Books, specific websites...?
In case it helps, here's my need:
Adoptive daughter came to us from the hospital. She will be 4 next week. She is very obviously Hispanic (may be mixed AA) and we are all very, very pale white. When she was about 9-10mo, she started REALLY studying my face, and although she had horrible (normal for that age) stranger anxiety--we were twice able to hand her to Hispanic women (two different women) and she was totally fine. Not a whimper. Her birthmother had only been in the states from conception forward and when ad was in a room where Spanish was being spoken as an infant (which happened once/month) she would go absolutely silent.
Fast forward and last year she started really noticing that she was "brown" and the rest of us in the house were not. She wants to be just like mommy but mommy doesn't need lotion in my hair like she does and powder isn't really good for her ashy skin (but I let her have it anyway--just less of it, and since she's already hot on the topic of her different colored skin, I've used that as an opportunity to show her that different skins need different things).
The thing that's really got me is that in August we were at a community pool and there were a bunch of black kids there and she asked me "Mommy...? Am I brown like them?" It really broke my heart because I didn't expect to deal with her "finding herself" this early in her little life. There was a Hispanic woman nearby and I said "No, honey--you are brown like her. And like mommy when mommy goes in the sunshine!"
I come from a transracial family (I have a mixed half-sib from my mom) and grew up where I was the minority--although the majority was AA, not Hispanic. So really, race doesn't rate for us in terms of it being a factor in someone's identity. I was bullied initially and my immediate family suffered a serious hate crime; but for the majority--after the initial round of horribleness, everyone was accepted.
So I need help. She has a battery of other behaviors that make it clear that she's having a hard time. If she knows she's done something wrong, she hides or destroys stuff or hits herself. We've been through two therapists and they've both stunk.
What can I read that will be actually worthwhile?
Heather - Wife , Mommy & Health & Wellness Educator, Speaker & Consultant
Let me guide you to find the food and lifestyle choices that fit your family...
Interracial Intimacies http://www.amazon.com/Interracial-Intimacies-Marriage-Identity-Adoption/dp/0375702644/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351734415&sr=8-1&keywords=interracial+intimacies has a chapter on transracial adoption, that I think is the best out of anything I have read. I am not sure how helpful it would be for your specific situation though.
My friend has two transracially adopted children. She has written extensively about adoption in general and transracial adoption specifically here: http://peterscrossstation.wordpress.com/
Me (39), DP (45). Together since 04, married in June 07.
TTC 10/10 to spring 2012. Fall 2012--moving on to foster-adopt.
My husband and I are both white, our 2 daughters that we adopted are both Mexican. They were 6 & 8 years old when we adopted them. Luckily for them it wasn't an issue, but with other kids it was. Does she go to a daycare or school? If so, it could be kids saying something. If thats the case, maybe you could go to the library and check out kid friendly books about adoption and have the teacher read them to the class (my 4 year old takes books to school all of the time and the teacher reads them to the class). I don't personally know of any, but most libraries now have all of their books listed on a database on the computer and just putting in "Adoption" as the subject should give you some ideas. Actually when we explained adoption to my 4 year old (who is not adopted), I checked out a book for her called "We Belong Together", but it didn't touch on different races. Good luck!!!!!
Wife to my amazing hubby and best friend since June 2002... Mommy to three angels ages 16, 14 and 4... Two adopted from FL Foster Care and one surprise baby.
We've had a number of threads about transracial adoption. I really think it merits a sticky thread.
My son is younger than your daughter. He's black and I'm white. I think the most useful thing is to find positive role models and mentors for your child who have similar skin tones and/or heritages. But you should also have lots of open discussions about race and skin tone and culture and heritage yourself.
The things to stress, in my opinion, are:
- brown is beautiful
- differences make people special
- you are loved, you are loved, you are loved
I hear a lot of people talk about these issues with a bit of a negative tone. For example, "Just because someone is dark doesn't mean they are bad." or even "I don't care what color your skin is." IMO, that kind of talk plants the seed that dark = bad. It's not appropriate, particularly for the young kiddos. Keep it positive. Praise the differences. Accentuate the beauty and good behavior of your daughter and relate at least some of it to her biological heritage.
Books for children:
* A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza - a children's book about adoption in general. A baby chick, Choco, looks for his mother and cannot find anyone who looks and acts just like him. Finally he meets Mrs. Bear who asks him what his mother would do and it turns our Mrs. Bear can do those things. Choco meets Mrs. Bears other "children" who are all different kinds of animals. This book can be used for transracial or same-race adoptions
* Rosie's Family: An Adoption Story by Lori Rosove - another book about adoption that uses animals. Rosie is a beagle who was adopted by schnoauzers.
* The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler - a children's book about diversity. It's a celebration of various skin colors.This one might be most useful to you because it helps introduce the idea that there are many different skin tones, not just black or white/ brown and white.
* Brown Like Me by Noelle Lamperti - a children's book for children with dark skin. Little Noelle, a black girl adopted by white parents, uses old family photos and drawings in this book that celebrates brown.
Books for parents:
* Inside Transracial Adoption by Gail Steinberg & Beth Hall - basically a how-to guide for white parents of children of color. Most of it is common sense to anyone who has thought seriously about transracial adoptions, but it's a good guide nonetheless.
* Weaving a Family: Untangling Race and Adoption by Barbara Katz Rothman - a bit academic but still useful. Written from the perspective of a Jewish woman who adopted a black girl.
Websites with reources:
Resources for Parenting a Child of African or African-American Heritage: http://adoptivefamilies.com/culture_AfricanAmerican/
Resources for Parenting a Child of Latin-American Heritage: http://adoptivefamilies.com/culture_LatinAmerican/
Resources for Parenting a Child of Eastern European Heritage: http://adoptivefamilies.com/culture_EasternEuropean/
Resources for Parenting a Child of Asian Heritage: http://adoptivefamilies.com/culture_Asian/
I wonder if its not the age, too...where kids start to try to classify things...my boys really started to notice "brown/not brown" starting around age 3. They go to a very diverse preschool (and esp this year they have several other "brown" kids in class) where they at least get exposure to children and adults that may look like they do, which is something that doesnt happen so often in our neighborhood. (Unfortunately the elem. school they will go to next year is less diverse.)
I thought it was kind of funny when your daughter didnt realize that *I* was the mom to the kids in my house when you visited.
I dont have much real advice since its something we deal with too...but i do know that one issue we have is that while L and D very def. identify as Black (or, as D says, brown) K says "i am not brown, i am like you mommy"...he absolutely does NOT identify as a black child at all. I'm not quite sure what to do about that, other than tell him that "brown" (and all skin color, really) comes in all shades and that in order to be brown he doesnt have to be as dark as his brother. That his bmom was brown like D's bmom, and i also have shown him the only pic we have of birthfamily, which is a great uncle's picture (and he has dark skin much like D)...hoping that K will make the connection "oh he is my uncle...he is brown...i am brown too...." It doesnt help that my daughter will often say that K isnt really black, that he is at least "biracial"...i have NO info that says he IS biracial, other than skin tone/hair texture which may mean nothing. I notice that D seems to be more comfortable around black people and K seems to be less comfortable, so im really hoping to connect with bfamily in the future for K to help him see himself as part of that culture. But at the same time, i think its also important that i respect his desire to self-identify however he chooses to do so. Its all so confusing. His siblings do not seem to have the same issues! maybe because they ARE so clearly "brown"??
Does your daughter get to see other girls like her with mommies who are also Hispanic? For some reason it seems important kids know that its not always brown kids in white families.
marsupial-mom... thank you. I feel relieved as we are doing a lot of what your post suggest. That's a huge relief. In fact, we had an incident in the summer where some white friends were talking about how they didn't get out in the sun and they were so "pale" and looked at my daughter and said "I want to look like THAT!" and put their arm next to hers and said "Your skin is so pretty... I have to lay in the hot sun to make mine look that way!". I think she's only ever had compliments on her skin and her hair (which she hates). And at the moment I'm REALLY glad we relocated 2 years ago because where we were, she WOULD'VE heard things like the negative stuff you described.
Where we live now is better on that front but HOR. I. BLE on the diversity front (which is killing me for way more reasons than this). Her recreation classes (ballet & gymnastics are predominantly diverse, though. She sees those girls with their families before they go into class, though. Asian-Indian and black mostly. But it's not frequent.
queenjane... yeah she totally didn't register that you were mom (and btw, she's STILL talking about how rude she was :/ ). I think it was REALLY good that she saw other "brown" kids with a white mom because I think before that, she really thought something was wrong. When she found out you were their mom, she was surprised, but then she seemed somewhat relieved--like they were like her... kwim? I'm not sure she's ever seen that. She only ever sees kids who are the same color as their moms. Even the Asian-Chinese kids who are adopted here (which is the most common obvious adoptive family type we see here) are really pale and look like they're really close in color to their parents.
Thanks all... off to read. Lots. :)
I love the book "Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?"
It addresses racial identity development as it happens most commonly through each age group. It's not specifically about adoption, but just how we come to identify with our race and heritage throughout life.
Elizabeth - Doing life with Scott
SAHM to Evelyn - my crazy little Celiac (4) Annabelle (2) and Abraham (born 6/20)
Follow our journey
Just being lighthearted here... but you could always have her spend more time with my dd who is also 'brown like her' and has a white family like she does :)
I do think that noticing other skin tones like their own, even in very young children, is pretty normal. My dd used to do it as early as 2.5 years old. She would get so excited when she would see brown skinned people in random places like the grocery store she would often go up to them and say "You are brown and i am brown!" mostly they would just smile. She goes to a diverse school where we have at least 30% hispanic population and bilingual classes. She tells everyone she speaks spanish (which is not true despite my best efforts to teach her) but I had a mom of a hispanic boy in her class come up to me one day after school and ask who my daughter was because her son had told her that there was a girl in his class who was his friend and she had black hair like his sister and brown skin like him. It was nice for me to hear that even children who grow up in homes where everyone looks like them are still making the same skin color comments and noticing the same things relating to skin tone that my daughter notices growing up in a home where no one looks like her.
Proud mom of three! Special needs teen princess , 7 year old happy girl , and my flower toddler
As you know, DD and DS are both adopted but DS and I have the same coloring. DD's birthfather is Mexican and her birthmother is not. She's got brown hair and eyes but her mother's light brown highlights. Her skin is a light-medium brown but gets much darker in the summer. This year was the first year that our different coloring was a big issue for her. We're still working through it. Her school is VERY diverse because people come from all over the world to work and/or study at the universities. She doesn't identify as Hispanic (full or part) at this point.
Katherine, do you have the book Shades of Black? I think it was written by the Pinkneys. I've had it for years and it(s really well done.
More resources! Here are some online courses about transracial adoption. These are online courses where either you watch a video, click through slides, or read an essay. Most are about $20-40. some are really very cheap though ($5-10). Others are more costly. Many you can share with your spouse or other family members. And many count for credit for a degree or continuing education to renew a fostercare license. They all discuss the issues that transracial families must face. I've personally taken two of these courses and I believe they are helpful.
Conspicuous Families course from Adoption Learning Partners: http://www.adoptionlearningpartners.org/catalog/courses/conspicuous-families.cfm
Parenting Children Across Racial & Cultural Lines from FosterParents.com: (scroll down for it) http://www.fosterparentstest.com/store/index.htm?Submit2=Click+for+Online+Training
Multicultural and Transracial Adoption course and ebook from Adoption Training Online: http://adoptiontrainingonline.com/courses-lms/preview/4-multicultural-and-transracial-adoption
Transracial Adoptions by Joseph Crumbly: http://www.drcrumbley.com/video.html (DVDs you order online)
Struggle for Identity: http://nysccc.org/about-us/programs/nysccc-videos/struggle-for-identity/
Transracial Parenting in Fostercare and Adoption: http://www.ifapa.org/pdf_docs/TransracialParenting.pdf (FREE)
Well, yeah--that would be good! LOL!
The list of resources has me carving out time each week to go through them. Her behavior has SERIOUSLY ramped up in the last year and I want to believe it's age, but with the "shamefulness" she seems to feel before you can even attempt to redirect her when she does something wrong--I don't know. I'm sad for the hurt she seems to be taking out on us. (to be very clear: sad that she has the hurt--not that we're getting the brunt of it)