Becoming a Transracial Family.

Early on in our adoption process, we took an online course called “Becoming a Conspicuous Family.” It sort of forced me to come to terms with the fact that, well, everyone in our world is pretty much white. Like…everyone. I’m not just talking our inner circle of friends, but everyone on the fringe, too — our pediatrician, our librarian, our dentist, baby-sitters and swim lesson instructor.I tried to imagine what this would feel like for a child coming into our family, and realized I can’t really comprehend it at all. I grew up in Utah, where pretty much everyone was white, and after I married my husband I moved to a small town in Wisconsin, where pretty much everyone was German Lutheran or German Catholic (read: whiter than white). The only time I’d ever really experienced being in the minority is when I lived in Irvine, California during my college years, where basically everyone was Asian and if they weren’t Asian, they were Middle Eastern. But by that time I was eighteen years old and pretty comfortable in my own skin. The only real “uncomfortable” moments came when I tried to use chopsticks around all my Asian friends or went shopping at local boutiques and learned that size 2 white girl equals size extra large Asian girl.So yeah, I definitely can’t imagine what it will be like for our little guy to come to a pretty homogenous Montana town after leaving a country where everyone looked like him. And while I know that it will present challenges and heartache at various times throughout his life that I can’t really prepare us for until we get there, I’ve tried to do a few things to open up our world and help him out.

The first is — becoming active with our adoption group. Yes, all the other moms in it are white, but there will be a variety of kids from a variety of countries — including a few from Congo — so I think having some playmates who are from diverse backgrounds will be helpful. And he’ll get to see other families each week who look like ours. Families with white moms and dads who have kids that are all different colors. Families who may not look like each other — but who are still families because God brought them together.

I’ve also tried to expand our library a bit. We definitely have our share of “white girl” books between the Ella Bella Ballerina series and fairytales and fables featuring a host of white princesses, so we’ve been trying to pick up a few here and there that are a bit more worldly.

Below is a picture of some that we’ve added to our collection in the last couple of months. Some are about adoption (if you’re adopting and you haven’t read Mommy’s Heart Went Pop! then you need to stop reading this blog post and go buy it. I’m not kidding. Seriously…why are you still reading this blog post and not on your way to Barnes & Noble?), some books are about being different (like Chocolate Me) and some just feature characters from all over the world with all different colors of skin.

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We also hope to celebrate Baby Boy’s Congolese heritage without forcing it down his throat — which I’m sure, at times, will be  a tricky balance to find. We’ve purchased some things for his room to represent Congo, and Joel plans on buying some special keepsakes for him when he travels. We’ll make an occasional attempt at cooking a Congolese meal or celebrate Congolese holidays or observe Congolese traditions at our own American holidays.It will certainly be difficult, but I pray that it will also be a huge blessing. That through Baby Boy’s Congolese heritage we will all be more open-minded and open-hearted and aware. For more insights about transracial adoption, please read this beautiful post by my good friend Tara Bradford, a Korean adoptee who also adopted a sibling group from Ethiopia.
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