Friday, March 21, 2008


*Sensitive topics to be discussed below, so I apologize in advance if I inadvertently offend anyone.*

This little 4-year-old sweetie is the daughter of a friend (and that is J in the background, hunched over to fit in the frame and smiling in his typical closed-mouth way). We'll call her B.

Notice B's hair? How it looks like it's so close to being cute but instead looks very messy? Yeah, at this point she'd been staying at our house for a few days. Her mom is a single mother and was out of town for a bit, and we were happy to take care of B. It is certainly eye-opening to take care of a 4-year-old, but I enjoyed the singing songs and reading books and swinging in the park. It was exhausting.

B's mother is white and her father is black. The result is one of the most adorable little girls I have ever had the pleasure to know. She's not just cute, she's also got a spunky personality and is SO SMART. I rave about how smart she as if I had something to do with it. :)

So, when our counselor told us that Clio has a white birth mom and a black birth dad, J and I immediately smiled at each other and thought of B. Yay!

I hope it's normal that J and I have been obsessed with hypothesizing about what Clio will look like. I think it has to do with the fact that she won't look like us; so meeting her birth parents (only five days away now!) becomes extra-interesting. In their home study we learned that they are both tall, and her birth father is athletic, so now we are imagining Clio being a track star, volleyball spiker or basketball player some day. It's fun to imagine, since J and I are not tall or athletic.

Of course we know that Clio won't be a mini-B, she will be her own person with her own strengths and weaknesses. However, because she will be 1/2 black, I can't help but ponder all of the bi-racial people I "know:" my friend Nikki from 5th grade, Jordin Sparks, Barack Obama, the awesome actress/singer we saw in Rent last Friday, and a student in my senior elective literature class this semester, to name a few. I'm looking to them all for clues to who Clio might be, and yet realizing that these examples are false evidence. Nature and nurture are the keys here; Clio will get her "nature" from her birth parents and her "nurture" from us and from her upbringing (including all of the people, places and events this encompasses).

J and I read a book about transracial adoption before our homestudy, because we decided to "request" babies of all races. Based on reading that book, I have four primary goals for raising Clio:

That she will...
1. not feel pressure to deny her black ancestry or "pass" (if she is light-skinned) in order to fit into our family and our community.
2. grow up with role models of all races
3. be thoroughly knowledgeable in black/African-American history
4. have plenty of opportunities to participate in black culture.

So, now we need to work on identifying concrete actions to take in order to accomplish all of those goals. J and I feel totally up to the challenge, but realize that we have a lot to learn.

First hurdle: dealing with my grandmother, who has been known to say some shockingly racist things while protesting that she is not, in fact, a racist. We're planning to tell her next week, so I'll post after we do and let everyone know what happens. It will be three shocks in one: 1. that I'm infertile, 2. that we're adopting and 3. that Clio is bi-racial. I'm not sure which of the three will shock her the most, but we're praying that the conversation goes smoothly or that we'll be able to cope with anything hurtful she might say.

1 comment:

  1. If this is the grandmother I met last summer, I'm sending you extra courage for your announcement. =)

    I know Clio/Ana/Sophie/Isabel/Olivia will really appreciate your concern about keeping all the parts of her identity alive. Sounds like the best way to end up with a kid who feels whole.


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