Transracial Parenting »

Bronzing?

Yesterday, I went for a walk around the Big Lake at City Park with Tin’s godfather, Evan Christopher. Over a year ago, a friend who had had a child through a sperm donation and was raising her as a single mother told me that it was important to pick a man in our lives who would be a role model and a mentor for our son. There was no question of who that would be, Tin had been charmed by Evan’s music before he could even speak. And for Tin’s first birthday party, I asked Evan if he would play his clarinet and he offered to do it at no charge because he too identified with Tin because he had been adopted as well.

Evan and I were walking and talking about the recent events that were happening in Tin’s life such as his third adoption birthday that was coming up that he was saying he didn’t want to celebrate, about his labeling another boy “that black boy”, about his asking to see a photograph of his natural mother (that we had been showing him as part of his adoption story since he was an infant). Evan has a calm manner of speaking and he told me, “For me, at the end of the day, the drama is only in the details. Facts are facts, like nature. People accept truths in their own time.”

We ran into friends as we were walking, who are also a big part of Tin’s life, and who are both African American. Later, when they stopped by the house and I told them what has been going on, one of them said that we need to have more exposure to black people in our lives. And then she suggested that I might consider bronzing. What? Yes, instead of a tanning booth, most athletes are bronzing and that might help me get closer to Tin’s skin color. I laughed, but she was serious.

I looked at Tin later and said to him bluntly, “I may not be your African American mother, but I am your mother and I’m not going to change my skin color. We are a family that comes in many shades.”

How would you have responded to your friend who meant well in offering you advice to bronze?

by Rachel Dangermond

+ - 4 comments

April 8, 2013 - 4:14 pm

Zarulzariff - As an adoptive panret, I am often being made to feel that I am a second class mother because I did not give birth to my children. It is frustrating to read the articles by well meaning, well-informed individuals who believe they know the reasons why I adopted to save my child, to avoid the chore of having to deal with birthpanrets, to follow a trend and adopt internationally. Well meaning friends have even commented that the bonds I share with my children are not as strong or as meaningful as those that they share with their birthchildren. How painful do any of you think that that is to hear and to have to defend? How painful do you think it is for my childent to have to listen to ignorant and inconsiderate questions or comments from complete strangers every time we are out of the house? Are they real sisters? How much did you pay for them? My daughters are beautiful human beings and are loved beyond words by my husband and I and our families. They are our daughters whether by birth or by adoption. We didn’t adopt them to save them, we adopted them because we wanted a family and because they were our daughters. We didn’t adopt them from China because we wanted to avoid birthpanrets but because we did not want to have to wait endless months or years to make our family complete. We didn’t care if our daughters were black, white, purple or green they are our daughters period. I see them, not the colour of their skin or the shape of their eyes. We would have loved for our children to be able to grow up and know their birthpanrets but unfortunately that will never be and none of us had that choice to make.We faced many obstacles in adoption in the United States and many doors did not open to us simply because we were white. I did not adopt internationally to be fashionable but because I wanted a family. Do I worry that I am not able to properly give my child a full sense of her cultural identity? Of course I do. Any good panret worries that they are not doing enough for their child.Adoptive panrets continue to face challenges and discrimination in the workforce and in society just as our children do, but thankfully because we are a family we and our children have support and love to help us through.Any person who is capable of providing a loving, stable and secure home for a child should be able to do so. There would be a lot less unplanned and unfortunately unwanted children in the world if all panrets had to prove their worthiness as we do.Shouldn’t the question really be Who is fit to be a panret? rather than whether race or ethnicity should be an issue?And lastly next time you are in a store and you see a biracial or interracial family, please keep your questions or comments to yourself because it’s really none of your business. A smile is appreciated much more. Afterall, you’d be offended if I asked you how and when you conceived your children, wouldn’t you?

April 8, 2013 - 4:14 pm

Robyn - The ideas and comments I’ve read in this tehrad have been very interesting to me.I am a single adoptive mom (white) to my daughter (AA). I am also an adoptee. While I grew up in a same race family, sometimes I felt different, but that was just how it was for me that was my normal. All the relatives on my mom’s side many of the 43 cousins look like each other, and though I could pass as a bio kid, and certainly more than my daughter would be able to, that really didn’t matter I didn’t see any reason for pretending that I was a bio kid. I knew that I had big unanswered questions about my identity, but seriously didn’t know there was social stigma attached to being adopted until I began researching adoption as a prospective adoptive parent. My sister (also adopted) and I thought that she and I had to wash the dishes and help do housework while our brother (the bio kid) did not because he was our parents’ bio kid we didn’t know about patriarchy. I guess I’m trying to say that being adopted was normal for me, but it was not without pain and confusion.I went through a prolonged identity crisis, much due to not knowing who or where I came from . I learned that to sort of c0-exist in two realities I am a part of the family that raised me, but I also have a shared biology with others. I am, and I am not.I met my birth mother when I was 37. I had many of my questions answered, and I don’t feel like free agent’ out in the world like I used to since finding out who I look like and about my family of origin. I did not expect that after I met my birth mother I would feel more bonded to my adoptive mom I understood at a deeper level that family is who you are raised by, and raised with.My birth family is delightful, and I feel proud and lucky to have found them. But my b-mom is not my mom, though she’s someone I love.I have an open adoption with my daughter’s b-mom. It is important to me that there not be any secrets there, though the b-mom’s life situation has prevented us from having contact. But the door is open on this end I want my daughter to have that connection and not have to wonder about some basic facts about herself that I believe she has a right to.So, I feel that I will be able to share some of my experiences as an adoptee with my daughter, and look for some of the signs of some of the issues that I went through. I am not going to be able to be the person in her life who helps her learn how to deal with racial prejudice and stereotypes from first hand experience I fully admit that I cannot raise my daughter on my own and provide for all of her needs I have to rely on family and friends to help round out our family and her world. Even if she and I were of the same race I could not fill all her needs. I was very hesitant to adopted transracially becuase I felt my limitations, and I questioned whether I could provide for my child’s needs in areas that were not my life experience. But I also felt a big commitment to my child to do whatever I could to help her to be strong in herself. I am confused about whether the town I live is in is where I will stay once my daughter is school-age as it’s pretty white. I get a variety of opinion from my AA friends some move back to west coast cities, others say this is a great place to raise kids. But I don’t want my daughter to be a novelty in the classroom. I don’t know that I addressed anything relevant to this tehrad. But just wanted to toss in my 2 cents too.Brenda

March 12, 2013 - 5:32 am

Rachel - Taylor – I hear what you are saying. I’ve heard the same from other adopted children and I’ve heard different. I never believe that this is something that is easy for anyone who was adopted, to know that they are not with their birth parents. I don’t think anyone who has been adopted should be made to feel that they should be grateful – the gratitude lies with the adoptive parents not with the child. The child forever has to deal with their past. I do believe that people who adopt children do it out of love and they give themselves to their children (for the most part) and they want to do right by them, to make up for their past in some way, and no one or nothing can fill the gaps, but in the end this is our karma – I could not have a child and I adopted my son. He did not ask for his life to unfold the way it did, but it did. We can only accept this as the life we have been given and try our best not to be victims in our own stories but instead accept what is and make the best of it.

March 12, 2013 - 4:46 am

Taylor Jenson - This is my personal opinion as an adult adoptee and unfortunatley most adoptive parents dont like adult adoptees opinions as we are a threat to them… (that has been my experience)

I dont think it matters what colour skin you have as an adoptive parent, because you are an adoptive parent and that how we see you… Adoptees dont care what your skin colour is..
What we do care about is things like birthdays and got you days. we dont like to be reminded of loosing our families and our heritage and names we dont like having false birth certicates.
We dont like to be differnt we dont like to be adopted we secretly long for our birth mothers and fathers and make up fantasies that they are movies stars and heros. We dont care that they maybe drug addicts or poor, we just want to look at someone who looks like us and smells like us.. When you are adoped no matter what race you are you belong to adopto land and nothing ever changes that… We are not grateful nor should we be expected to be grateful we are not a gift from god.. that gift was given to our birth parents not to the adopters. We are not lucky , we are human beings that where robbed of our mothers smell touch and love, So no it doesnt matter what skin colour you have because it doesnt change the fact that you are not our heritage and we dont look in the mirror and see you… sorry if this offends, but no one ever wants to hear adoptees or listen to there truths… Being adopted is something we are forced to live with and it never goes away , we just learn to cope with it and sometimes when we turn 18 we are lucky enough to find our birth families and then start to build our lives from there…

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