white moms raising kids of color...question for y'all! - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 12 Old 02-18-2009, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
bluezephyr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 81
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Hello--

My partner and I are both ttc and working through the process of becoming foster parents. We intend to adopt through the foster system at some point --we're halfway through getting our license now. We've looked at the adoption industry and racism in the fostercare system and realize both systems are pretty broken...but, there are kids who need homes now, too. Add to that, that our county is pretty good at placing kids with kin when possible and pretty good at recruiting Black foster parents, but, all the "foster to adopt" parents seem to be white. So...that means any families of color wanting to adopt kids of color will be so matched, but that some, many, kids of color will be matched with white parents. We've already had our "culture" class in the pre-training and it's obvious the vast majority of the white folks in the room are utterly clueless about racism and identity development and stuff like that. Therefore, we've reached a commitment to foster and adopt Black kids or biracial Black/white kids. We're not perfect, but we have each had over a decade of involvement in anti-racism programs, are trainers in various programs, been sorting out what it means to us to be white for a long time, and have at least the beginning of a clue about how this will change our life and the commitments we will make to our children (where we live, where we vacation, who we socialize with, what books, dolls, toys, tv we have, talking about race with them...) We know we will not completely understand their experiences, we know that forming a healthy racial identity will be harder and will require multiracial settings and adults of color to be mentors and role models. As well, all of their cousins on my partner's side of the family are biracial so they will fit in with those cousins.

We know that we really don't have a clue about how much this commitment will change our lives--but, I didn't know how much getting married would change my life and still knew it was the right thing to do...same with seminary.

So, back to the ttc. That's the real question. We are totally committed to known donor conception, preferably gay. Not up for debate, we know the pros and cons, done our homework, read a lot of blogs and corresponded with a bunch of donor conceived young adults and we are only willing to do a known donor who can be a part of a child's life. We've been through our friends and family, we've moved on to meeting folks on the web through the various matchmaking sites. Say what you will, we've met some pretty awesome guys there. (And some real creeps, of course).

It so happens that a young Black man contacted us in response to our ad. We had said open to all races, and here we are. What we are realizing is that if we use a known donor who is white, we will be adding a third white family branch to our lives...that's probably not the best thing for any adopted kids of color.

So, we are contemplating ttc with this guy. We've met him, he's great, exactly the kind of guy we want our children to know. There's a part of me that's wondering if we're making some huge faux pas, though. Okay, so many kids of color in the foster care system are going to be transracially adopted. Fixing that is a generational task involving not only fixing the laws, but also undoing all the ways racism impacts who ends up in foster care.

But, should we be conceiving children of color to be raised by two white moms? Yet...if we are going to conceive children and since we are committed to a known donor (for the good of our biological children), choosing a donor of color seems best for our future adopted children.

I know there are many thoughtful people here with a wide variety of experiences--what do you think? What questions should we be asking ourselves?

Ellen
bluezephyr is offline  
#2 of 12 Old 02-18-2009, 05:19 PM
 
jodybird511's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: St. Louis
Posts: 125
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Hi Ellen,

I'd say you really have to do what feels right in your heart and for your family. My partner and I (both white) have a 5 y.o. multiracial daughter who we adopted through the foster care system. I am currently pregnant using an anonymous donor. When we decided to ttc, there was no question for us that we would choose a donor of color, b/c we wanted our second child to look more like our daughter than like us. I know it's a bit different situation b/c we adopted first rather than ttc, but I thought it was a relevant perspective, nonetheless. Let me know if you have other specific questions.

PROUD mama to Amiya, age 6 , and Asher, born 10/2009 . Loving partner to dp, Amy.
jodybird511 is offline  
#3 of 12 Old 02-18-2009, 09:51 PM
 
FtMPapa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Homesick Canuck in Western MA.
Posts: 2,055
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I wrote a huge post on this somewhere fairly recently, and my thoughts on it, etc.

I think your situation is very different from buying sperm from a sperm bank from a donor of colour, especially because you're intending for the donor to be part of your kids' family.

I put myself in the same situation you did, put an ad up and said, basically, "I'm white, let's talk about it." and I was contacted by a young black man. I ended up getting a weird vibe off him for other reasons, but part of me really wanted it to work out with him because I am planning to adopt in the future, and I know that the chances are that the kid(s) I adopt from foster care will not be white.

I don't even know what questions to suggest asking yourselves specifically about race.

Race absolutely matters, I'm not trying to say it doesn't, but with a known donor, I think it matters more what kind of a person he is, where your values line up (and don't) where your politics line up, where your ideas of his role line up, etc. All that stuff is so much more important than race.

One big question that you should ask yourself is "Are we ready if he ends up desiring a lot more/less involvement in our child's life?" What if he doesn't want to be involved much at first, but then decides he does when the kid is 6? What if he is very involved the first two years and then disappears?

Another question - which matchmaking sites? Are there donor matchmaking sites out there? I mean, other than craig's list. My personal favourite.

SPBC Finally a Papa! Elise Ember Soleil - 10/3/10 - 4:09 AM - 6 lbs 8 oz My daughter eats donor milk! Human milk for human babies!
FtMPapa is offline  
#4 of 12 Old 02-19-2009, 01:24 AM
 
giggleblue's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 301
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
if you have a bi-racial child, i think you are obligated to know a lot about that other race and be ready to educate your child about that race. it seems like you have started out on that track already with your classroom education classes, but i think you will encounter far more troubling situations in "real life", especially depending upon where you live.

bless the day that someone walks up to you and asks something tactless like "where did you get your son/daughter from?" or "is this your child?".

it doesn't sound like you are, but you surely can't be naive about race relations here in america, and i think you will have to make considerable effort to see the world through your child's eyes. also, realize that your mixed child will be treated differently than lets say an adopted child of complete black decent - people will be able to see the mixed child as yours far easier than they will see the black child as yours and depending upon age variance, that can be a pain.

ultimately, i think it takes a very strong couple to adopt a child of a different race than themselves. it's not something to be taken lightly. i feel from what you have said that you are more prepared than most, but often times i question the intention of those who adopt children of different races - as if it's something for show. i surely don't get that vibe from you, but i'm sure you may experienced that perhaps wrong intention in some of your classes you mentioned taking.

i guess being black, i think it's very important that white individuals who adopt black children know exactly what they are getting themselves into when it comes to the cultural differences that exist between the black and white community today. it's important that they allow their child to remain true to both parts of themselves and for them to be understanding of the dynamics that exist for black individuals in today's america. granted this isn't the 60s, but discrimination and ignorance still exists today. to pretend like it's not happening or to not see it can be discouraging to a child.

giggle - mommy to GP born 3.16.09 and parter to liberty (GP's mama). hoping to have 2 under 2 in the very near future via DP's ute!
giggleblue is offline  
#5 of 12 Old 02-19-2009, 11:49 AM
 
jodybird511's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: St. Louis
Posts: 125
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Very well-said, Giggle.

PROUD mama to Amiya, age 6 , and Asher, born 10/2009 . Loving partner to dp, Amy.
jodybird511 is offline  
#6 of 12 Old 02-19-2009, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
bluezephyr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 81
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
GiggleBlue--we're not naive about race relations here in the US. That's a large part of the reason this decision is so hard. By "classes" I mean ongoing workshops and education within our religious community through which we have relationships with people of color trying to transform our community to be truly anti-racist and anti-oppressive. Without the education those friends have given us, we'd probably adopt kids of color willy-nilly as nice liberal color-blind whites. I am also talking to those friends about this decision too.

I know I don't see the extent that racism happens, but my eyes are much more open than they were! We also parented our biracial nieces for a year and that was another eye-opener. Everything from them being given white baby dolls by clueless parents at day care to a hair dresser who purposely gave one of them a larger trim than I'd asked for because she thought my niece's hair was too "big" (read ugly). That then meant it was too short to put back easily, resulting in more snarling...

I have a huge frustration with the foster care system right now. We feel led (spirtually) to be foster parents and to adopt any children that need homes. It's so maddening that there are more kids of color than families of color and that the darn law won't allow the agency to choose, between two otherwise equally good homes, to place a kid of color with a family of color. The racism is all over the place from the greater number of times (I think it's ten to one) who will report a mother for use of drugs who happens to be African-American than a mother who is white, despite equal levels of drug use to the biases of the social workers who right now I suspect of recruiting foster parents of color, but not putting enough effort into recruiting adoptive parents of color, perhaps assuming that all black people will need the foster care stipend and that the others can't afford to adopt or something like that.

Do we know everything there is to know about raising a kid of color--absolutely not. Do we know we need to learn more if we're going to do the best job possible raising a kid of color--yes. (And feel free to keep giving me advice in this area.) But, should we not adopt a kid of color and let that kid, instead, be adopted by a totally clueless white family simply because we know there's more we need to learn while the other family doesn't even know how much they don't know? And some of those kids don't get adopted, they just languish in the foster care system because fewer people want to adopt black kids and the longer the stay the more placements they have and the more placements the more troubled...? Makes me furious--the system takes black kids in at a higher rate, but then can't get them homes. ARGH! kwim? I'm willing to listen to arguments about why we shouldn't adopt these kids, but, that's where we're coming from.

And...I am so not adopting kids of color for show. The people--in general--whose opinions of me matter most to me are the ones who for the rest of my life will be questioning why we adopted kids of color and will constantly be cross-examining me and giving me advice and letting me know if I don't do the kids' hair well. I realize that's part of what white parents who adopt kids of color take on, but I understand we're not going to be lauded for adopting kids of color. Do I get some credit for being willing to start a conversation, ask for advice, and engage--just a little?

I think the area we're, frankly, least prepared to raise Black kids in is the area of culture that you've raised. I'm coming from a CrossRoads' anti-racism analysis experience and my partner from People's Institute, but that has given us more experience with working with systems and identifying and confronting racism within systems, not with culture. That's where our lives will need to change the most. Any advice on how to find the best neighborhood, school, and social gatherings for our kids is most welcome. We currently live in Ohio in a pretty diverse elementary school zone because the foreign professors live in our neighborhood with their kids (the kids in the houses surrounding our house are mostly brown, but from India, Asia, and Kenya, not from African-American families and cultures). In the next two years we'll be moving east and intend to intentionally chose a neighborhood that has more African-American families.

And, this issue of culture and racial identity development is the reason we're considering a donor of color. He's gay and will eventually raise his own kids (he'll be able to afford surrogacy). (Btw, his brother is also gay.) He loves kids and wants to be involved in our kids' lives. He isn't talking to his mom about it now (does any sperm donor do that ahead of time?), but if she's like any other mom, I'm guessing she'll want to be involved in her grandchildren's lives. I know that doesn't get us off the hook for making other choices that support our children's cultural upbringing, but it seems a plus. But, I could be off base, so if you have another perspective, fire away.

Any advice on raising biracial kids and kids of fully African-American descent together? I hear you that people will see them differently. Have we missed something major and would it be better to raise white kids and kids of fully African-American descent together rather than having bio biracial kids?

Really--bring it on. If we end up raising kids of color, I'd rather know as much as possible about the questions and critique we're going to get. So, any critique and questions you give me now is doing us (and our kids, whoever they turn out to be) a huge favor. That's why I posted here because I know there are lots of thoughtful people here at MDC, even if I only float in every few months when I have a question.

Thank you!

Ellen
bluezephyr is offline  
#7 of 12 Old 02-20-2009, 11:18 AM
 
giggleblue's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 301
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
ellen. i hope you aren't offended. i stated several times in my statements that "you are more prepared than most" and that i don't get the vibe from you that you trying to adopt african american children "for show". i was simply speaking to the topic - "white moms raising kids of color" - in general. my comments were general (which is why i sprinkled in that "this doesn't seem like your situation" several times) and has just been from what i've encountered from talking to individuals who have adopted children of different races from themselves as well as my perspective on the situation.

giggle - mommy to GP born 3.16.09 and parter to liberty (GP's mama). hoping to have 2 under 2 in the very near future via DP's ute!
giggleblue is offline  
#8 of 12 Old 02-21-2009, 12:35 PM
 
Sohmakun's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 27
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
If I were in your situation I would adopt a BR child because a BR child will be seen differently (but not necessarily better or worse) than an AA child. I'm AA and I would never asked "what are you" and "are you Black?" However, my Eurasian girlfriend with almond-shaped hazel eyes and brown hair was always asked that.
Sohmakun is offline  
#9 of 12 Old 02-22-2009, 12:16 PM
 
soso-lynn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,263
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have a bi-"racial" child and am getting ready to TTC with donor sperm. My situation is slightly different but here is part of my thought process. I am in Canada too so "race" is not much of a topic here as much as ethnicity.

My first thought when starting to think about choosing a donor was that I could not use a white donor. It just seems wrong on so many different level, mostly it seems unfair to my daughter. She already has a white mother who gets to have "white privilege", she already gets to be an anglophone in a francophone province, she already gets to be "racially" hard to make out (most think she is Indian, but her biodad was from Congo), I don't think that giving her white siblings would make sense.

The next thought was then that I shoud try to match her ethnicity. There are no such things as Congolese donors in any sperm banks and "African-American" is not the same. Using any "black" donor and pretending they are of the same "race" as my daughter means agreeing with the concept of race as more than a social construct and would be, to me, a racist or at least gravely ethnocentric way to do things.

That left me with two options, go with a black donor with full understanding of what discussed above and a plan as to how to explain that to the children and work though those issues OR go with an entirely different but non-white donor. That led me to look at donors that are available and I found myself drawn to a few Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani donors. It makes sense to me to as the best option to have a child who looks like my daughter plus I have many connections to those communities (more than just the awesome food) so I would not feel clueless when the "race" topic came up. On top of that there are Rh- donors of Indian descent and zero of any "black" descent.

I am pretty much set on a donor at this point and feel really good about it, but I am just letting it sit in my brain for a few more weeks before ordering.

I think that there are no problems with choosing any kind of donor you like as long as you have gone over all (well, most) of the implications and feel comfortable with the future discussions with your children. I would not worry as much about what other people will think, that just seems to be giving racism a little too much power.

Single mom to E (2004) and D (2010)
soso-lynn is offline  
#10 of 12 Old 02-23-2009, 01:03 AM
 
Diane B's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 1,343
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Hi - white mom raising a Latina daughter here.

You obviously have thought through this quite a bit, and the only comment I have is that there are a lot of aspects that you just can't think ahead and plan for, you know?

My experience of living in a multi-cultural family is that is both a big deal and not a big deal at all. I don't know quite how to express this exactly...I am well aware, and made aware on a regular basis, of the racism in our society, of the ways our daughter is perceived differently, and increasingly, of her own experiences and feelings in the world as it relates to her ethnicity. Our decision to adopt transracially informs our decisions about where we live, who we spend time with, which daycare and school she attends, etc. And when we are snuggling in bed together reading a book, it's exactly the same as any mother and daughter snuggling and reading a book. Both are true, and I find it important to acknowledge and recognize both.

I also know my daughter will have a lot to say about this before long!
Diane B is offline  
#11 of 12 Old 02-23-2009, 01:17 AM
 
spedteacher30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,065
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
the first thing that leapt to my mind is that being an anti-racist trainer is a great first step, but may not be enough.

For me, having friends and family of choice who are races other than my own is very important in being able to raise our son authentically. it is also important for us to have friends and family of choice who are bi-racial and multi-racial, as well as transracially adopted.

I am white, my partner is black, our son (who I carried) was conceived using anonymous donor sperm from a black man.

I can tell you that everything I thought I knew about anti-racism, and oppression and race flew out the window when he was a baby and a piece of my heart was facing the world and the realities of racism.
spedteacher30 is offline  
#12 of 12 Old 02-23-2009, 01:26 PM
 
Diane B's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 1,343
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by spedteacher30 View Post
I can tell you that everything I thought I knew about anti-racism, and oppression and race flew out the window when he was a baby and a piece of my heart was facing the world and the realities of racism.
Yes, Yes, Yes. Completely true for me too. Well put.
Diane B is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off