Black/White It’s Alright

There is a blog I follow (what’s the word for a blog “friend”?) www.rageagainsttheminivan.com and today she posted about an experience her black boys had on the basketball court, they are 2 and 5 years old. This stirs up so many feelings for me as a mother of two african american (black, really because they are not african, they have no immediate african ancestry) adoptive children. I posted awhile back about a run in I had at Gymboree (I Had a Moral Obligation). And today reading this blog stirs it all up for me again.

You see, I see things like this happen already. We are blessed because our day care the children attend is an awesome day care on the campus my partner teaches at. It is also smack dab in the heart of downtown, and has a large african american population. So our children have  very mixed classrooms. But, we take our kids to so many places and have seen the looks.

There is a mall in Thousand Oaks, CA we go to quite a bit, it has an indoor tot area. We love to let the kids run some crazies out there. And I can see the parents look at our kids and then scan the area for the “black parents” that must belong to these kids. I can then almost see the sigh of relief when they realize we belong with them. It’s like they say, “Oh, good! The are adopted by white people, it’s ok.” But then, there is the added judgement that gets thrown in when they realize they are adopted by two lesbians…

I have parents wonder who our kids parents are at the children’s museum, and are always kind of shocked when its us. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people endlessly scanning the room when there are no african americans in it, wondering where the parents that belong to these children went.

I have run into children who say, “Is that your son?” When I say, “Yes” they say, “Cool”. I have run into kids who have said to Carter, “where is your mom?” When Carter points to me, he said, “Where?” Carter just kept pointing to me and then the little boy said, “The white one” to which Carter is just too young to understand that question. Staci ran into a child at one of the playgrounds who said, “Is that your little boy?” And when Staci said, “Yes” she said, “Oh, he looks like you.” Which is hilarious!

What to do? I worry about it a lot, our kids being ridiculed for not only being black but also adopted AND by lesbians to boot.

According to the 2000 Census over 46% of the children being raised by same sex couples are children of color. This gives me hope because according to a study done by Ellen Perrin, MD, professor of pediatrics at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, that studied and followed more than 500 children to adulthood that were raised by same sex couples, found that children of same sex couples do just as well as those raised by heterosexuals. But more astounding to me are these findings;

  • “There are interesting suggestions that these children are more tolerant of differences.”
  • “The children of lesbian couples also appeared to be less aggressive, more nurturing to peers, more tolerant of diversity, and more androgynous,” playing with toys for both boys and girls.

So, yes, it is up to us. To make the differences, to prepare our children for the world they are in. To think that the large majority of children being raised by same sex couples are of color and will be raised in an environment that is more tolerant of differences, less aggressive, more nurturing and diverse is so very hopeful and positive. Shame on others who are not raising their children as accepting.

We talk about it now with our kids. We say, “Carter, look at your beautiful black skin.” “Mommy is white, Carter and Zoe are black, Isa (one of their friends from Guatemala) is brown. And it’s ok. Everyone is different.” We talk about being adopted. They get none of this yet. But the point is, it will be their normal. It will not be foreign or scary. And it shouldn’t be. We talk about their hair and how beautiful it is, coarse and curly. As much as combing Zoe’s hair is a major battle and struggle in our home, I do not ever want her to feel that she has “bad” hair.

I know that Carter will also have greater difficulties because he is darker than his sister Zoe. The fact that I worry about them is a good thing, it is not a paralyzing fear but rather a cautionary fear that moves me to action. It moves me to make every encounter count. Every encounter with other children that are different  a learning experience and a positive one.

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