Will They be Welcomed?

A mother of a transracial family worries about what the community will think when they see her family

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fab 5 2012Recently Dear Hubby and I were discussing with some friends our decision to adopt our younger sibling group of three. We recalled that what worried us at the time — finances, retirement, college education — did not turn out to be the things we necessarily should have been worrying about. That runs to the more mundane, such as, how do I keep up with the dishes when 7 people seem to be eating round the clock. And, do you have any idea how many clothes 7 people get dirty once they are capable of changing their own clothes?

In fact, it’s a little funny now looking back on what worried us before that adoption and before both of our older girls. We talked a lot before the girls about this question: “Would they be accepted as our children, as members of the extended family, and as “ours” in the larger community?” We did not talk about this at all before adopting the little ones because, honestly, now we know.

The answer, if this worries you, is a resounding yes. Yes, yes, yes. There have been times it worried me that our kids look nothing like us, but probably not for the reasons you’d think. When we traveled to Italy, we all carried “emergency” cards. The adults carried laminated cards that said (in Italian and English), we’re traveling with these family members and our children look like so. The kids carried cards that said the same but included wording that basically meant, “my parents are white people.”  When we cross the border to Mexico every few years, I worry that they won’t let us back in because our kids don’t look like us. This will worry me even more the next time since we now have three kids who are half ethnically Hispanic.

The community, however, has welcomed us with open arms. It’s been many years since we got any sort of “sideways glance” from a disapproving stranger. More often, it’s the opposite. People we don’t know tend to come up and thank us for adopting kids, something which makes us mighty uncomfortable because we feel like we are the ones who got the gift. But we try to just say, “Yes, we are richly blessed” because we know that the sight of our brood has opened someone’s heart and their expression of love is genuine.
It will be okay. Like in all things parenting, the things that worry you in the beginning (“the baby isn’t eating.” “should I rinse their clothes in vinegar?”) turn out to be non-issues, and the things that really cause us angst are never the things we expected. Unless you live in a tiny,  non-diverse community of unwelcoming people, in all likelihood, your new family will be welcomed with open arms.  So focus your attention on what really should worry you, like “how big is your dryer?”  (Just kidding).