The two boys, almost teenagers, stood staring at our little brown skinned beauty who had toddled into the neighbor’s yard as we worked outside. He was fully in our sight and close enough for us to walk over to quickly, yet the boys looked mildly panicked.
It didn’t take long before my husband realized what was going on. They weren’t panicked that he wasn’t directly by our sides. They were panicked because they had no clue where his parents were. They saw this little boy and his dark skin and his curly hair and deep brown eyes and they saw us. Surely this boy had wandered far from his home and down the street into this yard unsupervised.
My husband, Chris, continued to stare at them as they would look at our son, and then at each other, and back at our son. He was waiting for them to connect the dots. Finally they look at Chris and say, “Wait, is he yours?”
Chris chuckles and says, “Yes.”
I think it is so sweet that these two boys would stop what they are doing out of concern for the “lost” child in the yard. I think it’s noble that they contemplated what they should do for his safety.
But because our little mixed race family is such the norm to me, I see interactions like this and they snap me out of my comfort zone. My comfort zone is my transracial home. Except I never think of it as a transracial home until I realize through the stares and the questions that people do not view us the way they view families who are of the same race. Of course sometimes the extra attention is positive, and sometimes it is negative, but my point is just that: it is extra attention.
I find myself talking often with others about how meeting Shepherd felt no different than meeting our daughters in the delivery room. I think that most believe me when I say this. And then a handful can’t quite wrap their head around it. The environment was different. The love was not. From that moment our love for him has never felt unique or foreign or forced. His skin color tells his story and his story is an important one.
It is my dream that this little southern corner of our nation that our family inhabits would one day see us and not think twice. It is my dream that Shepherd would grow to experience life without the added strain of racial tension. We will instill in our son the pride that he should feel not only for his race, but also for his place in our family. We express our dreams and desires through modeling them, and in our family we model that skin color does not dictate belonging. Because Shepherd is not our “black” son. He is our son.