Just a hypothetical

So say you’re a white adoptive parent, and you decide your kid should go to language school. Because he or she should learn about his or her heritage. So you get to the school, and there are two adults present. One is the same color as your kid. The other is white. And the adult the same color as your kid smiles and says hello. What should you do?

a. Smile back and introduce yourself.

b. Feel relieved that those people don’t hate you after all.

c. Turn away without saying anything.  Steer your child around to where the white parent and child of color are sitting and make lots of friendly noises. Make a big deal about your child sitting in the seat next to the child with the white parent. When you find out that seat is taken (please note the books on the desk), grab another chair and squeeze it in between the two. Even though there are plenty of seats that are open in the room, including next to the adult of color, whom you take care not to look at. Then engage in some white-mom-bonding, in which you and the other parent talk about how cuuuute the other’s child is.  (By the way, I find this kinda creepy when kids are walking and talking, but really creepy when kids are school-aged.)

Just a hypothetical, mind you.

And while I’m at it, I gotta wonder … what do you think your child thinks when he or she observes this scene?

8 thoughts on “Just a hypothetical

  1. Removed at request of poster. Contained an interesting point that many adoptive parents may not know why they go to “cultural” events.

  2. I congratulate any parent who attends these schools or functions. If you feel out of place, and gravitate toward a family like
    yours, please know that it is normal and
    will get better. Ppl like to make fun of
    our families ,what can a person do?
    Ha, ha?

  3. I congratulate any person of colour who immigrates to an all-white country. If you feel out of place, and gravitate toward families like yours, please know that it is normal and will get better. People like to make fun of our families, what can a person do?

    Actually, I lied. It may not get better. You may always feel out of place. That’s for YOU to deal with though, because after all, you DID choose to come to this place, and you certainly should make an effort to fit in, especially if others are making an effort to welcome you.

    OTOH, people making fun of you is a whole different kettle of fish. Please know that when people do this, you CAN and SHOULD do something about it.

    And it really isn’t funny.

  4. Hi Sinoangle,
    The original post and one of comments are
    making fun of transracial families who are
    trying to make the effort that they should
    be making. And you are right, it really isn’t funny.

    I don’t feel out of place, but some might,
    so why discourage somebody who has a child
    who will benefit? That’s not funny either,
    but I’ll just leave it at that.

  5. Hi Kathy,

    I think there is some misunderstanding here, and I truly am sorry that this is the case.

    The original post is not “making fun of transracial families that are tring to make the effort”. It is pointing out that these transracial families, i.e. these white parents of children of colour, treat adults the same colour as their kids like crap.

    How do you think this benefits their child?

  6. I would like to ask that my comment be removed. It has a mean streak to it. I usually have a policy of not jumping other AP’s for things that I could so easily do, out of my own ignorance and fear. But I diverged in this comment and I apologize. Thanks.

  7. Here is the reply that I wish I had posted, rather than the one I have asked to have removed. (It’s OK if you wanna leave it, I still apologize for the meanness.) This should probably be a blog post and maybe it will be but obviously posts like Resistance has written about white AP behavior with POC’s strikes a nerve for me.

    I don’t take my kids to culture school for the things they will learn. So far they have learned a few Hindi letters and a couple of facts about Gandhi that we could teach them at home, with help from google.

    I take them there for the relationships. If I cannot model comfort with people of their own origin, then they will pick that up very fast and feel and reflect my own discomfort.

    I want them to know children who are adopted and children whose families (by my daughter’s words) “got to keep them”. I do want them to know cultural stuff but I also want them to know cultural expression varies according to family and region.

    None of that comes without the risk-taking it requires of adoptive parents to actually establish and have relationships with people from their country of origin, and people who have descended from immigrants from their country.

    While it may be normal to feel shy and awkward with people we wouldn’t normally associate with, it doesn’t automatically get better just because we show up. It requires awkward effort, and it requires persistence, and a lifetime commitment. Oh and a thick skin.

    It all starts with some basic manners. If someone smiles at you and says hi, turning your back to talk to someone who looks like you is seriously bad manners, no matter how uncomfortable you are. Later after trust is built, more can happen. But trust doesn’t generally even begin without those introductory manners.

    I am also learning that just because someone is not immediately smiling and opening their heart to me, that does not mean they are hostile.

    Sometimes I have to be the first to say hello, and have to smile a few times before the ice gets broken and sometimes the ice remains. That’s because POC have so many experiences like the one described by Resistance that they are tired of taking the first step. Or maybe they just have a headache.

    We can all explain our own bad behavior away but it gets harder to be patient with that of others when we are feeling vulnerable. But for our kids’ sake, we just gotta.

  8. Sinoangle,

    You make a very good point about transracial
    adoptive parents treating people of color like shit, I would never congratulate that. But if someone is trying and failing,they
    should keep trying, maybe it will never
    be easy, but you have to do it.

    The vast majority of transracial adoptive parents DO NOTHING, and I wonder how they
    are considered adequate for adoptive
    parenting in the first place. At least,
    that is what I see.

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