Transracial Parenting »

Message in a bottle

Do you hear what your child is saying? Do you know how to listen?

Tin is not participating in the adoption birthday celebration joy we thought we were creating. Naturally this collided with my feelings of inadequacy lately about addressing adoption, race, identity, and the growing and alarming sense that I don’t know anything about anything. I had contacted the Ashé Cultural Center about their Kwanzaa celebration, I had polled African American friends for a dentist of color for Tin, I have two books on race that I’m reading side by side and I felt like I was trying to get a camel to walk through the eye of a needle.

Then just when it seemed that I was getting nowhere, I walked through the eye of the needle myself. A longtime source of mine had connected me with his sister who adopted two Somali children years ago, and in the conversation everything I brought up as my fears, my anxiety, my general not knowing were confirmed by her own experiences. But she left me with good counsel – listen to your child. And so we have decided to go forward with the adoption birthday celebration but tone down the reason for the event and emphasize that we are celebrating being a family. So tomorrow Tin and I will bake a chocolate cake from scratch and on Monday, his godfather, also a brown boy adopted into a white family, will come over and be listening for the moments where he can add his own experience to the conversation. As he wrote:

I was wondering about this. I figured it would happen sometime next year. …You know, the first time other kids ask you why their parents look different than you. …You have the added joy of explaining where his daddy is.

Then last night we went to see a friend’s documentary about immigrants, but before I went into the Contemporary Arts Center, I walked into the Ogden Museum because Epaul had some of his work in the PhotoNOLA exhibit. He asked me where the immigrants were from and I said, not really knowing, most likely most from Europe. The work he was showing were photo recreations of the Dutch masterpieces but through a multicultural lens. I went across to the CAC and entered the dark screening room and noticed on the screen how few people of color were in it, and when the lights came on, I noticed how few people of color were in the audience.
Epaul knows of a female African American dentist – score.
A delightful and beautiful African American girl has agreed to start babysitting Tin – score.
We listened to Tin and this year will downplay his adoption birthday celebration and as my friend’s sister advised – maybe just whisper in his ear, “Happy day I adopted you.”
And before we went to bed last night, we watched a taped episode of Totally Biased with Kamau Bell where he pleaded with the audience to not wish African American people “Happy Kwanzaa” – he said no one but his mother celebrated Kwanzaa.
None of this ends up being black or white, it’s technicolor.

+ - 1 comment

April 8, 2013 - 5:53 pm

Maria - Demography is prophecy.It’s as sipmle as that, in this country.Euro/caucasions aren’t far from minority status, demographically, in the US. Give it a few more years.The trooper made, these days, a mistake and he’ll pay the price. He and/or your e-mail and your final closing note may state the obvious, but the obvious isn’t what plays these days particularly with GOWPs (Guilty, Over-educated White People). That’s just a fact of life.But further, in a non-PC fashion, I will state the obvious again, which no one yet has dared to say or write: if your ethnicity is Euro/Caucasion, your grandchildren and great-grandchildren have been doomed to a life of second-class status. Because if you think the Circle will come around again and those who make up the then-US Primacy Demography be it blacks or Mexicans or even (and in particular) Muslims will do for Euro/Caucasions what ECs did for other minorities that is to say, promote them, create special laws placing them in protected class status, hold them out for special education, special jobs, etc you’re then massively mistaken. Your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will become a lot in a vast underclass and shall remain in that underclass. Unless and until they possess the will and the courage to pull themSELVES out of it.If you’re expecting nobility from the Coming Demography in the US, you’re about to be roundly disappointed.BZ

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