We arrived at Greg's hockey tournament Wednesday night. Thrilled to see my giant, independent son!
He was beautiful but oh the stench! I am pretty sure he had been wearing the same clothes for a week. He SMELLED like he had been wearing the same clothes for a year!
We were introduced to Greg's friend, "Nate". We met Nate's dad. Happy, friendly introductions were made all around. Exchange of stories. Exchange of information about mutual friends.
We parents have much in common. The adoption world is not that big. We share friends. We share social workers.
Our boys also have much in common.
Excellent Hockey Players.
An hour after we met him, Nate was kicked out of the hockey program.
He was arrested.
He was charged.
Nate was gone. No warning, no goodbyes. The police came and searched the boys' room. The kids were all sat down and told what had happened.
Drug paraphernalia found in his bag. It fell out on the ground in front of the counsellor when he reached into his backpack to grab his cell phone. A search found 3 knives and more drugs.
Shocking and traumatic, as you can imagine, for ALL the boys. Horrifying for the parents.
And then the added burden for Greg. The added burden that unless you have walked in our shoes you don't even think about. Because in Nate, he sees reflection of self. And WORSE, others see a reflection of self.
Excellent Hockey Player.
Greg is the OTHER adopted child on the team. The OTHER black player on the team. The OTHER. The child who sticks out. The child the other parents would associate with Nate.
I sat in the stands of the arena and heard the parents discuss the situation.
"Well you know he was adopted, right?"
"He's probably trouble from way back."
"Why do they let kids with problems COME anyways?"
I understood their frustration. I didn't send my 13 year old child away to an elite level athletic program and expect them to be exposed to drugs or weapons either.
But I also ached for my child. For every adopted child and adult.
Every time a negative adoption news story comes out. Every time an adopted teenager makes a mistake or screws up royally. Every time someone looks at my child and see how he excels. How he succeeds. How he stumbles. How he chooses to live his life. Adopted is the label. Adopted is in the mirror of his reflection of self.
"Well he was adopted you know"
"That's Jen, she adopted those boys from the states"
I have no answers. No quick fix. I can only tell my son that I understand its complicated. That its more complicated than it should be. That I understand when Nate got taken away in a police car, that for GREG it was a big deal. A big deal because no matter what, there is no escape from the adoptee reality.
Poor Greg. I have to wonder what the parents in the stands would have been saying had Nate NOT been adopted. Had he NOT been black. What would his situation be blamed on then? Plenty of white kids make bad choices, too. Some come from good homes, some not. Why did it have to come down to being black or being adopted? Some people make bad choices - it's too bad that Greg got caught up in this because he's black and adopted, too. If a white kid had been caught with drugs and weapons, would all the other white kids be labeled? No, of course not.
Megan ... its the joy of being a minority. Of COURSE no white kid is viewed as representing other white kids, but for a black kid? Or really for many minority kids, that's just the way it works.
Add "adoption" as another identifying factor and its a double whammy.
Wow. I don't even know what to say. Poor Greg.
Jen, I was thinking the same thing as your comment...
(Picking a random stereotype)
If a white guy is a horrible driver, not all white guys are horrible drivers! That's just silly! He's an individual.
Yet if say an Asian woman is driving, well it supports the ridiculous stereotypes that "Asian's can't drive" or "women can't drive" - absolutely 100% as ridiculous as saying all white men can't drive - yet this one happens ALL THE TIME.
Had the child been white, not adopted? He probably would have just been a random bad seed. There would be something "deeper" that we needed to look for. But tragically "black" and "adopted" are easy words to attach negative behaviors to.
I wish that kids like Greg didn't get dragged into the group by stereotyping adults....
How very sad all around. For you and Greg - heart breaking, you talk, are there for him, for each other. You become stronger...not so sad. BLESSED!
For the boy who was taken away, so sad... what will life hold will he ever be able to shake the stupid sterotype. Heart breaking.
People can be so insensitive!
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