Thursday, November 5, 2009

Book Review: Why Can't You Look Like Me

Trans racial parenting is a unique experience, but being the child in a trans racial adoptive relationship is even more complicated. Ola Zuri was one of the first trans racial adoptees in Canada when she, an African-Canadian child, was adopted at the age of 2 with her twin sister to white parents. Her own experience, feelings of isolation and pain shaped her view of adoption, and trans racial adoption in particular.

My first interactions with Ola were somewhat less than stellar. We had an email spat over terminology, both of us passionate people with a penchant for using words to advance our arguments. Later that same year we met in person, and the year after that she forgave me, kind of. Now, I dare say, she might even consider me a friend. It's a good thing because we camp together every summer.

If you come to camp, you will find Ola providing support to both the kids and the parents as she invests herself in ensuring that kids in multiracial adoptive families do not have the same experience she did, and when they feel those feelings as so many do, that they have supportive and understanding adults around them. You will also find her running after her girls who just might happen to be the most active and enchanting children I have ever met.

Ola is a woman who invests herself in what she believes in with great passion. She has written a children's book, the first in a series, called "Why Can't You Look Like Me?". A simple story of a young black girl with white parents feeling alone in her family and school. This story isn't about solving the problems that kids in a trans racial adoptive family feel, it's about acknowledging the feelings that some kids have. This book is meant to be a conversation starter with your child, and a jumping off point to approach a discussion of racial isolation.

Go buy it and add it to your child's library. You will not regret it, and maybe Ola will finally forget about our spat. (Right Ola?)


Ericka Scott said...

I often wonder what our little boys' girlfriends will think the first time they come to our house. I know they'll be expecting hispanic parents... Well, as my littlest one says "Purprise!"

We live in a small town and have stopped drawing all the curious looks -- or, more likely, I've stopped noticing.

This sounds like an excellent book to open a door to conversations with the boys. Thanks for recommending it.

Anonymous said...

I bought this book already and love it! My seven year old son and I read it every night before bed and sometimes when my son is feeling sad, he will want to look at the book. There have been some episodes at school and the messages in this book are so good at helping he and I deal with them. I know we can't wait to get the next book! Thank you for reviewing this fabulous book!