I asked Jane at Dandelion Wishes to share a bit about her experience with transracial adoption. Â I enjoy reading other people’s experiences with transracial adoption. Â I don’t think anyone has had the last word on the subject, as people and families are so complex. Â I think its helpful to stay connected with other multicultural families as we all continue to learn and grow from each other. Â Many thanks to Jane for guest posting this month.
|Photo Credit: The First Grade Parade|
My son arrived at our home when he was three months old.Â He had dark curly hair, brown eyes and the very lightest shade of brown skin.Â He was beautiful, adorable, and perfect.Â The comments about his looks began immediately. Â Heâ€™s so cute!Â Look at all that curly hair!Â He has such pretty eyes!
I was accustomed to people discussing babies this way.Â These were the things that people had said about my daughters.Â These were things Iâ€™ve said about other babies.Â What I was not prepared for was the commentary about his skin, more frequent than his eyes or hair or general handsomeness.Â The comment I heard most often was, â€œHeâ€™s not very dark, is he?â€
I heard this from family, friends, acquaintances and strangers.Â I was not usually offended, at first.Â These were people who clearly thought he was adorable.Â Only as time went on, and I still heard the same thing, did I start to really think about it.Â What did people really mean by that?
My son is bi-racial, Caucasian and African-American.Â His skin is the same color as my Italian-AmericanÂ husband and half-Italian daughters.Â Itâ€™s a tiny bit browner than mine.Â Itâ€™s not very dark.Â But why the comments on it?Â No one says that about Caucasian babies, do they?Â Or Asian babies?Â OrÂ Indian?Â Iâ€™ve never heard it.Â All I can think is that itâ€™s specifically directed at the fact that my son has African- American heritage. Â
So there it is.Â Heâ€™s part black.Â Why do people feel that they need to verbalize that when they meet him?Â Is it an expression of surprise, such as, â€œI thought bi-racial children are darker than he is.â€Â More likely itâ€™s an appraisal.Â They really mean, isnâ€™t it good that heâ€™s not very dark?Â Isnâ€™t it good for you that your son looks like the rest of your family?Â Isnâ€™t it good for him that he looks so Caucasian?Â Iâ€™ve had at least a dozen people comment that he could â€œpassâ€ for white.
Some of you may not understand my frustration and concern about this.Â Surely the comments are not made in malice, you think.Â Itâ€™s true that they are not intended attacks on him or on our family.Â Nevertheless they are dangerous, hurtful and potentially hateful expressions of a value held by many.Â I want my little boy to grow up embracing all parts of his heritage, the black and white parts equally.Â He should never be made to feel that being black is not as good as being white.
How will my son interpret these comments as he gets older?Â Heâ€™s five years old now and people still say these things in front of him.Â How will I explain to him why people feel he might want to â€œpassâ€ as white? Â Iâ€™m working on that.Â We certainly donâ€™t ignore the topic of skin color in our family.Â How can we, with complete strangers pointing it out?Â