An Awfully "Weird" Family - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-12-2010, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I in a quandary, let me start at the beginning...

I was raised (from birth through adulthood) by my biological mother and my non-biological father. They are both appear white (although my mother has some Asian ancestry) while I am relatively brown, too pale to be black, with slightly Asian features, jet black super curly hair etc... My childhood was spent explaining that I was not, in fact, adopted and that my parents were actually my parents. I have been mistaken for almost every ethnic group from Serbian to Middle Eastern, Egyptian, Hispanic... you name it. I have grown more comfortable handling awkward and intrusive questions with age but it can still be a drag. I have had no contact whatsoever with my non-white bio family members and have grown up in predominantly white communities.

Skip ahead to now, I am married to a wonderful (white) man and we are expecting our first baby. We have a lot of support and most of the time I am overwhelmed with gratitude. The only problem is that despite being a multiracial person I have no firsthand knowledge of blended families in the traditional sense. I realize that I have the opportunity to give my children something that I never had, someone that they can be close to and turn to who is brown. The trouble is, I am worried about doing it "right" and concerned that as one of their only non-white family members it is up to me to bridge all the gaps.

One of the ideas that I have had is to try an seek out a more diverse community for support. The trouble is, we live in a moderately sized town (maybe 150,000) and the African American community here is somewhat conservative. We are planning a home birth, buy organic, are not vaccinating or circumcising etc... It has been difficult to find like minded diversity. The other issue is that I am not enough of any one race or ethnicity to consider myself a member of a specific group. In larger urban areas where there are more multicultural and multiracial families I see people that look like me more regularly. Unfortunately, where I live minority groups are pretty segregated and my husband and I are something of a rarity.

I would appreciate any advice (regardless of how similar or dissimilar your own situation is).

__________________________________________________ ____________

Artist & SAHW * married 5 years * Expecting first baby December 19th 2010

Mama~Blogger~Artist~Homemaker. Family = DH (married 6 years), baby Elinor, and our puppy Frances.
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Old 06-14-2010, 09:10 AM
 
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Congratulations!

Sounds like you feel the need to live in a more like-minded area where you would get more support for your parenting style. Depending on your circumstances, there are many places where you would feel welcome. Don't expect your views though to be 100% with everyone, even in a more diverse community. Just somewhere that doing things in a non-standard way are generally okay.

The ethnic issue is separate. If you have no real connection to what your background is, than so be it. Don't feel an obligation to form an alliance unless there is a specific reason. This would be for instance, if you married someone from your bio background (which you didn't) or had religious ties (which I think you would have mentioned), etc. You had a white-oriented upbringing. It's no sin and nothing you should try to distance yourself from. At least your own child will have you to relate to (a luxury you didn't have yet survived!)

I too was raised by a step-dad after my own father died when I was 10. While I maintain ties to my father's family, and share a religion, I am still very close with my step family (ironically, I only ever knew my grandmother from my mom's family and no one else). I love both "sides" of my family, but in different ways.

On an amusing note, I actually look like my step dad and NOT my bio dad, which lead to some interesting questions growing up, plus the fact the step dad is much younger and all of the above are white. I ended up explaining things often but I only dole out the needs-to-know info as required.

I grew up physically closer to my step family but ended up marrying someone more of my dad's background. Now my children play with their cousins and we spend holidays with them... Everything's zen.

The fact that I didn't look like my dad or his family, and now have children who bear no obvious connection to me has never had any negative effect, except for the rare odd question. My in-laws find my non-traditional background a bit off-putting but I simply get off the subject if they start with the questions. I try to "make up" with it elsewhere, by example, showing interest in their history and culture.

I find I have more in common not with necessarily people of my same background but those who also grew up in non-traditional households and those of mixed backgrounds of any sort. What is funny is that we don't necessarily sit around and talk about our mixed backgrounds but we're drawn to each other none-the-less. My kids too, seem to have plenty of mixed friends, either racially, nationality and/or are also bilingual, etc. I have them in a very mixed school and they are very comfortable.

I even considered putting them in a special program for children with similar backgrounds (growing up with English and French) but I thought to myself, looking over the sea of white faces, with only a few token exceptions "Oh this isn't the diverse atmosphere my kids have now..." My son passed the exam... and to everyone's shock, we then turned down the place! (there were a few other issues too though).

Go with your heart on this one. The fact you don't feel connected to what I'll bluntly say, what you look like, is of little matter. You don't have to raise your child somewhere were there are necessarily a lot of kids exactly like she is but just somewhere that being a little different is not necessarily anything bad.

I once asked my sister about a mutual friend whose dd was the result of a visit to a sperm bank. How does she handle the whole single mom, who is the dad issue? My sister laughed. "Well, the girl next to her in class has two mommies so..." As long as she's not the Only One who has something unusual, she'll be fine!
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Old 06-14-2010, 12:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just wanted to say thank you for your thoughtful reply. I should probably clarify that there is an abundance of like-minded people in our town and community, it's only the racial diversity that is lacking. I think you make a good point about how much more important an accepting and supportive community is than one that "looks like us".

Many people spend there lives feeling disconnected from the community in which they live (whether the reason is racial, philosophical, or otherwise). On a good day I simply feel lucky to be surrounded by friends and family who are supportive of our choices and lifestyle. On a bad day I remind myself that no one place or group of people is "perfect" and that if this is as good as it gets we should count ourselves blessed.

Mama~Blogger~Artist~Homemaker. Family = DH (married 6 years), baby Elinor, and our puppy Frances.
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Old 06-14-2010, 01:41 PM
 
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I wonder if it might work better to search for a community that is diverse but centered on something other than race/ethnicity. That is what we have done and found it worked fairly well. Our children still ended up with friends of all colors and a diverse community but it wasn't the focus and I don't think we'd have found as many friends if we were looking at ethnicity as the primary issue. Even though in our case ethnicities are very clearly defined, there are very few people from dh's country in our area, and we have very little in common with them, sadly.

We don't fit well into any ethnic community or racial category. But we have gradually collected a community of individuals which is very diverse.

But we're still "weird" to most people.
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