Seeing Color

Everyone knows that adoption means your kid won’t necessarily look like you.  Even without shared genetics some children do resemble their parents, at least enough for the ignorant bystander to mistake them for biological relatives.  But in many families formed through adoption this is not the case.  Everyone knows it’s part of the adoption experience. But the degree of visual distinction between an adoptive parent and child can vary drastically, most obviously when there is a difference in race.

It’s easy to think that “love is colorblind”, but in the end the rest of the world is not.  The decision to create a family that stands out and has to deal with the harsh realities of stereotypes and racism is not one to be taken lightly.  When we first started this process we thought about this quite a bit.  After a lot of discussions, and even a mandatory class at the agency, we decided to be open to any placement, regardless of the babies racial background.  Now we find ourselves needing to reaffirm that decision as we face the possibilities before us.

The expectant mom we’ve been speaking with, is of a different racial background than we are, and the biological father of her unborn child is from a third. Now I find myself examining my life through a different lens, with words like bias and privileged running around in my head.  I am forced to address stereotypes that I never knew existed.  You see, modern american society has conditioned me, as a white woman, to view racism as history rather than current events.  But if I am to be a mother with a child of a minority race, I cannot see the world that way.  Regardless of whether love can be color blind, an interracial family cannot be.

So we make plans to celebrate her biological heritage and embrace the culture of her biological parents. We watch youtube videos to learn how to care for her different hair and skin.  And we will walk the world more alert to the attitudes that her darker skin, as well as the contrast within our family, will bring from others.  And, should something change and we discover that this is not our baby, being pushed to think of these things will make us better parents to our future child of any race.

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