Maggie Makes Four!

This journal started off documenting the adoption of our youngest daughter. It now follows the twist and turns of our lives as we raise these two amazing little creatures into the best women they can become.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

On Race

I rarely think about the fact that I live in a bi-racial family. Occasionally, some ignorant comment will remind me, but the race issue isn't something that I live day in and day out. Yet, adopting kids a different race than me has taught me something. Race matters. Race matters very, very much to people of color.

Recently, I was taking my kids to a play date with a ethnically Chinese family. By this I mean, a family with a mom born and educated in China and obviously, Chinese kids. I don't know them that well, so I was coaching my kids on a few cultural differences. Eat what is offered, take off your shoes at the door, for crying out loud, no sassy American behavior in front of them. Okay some of my warnings were hopeless.

Anyway, as we were pulling up in front of the house, I asked the girls, "What do you want me to say if they ask about your adoption?" When I suspect I'll get questions, I ask this and basically, let the kids dictate my answers. Afterall, it's their adoption not mine I'm discussing. And much to my surprise, my ultra sensitive child answered, "You can talk about it to them. They're Chinese."

I was stunned. This child has never, I mean never, approved any discussion of her adoption. So, I asked, "Why is this different?" And they answer, "They'll understand Mom. You can talk to Chinese people about it."

Her response has sent my head spinning. Even though my kids are growing up in a white world, they share a comfort level with Asians that catches me off guard. I kid myself that race isn't an issue. But it is, whether I'm aware of it or not. It also made me feel bad for them. Perhaps I need to make a bigger effort to get them into environments with more people of Chinese descent.

It's funny that eight years into this adoption journey, my kids are still schooling me in the world of growing up bi-racially. I hope I'm a good enough student to make the most of these lessons to make their journey as rewarding as possible.

2 Comments:

  • At 7:44 PM , Blogger Carrie said...

    I often worry about this issue too considering we live in a VERY white area. I'm not sure how to expose my daughter to Chinese culture without it being an odd, uncomfortable and forced issue. I mean how do you approach a random Chinese family and "try" to be friends with them just because they're Chinese? Parenting is a journey, parenting in a bi-racial family is an even an even harder journey but I love every minute of it!

     
  • At 9:38 PM , Blogger One Lucky Mom said...

    Yea, I agree. The phony forced, "Go learn Chinese, just because your Chinese" attitude just doesn't feel right to me. It seems like it will make the whole race thing more awkward, not less. I'm not Chinese. My kids know I'm not Chinese. At times it may be an issue, at many other times, it's irrelevant. I think I'd rather deal with the issues as they come up than force the issue daily. I'm sure some therapist will predict doom for my children because of this. I'm going with my gut on this. We'll see.

     

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