One of the biggest challenges my family faces on a daily basis is that our kids are of a different race. I was raised with the mentality that race and nationality didn’t matter. I’ve been quoted many times saying “I could care less if they are black, white, green, purple or an f’ing alien, they are mine.”
When my husband and I started our foster care journey, we originally wanted older children of a similar race. We didn’t have any kids of our own and we were excited, but equally terrified of becoming parents. As the days ticked down for us to receive placement we changed our minds several times, going back and forth about what would be best for us. The day that I received the call for placement our worker seemed frazzled. She was worried about a sibling pair that was going to be taken from a home in a few hours with no place to go.
Cautiously, I asked about the kids. What ages were they? Nine months (which was wrong, by the way, he was five months) and 2 years old. Would they have belongings when they came to us? No, probably not. The grandmother was going to be upset, so we shouldn’t expect the kids to have much. At this point the caseworker paused, “Your paperwork says you're open to taking any race. Is this still correct?”
It’s a scary thing when your caseworker says, “Now we don’t typically say this, but we don’t think you should meet the bio-mom. She’s gang-affiliated. Oh, and at the pickup make sure you aren’t being followed home.” My husband and I looked at each other, terrified for the heck we were getting ourselves into.
Little did we know that a little over two years later, we would be adopting those children after a hard fought battle.
The biological mom had a fit when she found out the foster parents taking care of her children were white. She petitioned the judge to have them moved, saying we were unable to give them the care that they needed. She threatened to say we were hurting her kids and went as far as inferring that a man in the home was dangerous to her daughter. The only thing those kids needed was a stable, loving home, but she didn’t want us to be the ones to give it to them. Her need for control ranged from the fact their skin was too dry, or she didn’t like how they were dressed. She complained constantly about their hair.
I can confidently say I have mastered French braiding, flat twisting and the almighty puff. Never one to enjoy playing with my own hair, I was thrust into learning about different textures and the best way to take care of my daughter's hair. Believe it or not, I can take care of her hair much better than my own. One of the best won battles was my son’s first haircut. I bawled like a baby when he walked in with my husband after going to the barber shop.
Our caseworker was phenomenal. She defended us with every breath she had to anyone who would listen when bio mom would go on rants. We were blessed to keep her throughout our entire two years before we were transferred to the adoption caseworker.
The judgment didn’t and doesn’t just come in the form of the kid's biological mother though. It’s difficult to try to discipline your kids when someone is constantly questioning if they are yours. One of my husband’s worst fears is that he’s going to be in public carrying one of our kids out to the car while they are having a fit one day and someone call the police because they think he’s kidnapping them.
People always have questions, which we are more than willing to answer most of the time. The kids in my daughter’s kindergarten class are more awed by the fact that my name is a Disney princess than the fact that my daughter’s skin doesn’t match mine. When my daughter announced one day at the dinner table that she was brown and I was white, I asked her if it mattered. She looked at me with a wide grin and said "not at all, Mommy." That makes it worth every dirty look, every raised eyebrow and every underhanded comment.
Ariel is a stay-at-home mom of two who is blogging about her foster care and adoption experiences for MetroFamily. Learn more about her and our other bloggers here and check out all our foster care resources here.