Community reactions to my transracial adoptive family

IMG_2693I can’t believe that I haven’t written a post in more than a month. What a slacker! I could tell you I’ve been busy as can be and that would be true, but I think there’s more truth in the fact that I just don’t want to put my baby boy down. Like, ever. He’s so snuggly and he gives the best hugs now. He’s such a love bug. If I’m going to continue writing this blog, though, I know I have to get better about managing my time. So, today I thought I’d tell you how our journey as a transracial adoptive family is going so far, and how other people are reacting to our family.

In a nutshell: it has been wonderful.

Sometimes I look at Miles and honestly forget that he hasn’t just always been here, and that he isn’t biologically related to me. He’s just my son and that’s that. I’m aware that our skin doesn’t match but while we don’t match, we do coordinate. I mean, black and white is the quintessential color combination, right? Kidding aside, being a black and white family has already enriched our lives in so many ways.

IMG_3252I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried about other people’s reactions at first. I was concerned for how it would affect Miles when he gets a little older and can understand what’s going on. But I can honestly say that we have not had one negative interaction. Not one. We definitely get a lot of attention now – people are always doing double-takes at us, looking longer than is normal, and whenever we go to community gatherings, event photographers are ALWAYS taking our picture. But the people who gawk almost always end up smiling and stopping to say hello, too. Maybe it’s because we are different or maybe it’s because Miles is the cutest, chubbiest baby ever, I don’t know. But everywhere we go, people just love Miles.

I was fully prepared to answer, or ignore, all sorts of intrusive and rude questions. But we have only been met with friendly curiosity, from members of both the black and white community in Charlottesville. It kinda feels like we’ve joined a new club — black men and women have been extremely friendly and welcoming to us everywhere. Not that they weren’t before, but it is definitely different now that we have Miles. It’s been really nice, as that was something I was worried most about: whether or not the black community would look down on us for adopting a black child. Some may, but If they do, I certainly haven’t noticed.

Black women I pass will ask me how old he is and tell me a story of their grandchild, or say, “Oh look at that little chocolate drop. I just want to eat him up!” Black men will laugh at him and smile at me and say, “Well, he’s not a picky eater, is he?” Or they will look at me, look at him, and give me a nod and a grin. It really feels as if our tribe has expanded–and I love it.

Being different means that you will catch some people off guard, though. This is secretly fascinating to me–watching people’s honest reactions when they see something they don’t expect. What can I say? I minored in sociology; I love to observe the way people think and act in different situations. So how fun for me that a couple of people we have met have been slightly shocked. The very old woman who used to live across the street from us was surprised when she hobbled over to peek into our stroller one sunny afternoon. Her face gave her away but she managed to hide it pretty well. All she said (after a moment) was, “Well, would you look at all that hair!”

IMG_3086That was funny. But my favorite surprise reaction so far was that of a little black boy who lived down the street from our old house. I was very friendly with his family as I was always running or walking the dogs and they were always outside. Their dog was constantly running away and I would help them collect her and stop to talk with them. After we got back from Texas, Jamie and I were walking the dogs and I had Miles in a front baby carrier. He was so small at the time that you couldn’t see him. The family was outside and the woman waved and said, “Did you have a baby? I didn’t know you were pregnant!” I told her that, no, we were adopting a baby and had just brought him home. She got very excited and her two boys did too, asking if they could see the baby. So, they all ran over and I pulled back the carrier top to show them Miles. The little boy’s eyes got really big and his mouth fell open and he said, “He’s black. He’s really black!” He looked straight at me with the most serious look on his face and exclaimed, “Did you know he was black?!”

I just smiled and said, “Yes I did, isn’t he beautiful?” And the mom said, “Yes, he sure is.” The little boy was still obviously confused so I told him that Miles’ family couldn’t take care of him and so they asked us to. “Wait a second,” he said. “Some lady just GAVE you her baby?!”

IMG_6916So we talked for awhile and I think he got it, but I’m sure Mom had some explaining to do later. She offered to give me advice and told me to come to her with any questions I might have. She said she was so happy for us and so thankful because she knows there are so many black babies that need homes, and she knew that we were a good one. She said how lucky for him, but I corrected her: No, how lucky for us. He is the best thing that has every happened to us! After that, the boys were always asking to see Miles whenever we walked by.

Other than that, people have been surprisingly restrained in asking questions. Some will ask where Miles is from. Most assume he is from another country. I’ve had two people ask me if he is from Ethiopia, and people are always surprised when I say Texas. Just goes to show that domestic adoption is still not as recognized or common as international–at least when the adoption is transracial.

I know from reading online articles that people asking rude questions does, and will, happen (I don’t have to answer them) and that there will be people who may not approve of our family (who cares about them). Thankfully, we haven’t had to deal with that yet. People who see us together see the color difference first, but then they see a mother and father who love their son more than anything in the world. And if someone has a problem with that, then the problem is all theirs.


13 thoughts on “Community reactions to my transracial adoptive family

  1. Your post put such a smile on my face today. I love the little boys reaction, kids are so funny…and so honest! LOL. You guys are so incredible, and it warms my heart how wonderful this adoption process has been for you.

  2. Hali

    Love it! This post makes my heart so happy! Your whole attitude and approach with others about transracial adoption is really good. So happy for your precious family!

  3. Thanks for posting this…still dreaming of that magical phone call, over here. On the subject of transracial adoption – we’re so interested in transracial adoption that in our initial homestudy report our social worker had a couple of sentences about our pro transracial adoption dreams and the steps we see ourselves taking if we do adopt a child of a different race than ours, to the point that she made it seem like that’s all we’d consider. It’s not – we’re open to a child of any race, including our own…it was just kind of funny to see in writing how our level of interest came across (to our African American social worker). We’ll see how it works out for us, I guess. In the meantime, I’m happy to hear everything is going well for your little family. Miles is a cute little chub – those cheeks!

    1. Thanks so much, Ethan. Can I ask how long you have been waiting again? I’m sure it will happen for you soon. I know the holidays are hard – I hope you and your wife can enjoy them and enjoy each other. There will be three of you soon and not as much time for that! I think it’s great that you have thought through the steps you would take if you adopt transracially. I hope it happens for you because I know you would make an awesome transracial dad!

      1. Allie,

        We’ve been waiting 14 months (1 year, as of September 24th). Some days are easier than others…but keeping busy seems to be the key for us right now. Thanks for your kind words and good wishes – we really appreciate them! — Ethan

  4. Liz

    what a beautiful little boy and family! I love the reaction of children. So innocent and hilarious! Thank you for sharing.

  5. Kathryn

    I just stumbled upon your blog while doing a search for breastfeeding my adopted baby boy. I feel like I could have some of the exact same stories! Our son is from Plano, Texas, and I have had so many people ask where he is from, only to look disappointed when I don’t say Africa or Haiti or somewhere exotic! God bless you and your family! Love, An adopting family from Boone, NC

    1. Camilla M

      I get this too-where is she from? Umm the same state we are in right now and likely the same place you are from. I can’t stand the “what part of Africa” questions!

  6. Camilla M

    I so wish I had a similar experience in our community, also in the same state as you are. It’s been challenging with most black people who stop us (me with my daughter) asking how I am going to take care of her hair or how I felt about taking a black child from their community as a white woman. Good times. I still have anxiety when we are out and about and she is not 2.5 years old (and I have had her since day 1). White peoples comments are generally well meaning but rather ignorant. I love our family, my daughter and I and our dogs, but I really don’t enjoy the community reaction and unsolicited responses that we are still getting 2.5 years later. I dread the day that she understands more about these reactions and starts to internalize what they mean in a larger context.

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