Monday, March 21, 2011

It must be said....

I have struggled with the idea of this entry since I started the blog a few months back. It is one of controversy and a lot of public opinion, lots of negative flurry from some, along with some positive support... what am I getting at?

Trans racial Adoption!! It is how we started our family!!!!
Trans racial adoption is a "hot" topic in the media and in adoption circles. There is quite a lot of activity in this area of adoption practice. Angelina Jolie-Pitt and Sandra Bullock, even Madonna are involved in this type of adoptions. They have brought it to the surface media wise, but those of us who are not famous have been dealing with the public opinion for some time. This post has been thought out and written and erased several times. I have been wanting to address this issue for sometime now but am struggling with it still. Maybe because of negative comments or issues some have with our family. 

I don't like to become consumed with that but it is an ever present thought that wants it's attention.I will say that when we became foster parents in 2005 some of our family and friends were worried. Worried for us, worried for the kids we'd have, worried for that fact that this would change us and that we'd never be the same. We heard it, but proceeded. I said that it wouldn't change us, just make us better people and hopefully better parents to our own future kids. Well, they were right! We were changed...forever! Ace and Boomer were our 4th and 5th placements. We loved them from the moment we saw them. We knew obviously that they were black, but that didn't matter. They needed a home, love and attention. We were so happy we could adore them even if they could only stay a while. No real time line is given as to how long they would stay and honestly it wouldn't have mattered anyway, because we FELL in love. How could you not?? Boomer was 9 months old. She crawled for the first time here, had her first birthday here with us, said "mama" to me after 2  weeks, and Ace glowed when he was spending time with his "Daddy".He was 3 1/2. A baby really!  He had never had a dad before Z. So color didn't even affect our love, or attention or intent to protect them with ALL we had. Color was obvious to others at stores, Social Services, church, and around the neighborhood. We rarely thought about the color "issue". Really! I guess we went color blind at some point early on. We just saw our kids! I get that that is hard to understand if you haven't been there! When babies begin to call you mama or dada, you melt, right??? Exactly the same way we did when Boomer did and then Ace as well.We had already had a place deep, deep down for them. Finally, when the adoption went though, nothing changed for us (well obviously the names )they were already ours emotionally and all, but we were sold. We had loved them all this time and color had not played a role in it from like day 2. I know that is hard to believe when you don't get to have had experience yourself. So, when someone is offended that we adopted them or mad even, it makes me angry inside. I am a mom of 4.....some that are adopted and some that aren't. It didn't matter to me then why does it to others. Especially black adults. Not all, for sure , but alot have gave dirty looks when they hear them call out "Mommy". I see it and so do my kids. I feel like saying :"You didn't come forth.  We adopted them when no one else came to help. If we hadn't what would have become of them. No biological family came forth after 8 months of searching. We were it"....and I am glad we were because we would have fought tooth and nail....believe me!!!

I guess I will just write our experiences and go from there.....

 Ace has never been shy about telling people that he is adopted. We have always emphasized that we saw him(and Boomer), fell in love with them, they came to our house and we choose to adopt them. He (and she) is proud of that. He and Boomer know that while Tank and Baby Q  grew and came from my belly, that they grew and came from my(and Daddy's) heart. That lasted several years until recently,Ace became more curious. (He knows some more specifics) Ace was 3 1/2 when he came to be with us but still does not remember much at all regarding his life prior to this life now!(do you remember much before 1st grade?) Thankfully, that is how we wanted it, as the life prior was chaotic, stressful, negligent on many accounts and overall a horrible start to life. They both know a much milder and fairly generic account of how they became ours. They don't need to know all the details as that would be disturbing to recount and to such young kids is not a wise choice. They know that they lived with another mother ( an birth mother) that could not take care of them correctly and we left it at that!(don't know if we will ever want to tell them some of it....)

 We feel the need to explain our situation to new friends, teachers, parents, coaches etc so that we can avoid the uncomfortable comments that may be asked to the kids themselves. Maybe to address it so that they don't have to wonder and talk behind our backs. Not even in a bad way, but everyone tries to fiqure us out. We stand out in a crowd! Some of these have included, "you need a parent present, go and show me where they are...", "you can't come alone honey", "give your baby -sitter the letter", "get out of the pool, you need a parent", "who left you at the libary alone, honey?" Go back and please tell your mom that I have_____ for her, she really needs to come to pick you up, I need to see her, not your nanny". AND SO ON!!!

 For example, last weekend at Costco, we were all shopping and the kids LOVE the samples. Well, Ace went walking a head of me and stopped at the yogurt sample booth. I watched from like 5 feet away as the lady prepared the little cups with spoons. People began to flock to her table and Ace watched patiently as the samples quickly disappeared. He glanced over to me and I gave a reassuring look that he could wait until she refilled.  The lady glanced down at him and said "sorry, the samples are gone.....and besides, you have to come with a parent. Where is your mother, because she should be with you..." I proudly said "I AM right here!" She said "Oh, I just assumed that his mother would be black..."What would you say?? I felt bad for Ace. Not because he missed out on the yogurt but because he was embarrassed and annoyed. I watched my other three approach the rest of the tables of samples while observing Ace just hang out by our cart and refuse any more samples. I couldn't fix this, I couldn't  not defend that comment she had made. Truth is that YES she should be black. She should be here. She should have cared to get herself together to parent them.( she had a year and 2 months, FYI) But she didn't, would'nt even. She gave up on them and consiquently herself as well.

I feel like I must have Boomer's hair done just right as to not give any of the the African Americans we may run into while running errands any reason to "shun" us. I make sure they are not ashy for gymnastics or swimming. I make sure Ace's hair is oiled up. I am always shocked as we get lots of comments daily from the public. For example,  recently at the dreaded grocery store. The cashier was trying to be friendly and  make conversation when she said "nice,..... you are giving their parents a break for them, they must appreciate you!" I am sure the look of confusion ran through her face when I said "Nope they are all MINE" I said while looking at the kids and transferring the groceries  into the cart. I know she must have said to herself, "boy, they really must look like their dad and wow, she 's been around...four kids two dads in like 3!" Who knows! I guess I shouldn't speculate either. People are interested I know! We look different. We do get some smiles and some strange looks but I usually equate the crazy looks (at the time) that to the screaming at the stores  and the crying tantrums over a wanted item or the smiles to when all four are getting along and holding hands (rare), but it does happen!! (maybe some have been there and know that I can't stop my 2 year old from screaming "NO" a  million times when asked to sit in the cart and not stand. Maybe it is because Tank picked his nose and that is why that frowned look on the old man. Who knows? I said we don't see the color ,like they do. It is until I try to revisit that moment when I saw the frown and think maybe it is just because they were all calling "mommy, can I have this, PLEAASSEE!" And he was like "wow, they are her's...humm?" I have had a conversation with an older lady while at a Mc Donalds play land who said that "You are brave to take these kids home and raise them...the world is against you ya know". How cheerful!  I do try to shield them from all that stuff cuz they are just little kids and I don't want it to hurt their self-esteem or question where they belong. This is where they belong, we feel it and know that, our extended family and friends know that, heck, even the court agrees. Still, we do quietly struggle with the opinions and unwanted comments(usually late at night when all are asleep). I know a family who had adopted a baby four years ago from China. I am her mother's  somewhat friend and we have talked about our adoptions and such. She claims that she has never had that happen to her. People don't assume she is their biological daughter or that she is her babysitter, as I guess it is that norm to have a child who is adopted from China. She says she gets smiles, almost always! We have a similar bond, but are so different as well.  Especially, because we were not an infertile couple. We have two younger biological children. We adopted because we wanted to do something to help these kids, not because it was our only option. People are shocked when they find out that Tank and Q are not the miracles that they THINK they are. They are of course a miracle, but not because we had such a struggle to get there.
 I hate that all four of our kids will have to "prove" that their  siblings are in fact their siblings to friends because they look different from the older or younger ones.Or that we are Ace and Boomers' "real parents"(not the nanny or babysitter),grandparents, uncles, aunts etc. Even in Kindergarten, Boomer was recently asked where her "real" mom was. Boomer answered like and other 5 year old and proudly pointed to me and said "she is the one in the vest...DUH!!!" Almost like that was a stupid question! As opposed to "fake parents". Ace was told he had "fake parents" Friday. Third graders......They don't see me as their white(peach as Ace and Boomer put it) parent. Just as I don't see her as my black (brown, as they state)children. They are my kids and we are their parents, period. However, most of society doesn't agree! Does a "fake parent" cloth you, feed you, love you, pay for you, protect you, plan for your future?? I know the little 8 year old didn't really expect a response such as this, but it makes me mad!! Was that kids influenced by his parents, society, media?? What??Why is color so important, shouldn't love be instead?? I know I am asking a lot here!!! :)A parent is a parent right? But, how does Ace feel?

I know that it is in human nature to judge and question others, I just wish that our family wasn't the sounding board for that!!  I am a people watcher I admit, but would never ask someone their situation! I can only pray that all my kids feel secure in who they are, where they came(come) from and live the best life that they can, knowing that we love them LIKE CRAZY. Every child deserves that! People say "aren't they lucky to have you two" I just smile and say "not really, We are lucky to have them!!!"
I wish the world would just adapt already......................