I asked my biological son, “How has your life changed since your baby sister came to our family?” He answered, “I wouldn’t have anything to say at the morning meeting at school!”
Every day at his grade school, the children meet in the morning and offer up a comment about something from the morning or the night before. My son said he talks about how his sister is obsessed with pancakes, or how she is afraid of giant meatballs! I asked him if he still gets questions about her race or her entry into our family. He jokingly said, “We are all albinos and she is the normal one in our family.”
I laughed and knew that for now he is doing okay with the changes brought into his life–mainly, the adoption of his baby sister.
We became foster parents in our state because we wanted to add to our family. We hoped that we would be able to “foster to adopt.” Thirty days from now, the African American baby girl we have been fostering for the past 2 ½ years, will be legally adopted into our family. We have been on a serious quest for education and information on how to transracially parent successfully.
Just like all adoptive families, we worry about raising our children right. I look at and scour over every publication and blog to see if there are any clues or insight I have not heard. Then I worry that I am worrying too much or being too “transracially” minded! I worry that I am creating an “invisible child” as Kevin Hofmann, the author of Growing up Black in White, speaks of.
He is a transracial adoptee and speaks to the fact that some of his white siblings felt resentful of him, because of the attention given to him by his parents. They tried to create experiences to help him; experiences that included moving to a predominantly black suburb. This action forced the white children to become instantly “different,” when so many children only want to fit in and be exactly like everyone else.
To one of his siblings, he has become an invisible child. His picture is conspicuously absent from the family pictures that are hanging on the walls in that sibling’s household; the wounds are still too raw. In his book, he recommends more communication in transracial families about race and sensitive issues; things that were absent in his family growing up. Communication is a tool for avoiding later issues in life.
It is all a balance. I would like to think we are going to be different and better and more thoughtful parents for our special family than those that have gone before us. We talk about race and race issues in our household; it is a continuing dialogue. But I have to find the right balance in all the discussions, so our family does not feel overwhelmed about challenges that may lie ahead.
I like that my ten-year-old blond son seeks to make his almost three-year-old sister feel more comfortable in her skin, by jokingly saying we are the ones with the wrong color. But underneath we are all the same. We are family, regardless of our differing skin tones. If we continue to dialogue with him openly, her picture will be featured among the family pictures he has on HIS wall, in HIS house, when he is all grown up.
Written by Ann Marie G.