Words Have Consequence

“Where did you get it from?” “Are you getting any more?” “Where do you keep finding these babies to buy?” “REAL mom…..REAL dad….” “Are they REAL brothers?” “Where are they from?” This is just a snippet of questions I have … Continue reading

“There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.”-Socrates

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While I was at work a couple of days ago, I was having a conversation with one of my co-workers regarding whether or not she believed Trayvon Martin had been racially profiled by George Zimmerman. I respect this particular person’s opinion, as she was a foster mom for years to an African American boy. I was approaching this discussion as a concerned mother for my son’s future. As she and I were beginning our conversation, another co-worker chimes in quite loudly with her point of view and takes the stage. She informed us that we were wrong if we thought there had been racial profiling in the Trayvon Martin case and that this type of mindset is what is perpetuating “racism”, which she does not believe truly exists. She continued by stating that we are living in a world of reverse racism  and white people are scared to say anything to a black person for fear that it will be seen as racist. She strongly feels that race should not be an issue and that we should not place so much emphasis on it.

Then, she took her comments to a very personal level. She told me that there is no reason to raise my son as my “black son” and that I should be raising him as just my son. Different cultures, in her opinion, do not really exist. She used her ethnicity of being Polish as an example by saying how her mother did not force her to learn how to cook Polish food. I stated that I wanted to embrace my son’s culture and empower both of us with education. Her next comment of, “you don’t buy a book on how to raise a black child,” caught me off guard. Yes, I have bought many books on transracial parenting and adoption. These books are continued means of education for myself while living my new life as a multi-cultural family. I want to read about other people’s experiences and learnings. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, if I was not doing this, I believe I would be doing a disservice to both my son and myself. I could not believe she made that comment and continued on the way she did about my ability to properly raise my son without causing him a complex for being black. She ended her rant by printing out the following article for me and by telling me that her black friend in Texas feels the same way as her…since I guess all black people must feel the same way, right?!

http://bondaction.org/content/article/37076/Black%20Racism%20Killed%20Trayvon%20…

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After this “conversation,” I felt upset as you may imagine and had to compose myself so I could get on with my work day. I felt as though I had been attacked and violated on a very personal level. My parenting of my son and my multi-cultural family unit had been racially attacked. I am still very bothered by this situation and have yet to do anything about it. I do feel that I need to talk to this person, as I see her on a very regular basis at  work. She may not change her mind or be cured of her ignorance and naivety, but at least I can speak my mind and let her know that her comments were not appreciated and were completely out of line.

I am reading a great book right now, Come Rain or Come Shine, by Rachel Garlinghouse. She provides a list of “Things I often hear white people say” that I would like to share with you.

 “Race doesn’t matter.”

“I am colorblind. I couldn’t care less if someone is white, black, purple, or green.”

“I’m not racist. I have a friend who is black.”

“Why is there a black history month? Shouldn’t there be a white history month?”

“Why is it ok for a black person to call another black person a nigger?”

“Talking about skin color puts too much emphasis on race.”

“I don’t understand why everyone says that President Obama is our first black president. He is white and black.”

“The world is a melting pot.”

“I’m so tired of people playing the race card. Slavery and civil rights times are over. It’s time for them to take responsibility for their actions.”

“Don’t worry about teaching your kids about race. They are too young to understand or care. And by the time they are older, racism will be a thing of the past.”

A book that Garlinghouse suggests reading, which I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on is, “In Their Own Voices:
Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories” by Rita J. Simon and Rhonda M. Rhoorda. These authors interviewed many transracial adoptees and find that the vast majority of them feel hurt by their parents’ lack of education and lack of incorporation of their black culture into their families. Maybe my co-worker should read this book.

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Adoptism, Racism, Attornies, and Love

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I have learned that parenthood is beyond exhausting, frustrating, emotional, and life-changing. I have also learned that parenthood is a miracle. Watching my son grow, experiencing every moment for the first time, and the intensive love I feel for him makes every minute of exhaustion worthwhile.
Another thing learned for me is how marriage changes when parenthood emerges. My husband and I are soul mates. I have never had any doubts regarding the love we feel for one another. Our bond is one which cannot be broken. What I have learned is that our bond is able to change. There are times when we feel disconnected, when we let our frustrations affect our partnership, and when we are just too exhausted and/or busy to make time for one another. I believe these changes in our relationship will not disintegrate it, but we will learn to assimilate to our new union as a family of three instead of a bond of just two.
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On the update front…we have visited with our adoption attorney. Our filing should occur this week, which will give us a court date for finalization. We have heard that there is a new judge working on adoption cases who has decided to see less finalization court cases each month. This means that we will most likely not have our finalization court date until sometime in October of this year. This is definitely not the news we wanted to hear, as our six month supervision is over at the end of July. Waiting is the name of the game in adoption, so we know this is just part of the process and we must remain patient.
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Finally, I wanted to share an unfortunate, yet eye opening, experience that Harper and I had about a week ago. Harper suffers from eczema. I have been treating it the best I know how with limited gain, so I made an appointment with an African-American dermatologist. I sought out this dermatologist due to the fact that she is African-American, and because I thought she could give me insight into any situation where I may still need clarification. However, this is not to say that I am uneducated on African-American skincare. I have researched and read more than you can imagine, but I also believe there is always room for growth and education (on any topic).

Harper and I had to wait a month to get into this dermatologist. Well, the day had finally arrived for our appointment. I was very much looking forward to meeting with the dermatologist, and coming up with a solution together to treat Harper’s itchy and irritating eczema. It all started with the physician’s assistant who was not only condescending, but downright rude. She asked me if mom and dad had allergies. I assumed she was speaking about Jason and I, as we are his mom and dad. The conversation was strange, and upon reflection, I realized she was speaking about his birth parents. This is a perfect example of adoptism (when the adoptive family is treated as less-than, second-class, or inauthentic). This office needs to be aware of all types of families, and the ways in which families of divergent beings (racially, culturally, etc.) become united as one. Adoption is very common, and this physician’s office is seemingly ignorant and uneducated on the realities of adoption and the proper adoption language one should use. When the doctor came into the room, I had high hopes that this awkward feeling would subside, and I would get the service I had come for. Unfortunately, the doctor rarely spoke directly to me, preferring instead to speak about me to the physician’s assistant. She said I needed a handout on skin of color when I asked questions about Harper’s skin and hair. This woman was racist; possibly not racist in the sense that she is against people of different color, but racist in the regard that “a white woman should not be raising a black child”. She was beyond unprofessional, unhelpful to me as a parent, and acted as though I was a babysitter instead of my child’s mother.

Looking back on this situation, I wish I would have been able to stick up for myself and my child, but I was so taken aback and upset that I could not see past what was happening in front of me. I left the office in tears. I have never felt less like Harper’s mom than at that moment. I should not have let anyone make me feel this way, but this situation affected me on a heart level. Since then, my feelings about this situation have gone from being hurt, to a combination of extremely angry and shocked. I share this story as an example that we never know what lies ahead. We should not assume that just because someone is a professional that they will act professionally. These women may be educated, but they are ignorant on the ways of the world, who prove that racism is alive in our daily lives.  I do not have patience or tolerance for this type of behavior.