Then most recent blog post to grab my attention and every other transracial adoptive parent with an Internet connection was Rage Against the Minivan Kristen Howerton’s post on how and why all parents (not just adoptive parents) should be educating their children about adoption.
Kristen relates an incident where a group of older kids are shocked to hear that her black son’s white mom is indeed his “real mom.” And the conversation devolves to point where and 11-year-old girl congratulates her for rescuing her son from a life of orphanage servitude.
When your child is young like mine, most queries come from adults. If children have questions or comments, they either come directly to me or they fly over my son’s head. So in a sense, he’s still in a safe, innocent place where he does not realize that people will or are saying asinine things to him, and I get several years to hone my ability to answer comments/questions with grace under fire … or not.
I’m no longer naïve about it. I know that outside my adoption-educated, diverse, liberal, educated grownup bubble lurk nice but ill-informed people as well a nosey parkers and subtle racists. And then, there are children. Full of curiosity, they have limited life experience, are overly influenced by media and movies, and sometimes come up with the oddest ideas (like Theo is brown because he drinks so much coffee).
Kristen’s point, however, is that it’s time parents, all parents, cover the basics of adoption and mixed race families with their children. She even includes the below script that parents can riff from:
“1. Sometimes kids have different skin colors from their parents. It could be because they are adopted, or because their parents are different races, or because they have a step mom or step dad. It’s no big deal. They are still real families. There is nothing wrong or weird about families with different skin colors. (Insert examples from your own life here. Or have a come-to-Jesus meeting about diversifying your friendship circle).
2. When someone is adopted, their mom is just a mom. The person who gave birth to them is called a “birth mom”. Both of them are real moms.
3. It can be nosey or embarrassing to ask a kid if they are adopted or ask what happened to their birth mom, especially if you don’t know them. That could make them feel bad, so don’t do it. If you are curious, ask me about it and if I know the answer we can talk about it.”
She also includes a long list of books, shows and movies to read or watch with your children that explore or represent adoption or different family forms.
I highly recommend her blog, Rage Against the Minivan. She’s has a unique perspective that come from having two biological children and two children via adoption with radically different beginnings and fearlessly takes on both personal and global issues around adoption costs, motherhood, children, poverty and race.
Have you spoken to your children about adoption and the many ways that families are formed these days?