My Hopes for My Black Child who is Being Raised by White Parents
Hi friends! My name is Nicole. I’m a birth mom from Texas. My son and I have been in a very open adoption since February of 2017... Like more open than most.
It’s been two years. We’re two years in and we are finally walking out of a season of adjusting, learning, and setting a firm foundation into a season of harvest in regards to our adoption plan. His parents, Tim & Ashley, and I are actually friends, kinda “weird” right? I gave these people a kid and now we’re friends outside of just our son. I love the relationship we have and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m here to tell you about my experience in placing my biracial (black and white) son with a white family. So grateful you chose to pull up a chair and have a cup of coffee with me.
Let me start off by saying that I was very open minded in regards to race when it came to picking a family for my son. I was more open minded in that than on the other requirements that I stood very firm on. I believe transracial adoptions can be done so well by anyone. Theres a major lack of black families adopting so I really didn’t have much of a choice when it came to race. I can say now that if I had the chance to do it all again with different families to choose from, I would still pick Tim and Ashley 100x over. They have done so much to “adopt well” without even realizing it. They just do what they have to for our son out of love.
If you adopt a child of color, you are willingly or maybe unintentionally promising to honor them as best as you can. This means doing what you have to do as parents to celebrate and honor their blackness. It means helping them feel proud to be black while growing up in a white home. This world is so unfair to people of color. Assuming you are white, you may have realized this before, but you especially will after adopting a child of color. Most white adoptive parents are stuck when it comes to tangible ways to honor blackness in the home... So I’m going to give you a few ways that I (ONE black birth mom) think you can honor blackness all the time. Not just during Black History Month.
1- One way you can make your child feel proud in their black skin is finding community where their skin color will be represented. How are you going to tell your child that they are beautiful, they are strong, and that they are WORTHY, but have no one else around them with brown skin? With kinky hair? With full lips? Would you believe it if you were in that position? Its safe to say you wouldn’t... and they won’t. I didn’t. Ive lived this before. I’ve lived being the only brown girl surrounded by white community. Besides my mama, I was completely white washed and I’m undoing years of that. Take it from me when I say that this is the most important thing I’m going to share in this blog post.
After adopting Moses, Tim and Ashley realized that they needed more diversity in their life, so they moved churches. That was an immediate change that they could make, so they did it. And they ended loving the change. As I’m typing this, I just got back from church with them for the second time. Their church always welcomes me with open arms and I can see first hand where my child worships God and who he has teaching him. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, you are loved and welcomed and you never feel like the odd man out. They have also changed schools for our guy. Its about going the extra mile if it isn’t already in your life. Diversifying your life is never a bad thing. It might be uncomfortable at first, but sit in the uncomfortable. Its a great place to learn.
2- Learn how to care for their hair. Your hair is your crown, so is baby hair! You must learn how to care for it properly as it is different from yours and must be treated as such. There are so many resources at your finger tips, literally. Instagram, Youtube, a quick google search. Its worth it to find these resources and seek them out for your child. If you absolutely think you cannot do it well, find a black woman or man to do it for you. Find black hair stylists, black barbers, and black braiders. I promise you won’t regret doing this stuff now and not having to double back to undo years of damage. You want your childs crown to be as healthy as possible so they can be as confident as possible.
3- Read books about influential black people of our time. My sons favorite book is Jackie Robinson. There are great books about Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Fredrick Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, and so many more… We see all of the men and women who are influential in todays world being mostly white. Show them that there are GREAT people who are of color. These people rarely receive global recognition because they’re black. Find women of color who can empower your black daughters. Find black friends who can pour truth into you as a parent and as a human being raising a black child today. Expose them to all of the things that you would want to know about your own culture and background. They will thank you later for it. Tim and Ashley always have these books available for Moses and his sister Millie to read. Its not something they have to ask for either. Its just normal day to day life.
4- Love their black birth family the way you love your own family, because you are family forever now. Here’s a hard pill to swallow- your child’s birth family will always be their family and there is no erasing DNA regardless of if you like them or not. Most adoptive families and birth families would have never known each other without adoption. This isn’t always the case, but most of the time this stands true because of social classes. That is not saying one is better than the other, just that everyone has experienced life differently and comes from different places. Try to find the things you have in common with your child’s birth family and get to know them for who they truly are.
We are all humans just trying to show this child how loved they are. Embrace their birth family. Ask for their help if you need it for anything that has to do with the child. Anything that can bridge the gap between the birth family, the adoptive family, and the adoptee is so valuable. Tim and Ashley know my love language, they know my enneagram number, they know what conversations are hard for me. They know my favorite store, the foods I hate, and my favorite drinks. They know me. I never feel like I don’t belong. I feel like family. They can look our son in the face and say that they truly did everything they could to foster our relationship, and boy is it flourishing.
You will never regret doing these things, but you will regret having to tell your child you could’ve done more but chose not to. You can adopt a child of color and do it well. Instagram is a beautiful place to connect and help each other. I am rooting for you to continue to grow as a family, but as a person as well. If you feel you really have no one to walk with you, I will walk with you. I love you and many blessings!