Mothering Forum banner

1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,170 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi mamas...please know I'm asking this from my heart and am hoping I dont come off sounding really lame ....but .....<br>
My youngest son is African American. We adopted him at birth. I dont know his mama but I do know she was AA. We dont know who his birth father is and there is know way to find out.<br>
DH is hispanic. I'm caucasian.<br><br>
I want ds to grow up knowing his heritage. I want him to be proud of who he is. I want to learn more about the African American culture but I feel like even saying that makes me sound racist?<br><br>
Dh says he's part of our family now and doesnt necessarily need to "tap" into his roots since we dont even know what those roots are.<br><br>
I honestly dont even know if using the term "African American" is appropriate for ds.<br><br>
The only thing I know is ds's birth last name. What, if any, culture should I introduce him to? I mean if he was European or hispanic, I wouldnt feel it would be as necessary....but I just feel like the black culture is something I dont know much about and really want to understand for ds's sake......<br><br>
Again, please be gentle with me......I've been wanting to post this for a long time now but didnt want to sound racist.....<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment">
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,084 Posts
I am on my way to work so I can't say a lot but as a Black woman I will say he absolutely needs to know his heritage especially in this country where cute lil Black boys grow up to be feared Black men. Your location is listed as So Cal, so I am guessing there may be resources near you that you can connect with.<br><br>
More later.<br><br>
Shay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,301 Posts
I'm not black, but my best friend is. I agree w/ Shay. He definitely needs to learn to be proud of his heritage b/c people are usually judged firstly by their skin color (first thing you notice when you meet someone), 2ndly by their persons. And unfortunately, some people never make it past the skin color part. If he is knowledgable and proud of his heritage, this will be less detrimental to his self-esteem. He will be better able to recognize their ignorance and bigotry instead of wishing he was white and not "different." KWIM?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
464 Posts
I appreciate you asking this question, Mama. It shows that you care about your baby. There is absolutely nothing racist about asking a sincere question about someone's culture out of respect.<br><br>
I agree with PP that your DS needs to know about AA culture and needs to be proud of being an AA. I don't know how old he is, so let me suggest that you wait to tell him about race and skin color until he starts asking questions. It is a huge burden for children to try to understand race, especially brown children whose skin is not appreciated <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad">. What he needs most is to see you and DH appreciating all people and not allowing racism in your home.<br><br>
I am an AA mama of 2 biracial (black/white) children. My DD is fair, blonde, and has hazel eyes that everyone wants to say are blue because they see her as a package. My DS is brown with dark hair and eyes like me. We are a yingyang family. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> DH and I talked a lot about our cultures and what we want our kids to know. DH is from Minnesota, so when pressed, he started to think about his MN foods, music, lake sports... That sort of thing that he feels defines his childhood. I grew up in TN and being AA means going to church, eating soul food with my extended family, playing on the banks of the Mississippi in the summer heat, listening to blues and gospel music in the kitchen while my grandmother cooked. It also means being a part of a community that has endured slavery, jim crow, and many years of hurtful negative stereotypes. I am proud of the Civil Rights Movement. Watching Eyes on the Prize makes me cry but also gives me hope. The more we talked about what our sense of our cultures were, we realized that we had more in common than not. The only difference was that he was taught that he could never have anything in common with a black person and I was taught that I'd never have anything in common with a white person. And yet here we are.<br><br>
It is difficult to know what is specifically black culture in pop culture. Rap music grew out of a folk music that blacks originated, but IMHO the stuff you see on MTV is the music industry exploiting stereotypes of blacks to turn profits. That's not culture. What I intend to teach my children is black history from the first Africans to reach the US to the present time focusing on people who upheld my values such as peace, acceptance, love and perserverance. I don't own any music that refers to women as b's or uses the n word. I will take them to museums, read them books with AA characters, show the movies with AAs doing positive things. I don't believe that just because a movie shows a black character (selling drugs, killing) that it's an appropriate expression of black culture. Your DH might feel the same way about Hispanics playing maids and gang members. Those are the stereotypes that you want to teach your DC to avoid internalizing as well as projecting.<br><br>
I can recommend a very good book called I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla. I bought it to deal with the racism that came at me head on when DD was born. I was not prepared for the ignorance I met. It's getting better, but being such an interesting looking family, we attract a lot of unwanted attention. It's hard to know how to handle these things. I hope that I have helped you. Yesterday, I sent an email to my friend who is biracial asking for some advice. Her mother (a white woman) sent me words of wisdom that I had not gotten from my own mother. I am happy to try to help someone else who is trying to promote racial harmony.<br><br>
Best of luck to you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,170 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks mamas! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> Ds is 3. He's very young but my eyes have been even more opened to racism since we've adopted him. I'm even more offended and angered (more like enraged) when I hear racist comments. I feel very mother bear. Our family is such a rainbow. My oldest daughter looks slightly hispanic, my dd8 looks very hispanic, ds7 is blonde with very pale skin. Ds3 is clearly AA. When people see us together, they assume all of our children are adopted because we all look so different.<br><br>
We can easily plug into the hispanic culture because dh grew up obviously in his culture. I can plug into my european roots because my grandma would tell me stories about her parents coming over from Germany and also my mom would make certain german dishes, etc....<br><br>
When it comes to ds3, I just dont know "where" or "how" to tap in. I mean I dont know which part of Africa he has roots in. Does that make a huge difference?<br>
Is it a matter of teaching him (at the appropriate age) about slavery and the shameful past of our country?<br>
I dont want to assume that soul food and Blues music (which by the way, Dh plays blues music on his guitar...it's always been his music of choice <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> )<br>
is the foundation of being an AA. I feel very ignorant about it and dont want to just assume. Does that make sense? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment">
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,170 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
anyone else? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/2whistle.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="2whistle">:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,486 Posts
I think you should get in touch with this transracial adoption organization (PACT) and read the articles on their website. You have a big job in front of you on many, many levels, and it would be great if you could get more support. I think it's a big step to ask for help in the first place. I feel it's very important that you are able to critically examine and think deeply about your parenting journey with your son. PACT also has a wonderful book out about transracial adoption.<br><br>
African-American adoption issues<br><a href="http://www.pactadopt.org/press/articles/aa.html" target="_blank">http://www.pactadopt.org/press/articles/aa.html</a><br><br>
Racial Issues<br><a href="http://www.pactadopt.org/press/articles/racial.html" target="_blank">http://www.pactadopt.org/press/articles/racial.html</a>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,680 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mykdsmomy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7318439"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">When it comes to ds3, I just dont know "where" or "how" to tap in. I mean I dont know which part of Africa he has roots in. Does that make a huge difference?<br>
Is it a matter of teaching him (at the appropriate age) about slavery and the shameful past of our country?<br>
I dont want to assume that soul food and Blues music (which by the way, Dh plays blues music on his guitar...it's always been his music of choice <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> )<br>
is the foundation of being an AA. I feel very ignorant about it and dont want to just assume. Does that make sense? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"></div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
Most African Americans don't know which part(s) of Africa to call an ancestral home -- that's part of what slavery did. (I realize that sentence could be read in a sort of snide tone, so, totally not intended that way.)<br><br>
I agree with the previous poster who suggested getting in touch with organizations intended for people facing transracial adoption issues -- it definitely seems like one of those "the best advice will come out of the mouths of the experienced" matters.<br><br>
Otherwise, in my opinion the best thing you could do right now is to familiarize yourself with African and African American histories and cultures more deeply than the Harriet Tubman standards of the mainstream general history curriculum (not that I have anything against Ms. Tubman <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngtongue.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Stick Out Tongue"> ) -- I'm guessing your local librarian would be able to help you get started on that better than I could off the top of my head, but for starters I suggest "Creating Black Americans: African American History and Its Meanings." Second, make sure your child has direct access to a rich diversity of African American people throughout his life. In my own life I've known a number of non-black people who adopted black children, thinking that they could themselves provide all the cultural context the child would need -- a thought which invariably proved incorrect. It's simply natural for kids, particularly in minority contexts, to crave not only people who love them but people who simply look like them to guide them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,357 Posts
I am a White adoptive mama to a three year old AA girl, and I definitely think it is important. And it requires a lot of you, in addition to the usual exertions of parenting. I really recommend the book <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Inside Transracial Adoption</span>. You will feel overwhelmed as you read it, but try to do one thing at a time.<br><br>
How old is your son? My daughter knows she is Black, has brown skin and "supercurly" hair. She does not remark on the color/appearance of other people. I have worked each year to get her into childcare/preschool with AA teachers and students and people of all races and nationalities.<br><br>
I grew up out of the U.S., and my eyes have really been opened to how separately people of different races tend to live here. Living an integrated life requires research and sometimes lots of driving.<br><br>
We went to an African-American and African culture festival today, and my daughter was mostly bored and wanted to play on the playground. Then we saw this awesome group of AA women singing a-cappella, and she was captivated, danced, then fell asleep to their singing. It was a great moment. We do what we can.<br><br>
Best of luck,<br>
L.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,839 Posts
I need to second what mowilli3 said. No matter who his family are or what you teach him about history, he will be viewed first as a black male by most Americans and treated as such. You need to teach him how to deal with that eventual reality. For example, he absolutely cannot hesitate or speak back to a police officer - black teenagers don't always get second chances. He must be prepared to do as an authority figure says - promptly - he doesn't have the luxury of asking why or contradicting like a white child/teenager would.<br><br>
I could go on and on about this. But, raising a black child - especially a boy - in this culture - is a complex responsibility.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,276 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>ASusan</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7337215"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">For example, he absolutely cannot hesitate or speak back to a police officer - black teenagers don't always get second chances. He must be prepared to do as an authority figure says - promptly - he doesn't have the luxury of asking why or contradicting like a white child/teenager would.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
I don't have anything to add to this conversation, really, but I just wanted to say that the above comment makes me so, so, so sad. I cannot believe that I live in this kind of world. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/gloomy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Gloomy">:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,170 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you all so much for the great info! I will look into the books suggested here <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
I think part of me is scared to really reach out to organizations because I dont want to hear any negativity about the racial make up of our family. For example, I think I would slug someone who told me that I shouldnt be raising an AA child. Ds is MY SON. He is my heart and soul. I love him with every fiber of my being and I feel so protective of him. He has such a rocky road ahead of him. He has some special needs and will someday find out some not so nice things about his birth mom and that KILLS ME.<br><br>
I want to protect MY son from everything. I want him to live a happy fulfilled productive life where he is proud of who he is. I want him to be proud of his heritage and I want him to be proud to be part of our very diverse family.<br><br>
We plan on adopting again and I pray we are able to adopt another African American child. I feel very drawn to my son's heritage.<br><br>
I hate that there is so much junk that goes along with being an African American. I hate that our country has and STILL does practice racism. I hate that there are people that already judge my son and he's only 3! My son is perfect. He is beautiful and full of life! He is loving and sweet and gives the best hugs and kisses! He is a child of God/the universe just as we all are.......When I look at my son, I see a perfect being. I see a little boy who I love more than life itself. I see my baby, my little man...my love.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,486 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mykdsmomy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7338498"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Thank you all so much for the great info! I will look into the books suggested here <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
I think part of me is scared to really reach out to organizations because I dont want to hear any negativity about the racial make up of our family. For example, I think I would slug someone who told me that I shouldnt be raising an AA child. Ds is MY SON.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
Right, but PACT is an organization FOR transracial adoption. However, they don't gloss over the hard parts, and they're all about confronting racism, in one's own life and in institutional settings.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Leatherette</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7336851"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I really recommend the book <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Inside Transracial Adoption</span>. You will feel overwhelmed as you read it, but try to do one thing at a time.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
Yes! That's the book by the founders of PACT. Great, great book.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,170 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>flyingspaghettimama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7338523"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Right, but PACT is an organization FOR transracial adoption. However, they don't gloss over the hard parts, and they're all about confronting racism, in one's own life and in institutional settings.<br><br>
Yes! That's the book by the founders of PACT. Great, great book.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
Thanks FSM, I just read a few articles from PACT. I'll check it out more tomorrow...it seems very cool!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,084 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mykdsmomy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7338498"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Thank you all so much for the great info! I will look into the books suggested here <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
I think part of me is scared to really reach out to organizations because I dont want to hear any negativity about the racial make up of our family. For example, I think I would slug someone who told me that I shouldnt be raising an AA child. Ds is MY SON. He is my heart and soul. I love him with every fiber of my being and I feel so protective of him. He has such a rocky road ahead of him. He has some special needs and will someday find out some not so nice things about his birth mom and that KILLS ME.<br><br>
I want to protect MY son from everything. I want him to live a happy fulfilled productive life where he is proud of who he is. I want him to be proud of his heritage and I want him to be proud to be part of our very diverse family.<br><br>
We plan on adopting again and I pray we are able to adopt another African American child. I feel very drawn to my son's heritage.<br><br>
I hate that there is so much junk that goes along with being an African American. I hate that our country has and STILL does practice racism. I hate that there are people that already judge my son and he's only 3! My son is perfect. He is beautiful and full of life! He is loving and sweet and gives the best hugs and kisses! He is a child of God/the universe just as we all are.......When I look at my son, I see a perfect being. I see a little boy who I love more than life itself. I see my baby, my little man...my love.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
The love you have for your son is so clear in your posts but I think you owe it to him to get as much information as you can about AA culture so that you can raise him to deal with this world we live in.<br><br>
The world you and your partner live in is not going to be the world he lives in, as far as how he is perceived when he grows up.<br><br>
Let me share my story with you, my first child who is now 15 is bi-racial, I am AA and my ex was white, the ex really hated to deal with issues of race. Frankly he lived and still lives in a box when it comes to this stuff, he doesn't want to see it and as a white guy he doesn't have to see it. Well at 15 my son who I have always plyed with AA history has reached a place where he recognizes that he does not and will not have the same privileges that are extended to his Dad. Even going out for a walk can bring the scrutiny of the cops, like another poster said the way AA deal with the cops and law is way differently that how whites deal with it.<br><br>
By all means love your son, and let him feel pride in your diverse family but please expose him to AA culture. I was recently reading the blog of a black woman who was adopted transracially and she spoke eloquently about how despite being loved she felt so disconnected because her family did not expose her to AA culture.<br><br>
Please so not take my words as criticism, I am a Black woman raising biracial kids and I struggle because of the history of racism in this country.<br><br>
Shay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,877 Posts
Be honest with him. Talk to him about his heritage. Tell him where we come from and how some of us got here. Talk about the people who fought for him to have basic human rights. Then tell him about the people who exist today and want to strip us of those rights.<br><br>
The temptation that your dh is facing seems to be that one of <i>"we love him and the world should see him as a person, not a color"</i> and I understand and respect that, but this country doesn't operate that way. It was built on the premise of us and them and that has been ongoing whether it is with the Native Americans, black people, the LGBTQ community, Arabs, whoever people what to attack at the time. Please be honest and keep those lines open because you would have for your dear child to have a rude awakening at the hands of a mean-spirited child or someone else.<br><br>
I know you love your son. I can feel that in your posts. Share as much as you can and then, go out and find more. I agree that you should search for groups that specialize in adoption across racial lines.<br><br>
Let it be an ongoing conversation, not just one in February for black history month. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"> to you for doing the right thing. It is hard. I will not lie to you, but it's good work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,261 Posts
<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/notes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="notes">: Wonderful thread!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,773 Posts
If you're going to homeschool-- or even if not-- you should keep in mind that A.A. people have been written out of history and black history really isn't taught in schools. For instance there was a large component of black soldiers during the revolutionary war and Crispus Attucks (who was A.A.) was the fist martyr of the Boston Massacre! There is a huge and rich history of A.A. people in this country that is overlooked. So if I had an A.A. child I would make sure to get them lots of books about this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,261 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>meowee</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7371302"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">If you're going to homeschool-- or even if not-- you should keep in mind that A.A. people have been written out of history and black history really isn't taught in schools. For instance there was a large componant of black soldiers during the revolutionary war... not many people know this. There is a huge and rich history of A.A. people in this country that is overlooked. So if I had an A.A. child I would make sure to get them lots of books about this.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/nod.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="nod"><br><br>
Just found this link today....<br><br><br><a href="http://www.pbs.org/wnet/aaworld/timeline.html" target="_blank">http://www.pbs.org/wnet/aaworld/timeline.html</a>
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Top