Judged

Ok, ok, so this may be the sickest post I have ever posted.

Yes, I have erased my child’s face…just to prove a point.

Periodically I leave Zoe’s hair down and natural. It is beautiful, so beautiful in fact, my partner and I joke before going out in public and ask each other, “Do you want an average day of compliments or do you want an over the top day?” Over the top means we are goin’ natural. Meaning, every white woman we come into contact with, as well as every white man, will GUSH over Zoe’s hair and how beautiful and healthy and stunning it is.

BUT

I will run into judgement when I enter the black community. Case in point, the mall…

I felt judged by every black woman I passed at the mall this weekend with Zoe and her natural hair. I hear the whispers. I hear the comments they make to each other about me, “THAT baby’s hair ought to be in BRAIDS!”

And I ask, WHY?

Naturally beautiful

S. Street Does it Again!

Hey Where’d this Black Kid Come From?

Hey kid! What'd ya never see a black kid before?

There is this thing I have been noticing. I cannot help but observe behaviors, it’s what I do. Usually it is in dogs but I have found this weird parallel between dogs and kids…anyway…so far this is not one of those times…

Where we live it is a pretty mixed neighborhood. Our block has many children, all white but the block to the south of is has many black children. And my children go to a day care at a very mixed race college so 50% of their friends at school are black. But I notice that many of the places we frequent do not have many black kids. And I notice this thing go on and can’t tell if it is a black thing or not.

Let me describe:

There is an indoor kids playground we go to that we call the BBY. It is in the burbs and usually we have the only two black kids, sometimes there is one other black kid. But there were some kids playing in a playhouse, about 3 of them, Carter walked in and they stopped and just stared at him. Now, I don’t know if they all knew each other and they were looking at him, like “Hey, who is this kid? We don’t know him.” or if they were stopped dead in their tracks because he is black.

I have noticed it many times, just cannot recall them all right now.

Then there was our Day out With Thomas up in Green Bay, WI. Hardly any other black children were there and when I got to my computer to look at the pictures from the day I spotted the “look” I am talking about.

What do you think? Is that just a look kids give each other or is that a, “Hey, where’d this black kid come from? look?

“Good Hair”

Oh how I wish everyone would see “Good Hair” the hair documentary by Chris Rock of all people. Well done and super interesting. I have been reading about african american hair a lot these past two years and it has been a huge area of contention in our home. We still have some contact with Birthmom who has all these notions on what black hair needs and doesn’t need. And really what it all boils down to is that it is a giant crock of you know what. I have posted about this before in my post My Daughter Came Home All Ghetto. But much of what is assumed that black hair needs is really more of a cultural, traditional and folklore “need”…black hair really does not need anything differently than any other type of hair. In fact, there is no such thing as “black hair” there are colors of hair and textures of hair…and they need to be treated as so…

The documentary “Good Hair” was just the icing on the cake for me. You have to see it!

We Have a New Baby in the House

We said we wouldn’t do it. We tried to resist.

Bitty Baby...the end of feminism as we know her...

As much as we did not want our daughter to have “gender specific” toys…Bitty Baby won out. Her little friend next door has one and Zoe took one look at the catalog and started kissing and hugging the pictures of the babies. When grandma wanted to get her one, how could I say no. Plus, where else do you get to pick a doll that has your skin, hair and eye color?

Weekend Recap

We had a jam-packed weekend. Saturday we had a little friends birthday party to go to. Mama’s birthday to celebrate. And Grandma and Grandpa California were supposed to fly in for a week-long visit but their flight got cancelled and now it seems flights to Milwaukee from LAX are impossible to get for the next week. Big, Huge Bummer! And now we have lots of extra cake to polish off by ourselves.

Sunday we headed to temple for a Purim carnival and Shpiel (skit like thing). I was excited because Carter loves singing and dancing and music. Well, they had all the prizes for the carnival games out front, he saw cars were there and that was all he could think of for the next half hour. We were able to get him to sit for about 3.5 minutes and then the whining began, and we got “the look” from an old Jewish lady…the look old ladies give us on the plane. What is it with old people?  You would think they have been there, done that…but it turns out you get cranky towards children who make noise when you are old. I know, I know, it’s a generalization…but I’m just sayin’…the carnival games were fun. Turns out Carter is a champ at carnival games…so if college does not pan out for him at least I know he can always hit the carnival circuit and win some fuzzy dice and mirrors to keep him going.

Carnival game master

The director of the temple made sure to tell each family with adopted black kids to find us. It was really nice, and the other parents with black adoptees were so excited to meet the kids. It’s kind of like a special little club…as we were equally enamoured by their kids and one couple even gave us their digits…so we can get together. In all my excitement of feeling accepted and diverse I almost ran up to two men I thought for sure were a gay couple…boy was I wrong (or was I?) and I am so glad I held back. Talk about embarrassing. But seriously, the guys wife has no idea he is gay. I’m just sayin’.

We then headed out to Babies R Expensive to get a toddler bed as I had a special 20% off coupon that was only good through today. We came home, out it together and right now my little boy is sleeping in his new “big boy” bed. It might very well be the cutest thing I have ever seen.

Trying out the "big boy" bed before bed time

We rounded out the night with Z having the gross explosive vomiting that Carter had last week, thank goodness she did it at home and not in the car, store or temple. And then she seemed to be a new person, laughing, running and playing. HOW do toddlers do that? If I would have puked the way she did I would be in bed for the rest of the night. But, I guess if you are a toddler you barf and carry on!

I have a few ideas for posts in my head that I may have to post about…so there may be a few more posts coming up.

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.