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.