Being a Multi-Racial Family

I was not prepared for multiracial adoption.  I thought I was prepared, but that was a blissful bubble of ignorance.  We were at least smart enough to be careful about what we were getting into.  Some situations are too fraught with past injustices for us to step into that whirling maelstrom of scrutiny and judgment.  By the way, do you know how uncomfortable it is to realize you aren’t up for the challenge?  To say out loud “I don’t want to be this type of family?”

Here’s where the blissful bubble of ignorance popped.  Even though we knew for sure that we really did not want to deal with a certain kind of situation, we thought other situations would be much easier to navigate.  It will be, to some extent, but Baby X will still face discrimination of which S and I have never experienced.

We find ourselves thinking about how we will navigate cultural and racial issues.  Stepping outside our comfort zones is stressing me out, as it does most introverts.  The past couple of weeks as I’ve listened to podcasts on transracial adoption, and dived into an adoption parenting book, I’ve been in a buzzy state of anxiety.

There’s already been a couple of weird incidents that I felt ill-equipped to handle.  I don’t mind when people straight-up ask what ethnicity Baby X is.  I see it as genuine curiosity especially when it’s asked in a sensitive way.  What I mind is when I hear this “Oh, he has such beautiful skin, his skin is beautiful just like his mom’s”.  I’m not dark, but I tan easily (I have my Lebanese grandmother to thank for that).  However, that’s the extent of my “ethnicity”.  Otherwise, the Irish takes over my features.  S on the other hand is your average run of the mill Western European blend of ethnicity.  Baby X is not very dark either, but I was offended because I felt like it was a weird backing into trying to figure out what ethnicity he is without asking.  And, I find it weird to get the “he looks like you”.  I think that goes back to adoption though.  This particular exchange was between me and someone who knows we are adopting.  It’s like people think they have to find some surficial similarity between me and my kid.  Is this something that I’m supposed to get over and accept?  How do you respond to it?  I’m not even going to share my response because it was embarrassing.  Totally not how you’re supposed to respond I’m guessing.

Within our own families, there’s a underlying color-blindness that I’m finding infuriating.  But, I guess they don’t really matter, since Baby X lives with us.  The doting grandparents can just be doting grandparents who will never get it, and probably won’t even try.  It’s what S and I do that counts.

Enough for now, I’m finding it pretty difficult to write about this.  I think I’ve been working on this post for 6 weeks!

Here’s a couple references that I’m finding helpful and eye-opening:
 -  Inside Transracial Adoption  by Gail Steinberg and Beth Hall
-  Creating a Family podcasts.  If you haven’t checked these out yet, they’re awesome.  Dawn covers all kinds of issues ranging from infertility, ART, embryo adoption, adoption, transracial adoption, open adoption and many more.  The link to her website and blog are on my side-bar.