Saturday, August 20, 2011

Healthy White Newborn

I never pictured my future family having white children. It's just not what my dreams were made of. Even when we were trying to get pregnant, I felt like I would mother black children. Nobody understood me and it is the basis for a lot of joking in my social circle. I think everyone assumed I would marry outside of my own race- but I didn't. Then they thought I would change my expectations for what my family would look like- but I didn't. Transracial parenting is deeply ingrained in me, and I have no explanation for it. Fortunately my husband identified with my concept of family and fully intended to only parent black children as well.
We have had a lot of time to form intentional methods that we use to effectively parent minority children. We have positive language that we make sure to incorporate into our household conversation to recognize and affirm our children's identity and heritage. We have media, toys, and books that show a variety of ethnicities and family structures. We learned how to care for their hair and skin or who to call when we get in over our heads. We moved to an ethnically diverse church after Baby 1 came home.

We also decided that as long as we had a child outside our race in our home, we would not accept a white placement so that the child in our home would never be the only different one. We never wanted to be walking in the store and have our child notice someone assume that the white child was ours and the minority child was not. We never wanted to tempt our family to treat the child that "looks just like you!" differently than the child who does not. Even if nobody treated them differently, we would never want our child to feel that they are somehow out of place in their own family. This was our agreement. An agreement that I fully support.

Then I got the call for Baby 5. I have to defend myself by saying that the matcher told me all about him and his situation before mentioning his sister. It was only after I had committed my heart to him that I realized that his sister is white- pretty much ensuring that he is white. That twinge of guilt sank in. How could I say no to a child just because of race? I really want a baby. What about Baby 4? I really want a baby. A healthy white newborn could find a home quickly, shouldn't we wait for sickly black child that might not get matched? I really want a baby. It's at this moment I wish I could write that I prayed and fasted and sought wise counsel, but I really want a baby. So I said yes with less than a little hesitation.

Healthy white newborns are THE most sought after placements in the foster/ adoption world. People will wait on lists for 10+ years for a child matching Baby 5's description. I don't identify with any of the reasons, but I hear it goes something like: They don't want to be a walking billboard for adoption and have to field staring and questions out in public. Their extended family is varying degrees of prejudice and they don't want to cut ties or expose the child to that. They live in an all white community. They want to hide the child's adoption from the neighbors. I'm not here to judge any of that. I feel like since we are more than capable of taking a child of any race with a broad spectrum of disabilities, we should leave the healthy white newborns to the waiting list of people that would say no any other kind of placement. It kind of falls in line with doing foster care instead of fost/adopt or traditional adoption, because we want the kids that may not have gotten a home, not the ones who have a list of families waiting for the call. This is not a pat on the back for us at all, we are not making a sacrifice, we are pursuing what our hearts desire for our family. The desire that I thank God He planted in my heart as a child.

So how does all that fall in line with us bringing home a HWN just yesterday? I have no clue.

I feel guilty. Baby 4 now has 3 white people in his house and I feel like we should be the ones that are outnumbered. Baby 4 is going to be the minority in the rest of the world, and I've just made him the minority in his own house. He doesn't notice now, but at some point he will. He'll notice that people think I'm babysitting him, but never question where Baby 5 belongs. He'll notice that baby 5 doesn't have to explain us to his friends at school. He'll notice that life is one degree easier for every shade lighter your skin is, and I hate that for him. I hate that my selfishness may have exacerbated a problem that I can never fix for him.

I feel normal. I was out today with baby 5 and no one took a second look at us. I didn't get one approving smile or person looking around to see if my child was really with me or someone else who looked more the part. I got no unsolicited advise about hair. I was just a normal Mom with a normal baby. Completely out of my element.

I feel like a sellout. I still think our all our nothing approach to transracial parenting is appropriate for the racial climate in New York right now. Our kids need a safe home environment because the world is cruel. I'm starting to think that I can provide that even with a white child in our home, and I think that having the white child exposed to transracial parenting techniques will make for a very empathetic and considerate human being. I'm crossing over!!!

I honestly don't know that taking this particular baby as #5 will change the dynamic of our family that much. Really, either of my children could be sent home fairly quickly and then everything changes. I guess I fear being just a white family, which is super strange- I know. I guess for the sake of my ego, I wanted you to know that I was not wading around in the pool of parents waiting for a healthy white newborn, but I'm really glad we got him.


  1. Even when they "look like you" the kids usually notice the differences. Our second cherub was adopted through the foster care system. I too couldn't believe it when our very first call ever was a foster to adopt placement of a perfectly healthy white newborn boy. I was in shock. And while he looks much like the rest of our family - he is acutely aware of the fact that he does not have freckles. This bothers him so much sometimes that you would think he has purple skin and a huge sign over his head that says "I'm adopted".

    I'm sure you will handle the racial dynamics splendidly.

  2. No matter what color skin someone may have under it there is a heart and soul that needs love. Your two children are very alike no matter what they look like or where they have come from. It brings to mind the verse about men looking on the outside but the Lord looks upon the heart. You are not a sell out!

  3. So pleased I found your blog as your writing is so informative and very thought provoking.