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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Doing our part…

We are doing our part as best we can to try to make life easier for other lesbian/gay couples out there fostering/adopting. We will next week be working with the company that is producing the training videos for the foster system here. They will be interviewing and filming us for the training series that sounds like it will be used through out the US…kinda cool yet I just realized that some people I know may actually end up watching this video which feels weird. But they are finally actually promoting Lesbians/Gays in their training and literature…

Stay Tuned…

because in 6 hours my partner and I will be adopting our son! I can't wait to post his picture here, I have been dying to brag about his adorableness for 20 months. Stay tuned!

Two More Days…

Until he is OFFICIALLY OURS! Who hoo, I can hardly stand it…and at the same time it feels a little uneventful as he has FELT like ours since the day they laid him in our arms when he was two days old. He has never felt like he was not ours. At the very same time, I feel like I can finally breathe a GIANT sigh of relief knowing that he cannot be taken from us, that a magical distant (you wouldn't believe what CSSW constitutes as a family member) relative cannot appear from nowhere and snatch him from us…ahhh, and I can then officially post his unbelievably adorable mug all over my blog and Facebook…I already have his announcing photo picked out…

Tonight we sign paperwork and write out our two adoption checks, one for $10 (filing fee) and one for $43 (for two copies of the new Birth Certificate)…thats all it really costs for a domestic adoption in Wisconsin…granted you aren't two lesbians who want to change the way the adoptions are done and BOTH want to be the parents, then it will possibly cost you $5780 plus your $3300 estate planning fees…BUT the best money I ever spent.

And So It Shall Be…

The Honorable Judge smiled down on us today and did something that has NEVER been done in our county before…she agreed to grant two, single women the right to adopt the same child. The laws were finally read and interpreted the way they should be and next week wednesday we will, after 20 months of waiting, finally be able to adopt the boy who has always been our son…officially. He has been OUR son since he was placed with us at two days old. But to finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that he will forever be ours is a relief like no other. He has been TPR'd almost a year (July 25th will be a year), in the courts eyes an orphan. But never has he been without parents, at least not in our eyes and hearts. 

This is HUGE and will hopefully help other gay couples adopt in our area. All parties involved were going on and on about how HUGE this was today…and how the agency will likely re-evaluate how it handles adoption with gays. Likely, meaning they will be able to recruit more gays to foster/adopt.

After next week I will be even more relieved. One small step today! One giant leap! I just got word via Facebook that our sons adopted older sister (one year older than him) and her new family, whom we have developed a relationship with, will come to the adoption next week! How cool is that!?

Tomorrow Is A Big Day…

Tomorrow we have two court dates back to back. One is for our 9 month old daughter, it is a permanency hearing. A check in type of thing where everyone on the case says where they think the case should be going…it will most likely be that her perm plan is adoption, as it has been since the first day and should still be since bio mom and dad have done nothing to change…the second is right after that in another courtroom with another judge…it is for our 20 month son who is and has been TPR'd since last July…it is a status hearing…where some mighty big wigs are all coming together to help the judge decide if she will do something that has never been done before in our county…to decide if she will grant a dual adoption…I have to admit, I am a bit nervous, even if we do have a plan B…it won't be an adoption day, but rather a day where we will get a sneak peak at what the judge will do, if she will grant two petitions if we file two…or if she would do one. It is amazing the legal hoops we have had to jump through, how messed up the system is…how far we still have to go not just because of the foster system but because of how messed up, how unequal life still is for us as Lesbians…

Motherhood has changed me in so many ways…for instance, I don't care how you feel about Michael Jackson, when his daughter Paris spoke at his memorial you had to weep for her, for her loss…she loved her father and by all accounts, he was a good father. This is a little girl who lost her dad…Loss is something you have to deal with in adoption/foster care…your gain came by someone else's loss. The other thing that has changed within me is that my eyes have been opened to african american children…not just to children but to the culture but more so to the children…it's odd but I SEE african american children before I see any other child…I am drawn to them, I think they are cuter…in a way I want them all…I live in an area that is right on the cusp of the inner city…literally a park divides my world from a very different world. And I want to help all the children, I want to feed them and clothe them and bathe them and most importantly love them. My children have a story, like many who are from the foster system…they were lucky enough to not ever have to live in the household they were conceived in…I wonder about the things they heard while in the womb…the poor nourishment they were given…but they have siblings who were not so lucky, yet without what they went through my children may never have been taken from the home…so many double edged swords. I think a lot A LOT about my children's stories…and how many other children have a similar if not worse story and it hurts. I have a lot of time to figure out the best way to tell my children their stories when they are old enough to ask for and handle it…but I cannot help but wonder how you do such a thing…

I digress…I am just caught up in a thought bubble today…of how much we have endured and gone through for these two deserving children in the short amount of time we have had them…and how little their birthparents have done…back to the double edged sword…I am thankful they have not, as I have been blessed with these wonderful children. In all of my dreams I never EVER imagined how much I would LOVE these children…how little it matters, NO how it matters NOT AT ALL,that they did not come from me…but rather, they came to me…I would do anything for them…

But right now, I am just asking to adopt them…plain and simple…I want to be legally responsible for them for the rest of their lives…please make it so…

Maybe, Almost Official?

Well, let's try this again…last month we were set to have a "status hearing" with all the mucky mucks at Childrens Court and with the Dept of Child Welfare, our lawyers, the GAL, etc…and it got cancelled…we have been fostering C for 20 months…he has been TPR'd for a year this month..still not adopted. Now, I got word today that we have a new date, July 8th…and that if the stars are aligned maybe the Judge will even do an adoption on that date…maybe…so now our adoption worker is scrambling, and she's new to the case and the bureau for all I know…and isn't sure what all needs to be done but knows it needs to be done fast…ugh! Since we are lesbians our case is doubly fun…as we are trying to do something that has not been done before in our city…I can't even talk about what it is…but it is HUGE…and sadly…it shouldn't even be HUGE…but it is…and we have lawyers, and blah de blah blah…our cheap State adoption (they say to adopt in the foster system it's only like $43 to cover all the paperwork fees at adoption time) has become a long, expensive process…but I do not care as long as that boy is OURS…no her's, not mine…OURS…TWO MOMMIES! Legally and on paper…he's only ever had two mommies, it's all he knows…and he is entitled to it! Keep your fingers crossed…keep them crossed that we keep our date in court and that it is all speedy and in our favor and done with soon…

I want to have a party already! I want a sigh of relief that he is going nowhere…a sigh at least for a minute as his sisters crap is just starting….