Choosing a donor: Let's talk about race - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 45 Old 12-10-2007, 02:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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In another thread, I said this:

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turtle and I are choosing to use a donor of another race than we are. We both appear to be run-of-the-mill white chicks and, honestly, we both think that there are more than enough white people in the world already.
At least one poster wanted to hear more about that, so here's a thread where we can talk about it without hijacking the original thread.
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#2 of 45 Old 12-10-2007, 02:13 PM
 
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Well, since you started a thread, I've got a question:

How do you and Turtle plan to handle the mixed-race heritage of your potential child, as far as honoring the other non-white race s/he would come from without being of that race yourselves?
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#3 of 45 Old 12-10-2007, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by avengingophelia View Post
How do you and Turtle plan to handle the mixed-race heritage of your potential child, as far as honoring the other non-white race s/he would come from without being of that race yourselves?
We plan to handle it in the same way(s) that we planned to handle it when adoption seemed to be the only way we'd build our family: Our Village and our extended families include many people of color, so our children won't be alone in that regard. We actually have far fewer friends who are queer than friends who aren't white, so we should probably do a little more thinking about that part of it, though it'll be easier to talk about that part since we live it.

There's nothing specific that we plan to change from the outset--meaning, we don't plan to go to a church that's more in line with our child's ethnic heritage or whatever.

Does that answer your question? (To the degree that it can be answered by me, anyway, since this is hypothetical in my life at this point.)
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#4 of 45 Old 12-10-2007, 02:18 PM
 
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I thought about this issue when choosing a donor. I ended up finding a donor the same race as myself, but I finally decided after thinking about it that I would choose a donor regardless of race, and just let race sort itself out. Kinda like how the straight ppl do it.
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#5 of 45 Old 12-10-2007, 02:18 PM
 
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Yeah, it does.

The reason I asked is that, as you know, most of the kids in my life right now are mixed race or not the same race as their parents, and the families have chosen to handle it in very different ways, some thinking it is a much more complicated issue, some less, so I was curious where you and Turtle come down on that.
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#6 of 45 Old 12-10-2007, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by avengingophelia View Post
The reason I asked is that, as you know, most of the kids in my life right now are mixed race or not the same race as their parents, and the families have chosen to handle it in very different ways, some thinking it is a much more complicated issue, some less, so I was curious where you and Turtle come down on that.
I think that we're going into this with open minds and open hearts, while also having done a lot of reading and talking with our friends (those of races different than ours, those with children of races other than theirs, etc.) about their experiences. We're pretty much acknowledging that it's an issue but that it's not insurmountable.
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#7 of 45 Old 12-10-2007, 02:40 PM
 
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Hey Frog,

I think it's great that you've started this thread. My original two donors of choice were not white, while I am. They became my top choice for a number of reasons- race was not a primary factor in the first round of choosing. However, after we had narrowed out everyone with problematic health histories and personality traits, race did become an issue, and I too felt that there was a lot to be said for having a non-white child.

Of course, many people said things like, "But how will you know how to raise a child of color?" "Don't you think the kid will have enough problems by not having a dad?" (Ouch.) But I think that you've already answered those.

One of my friends did some academic research on this subject. Something he came up with, which I thought made sense, is that the families who do raising mixed-race children are the families who don't pretend that it "doesn't matter." That is, those parents who address the fact that sometimes their kids look different and are treated differently because of it tend to have better adjusted and happier children.

I will tell you though the one thing that gave me pause. At one point I was using a South Asian donor, and I was talking about this with two of my friends, who are a South Asian/white couple. When my friends found out that I was using a South Asian donor, and that there were limited supplies of him left, they got visibly concerned. Something that I didn't know, but that they were very well aware of, is that there are apparently only three South Asian donors at the major sperm banks in this country.They were worried that I was going to use up all of the available vials of one them, before they could even start the process of ttc, which for them, is still a year off. For them, having a South Asian donor was an important part of making sure that the baby felt like part of their family, and was accepted by their extended families. I had never considered that in using sperm from a donor of color, I was using up a limited resource of something that mixed-race and non-white couples often have a hard time finding.

Anyway, that's just my two cents. In the end, I didn't get pregnant with either of my first top choice donors. After five tries, I switched to my third choice donor, who had a much higher sperm count. He was white, so now, for better or worse, I'm carrying another little white baby...

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#8 of 45 Old 12-10-2007, 03:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by AngelaM View Post
Something he came up with, which I thought made sense, is that the families who do raising mixed-race children are the families who don't pretend that it "doesn't matter." That is, those parents who address the fact that sometimes their kids look different and are treated differently because of it tend to have better adjusted and happier children.
Unless, of course, you already *are* a family of colour or a person of colour. Cuz of course, as a parent of colour, *you* already look "different" and are well aware of racism in your everyday life.

Here is what I can't handle about these discussions. We are *always* talkinga 'bout white folks. I always feel left out of these discussions, because of course, NO ONE would say to me, "don't raise a kid of colour, ze will already have a hard time not having a dad" - or other bull like that. Why? Cuz of course my kid is gonna be of colour - double whammy...whatever.

I guess when I hear of white folks talking about having kids of colour, they often feel a lot of defensiveness when people ask them further questions. What I've come to appreciate, however, that after the dust settles, at least they are taking race head on, something that many white queers don't do as they plan their families, choosing white donors (cuz of course, that has nothing to do with race - har har). So although I really want to know what kind of anti-racist prep work all of us have done, I wonder more so about the queers who chose/are choosing donors of colour. Cuz I know that when our family chose a white donor, I spent many many many moments wringing my hands over the crap load of internalized garbage I was going through (i.e. light is right etc.)

Thanks for starting this thread Frog. I've actually always wanted to ask you about your choice of a non-white donor, but I've had enough scrapes around race since TTC with other white queers who have had mixed raced kids that I got a bit fearful and well, quite tired.
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#9 of 45 Old 12-10-2007, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Kwynne View Post
I guess when I hear of white folks talking about having kids of colour, they often feel a lot of defensiveness when people ask them further questions. What I've come to appreciate, however, that after the dust settles, at least they are taking race head on, something that many white queers don't do as they plan their families, choosing white donors (cuz of course, that has nothing to do with race - har har). So although I really want to know what kind of anti-racist prep work all of us have done, I wonder more so about the queers who chose/are choosing donors of colour. Cuz I know that when our family chose a white donor, I spent many many many moments wringing my hands over the crap load of internalized garbage I was going through (i.e. light is right etc.)
Yep, I hear all of that. For me, a lot of the baggage has been around figuring out what to do about my grandmother. I love her dearly, she's a total PITA and she's about as racist as they come. She really seems to love turtle and she's come to terms, in her own way, with having a grand-daughter who's a lesbian, but I really don't know what she's going to make of all of this, should we have children who aren't white (and, for us, white's the default assumption). Last time we ttc, we used an Asian donor, in part because my brother's wife is Korean and I figured our kid(s) would at least have cousins in a similar boat, but when I got really honest about it, I knew it was also in part because my grandmother wouldn't have nearly the issues with a half-Asian baby as she would with a baby that's half just about anything else.

So, during our year-long break, we thought we were going to adopt two children who are niece and nephew to a friend of ours. Said friend and the children are black and I had to do a lot of unpacking of how that would play out in my extended family. In the end, I came to terms with the fact that if my grandmother (who, really, is symbolic of huge swaths of my family but it's helpful for me to talk about just one person at a time) can't cope with the way I'm choosing to build a family, that's not really my work to do. I see her MAYBE annually, given the geographical distance between us. And if I needed to, I can and will shield my children from her. It was a good thing for me to grapple with, IMO. (In the end, we didn't adopt those kids, which is a long-ass story all its own which has nothing to do with race.)

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Originally Posted by Kwynne View Post
Thanks for starting this thread Frog. I've actually always wanted to ask you about your choice of a non-white donor, but I've had enough scrapes around race since TTC with other white queers who have had mixed raced kids that I got a bit fearful and well, quite tired.
And I hear this, too. I'm typically pretty tentative about talking about this because I've already gotten a fair amount of crap from people--people who wouldn't DREAM of giving me a hard time for being with a partner who's of another race than I am.
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#10 of 45 Old 12-10-2007, 03:29 PM
 
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I am biracial. My father is German, and my mother from Colombia. DP is from Mexico. We decided to go with a donor who was also Mexican. It wasn't the only reason-we liked him, and we did want a child that was the same race as us. It was important to us. I can't explain why, but we felt that it was something inherent about who we are and wanting to pass on our heritage.

One thing that I think is really important if you are going to raise a child that is of a different race than you, is to make sure that you expose him/her to their heritage, and who they are. Walking around brown can be hard. I would be lying if I said that I never experienced racism-however what has been my lifesaver is pride in my heritage. People say all sorts of crazy things about Colombia and drugs, or assume that I am the cleaning lady, or assume that I don't speak English etc...... I don't know what I would do if I did not have knowledge of what Colombia was really like, or had I not been exposed to positive Latino role models. This has helped me deal with racism that happens on a day to day basis.

I think that people are going have opinions no matter what. I have to admit that I get super annoyed when people want a child of color because they are "cute". That "cute" kid is likely going to grow up feeling exotified-which is not a nice feeling. However I have also seen people raise children of color who really go out of their way to make sure that they acknowledge that their child is different, and work with them on dealing with the stuff that they automatically will have to deal with. It does make a difference on how their children grow and deal with the world.

I also though want to challenge the idea of people being "run of the mill white" My own experience of Europe is that there are many rich cultures. For examples, I am part German, and I enjoy learning about German history, culture, dances. What has happened in the United States is this whole "melting pot" BS where people from really rich cultures were basically stripped of their heritage to fit into the United States society. 50 years ago, people from Germany were refusing to teach their children German, now many Latinos are refusing to teach their children Spanish (just one example). I just want to throw that in there-because I really want to challenge this idea that I see many people of European decent having, that they are "run of the mill"-there is likely a very rich and interesting history there.

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#11 of 45 Old 12-10-2007, 03:42 PM
 
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I'm glad you brought this up!
Donor #1 is 1/2 black.
We are (very) white girls.
I am blonde hair/blue eyes and J is brown/green so it's been controversial amongst our friends + family that the baby won't "look like he belongs to us".

We would be happy with a baby, no matter what the color, but everyone else has their own opinions.
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#12 of 45 Old 12-10-2007, 04:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by expectantmami View Post
I also though want to challenge the idea of people being "run of the mill white"
Actually, I'm the one who said something like that, but I was careful to say that we APPEAR to be run-of-the-mill white chicks. I'm actually very proud of my heritage--saying it the way I did was just quicker than detailing our heritages, which I will do now.

I'm Slovak (mother's father), Polish/German/Unknown Indigenous Tribe in Newfoundland (mother's mother), Finnish (father's father), and German (father's mother). turtle is Swedish, German and Cherokee.

I grew up with a lot of attention paid to being Slovak and Finnish (my last name is Finnish) and I was raised Lutheran (very Finnish, the sort of Lutheran I was). I don't know what turtle's experience was with her familial cultures as a child.
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#13 of 45 Old 12-10-2007, 05:27 PM
 
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Unless, of course, you already *are* a family of colour or a person of colour. Cuz of course, as a parent of colour, *you* already look "different" and are well aware of racism in your everyday life.

Here is what I can't handle about these discussions. We are *always* talkinga 'bout white folks. I always feel left out of these discussions, because of course, NO ONE would say to me, "don't raise a kid of colour, ze will already have a hard time not having a dad" - or other bull like that. Why? Cuz of course my kid is gonna be of colour - double whammy...whatever.
Thanks, Kwynne, and I'm sorry for not spelling out in my earlier post that my conversation with my friend was specifically about white folks raising non-white kids. You're right, of course. So many of these discussions do center around white people raising kids of color, and ignore the choices that families of color, or mixed-race families, make about donors, adoption, etc.

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Originally Posted by Kwynne View Post
I guess when I hear of white folks talking about having kids of colour, they often feel a lot of defensiveness when people ask them further questions. What I've come to appreciate, however, that after the dust settles, at least they are taking race head on, something that many white queers don't do as they plan their families, choosing white donors (cuz of course, that has nothing to do with race - har har). So although I really want to know what kind of anti-racist prep work all of us have done, I wonder more so about the queers who chose/are choosing donors of colour. Cuz I know that when our family chose a white donor, I spent many many many moments wringing my hands over the crap load of internalized garbage I was going through (i.e. light is right etc.).
Yeah, I found it really interesting that people had a lot of problems with me choosing a donor of color, but approached the choice of a white donor as if there weren't a choice there, if you know what I mean. As if, in choosing a white donor, I was just choosing the standard default option.

For me, I wanted a donor of color for several reasons. One was a commitment to building an anti-racist world, and having a child that reflected the community I've made for myself. I had a lot of long talks with my friends, some of whom are white, some of whom are people of color, before making that decision. Some of them were very supportive of my choice; others weren't. In the end, I felt very nervous about my choice to use a donor of color, but also very good about it. The other, much more personal side of the choice for me was that, while I read as white, no one on my father's (Greek/Middle Eastern) side of the family does, and part of me wanted to have a child that looked more like them in some way.

Anyway, thanks, Kwynne, for reminding me to think past the limiting "white parents, children of color" paradigm in these discussions.

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#14 of 45 Old 12-10-2007, 06:07 PM
 
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Great Thread!!! DW and I were just struggling with this last night! I asked my sperm bank to just tell me the top fertile donors according to pregnancy rates and sperm count. One donor is Greek, and one is Indian/African American. We struggled over the decision to use one of these very fertile donors vs a not as fertile white donor. In the end, we've chosen the Greek donor because of fertility and his personal profile.

We will learn as much as we can about the Greek culture and teach our child so he/she is proud of their cultural heritage.

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#15 of 45 Old 12-10-2007, 09:41 PM
 
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Great Thread!!! DW and I were just struggling with this last night! I asked my sperm bank to just tell me the top fertile donors according to pregnancy rates and sperm count. One donor is Greek, and one is Indian/African American. We struggled over the decision to use one of these very fertile donors vs a not as fertile white donor. In the end, we've chosen the Greek donor because of fertility and his personal profile.

We will learn as much as we can about the Greek culture and teach our child so he/she is proud of their cultural heritage.
Hee hee, you can send your kid to Greek cultural immersion camp with my relatives... A summer on the island with my crazy family will teach him/her more than any book.

And congrats on a getting a donor with a high count. My horrific "morning" sickness is a testament to how important that can be...

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#16 of 45 Old 12-10-2007, 10:21 PM
 
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I'm kind of peeping in on this thread, because we already have a child, adopted, who is Guatemalan by heritage, while we are white (German and Eastern European Jewish by ancestry.) I wanted to pop in to direct folks to the wealth of thinking and conversation within the adoption community about transracial families of all sorts. I think it would be really valuable information for families with donors of different races than the moms. Pretty much any good adoption book or adoption discussion boards will have discussions about this. Whatever you decide, it's important to realize that this decision has a lot of implications for your child, and for your family.

I haven't seen anyone (yet) on this thread say something like, "Well, I don't even notice race. It doesn't matter to me." That's the number one red flag for me. Because yes, on a day to day personal basis with me and my partner and my daughter, inside the four walls of our home, I see us all as individuals and I'm not usually thinking about race/culture. But I guarantee you, when my daughter steps out into the world, it matters a ton. I know that when we are not around, our white privilege evaporates for her, and the older she gets, the more that will be the case. The previous poster that discussed the "cute" issue also had a good point. My daughter will be a teenager and then an adult, no longer "cute" but having to face the day to day realities of racism in America. (I might add that Guatemala also struggles with racism; the US does not hold the corner on that market.)

Deciding to be a multi-cultural family also affects where we choose to live, what schools we're choosing, sometimes which family members we will spend time with, who we include in our social circle, outside of school activities (for example, our daughter is starting Spanish classes), etc. etc.

Finally, I might add that I think it's really important for families to be raising anti-racist white children too. The world certainly doesn't have enough of those...
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#17 of 45 Old 12-11-2007, 09:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm nodding along with everything you're saying about transracial adoption, Diane B--two of the Small Friends were adopted from China by white parents, and my SIL was adopted from Korea as an infant. One of the Small Friends' moms, in particular, is a very big influence on me in terms of the way I think about parenting in general, and parenting a child of another race in particular.

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Deciding to be a multi-cultural family also affects where we choose to live, what schools we're choosing, sometimes which family members we will spend time with, who we include in our social circle, outside of school activities (for example, our daughter is starting Spanish classes), etc. etc.
I'm going to add "where we choose to vacation" to this list (which I'm sure you didn't intend as comprehensive, but you reminded me of something). We spent two weeks camping near the GA/FL state line last spring and realized very quickly that that's not someplace we'll ever choose to travel with our children.
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#18 of 45 Old 12-11-2007, 01:23 PM
 
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Finally, I might add that I think it's really important for families to be raising anti-racist white children too. The world certainly doesn't have enough of those...
: This is a great great point.

Anybody read Anti-Racist Parent? I find myself a bit overwhelmed lately with life, but when I have time I've found some great reads on there.

I found this very interesting, nothing really new here to me, and of course echoes what many have said on this thread. Thougths? specifically about white privilege? What does that look like (or how do you feel you tackle this) to those of you who are white?
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#19 of 45 Old 12-11-2007, 03:49 PM
 
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I’ve gone back and forth on responding to this thread since it went up, especially since it’s a heck of a place to start with your first post, but since I’m constantly responding in my head as I read I’m giving up the fight. I do apologize in advance for the length.

My partner and I are both Native Americans though she’s of ‘purer’ blood than me. I can pass for white, depending on the crowd, whereas she cannot. For us we very much wanted a Native donor. A desire that has forced us to contact family members and ask if they knew of anyone that would be willing since there are almost no Native Anon donors. Sure, there are a few that claim Native blood but our experience with that is extremely untrusting. Perhaps it’s a prejudice of our own but in our experience there are a lot of Indian princesses out there. Unless they are card-carrying we are distrustful of the claim.

I suppose continuing with our bloodline is important to us because the amount of actual Natives in this country saddens us. Heritage is important, imo, though the tendency to tell ourselves (general our) otherwise is easy to do. Having said that and to be honest, without meaning to offend anyone, I’m always kind of put out by the idea of whites that deliberately seek out mixed or full blood children either to adopt or conceive. As a race, we have a lot of experience with that particular occurrence. Very little of it has been good.

I do think it’s possible for a white couple to raise a mixed child but I don’t believe it’s possible for them to ever really understand what that child is going through anymore than they can ever truly understand their experiences. I know that while I can understand what it must be like for a black person to watch other people look at them suspiciously, I cannot understand what that makes them feel inside. I cannot comprehend what it does to your self image or how it alters your perception of your own skin color or even how it affects simple interactions with people who inadvertently hit a nerve.

Racism, hatred and bigotry are not one big similar, shared experience that leads to true understanding across the board. If only it were that easy. Being discriminated against as a lesbian has its undeniable set of issues but that doesn’t translate to automatic similarities on racism due to skin color. You cannot protect a child from it. It is going to happen. Children notice things like that whether they say anything to you or not. They also tend to internalize a great deal no matter how idillic, open, and loving the relationship with their parents.

To give an example, my partner spent much of her childhood in Washington State during the time when Fishing and Gaming rights were in heavy dispute between ‘whites’ and Natives. When she was twelve, out one day with her parents, she saw bumper stickers beginning to crop up: Spear an Indian, save a fish. Around this same time she began to lose friends because their parents recognized her last name as Indian even if the children didn’t recognize her by appearance. They were ordered to stay away from her.

Those things are a small example of experiences. My point in detailing them, however brief, is to point out what they will possibly face. To those who are ‘white’ and actively seeking children of another race I would ask if you think you could really explain or understand what those experiences would make your child feel. The usual answers of it’s their issue, it’s not about you, people hate things that are different, etc only work for so long. When they age more detailed answers are desired. A greater understanding and moreover someone that does understand. I can tell you from our experiences, and that of cousins who are half black, when the white parent tried to explain or say they understood as we aged, we all rolled our eyes at least internally – amongst other things. Being empathetic, unfortunately, is not enough.

I saw mentioned that people would never question the decision to be with someone of another race if the discussion was about partners and spouses, that they do with children. That’s absolutely true. Neither would I. The difference being we’re not talking about adult consent. The two are incomparable to my mind. A couple of different races having a mixed child? No big deal. Why? Because at least there is one parent who is going to truly be able to relate and help them along.

As harsh as it sounds, and again without meaning to offend anyone, when the idea of having a child of another race to make a melting pot or because there are too many whites already really strikes me as the child becoming a social activism point. I’m sure that’s not how it is intended but try as I might I can’t shake that feeling.

I do believe that any person of any race can have a child with any other race but I believe when actively seeking that out that there are some serious implications and gaps to be considered. Bringing a child up in a healthy, loving, safe environment always counts the most. But what will happen to them outside of their homes cannot be discounted either. If you truly want to have a child that is of a race outside of that of both parents, I would strongly encourage anyone to seek out mentors and children of like backgrounds for them to be around.

Someone that really gets how they feel on the inside and understands what it means to be them, heritage and all, can make all the difference in the world. Case in point would be this board. Sure, most of us have straight friends we talk to too yet we still find our way to this board with other people that are going to understand all that is involved in queer parenting.
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#20 of 45 Old 12-11-2007, 04:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Let me start by saying that I'm really glad that you went ahead and posted. IMO, more conversation makes for a better thread and, hopefully, more informed people.

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I saw mentioned that people would never question the decision to be with someone of another race if the discussion was about partners and spouses, that they do with children. That’s absolutely true. Neither would I. The difference being we’re not talking about adult consent. The two are incomparable to my mind. A couple of different races having a mixed child? No big deal. Why? Because at least there is one parent who is going to truly be able to relate and help them along.
Well, yes and no. What happens when one of the parents dies? What happens when there's a divorce and one of the parents moves on in a way that doesn't include the kid(s)? Things happen, you know? And the idea of "consent" in terms of being born is, IMO, tricky, at best. If I'd have been consulted, I'd have voted no on being born to my parents. Does that mean I shouldn't exist?

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As harsh as it sounds, and again without meaning to offend anyone, when the idea of having a child of another race to make a melting pot or because there are too many whites already really strikes me as the child becoming a social activism point. I’m sure that’s not how it is intended but try as I might I can’t shake that feeling.
I can understand that it would come across like that. That's not my intention. I'll need to come up with better language to talk about why we're doing this. I appreciate your candor.

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I do believe that any person of any race can have a child with any other race but I believe when actively seeking that out that there are some serious implications and gaps to be considered. Bringing a child up in a healthy, loving, safe environment always counts the most. But what will happen to them outside of their homes cannot be discounted either. If you truly want to have a child that is of a race outside of that of both parents, I would strongly encourage anyone to seek out mentors and children of like backgrounds for them to be around.

Someone that really gets how they feel on the inside and understands what it means to be them, heritage and all, can make all the difference in the world. Case in point would be this board. Sure, most of us have straight friends we talk to too yet we still find our way to this board with other people that are going to understand all that is involved in queer parenting.
That's true, but I also can't understand in the way you're talking about what it means to be the child of lesbians, the child of a Christian and an atheist/pagan, a straight person, a bi person, or the son of someone. I don't think any of that precludes me from being a good parent to children who might be any number of those things.
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#21 of 45 Old 12-11-2007, 09:24 PM
 
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To those who are ‘white’ and actively seeking children of another race I would ask if you think you could really explain or understand what those experiences would make your child feel.
....

If you truly want to have a child that is of a race outside of that of both parents, I would strongly encourage anyone to seek out mentors and children of like backgrounds for them to be around.

....
Someone that really gets how they feel on the inside and understands what it means to be them, heritage and all, can make all the difference in the world.

....
Case in point would be this board. Sure, most of us have straight friends we talk to too yet we still find our way to this board with other people that are going to understand all that is involved in queer parenting.

SGrey - Thank you for your post. I understand where you're coming from and I will keep those things in mind when raising a child of a different ethnicity than myself. Of course I will try to give my child cultural experiences and introduce them to groups of people with whom they can identify(AngleaM's family, maybe! just as I will try to introduce male role models into my children's lives.

I'm not sure how to express this next thought, so maybe some of you reading this can elaborate. . . Parents never understand their children. No one person ever knows what it's like to be another person. My parents cannot possibly begin to empathize with my experience as a lesbian, nor did they attempt to put me in contact with the GLBT community so that I might have a group to identify with. DESPITE THAT, I wouldn't want other parents, I found this board and my in person GLBT family myself, I internalized my experience and made sense of it myself.

Bottom line is that family isn't about all the members being similar. I am so very different than every other member of my family. My family does NOT understand me, but they do love me and tolerate my beliefs and lifestyle when they don't even believe in them. My being different from my family has taught my immediate and extended family(and it's a large one) to be more tolerant people. I think differences within families are good for bringing all of us to a more tolerant future.

It would have been nice to have parents who were gay to give me a heads up about things, but I've done alright by myself. Of course I will still try to introduce my child to their cultural heritage, but I think that ultimatley, every child finds their own way.

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#22 of 45 Old 12-11-2007, 09:40 PM
 
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Well, yes and no. What happens when one of the parents dies? What happens when there's a divorce and one of the parents moves on in a way that doesn't include the kid(s)? Things happen, you know? And the idea of "consent" in terms of being born is, IMO, tricky, at best. If I'd have been consulted, I'd have voted no on being born to my parents. Does that mean I shouldn't exist?
Oh ITA. I certainly wouldn't have voted to be born in the family I was. But to return to what I said, adult consent, doesn't translate well to that idea. When one parent dies, the other does the best they can. Life is never perfect, I'm not saying it is. The surviving parent does what they can and to some extent is still in a better position to understand the racism their child will experience than a white couple will be.

They in all likelihood will have experienced in it to some fashion or another with their spouse if only to witness how it affected their spouse/lover/partner. If they're out to dinner and one is the subject of racism, the other is going to feel it to some degree. It's still not the same but it certainly gives a starting point in a conversation. e.g. I remember once when I was out with your father and this happened and this is how it made me feel. We talked later and he said it made him feel like x, y, or z on the inside.

My overall point was that whether or not someone would bring it up in regards to being with someone of 'color' is not applicable in the case of children. They bring up an entirely different set of thoughts and issues.

Quote:
I can understand that it would come across like that. That's not my intention. I'll need to come up with better language to talk about why we're doing this. I appreciate your candor.
Thanks for not reacting off the cuff. I was most hestitant about posting that but it was the one point I found myself reacting to the most.

Quote:
That's true, but I also can't understand in the way you're talking about what it means to be the child of lesbians, the child of a Christian and an atheist/pagan, a straight person, a bi person, or the son of someone. I don't think any of that precludes me from being a good parent to children who might be any number of those things.
I don't mean to say it in any way precludes you from being a good parent. It doesn't. What I am saying is there is a lot to think about and many issues that probably won't be foreseen until they happen because well, honestly, you wouldn't view any situation the same way a person of the child's race, or the other half of their race, would. You might walk into an area where known Indian/white problems were frequent, with an Native child, and never once think about ahead of time that problems might arise and hatred might be directed toward him.

As a Native, that would be one of the first thoughts in my head. Yes, there are obvious areas to avoid - you mentioned the GA/FL line. But it's the subtle ones that you won't foresee. That won't, doesn't, make you a bad parent. None of us can foresee everything. It's just that we perceive every situation differently because of our own experiences especially with regards to racism.

Straight, bi, atheist, pagan, christian, lesbian... The list of comparable differences could go on forever. They each bring their own set off issues. Where they do not factor in, imo, is in that area where not a single one of them is necessarily obvious when you walk into a room. Sure, sometimes they are, but more often than not that's not the case. A mixed child, or a child of color, doesn't have that luxury. They will be judged by their skin color, in some places, the second someone sees them. The preceeding list will not be. Ever.

Quote:
Bottom line is that family isn't about all the members being similar. I am so very different than every other member of my family. My family does NOT understand me, but they do love me and tolerate my beliefs and lifestyle when they don't even believe in them. My being different from my family has taught my immediate and extended family(and it's a large one) to be more tolerant people. I think differences within families are good for bringing all of us to a more tolerant future.

It would have been nice to have parents who were gay to give me a heads up about things, but I've done alright by myself. Of course I will still try to introduce my child to their cultural heritage, but I think that ultimatley, every child finds their own way.
Thanks for replying and same here. We are all so different - that's the beauty of humanity. Understanding differences, as much as we can, and learning to appreciate them will (hopefully) bring about a more tolerant future.

One thing I would point out in what you said though is that they love you and tolerate your beliefs and lifestyle. That as we all know brings it's own set of issues and takes some serious internalizing to make our peace with. My mother's side of the family is much the same in the tolerating aspect. But tolerance for a skin color is another matter. Most of us know the suicide rates for gay kids and young adults. They're staggering. So many do not find their way. They are often not able to deal with what's thrown at them. Self-hatred grows to saddening degrees that is most definitely compounded by their home life (the lack of acceptance) and their lives with friends. The fear and all the dozens of issues that brings up.

Children of mixed race have the strong potential to internalize a very similar self hatred especially if they feel (and kids do feel it) that they're being tolerated. The suicide rates are definitely lower but feeling wrong for your skin color rarely goes away. There are full children of other races who experience that and are never able to quite shake off the yoke that hangs tight around their necks from it. In some cases, but not all, it's equally if not even harder for children of mixed races as they never quite feel they belong anywhere.
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#23 of 45 Old 12-12-2007, 11:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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SGrey, I'm thinking about your most recent post. I don't have words, yet, but things are rolling around in my brain and I'll post when I have something to share that makes sense!

I've been thinking some about race v. ethnicity. pranava, what you're saying about making sure your kid has some time around Greek people and Greek culture has me wondering about something. For folks who choose a donor within their race but outside of their ethnicity, how much time is really spent on "honoring the child's ethnicity" or whatever? I mean, say turtle and I chose a donor who's Czech. Neither of us are Czech. Would there be any expectation on the part of others or effort on our part to honor our child's Czech heritage?

I'm thinking here about my own experience, where the Finnish and Slovak ancestry was really played up, but the German, not so much.

Mostly, I'm thinking aloud.
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#24 of 45 Old 12-12-2007, 05:42 PM
 
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Good point Frog. Ethnicity and race are probably not the same issue. I myself am half Hungarian and the other half a mixture of many things. I consider myself Hungarian for the most part. My donor was born in Greece to Greek parents, so going on my own experience, I just assumed that my child would consider herself Greek. I guess I should wait and let my child decide what she considers herself.

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#25 of 45 Old 12-12-2007, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess I should wait and let my child decide what she considers herself.
Dunno. I don't have any answers, I'm just thinking aloud, here.
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#26 of 45 Old 12-12-2007, 11:22 PM
 
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Hmm you bring up a good question Frog. How much attention is given to heritage is one of those things that varies from house to house, imo.

As I'm thinking about it though it seems heritage plays a bigger part in 1st and second generation American families who haven't yet had a big mix of ethnic backgrounds tossed into their family. At around the third gen and on down, depending on the family, less attention is given to it. Often as the older generation passes on.

Personally, I do believe learning about our own ethnic backgrounds is just as important as learning about other people's. There are things to be celebrated, to be proud of, traditions to learn and always there are mistakes to learn from.

I'm reminded of the old adage, you can't know where you're going until you know where you've been.
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#27 of 45 Old 12-12-2007, 11:28 PM
 
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Of course my daughter can consider herself anything she likes (right now, for example, she says she has black skin if you ask.) What I have to acknowledge as her white mom is that race (and ethnicity) are social constructions (as opposed to biological realities) and those social constructions will have implications for her in school, in her workplace, in her personal relationships, etc. As best as I can, I need to help her be aware of that. People will look at my daughter and see "Hispanic" or "Latina" or "immigrant" or other names I'm not going to mention here. The best that I can do is to raise her so that she knows we support her 100% and are here for her; to listen and validate her experiences; and to as much as possible offer her environments and situations that support her developing a positive identity as a girl/woman of color.

I have been thinking about this thread, and I hope you don't mind that an "already parenting" mom joining in. I can say that even in my fairly diverse urban setting, and in a place that ranks #1 in the number of transracial adoptive families (according to the census), I encounter uncomfortable situations with my daughter on a regular basis. Mostly, at this point, it consists of people CONSTANTLY commenting on her hair, (which, I might add, is entirely ordinary for anyone from Latin America with indigenous heritage) but apparently merits excessive comments when we are out in public. And there is something in these comments that is really over the top, like people are overcompensating because they notice my daughter's ethnicity and don't know how else to respond. Adoptive Families magazine ran an excellent article about this two issues ago from a mom who experiences the exact same thing with her daughters, so I know it's not just me being overly sensitive!
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#28 of 45 Old 12-13-2007, 12:53 AM
 
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... so I know it's not just me being overly sensitive!
No, you are right on about the comments. We live in a predominantly white area, and we get comments about our son's hair ALL THE TIME. I'm wondering if anyone will ever comment on my partner's hair, because it is almost identical - except that she is white, and he isn't.

About what our kid's want to consider themselves in terms of race... (and also ethinicity, although I haven't really thought about this, because we see ethnicity as social and not 'in the blood', like race, of course) I have thougth a lot about this. One thing that I realize is that even though I am of colour, and can guide my son on how to deal with general racism, the complexities of how he shapes and understands his mixed race heritage will be something he made need other resources for (beyond myself and my partner). We have many friends with kids who are mixed race, and we hope the community we build will provide that space for him. Although I do agree that he can consider himself whatever he wants, I know that many are likely to slot him into one thing (black, male). I do echo Diane that race is definitely socially constructed and varies depending on time and place, I know that often it can become quite restrictive, so that folks of colour often feel they have no room to move beyond what racist definitions have been provided for them. I hope in 10 or so more years this will change.
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#29 of 45 Old 12-13-2007, 09:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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...I hope you don't mind that an "already parenting" mom joining in.
Not at all! I'm thrilled that you're here. I think that there are definitely overlapping issues, no matter how we build our families, when we're talking about race, ethnicity and culture.
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#30 of 45 Old 01-04-2008, 10:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Kwynne, I'm finally getting around to reading some of the posts on that site. It's outstanding. Thank you!
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