Saturday, May 20, 2017

I'd Like To Buy The World A Goat.

Race is a funny thing.  You hear a lot of contradicting messages from the world.  Be colorblind.  Have pride in your race.  I don't see color.  You know how (insert race) people are.  Why do they segregate themselves?  There is no white privilege. That's reverse discrimination. (No such thing, by the way. It's all just discrimination.)

I feel like I'm somewhere in the middle of these mentalities.  Meaning I can relate to all of them in a way. As a country, we have come so far.  And, yet, we have so far to go.  We are many star date years away from the Star Trek all-inclusive mentality.  But, we're getting there!  But, it really depends who you ask. 

Every day, I read posts from scared black moms in a facebook group.  Why is deep white (or so I've been told) Emily in a facebook group like that?  Because I have black kids.  This makes me uniquely qualified to understand what black moms feel (to a certain extent).  When I hear about a black kid shot, I know that it could've have been my black kid.  And I know that it's terrifying.  When I hear about a black kid judged based on his race, I know that it could've have been my black kid.  And, it's upsetting.

I can relate to the desire and natural inclination that black people seem to have to segregate themselves.  Of course, that's not what they are doing.  But, people want to be around people that have similar life experiences or think the same or struggle the same.  This is not to suggest that every black person in America is the same.  Because that, of course, would be racist.  But, just like it's cool to meet someone with the same name, birthday or from your hometown; it's cool to feel connected to others of your same race.  I'm not explaining this right.  I don't want to trivialize black culture or pretend like I am some great white ambassador because the kids that we adopted are black.  Because in our case, their race was irrelevant as they were meant to be ours, always.

When I was a kid, I heard about the challenges of mixed children.  They were quite exotic when I was a kid.  But, of course, as time goes by, we're all getting all kinds of mixed up.  And, it's totally awesome.  But, anyway, I heard that they had the extra challenge of trying to figure out where they belong.  The expression I heard was "Too white for the black kids and too black for the white kids." 
And I worry about that with my kids and I know that there are definitely challenges for kids being raised by parents of a different race.  But, life is a challenge, in general.  So, I guess it is what it is. 

But, I always look for opportunities to expose my kids to their African American culture or to give them an opportunity to be around other black children.  But, it's not like you can just stand on the street and say "Hey! Can we be friends??"  And we happen to live in a predominately white area so the naturally occurring opportunities are limited.  But, when it does happen, it makes me so happy.  I don't know how much it matters to the kids but it matters to me.  When I took the kids to gymnastics and discovered that most of the class was black or mixed, I was thinking "Yes!" 

Maybe that's crazy, I don't know.  But, at least my heart's in the right place! 

And, the other day, my friend who also adopted transracially and is also a homeschooling mom, discovered an African American homeschooling group and sent a join request right away.  She then requested to add me.  Paige has a random teddy bear picture on her facebook but I had a selfie with a horse.  She was accepted right away.  But, I waited hours to be accepted and it was really bugging me that I was still pending.  I was ready to make a bunch of black friends and expose my kids to all kind of awesome things.  :)  Finally that night, I changed my profile picture from me and awesome horse to one with my whole family.  And I was in the next morning.

They must have wondered why on earth the white girl with a horse wanted in their group, haha! 

That really has nothing to do with anything.  I just think it's funny. :) And I'm so looking forward to the upcoming field trip.

Anyway, when my son ended up at an alternative school, it was a not-so-great "opportunity" for him to be around more black children.  Unfortunately, these are not-so-great kids.  Unlike William who is a good kid who made some bad decisions; a lot of these kids have very little interest in being good kids.  Hopefully, that will change for them.  Because life is long and these middle and high school years really aren't.  (Despite how they feel at the time,)

So he's found himself in the situation where he is too white for the black kids.  And they tease him for it, mercilessly.  When they found out that he can't rap, they were even more convinced that he doesn't belong.  Of course, I'm thinking that he shouldn't want to fit in with angry, trouble-making kids.  But, that's not how it works.  Instead William has started cursing more.  It's hard to stop it from seeping into your vocabulary when you hear it all day, I get that.  But, what really disturbs me is that he has started writing rap lyrics.  I have found many disturbing things that belonged to my children through the years but my "little boy's" rap is pretty high on the list.  I have to admit that as far as raps go, it was pretty good.  But, the n-word and the b-word? :(  I was so appalled.  But, after learning the reason, we sort of let it go.  For now, anyway. 

When I take them for haircuts, I take them to a "black" barber shop.  They are great and after the first haircut, I understood why Kaleb didn't want to go to Hair Cuttery when he learned that's where I had been taking William and Antwan.  Anyway, William didn't want to get a haircut.  He said that the black kids would make fun of it.  I suggested lines/designs in his head.  (That's super cool, right?)  He was afraid they'd make fun of that, too.  When it comes down to it, kids who are determined to mess with someone will make fun of anything.  William really can't win here.  So we went with short and basic.  He was a little upset but it was better than kind of long and unpicked.

While we were waiting, I talked to Kaleb about it.  Black kids have short hair cuts, too, right?  Lines are cool, aren't they?  He agreed but what I remember more is that I have never felt so old and white in my life, haha. 

When you come down to it, it's hard to be a kid who is struggling to find his place in the world.  It's extra hard to be a kid who is struggling to find his place in the world and has to figure out where he fits in racially.  It's all just hard.

All of those things are hard when you're an adult, too. 

So, really, it's all just hard. 

Race is complicated.  All around.  There's just no simple way to understand how the other side feels and we should stop pretending like we can.  We should also stop thinking of it as the other "side" for that matter. I can relate to the challenges of raising black children because I am raising black children.  But, I can then go out and enjoy my white-ness and take comfort in the knowledge that my children will enjoy a bit of white privilege because of who their parents are.

But, at some point, the kids will be judged because of who their parents are and undoubtedly, they will be aware that it would be simpler not to be in a transracial family. But, hopefully, that will be short-lived.

All I know is that people should be judged on an individual basis but they aren't and might not ever be.  Pride in your culture doesn't equal segregation but maybe sometimes, it does.  Admitting that racism exists doesn't make you a racist.  It makes you open-minded. It is hard to fit in and we should all try to teach our kids to be accepting of others and stop the judgmental trickle-down effect as much as possible. My kids are neither too white or too black.  They're just awesome.  But, I don't want my son to be a rapper.  I mean, unless he's going to rap about unicorns and rainbows.  I will also accept superheroes... ;)

I have no solutions to offer.  I will continue to worry about my kids.  And I will worry a little more because they are black.  I just will.  I will educate them on their culture, their history, and try to instill a sense of pride in their race.  And I will teach them about other cultures, history, and try to get them as fascinated with the UK as I am.  (Did someone say family trip abroad??) I will teach them to treat everyone with respect and to try to do the right thing at all times, not just when it's convenient.  And hopefully, they won't ignore all these lessons.

And I will do a bunch of field trips with the African American homeschool group because it looks like they do some cool field trips and yes, I want my kids to feel less different.  I am particularly excited about Diamond D Ranch because there will be cow feeding and goat petting involved.  I mean, we can all agree that goats are cool, right? ;)  We could probably solve some of the country's racial problems if we just got a bunch of goats involved!

Just a thought....

I don't know this person but I wish I was this person.

I know these three, though. :)

An argument could be made for the societal benefits of deer, too.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Adoptive Mothers Are Just Mothers.

I’ve been seeing a lot of mothers’ day posts going around.  Well, really, I have seen two.  I just keep seeing them.  One is asking moms to post a picture of their pregnancy, their infant children and their children now.  The other is a survey about the delivery and birth of their first child.  I have four kids, but right away, I can’t participate. 

I don’t begrudge anyone their memories of those special moments.  And I truly treasure my memories of adopting my children.  I don’t treasure all the fun adjustment struggles that followed, but still.  And I can imagine how amazing the experience of giving birth would be.  I’m sure that not all of the parts are amazing, but the miracle of birth and life, that’s pretty epic.  And I can’t compete with that.  But, it was amazing to be told that our boys were ours as a judge ceremoniously slammed his gavel.  (I assume that he did, some of it was a blur)  And it was amazing and indescribably relieving to be told after a year of uncertainty that our daughter was our daughter forever. 

But, the reality is that Brian and I never got to experience what you experienced because of some random decision by Mother Nature, God, or the man in the moon.  And it hurts us.  It hurts a lot.  I have to add before anyone wonders if I would trade my children for the biological experience.  The answer is no.  I am 100% committed to them and so grateful that they are mine.  But, honestly, what I do wish is that they were my biological children.  I wish that I could have had them from the beginning, held them in my arms as babies, spared them any moments of living without a mother and father who loved them, kept them from ever having to be asked about their “real mom,” (Seriously, world, stop using that term.), and to just have every single memory that I could have with them.  Because just like the universe brought us together, it also robbed us of some of their moments.  I wish I had those.  And, of course, I want to be able to post a darn picture of me looking bloated and uncomfortable (and not just because I was premenstrual, haha)!

I know that I probably sound all  overly-sensitive and what not.  And, I am, of course. :) It's just that I waited years to be part of this club and over the last few days, I felt a little left out of it.  I’m not asking for special treatment because I adopted my children.  I’m just asking for you to realize that I am a mom, too.  And to remember that adoption is a legitimate way of becoming a mother.  It was a choice that I made.  And if I feel a little left out, my kids might feel that way, too.  And, honestly, that’s what I’d like the world to remember more.  I can only imagine how it feels for them to know that someone else gave birth to them.  And, in our case, that person made some really questionable choices so that must be even more confusing.  I don’t know how much they think about the fact that I am not their biological mom and if that messes with their heads.  I don’t know but I know that they must think about it more than they let on.  I know that because smart people, in articles that I have read, said so! ;)

Before I get too off-track, let me just say that I am a mom.  You are a mom.  The similarities in those roles greatly out-weigh the differences.  And the magnitude of that role is bigger than the way we got those roles.  So fill out your surveys.  I don’t blame you, I would.  But, if you see a post floating around that is a little more inclusive, maybe post that one, too?  Because I love to talk about my kids, I think everyone has picked up on that!  We don't need to be specially included when posting about different kinds of moms.  We are not one step up from fur-moms and single dads.  Not hating on fur-moms, though, cause I sure love my fur babies!  But, the point is I am their mom.  Not their adoptive mom.  And you are not their biological mom. You are just their mom.  We are moms.  And I might not be able to tell you about my epidural or how long I was in labor, but I know what it's like to wrestle my child into his shoes, endure a public tantrum, panic because my teenager is out past curfew and I'm imagining the worst, question every choice I make, wonder how I'm going to make it through the day, and moments later, marvel at how amazing they are. 

And, it might seem silly to get this deep over a few silly facebook posts but I worry that it is indicative of how society views adopted children.  Different.  Not bad.  Just different.  Well, kids feel different enough, no matter who they are.  Mine are particularly in trouble because they are stuck with this nutty lady for a mom. 
Luckily, they are a little nutty, too! ;)

So let’s just make them feel a little less different.  It’s not enough to treat us the same, but it's a start!  But, please, also, think of us as the same.