I have often believed that being a parent of kids who are different races, different nationalities and from different cultures would help my kids to find the world as a place of equality. Or, at least to believe it is possible since they grew up in a home where that ideal was modeled.
We have worked hard, though are kids are still young, to show our kids what it means to love people, honor people and respect people no matter what they look like, sound like or believe. We believe that everything begins in love and respect.
But, quite honestly, we have often had to ask ourselves a question that I know we will not be able to answer. Will our kids face a true identity crisis in a mixed race, adoptive and colorful family?
The news has recently been filled with the story of Rachel Dolezal. She is an influential woman who was born White, but has chosen to live a life under the identity of being Black. She has come under much ridicule because of her choice to identify herself in another race. Which, honestly I find mind numbing since we celebrate individuals who choose to identify under a different sex. But, that is sensational nature of our American culture.
The interesting thing to me is that she has white parents, but adopted siblings who are black. She comes from a family who likely modeled some version or vision of a world built on equality and love. Her story particularly hit me this week when I heard that she has a brother adopted from Haiti. The make up of her family is much like mine in many ways.
I have often asked the question in regards to my girls, who are both adopted and black. Will they identify with being Black? Will they be able to integrate into a black community when they leave my home one day? Will they see themselves as Black or White by heritage? Will they look to marry someone who is White, Black or another race. Am I able to raise them with a healthy perspective on race and the cultural issues that plague our nation?
Maybe because I am White, I have not asked many of the same questions in regards to my White children. I can only assume it is because I am White, and I certainly understand being White. I ignorantly assume I will be able to answer all of the questions I just shared in regards to my White children in context to being White.
However, the story of Rachel Dolezal has caused me to consider more deeply that I should be asking, with the same weight, those very questions of all five of my children. After all, Rachel was raised White, by a White family. But she had Black, adopted siblings. What in her upbringing caused her to re-identify herself in another race and color? What gave her such internal passion and drive that she shocked her family with her decisions? I have listened to the interviews; even her Black, adopted siblings are unsure what has happened.
It has made me ask many questions these past few days. I have assumed too long, and am honest enough to admit, that in classifying race issues in my own home, that some but not all of my kids will struggle with identity. But, I am realizing, all of my kids will face these same struggles.
I believe that mixed race families and families who adopt outside of their own race need to start a healthy dialog. I believe we need to reconsider some deep issues. I am not saying we reconsider multi-racial, cross-racial or transracial adoption as an option. (I use all of those terms because terminology in the adoption world is shifting as we speak.) But, I am saying we need to consider best practices, resources and conversation for the betterment of our children. I am saying that we cannot live in ignorance. I am saying that we must be honest, open and learn from each other.
I am thankful for friends of all races, color and cultures. I am doing my best to learn from them. I am willing to be vulnerable in the process. Being a writer, influencer and speaker on the subject of adoption does not make me an expert.
I realize, even in our best efforts we cannot wipe this stigma of race and identity from the culture. Struggling with identity is part of the human process. This struggle becomes unhealthy when we struggle alone.
What are your thoughts on this issue?