom we have chosen to surround our family with. 

4:  Open adoption is not "cool" or strange, rather, it is what's best for our family.

When people learn that my children have open adoptions, the responses are usually brimming with trepidation OR with awe.  Though the "wow, that's cool" comment is meant to be a compliment, what I'd love for others to understand is that adoptees have two families who, through open adoption, become one:  one who is FOR the child.  The open adoption isn't for the sole benefit of any parent involved; rather, a healthy open adoption is to benefit the child.   (And even if an adoptee doesn't have an open adoption, the adoptee has two families.)   Now, open adoptions aren't a "piece of cake":  they are complex, requiring a lot of grace, energy, time, and flexibility.  But, in our experience, are worth it.  And, in the case of a transracial adoption, birth family can provide necessary racial mirrors for their birth children.

5: We, the parents, are the lucky and chosen ones.

I cannot tell you how many times someone has told my children directly that they are "so lucky to have such great parents."  (We have thus far avoided anyone telling them they are "so lucky to be adopted," though I know many other families have experienced this.)  Variations of this include telling a family "God bless you for giving kids in need such a loving home."  We also do not tell our children that we "chose" them, rather, we believe that we, the parents, were chosen by our kids' birth families to be parents.  Adoptees, time and time again, express the burdens put upon them by people insisting they are "lucky" (thus, they should be grateful for being adopted), that they are "gifts" to their parents, and that they are special because they were "chosen."  We, as parents are mindful that this language is not only inappropriate, but it puts undue stress on our kids, AND, it's not true of our family.  In fact, we believe that we can be grateful for our children without referring to them as "gifts," as "lucky," or as "chosen."

Adoption is our normal.  Being a family by adoption, also our normal.  Parenting kids of color, also our normal.  We're cool with it.  Get to know us, and maybe you will be, too.

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