In an effort to clarify a post I made on social media, I thought a blog post would be a good start. I posted today about how someone casually mentioned how tan my child looked, failing to consider that he might be a different race than me. I alluded to the fact that transracial adoption in the south can be tricky.
Because it can be.
What I did NOT say was that southerners are racists and that no transracial families exist in the south at large. Because both of those statements would be false.
What I DID mean, is that in my particular town (which...on the scale of rural to urban is somewhere in the middle, probably favoring the rural side,) I rarely ever see white parents who have adopted black babies, or black parents who have adopted white babies. Maybe it's hard for you to believe me because you live in a town in the South where things are not as I say and my response to that is "maybe we should move."
To prove this point to you, a woman came up to me while we were walking and said, "My family is like your family." She went on to say that she wanted to come up and say something even though her son wasn't with her because she rarely sees families like ours and she got so excited. She was so worried she was going to come off as a creeper but she couldn't resist.
I do not want to disclose my exact area of my town online. I do not want to disclose where I shop, where we play, where we do life. But I can assure you that what I say is true. What I say is my experience. It doesn't have to be yours.
"The South" is a large place. It's a large region. There are certain regions of the south in which transracial adoption is more prevalent. I do not live in one of them. If you do, I am so happy for you. I really am. If you do, and you know families who have adopted transracially, have you asked them about their experience with transracial adoption in the south? Is it enough to know that they exist and to assume that things have been okay for them? What if their experience has been the same as ours and you just don't know it?
It is one thing to know of families who have done it, and it's another to ask them about it. And my hope is that all of their experiences have been positive.
All of ours have not.
But some of ours have been.
I want all of our experiences to be the same as if our family was all one color. Until that happens I am not satisfied.
Until that happens I am not satisfied.
And I will not defend the south for being accepting and encouraging of racial equality because that has not been my understanding of this part of the country.
African Americans who are vocal about the black lives matter movement may criticize the white population as a whole as not advocating enough. not speaking out enough. And I am not offended by that. I am not offended by that even though I am not racist. I am not offended by that because I believe that their experiences have been worse than I can ever know.
In the same way (just on a MUCH smaller scale,) when I talk about how the south lacks colorful families I am not disregarding all of the southerners who are excited about transracial families. I am just telling you my experience and hoping you will listen.
It is not enough to me to *know* another family with children who do not look like them who frequent our playground.
I want to *know* that they exist but, more than that, I want to know that they exist and they are treated equally.
I can not type out what people have told us and what (white) women have said to me and my son when we are out and about. I can not tell you what (white) men have said to me as I push my child in the grocery cart.
I can not tell you because if I can not even mention the vague difficulties of not seeing families like ours, then I cannot begin to talk about the ugly in peoples' hearts that make them say the things they do.
And, importantly, because we do not know families like ours personally, we DO attend a church that is ethnically diverse. This is so important to us. Yes, maybe when I am out and about at the park and the grocery store I don't ever spot families like mine, but I belong to a church where we gather and I forget about racial tension because in the eyes of Jesus we are all the same.
In conclusion, all I can do is share about what we experience in hopes that others will share as well. I hope others will share the good and I hope they will share the bad. I hope that in sharing, the conversation will become more comfortable and we would be able to put away our pride and say, "Hey. I actually don't know what this is like for you but I'm open to hearing about it."
And southern friends in towns that *sound* much more diverse in regards to colorful families, maybe we should head your way. ;)