Category Archives: Transracial family life

This Week in Transracial Parenting…

I fretted over needing to find a salon for AJ’s hair: black salon, natural hair approach, patient with kids, uber patient with white mamas, local, semi-affordable. Tall order?

Meanwhile, I dropped a bunch of dough on hair and skin products for AJ.

Feeling confident in said products (I think I have a crush on Alaffia), I left AJ’s hair in a halfro for the first time in a long time and observed just how tight her curl pattern is. No wonder I am feeling overmatched by it lately.

In related news, AJ’s halfro was petted at least twice today.

ABC News featured critics of transracial adoption on their What Would You Do? program.

We finally watched The Blind Side, and I was kind of ambivalent. Not sure it lived up to all the hype, for me. Obviously adding a person to your family involves giving and changing your life in many ways–but they didn’t show much of that. Okay, your $10,000 couch got rumpled and you had a couple awkward conversations with snotty friends. Great sacrifice or…rich white people problems? Just sayin’, people make much deeper financial and relational sacrifices than that all the time, and no one pins a medal on them. And Oher said/did so little in the movie that he was a lesser character in a story about his own life (like too many adoptees when we make the parents heroes or black characters when the whites come “save themselves by saving them”). So I liked it but I didn’t love it like I felt like I was supposed to. But Oher does have a new book coming out telling the rest of the story.

Speaking of awkward conversations, I tried to explain to a co-worker why yes, renaming/altering the Little Black Sambo story was necessary because while yes, “black” is a fine descriptor, sambo most definitely is not, the images were not, and things can not just be separated from their history. I was then upset at how flummoxed I was trying to find words for this. I know the person meant no offense; they just had the white privilege (#16) of not knowing what is offensive about certain words and images. I don’t have as much of that privilege anymore and I don’t want it.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, there is still one day left in Black History Month for you to look it up and say you learned something.

Sigh. Yes, we still need Black History Month.

Update shortly after original post: I forgot–I also read this article “See Babies Discriminate” from the authors of NurtureShock. It is about how we should talk about differences rather than try to pretend they don’t exist, because everyone notices differences and there’s nothing wrong with that. And the developmental period when we most often avoid talking about race is just when they need it most because their ideas are being formed. Very interesting article.

Adoption Study: Beyond Culture Camp

A study has just been released that should be of interest to all of us connected to transracial adoption: “Beyond Culture Camp: Promoting Healthy Identity Formation in Adoption” from the highly respected Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

It was one of the largest studies yet of transracial adoptions and focuses on the first generation of children adopted from South Korea. Some points from the executive summary:

  • Adoption is an increasingly significant aspect of identity for adopted people as they age, and remains so even when they are adults.
  • Race/ethnicity is an increasingly significant aspect of identity for those adopted across color and culture.
  • Coping with discrimination is an important aspect of coming to terms with racial/ethnic identity for adoptees of color.
  • Adopted people of all colors report that they experience discrimination, based on how they entered their families, in all settings of their lives.
  • Most transracial adoptees considered themselves White or wanted to be White as children.
  • Positive racial/ethnic identity development is most effectively facilitated by “lived” experiences such as travel to native country, racially diverse schools, and role models from their same race/ethnicity.

The study also makes recommendations for adoption practice and policy to promote positive adoptive and transracial/cultural identity. Check out the summary.

Related: New York Times article about the study:Adopted from Korea and in Search of Identity

Darn That African Spanish Accent

A couple five- and six-year-old girls were visiting some of our neighbors the other day.  We were getting dinner ready, but our neighbors were outside, so the Joygirl was out playing with the other girls (well, following them around, anyway). Joygirl did keep coming back in to see us, then going out again. One round the girls came up and had this conversation with Aaron:

Girl: She’s black.

Aaron: Yep, she has black skin.

Girl: Why?

Aaron: Why is she black? [Let’s assume this question is mostly about why she’s black and we’re not.] Well, we actually adopted her. She’s from another country, in Africa….

A little bit later they were back at the door.

Girl 1: I can’t understand her when she talks.

Aaron: Yeah…She’s only two. She’s still working on learning to talk.

Girl 2: It’s because she’s Spanish!

Aaron: Spanish? Oh, no, she’s not speaking Spanish. She’s just not that good at talking yet.

Girl 1: It’s because she’s from another country!

Aaron: No, not really…

Darn that pesky African Spanish accent!