Last week was the hearing for a goal change for S. from reconciliation to termination of rights. As everything has been thus far, this step was a double edged sword. My joy in progressing closer to accepting this super cute kid into our family permanently is solely dependent on the devastating loss of his other mother. Foster care is always contradicting itself.
Interestingly, I had a conversation with a friend at work the day before the hearing about S. This woman has known me since 2005 and it is important to the story to note that she is black. I told her how it has been a journey for me to work through what it could mean for me, as a white woman, to raise a black son. I told her how I didn’t want him to be this little black boy growing up with a super white mama. She said, and I quote, “Giiiiiiiiirrl! You’ve NEVER been super white!” (Which is funny because just last week one of my students read me a poem she wrote about me that went like this: “Everyday Mrs. Stockinger is white.”) At any rate, I laughed but then shared how I, a white woman, was struggling with how to raise a proud black man.
I can see how this topic has the possibility to raise all KINDS of debates which, in many ways, I welcome in that it raises my awareness. I’ve been reading up on raising transracial families and what the books generally all say is to educate the child on his/her culture, making sure not to confuse race with class. Many suggestions are things I would do regardless of the race of our child: have a large cultural variety of literature in your library, have a racial variety of dolls and toys, teach your child about important figures in history besides merely white men, etc. But one blogger I read about a white mother raising two black girls has shared how, after adopting her children from infancy, they celebrate Kwanzaa and that one of her dreams is for her girls to know all of the lyrics to Beyonce songs. This, to me, stinks a bit of what one of my books basically called ‘trying too hard’. I would gladly introduce Kwanzaa into our family if this was something S. had grown up celebrating and I will also admit that Beyonce has some catchy songs, but am I the only one who thinks it is a bit… inappropriate… to assume that because your child is black, s/he must love Beyonce??
I’m sure that this is one of those conundrums that would shift continually. What I know I believe is that it is unacceptable to assume that love is enough to cover the obvious fact, should S. be adopted by us, that we are white and he is black. Racism exists, he will be judged, we will be judged, and pretending that those things aren’t real is ignorant. I’m just not convinced that learning the lyrics to ‘Put a Ring on it’ is an imperative step in that process.