- How do you feel about being the mother of a black girl?
I wish I could say I don't think about this very often but the truth is I think about it quite a bit. Sometimes things happen that point out the differences to me. Like last night, during dinner Carly announced that she didn't want to be 'chocolate' anymore. She wanted to be like Mommy, Daddy and Joshy. This made me sad. She sees the difference too. I don't think she feels there is something wrong, she just wants to be the same as her family.
I have had to learn about a lot of things I didn't expect to learn about. Like how to keep her hair from getting too dry and brittle. Like how dry black skin gets. But, they have (thus far) all been good and interesting things to learn about. In the future I plan to study black history more so that I can have a working knowledge of Carly's biological culture. I sometimes feel guilty that I haven't done this yet. When you take education classes during the adoption process you hear a lot about embracing other cultures. I personally feel odd going out of my way to point out that Carly is different. I don't see a need to alter my traditions for my own child. But, I understand why other people do. At some point I might integrate some African American traditions - like Kwanzaa or I might even learn how to make traditional food - but I stumble on the idea because I don't like it. I don't like thinking that I have to integrate my own child into my life. Maybe I am not enlightened enough.
- What's the worst thing about adoption?
By far, for me, the worst part was the absolute exposure necessary for adoption. You are required to open up your home, your finances, your friends, your every aspect to inspection. It is not a comfortable or happy feeling. It is very subjective. For example, we were almost turned down as adoptive parents because of Eric's weight. I feel this is wrong and unfair. I am angry, sometimes, that parents are ruled out as worthy for such puny reasons. I understand that children need to be protected, particularly children from broken or abusive homes. But, you can't regulate death or illness or love. You can't rule out heartbreak by looking at my 401k.
You are completely at the whim and mercy of the court and it's officers. At any time a state official could have made our life miserable - and did, I might add - just because they don't like you. It's not right. It doesn't happen to parents who are having children biologically. No one comes to make sure you have enough bedrooms when you are pregnant. No one checks over your bank statements before they hand over your biological child. No one cares. There is no magical connection between the womb and a good home.
- What are your fears for the future for your daughter?
I'm afraid that someday she will not see being black as special, but as a liability or defect. One reason we tell Carly she is 'chocolate' as opposed to 'black' is because it makes it more special. Everyone loves chocolate (at least the sane people do), it is universally accepted as desirable. I want Carly to grow up knowing that it is a good thing to be different, that she is special and desirable just the way she is. I want her to know how much it thrills me that she is black, how happy it makes me to see the difference when I notice it.
I'm afraid that someday she will be rejected because she is black, particularly because we are moving to an area with a much smaller black population. I realize that someday someone ignorant is going to use her color to hurt her. I hope that before it happens she is built up enough inside that the words will slide off, meaningless.
I'm afraid that someday Carly will reject me/us. I don't want her to feel like she doesn't belong to us. I am scared that she will decide to go looking for her roots, trying to fill some void inside. I am hopeful when she approaches me with questions I will have answers that satisfy her.
I'm afraid that I will emphasize Carly's specialness so much that Joshua will not feel special, too.
I'm afraid, as any loving mother, that someday she will be hurt or scared and I won't be able to fix it.
- What would you tell a mother that is trying to adopt right now?
First, hold on. Don't give up. It's worth it. Second, you will love your child more than you expected was even possible. You will love them differently, more because they are special, and in their own way. I don't love Carly the same way as I love Joshua. I don't think that is different for any mother, biological or adoptive. Third, do it your way. People are all going to have ideas and advice. Do what feels right to you and don't feel guilty when you turn down other ideas. Last, give yourself a break. It's not your fault that adoption laws are all crazy and messed up. It's not your fault you can't/didn't have biological children, it just is.
- Will you adopt more children?
Today, my answer is no. I might change my mind. My body might start magically working right some day and we'll have another biological child. I am open to both possibilities. I do not feel a pressing need to have more children right now. Right now I just feel lucky to have two such amazing and healthy kids, two beautiful souls that bicker and drive me crazy and cuddle up to me for comfort. 10 years ago I would not have imagined my life this way, even in my wildest fantasies. Today, I can't imagine it any other way.