Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Multi-Cultural Family

We are in the middle of packing up for our Harambee Camp, which is a celebration of African culture and the highlight of our year.  In the middle of planning for our grand African Adventure, we shook off our jingle dresses, tied up our moccasins and headed out to celebrate and honor National Aboriginal Day. 

I looked at my kids, my African-Canadian-American son, with the head full of dreadlocks,  holding on to his Jingle Dress wearing First Nations sister's hand while his  French-Norwegian-Irish-Swiss-Russian-Canadian brother sat beside him eating an Indian Taco and there was a small part of me that realized that maybe my normal isn't necessarily everybody else's normal.

And I felt sorry for everybody else.

Our life is so RICH.  Rich with culture and history and color.  We are blessed beyond measure by communities that have embraced us and still challenged us to know more, do more, be more for our kids.

I cannot imagine how little I would know about the rest of the world if I had chosen to stay in my world of White Privilege.

Maybe you are reading this and you are considering adopting transracially, or you are the parent of an adult child considering adopting transracially and you worry.   You might worry about the work involved to be a transracial adoptive parent, because there is a lot of work involved in being a GOOD transracial adoptive parent.   You might be scared of the opinions of others, because nothing really hurts more than realizing that someone else either doesn't view your child as equal in value to their own, or doesn't view your parenthood as being as legitimate as their own.  And it does hurt.  You might worry about raising teenagers when you don't fully comprehend what it is like to live in their skin, and it is very hard.   You might find a thousand reasons why adopting transracially has a cost, and there is a cost and probably you can find enough reasons to justify running far away from ever expanding the color of your family.  But that would be so sad, not for the children, who would hopefully find a family willing to embrace them and celebrate them, but for you and your little, tidy world.

I am richer for my kids.  I am richer for being in awe of the Elder willing to teach my children the history of hoop dancing or the kind emcee inviting my daughters to dance at a Pow Wow.  I am richer for understanding racism and culture and the horrors of prejudice.   I am richer for putting their needs before my own discomfort.

My life, my brown, black, white, multi-colored life is good.


Joy said...

We have been home with our First Nations children (three of them!) for just a few weeks now, and found out two days before-hand about National Aboriginal Day celebrations in our area - which at this point are more meaningful to me and my husband than the kids, but hopefully time and exposure will help change that! Anyway, enjoyed your post (and the dresses - will need to make one for our little girl - any particular patterns, or places to get ideas?)...

E said...

I wish I were younger and could adopt. I see your points re diversity and comfortable worlds. We should all seek out diversity - it helps us grow.

Why does one son get defined by a continent and the other son by nations?
"African-Canadian-American son... French-Norwegian-Irish-Swiss-Russian-Canadian"

Is this because France, Ireland, Norway are distinct entities in our white minds while Africa is an indistinct mass?

Unknown said...

Congrats Joy :)

And E - no, trust me I wish I knew what nation in Africa my boys were from, but due to the sad history of slavery in the states, on top of my sons' complicated biological family history, that knowledge is impossible to discover (and I have tried). Listing my bio sons heritage was more an attempt to be comical. Essentially if you mixed every white European nation, threw in a pinch of Aboriginal, Spanish and Asian, you would have their biological history. They are lucky enough to know it, sadly most adoptees are not.

The Drinkwaters said...

Well written! I am glad you had a wonderful day celebrating and honoring National Aboriginal Day. Enjoy your week at Harambee, I hope the weather cooperates for you.

Patty said...

Amen! :) I love my multi-country & color world!

E said...

Ah, thanks for the explanation. Typed words can be so hard. Nuances missed, irony lost.

It did seem so uncharacteristic of you!

Unknown said...

E - honestly I was going to say "white" brother and that didn't seem fair since I had attributed a nationality (of sorts) to both of the other children mentioned but then when I was considering how to describe my melting pot white Canadian kid I decided to go with the nationalities I know from the previous 3 generations :) pathetic eh?

JC said...

Well said, Jen, very well said. My life couldn't be any richer than it is today, and that's because we left behind that nice White Privilege. Sometimes it's scary thinking about the future, but we will do our best by our girl and whoever else we get to parent.

It does hurt to see friends and family not get the issues we face, but they also don't get the richness and deeper understanding (of ourselves, of what we thought was "normal") that comes with stepping outside our little box of whiteness.