Our child will be a person of color. That is a 99.9% guarantee. We are white. The fact remains that we will be raising a child, most likely a black child, in a very white world. We have got to start thinking differently–and it matters. It matters because our child’s identity matters. So we have to figure this out.
Part of figuring it out means knowing that you don’t know what you don’t know. That is why we love our agency. This past weekend the hubby and I went to a panel on race and culture. The things we learned! I could probably dedicate an entire blog specifically to raising a child of color in a (currently) predominantly white family. In fact, I think there are blogs dedicated to this topic. Regardless, I thought I would share with you all a bit of what we learned this past weekend because it is fascinating. And, if you are one of our dear loved ones (we are blessed with so many of you!), you’re going to need to educate yourself on this. I hear from many adoptive parents that this topic is one of the toughest amongst family and friends…so here goes my attempt to educate you as best I can. Trust me, I do not know it all, but it will be good for you to gain a bit of perspective, especially once the baby comes 🙂
Since white persons have privilege associated with being white, it is hard for us to put ourselves in the shoes of someone who is of color. Fortunately for me and my child I can relate (minutely in comparison, but I can relate), as I have been discriminated against before–because of my darker features I have been pegged as several different races and therefore treated differently as a result. This, especially if our child is partially or fully African American, will happen all of the time. We found out from the panel that there are certain conversations that we will have to have once our peanut starts to get older. Like what to do when you get pulled over by the cops or when people stare at you in the store or when kids ask you “who are your ‘real’ parents?” And for those of you who think this is a myth that would never occur, I heard the contrary while in training sessions this week and have heard the contrary from friends and family of color. People of color are still seen as other in our society and I think it’s important to own that.
Now as adoptive parents of a *most likely* child of color, we know that it is our job to educate people, but only so often. Adoptive parents and counselors at our agency have told us how exhausting it can be when you just want to go to Target with your child and get out in a timely fashion, like any person would, and instead you’re faced with stare after stare and question after question the entire time. I apologize if I lose my patience with you ever, dear friends, but if you are excited about our peanut and want to be around for the Waters family experience, I suggest you start reading up on what we are going through. Ignorant comments will have a zero tolerance policy around us from now on–which is not meant to sound threatening, it’s just really important for the development of our child.
Aside from the remarks and stares there are a whole slew of other things to take care of. Where will we live? A couple on the adoption panel this past weekend is going to relocate to a more racially diverse neighborhood so their child grows up with students and teachers who look like them. They even switched to an African American dermatologist and pediatrician so their baby could be cared for by someone who looks like him. And then there’s hair care–what salon do we choose?
We, like any good parent, want what is best for our child, so these seemingly trivial questions and thoughts are so important. And it’s so crucial to do your homework before your child comes along so you can do all you can to foster their identity development. Being adopted, our child will already have an “otherness” about them imposed by society. The fact that they will be a person of color in a white home adds to that. So we are going to try our best to embrace who they are; their culture, their race, their heritage, everything about them. If there’s anything we’ve learned through this process, it’s that embracing your child’s roots is never a bad thing. We are excited to learn and grow with them; but it will be a bit scary. Please pray that we can be a source of help to them as they begin to grow in their identity as an individual and as a Waters.
For those of you who are curious as to where our process is, here’s an update: we just finished our 10 hours of training and will (Lord willing) be approved for our home study at the end of this month. We are furiously working on our profilebook, which will be the tool the birthmother uses to pick us as her match. Please pray that we get approved and that baby “W” will come to us sometime between January and March of next year. We will keep you posted on the rest of our process each week and hopefully will have more to share about what we are learning through this journey–which has been A LOT thus far.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the outpouring of love you have shown us! Please let us know if there’s anything we can pray about for you and your family.