Tag Archives: Transracial Adoption

Reflecting on Trayvon and My Son

Not all families look alike, nor are they created in the same way. This is true of mine, and although I am always aware that my family doesn’t match, and that my kids are at risk for prejudice and racism, the murder of 17-year-old hoodie-wearing Trayvon Martin, shot and killed by self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman (Hispanic) on February 26, 2012 in Sanford, FL, on his way to visit his father in a gated community from the 7-Eleven, armed with only Skittles and ice-tea, hit close to the bone. Trayvon was black.

The tragedy begs that I reflect deeply on the prejudice and racism that contributed to horrific event, and what these factors, as they stand now, portend for my children in the future. I attempt to assess how my Hispanic son will be seen by others, perhaps looking suspicious, as Zimmermann stated about Trayvon, because the assumptions may be that he does not “belong” where he lives. Or works. Or plays. All because of the color of his skin and the ethnic features that scream his heritage.

Raised by white parents, our son reflects our values and attitudes. He has also acquired a case of “white privilege,” courtesy of us.  He is comfortable being anywhere, among anyone, and that could be a detriment in the future when he is in the company of others who are not comfortable with him, because he is a teenager or a young man or a man who exudes confidence. And he is Hispanic.

Adolescent boys are targets for law enforcement. Add in some color and they become a bigger target. I was taught by my parents that the police are my friends and protectors; Hispanic and Black parents teach their kids to fear them, and often for good reason. Look around you. Observe who’s pulled over in the communities in which you drive through…

How do we “hammer” it home to our son about how he is viewed outside of his safe and loving family and circle of supportive friends? How do we, with our “white privilege,” help our son who has absorbed it, understand the seriousness of being treated a certain way by people because of his appearance? How do we teach him to “take it,” while also standing up for himself?  You see, we can talk the talk, however we can’t walk the walk… We are not of his race or ethnicity, and so we rely on others—peers, role models and professionals of his race and ethnicity.  Will it be enough? I pray daily that it will be.

Trayvon’s murder is a senseless tragedy.  As a parent and a human being I hope you are sickened by what has happened and are watching the events as they continue to unfold. I hope you use his murder as a springboard for discussions with your children.

There was no need for Trayvon to die. This sad truth has brought the ugly national history of race and racism into the spotlight. As humans we need to address these wounds; we need to talk about race and racism. We need to cry, together. We need to pray for Trayvon, his family, friends, and for the countless others who believe and act in such ways because they are ignorant, fearful and weak. We need to work towards healing, and that begins with all of us.

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Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Growing Tweens & Teens, International Adoption, Multicultural Families, Multiracial Families, Racial Identity, The International Mom

Spotted! Multiracial Family in a City Near You

The reactions to our conspicuous family seem to be on the upswing lately. And the reactions seem to be more overt than usual. I feel like we’re seen as some new exotic zoo species.

In Chicago last week Mark and I were sure that we were going to be anointed or given some medal for being a multiracial family. We stopped in the south loop to grab a quick bite before spending the day on Michigan Avenue.  A couple, perhaps a decade up on us, sat next to our booth. We wouldn’t have noticed them in the busy loud diner if not for their fascinating behavior—abundant “approval ratings,” indicated by numerous big nods and even bigger smiles.

Still weak from the stomach flu, I regarded my untouched soup for most of the meal, praying they wouldn’t approach because I didn’t feel like conversing with them. They didn’t, however every time I looked up the couple nodded and smiled at me or at Mark—if they caught his eye. The kiddos were facing us, unaware that we were being considered for sainthood. I was relieved when they paid their check and scooted. We finished our meal about the same time; Mark and I silently agreed to wait a bit before asking for ours, hoping the couple weren’t lying in-wait outside the restaurant.

The other day I took A swimsuit shopping since she outgrew her one-piece by several sizes. In the outdoor mall area two guys just about tripped over themselves goggling my young chics, who were completely absorbed in messing round with each other and G, giddy and free from a long day at school.

Yes, they are beautiful (as any mama of her brood would attest), but what was interesting was the young men (high school- to college-aged) were so over-obvious that I just stopped walking and stood watching them watch my girls. And you know what? They still couldn’t stop oogling my girls. The guys glanced at me. They took G in. They understood we were a mom and her kids. They knew I was watching them and they continued to weave and turn almost drunkenly as they looked again and again and again, and then over their shoulders again. I’d chalk it up to my girls being Asian, but not this time. The guys were Asian.

Now, of course, I have no idea through which lens the couple at breakfast viewed us, but it was mighty uncomfortable, and in our vast Chicago experiences, unusual. The Asian guys? That was something new for us. What was their lens? Young men eyeing lovely young girls? I don’t know…

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Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, China, Family, Growing Tweens & Teens, Multiracial Families, Racial Identity, The International Mom

The Adoption Interview Project

This past September I presented “Tips from the Trenches: Finding Middle Ground in Open Adoptive Parenting” at the Open Adoption Symposium: Realities, Possibilities and Challenges in Richmond,VA. I had a lot of time to converse with other professionals, adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents outside of presenting and attending the sessions. I was profoundly touched by my experiences, the people I met and the stories they shared—of openness, closedness, pain, joy, and hope.

As a follow-up to the symposium and to create more awareness about adoption during National Adoption Awareness Month (November), I am participating in The Adoption Interview Project, an initiative by Heather Schade over at Production, Not Reproduction. I became reacquainted with Heather and met her rappingly-gifted husband Todd at the symposium.

Heather aptly states that during National Adoption Awareness Month, “… we’re bombarded with media pieces and events that try to compress adoption into shiny, tidy sound bites that don’t match the complex realities of adoption as I’ve witnessed it (and often exclude birth parent and adoptee perspectives altogether).” The purpose of The Adoption Interview Project is to shed some insight, differing views and perspectives about the complexities of adoption. I will be one of many who will be interviewed and offer my insights and viewpoints.

The interviews will be posted on participants’ blogs, including right here on The International Mom, on November 17th.  I’m looking forward to introducing you to a remarkable young woman, so please remember to check back then…or better yet, subscribe to The International Mom so that you receive posts when they’re published (upper right-hand corner).

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Filed under Adoption Issues, Advocacy, Events, In the News