"So promise me you'll never forget...that you aren't an accident or an incident...you are a gift to the world, a divine work of art, signed by God. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on this earth...Flooded by emotion, overcome by pride, the Starmaker turns to us, one by one, and says, 'You are my child. I love you dearly.'" Max Lucado, God Thinks You're Wonderful







Sunday, March 1, 2009

Trans-racial parenting workshop

We finally got a picture of Sadie and Turner together! They allowed kids 6 months and younger to attend.

As you can see, Sadie couldn't take her eyes off this handsome little guy! They are about 5 weeks apart...isn't that right Chassidy?

I want to share how much we loved the workshop yesterday, but in saying that I did leave there with a heavy heart.

I was so glad the morning ended with hair care because it lifted the mood for me!

Boy did we learn a TON of new stuff about hair care! The stylist that came and talked to us was excellent. She answered so many questions for us and I know saved me from buying some silly stuff for my kids' hair.
I wish I could sit down and write out everything that was covered about hair, but I couldn't possibly.

The things I loved the best were that just like all white hair is different and we can't use the same products...so is African American hair. There's really not one product that will fit all hair types! Makes me feel better about trying 100 different products on the boys! She also answered questions about swimming and shampooing...I could go on and on!

So, I went to the store and bought some satin wraps for the boys to sleep in. We'll see if they actually keep them on, but they loved the idea that DeMarco Murray and Gerald McCoy might just wear the same caps to sleep in!
Please don't worry, I am not going to put this on her to sleep in! The boys just wanted her to try it on!

So, if you need a good stylist, here you go! Get this, she is a multi-racial stylist and has worked on just about every kind of hair! Her name is Shiron Bullock at Evolution Salon (walk-ins are welcome)! Let me know if you want her contact info and I'd be glad to share!

The "heavy" part of the morning was the reality that there still is a lot of racism that goes on today.

It's not something that we have had to face, and something that Blake and I are blessed that our families never had issues with (I mean no one is racist).

So it's so hard to hear that parents still teach their kids ugly things about skin color, as if it's anything more than just skin.

Blake and I desperately want to be prepared for when our children are met with hatred about race.
We want to teach them, as we would with any other obstacle, to cling to their relationship with Christ. We do not want to live our lives in fear of racism, or always looking out for it, like we're on guard.

But we do want to understand that it is hard for our kids being raised by parents who don't look the same.

Honestly, it's a real struggle on how to balance these two things... We want them to have relationships with others that look like them, but we also want them to understand that looks are not WHO THEY ARE.

We are Christians and we want our family to be identified by and in Christ alone.

Hearing stories yesterday about how racism is hitting these children made me sick to my stomach just thinking of O, Cooper or Sis having to deal with it. But it also brought to mind a story that I hide in my mind and heart because it's incredibly embarrassing.

I want to share because it's true.

I want to share it because it helps to remind me of the reality of kids and humans.

I want to share because I came from a very loving, graceful, Christ-centered home.

So here goes...
I told a girl on the bus one day that she couldn't come to my birthday party because she was Jewish and didn't love my God! Yep, sure did. I was probably 5 or 6.

I went home and I guess told my mom, who was horrified (do you remember this mom?)!

Let me tell you that my parents have NEVER uttered a negative word about anyone of differing beliefs or race and certainly would not have spoken of leaving them out of something.

I have no idea where this came from besides I knew that I wanted everyone to love my God and perhaps this would convince her? I think I didn't quite understand God's message of "out of LOVE" at this point!

My mom immediately drove me to this poor girl's home and I apologized and invited her to my party. It was no surprise that she didn't join us.

It makes me want to die thinking of that and how I made her feel. I can't imagine what her mom felt or what she told her mom and what they thought about my family and Christians as a whole!

I am sharing because I know our kids' hearts can be broken for a million reasons...

I grew up worrying that people would make fun of me for my diabetes.

Some did. And it hurt and I cried.
I was made fun of for being a Christian and was called a Bible-banger.
Wonder if that girl on the bus started that one?

I was dorky, not really too cute and was awkward around guys.
I know I made fun of people as a child and I know I hurt people's feelings.

My point is that this is just life...being judged and left out at times.

I want my focus in parenting to be about accepting others and loving others because WE ALL ARE DIFFERENT! Hatred and judgement exist in so many other areas outside of race!

We all are different and we all are THE SAME!

We all were made in God's image.

We all should be here striving to be like HIM and to love like Him.

I don't want to start making life about race.

My life has never been that way. Never did my parents talk about being white or Caucasian.

I know that because we are raising kids that are of different race, we have to do things differently.

And we are. But how far do we go?

I know that because I am white, I haven't experienced race issues like some have...but I have none-the-less experienced being judged because of my skin.

But, I think there's a fine line of where we make it a bigger deal than it needs to be, just in trying to prove it's not an issue.

I want to always spend more time talking with my kids about Christ and being like Christ.

So, all ye readers...please share with me.

Give me your insight in LOVE (I am not afraid to delete your comment if it is hateful!).

Teach me how you handle these things with your kids!

I don't like begging for comments, but guys...my heart was so heavy leaving yesterday wondering how we were going to take on this race battle.

I don't want to have my head buried in the sand here...so I am asking you to share.
If you have adopted trans-racially, have a trans-racial family, are a minority or have experienced racism...I beg you to help me know what to do here!

If you are a friend or family and just want to give wisdom or insight...please do! You know I am a words girl and I need some guidance here.

How do you handle this without causing more segregation or actually making race a big deal?
I hear God whispering to me to keep my eyes on Him and He will guide us as always.
I am ending with Cooper's favorite song right now...
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow,
Black, brown, white.
They are precious in his sight!
Jesus loves the little children of the world!

31 comments:

The Love Family said...

Molly,

I remember when Owen came home from the hospital...I remember just seeing your car and we all started crying...and, then, when I SAW Owen? Heart and soul, that child is my nephew. You know what I think? My heart doesn't see color. My heart only knows what I feed it, and girl...ALL of my neices and nephews get my love!!! You are right, we were raised to love people no matter what. I don't think it even had anything to do with love all races, genders, sizes...it was just LOVE. Show love. I am so sad for those who weren't raised like we were...they are so missing out...

Thank you mom and dad, for setting a standard of Godly love...I will pass that on...

Steph

mom2many said...

My kids favorite song at the moment is by "Go Fish" and while I don't remember the title, the verse says, "I have an audience of one, and you're not Him". It has become our theme if you will. Who are you trying to please? Our kids are going to get hurt. I don't think we can stop that, but I do believe you are on the right track. Teach them of Jesus' love and how to love others and they will grow into the adults you dream of. Jacob was never hurt by anyone's words, but maybe if we teach our children about "lack of knowledge" rather than "racism", maybe that will help? I received many comments that were just that...lack of knowledge. They just didn't know about the Father's love and the love I have for that chocolate baby. Your choclolate kisses are blessed to have you and Blake as parents.

Becki Francy said...

Molly- Let me wipe my nose and stop the ugly cry that is going on right now! Okay - I have it together. I so understand your conflict. Yes - we want them to understand who they are, but that is not ALL they are. I wish I had an answer. I can make you feel better by telling you that I told mom that I didn't invite a certain neighbor to church because she was a moron (aka mormon). Mom quickly corrected me. So you aren't the only one to do something like that as a kid. And you make a great point, kids make fun of kids, it might be because of skin. I remember girls making fun of my clothes in the fifth grade. Wow I felt so left out.....kids go through this to help them grow. We can't protect them from everything. You are on the right track....show them God, and that only in him are we complete...not because our skin is the right color, our hair is pretty or our clothes are cool....it is because Jesus is our savior....that is what makes us right.....I love you, and I LOVE the wave caps....that is what they are called by the way.

Ursula said...

While we haven't adopted transracially (yet), I have a lot of thoughts about this. Mainly, as parents there are going to be lots of hurts and experiences we don't understand and haven't been through ourselves that our children will experience. That is true no matter what. It is especially true with transracial adoption. Racism is a hurt that is so yucky and that is a part of people who are not white's experience in a way that I don't think we can understand if we're white. As parents, we can't protect our kids from hurts. We can be there to learn from them, to listen to them, to support them. My word of wisdom is slow down sister. You don't know yet what your precious children are going to need in this area. However, you are cultivating emotional safety and communication in your home to talk about things. Your kids are going to teach you what they need in this area. When they experience racism, you can talk to them about what they need from you. All children, whether they come to us through birth or adoption, are created in God's image not our own. What a reminder of that this whole issue is! What an opportunity this issue could be to let your children teach you about their experience and perspective and to learn from them.

I love you friend.

Julie said...

Molly Molly Molly,

I have seen racism and been a victim of racism. No it is not pretty and it made me angry. When I was in kindergarten a gal in my class could not come to my house because my Mother was Native American. When I was in college and worked in the Native American Counselor's office a full-blood Creek woman would not leave a message with me for the Counselor because she did not see me as Native American. I have been shopping with a dear friend that is African American and an Asian Woman started accusing her of stealing...it was far from the truth!

I think there is wisdom in your words that our identity is in Christ and Christ alone. We are powerless to protect our children from the actions and comments that others may make. I believe it is my responsibility to Griff and Jared to teach them to love and to celebrate their uniqueness. God has created them in His image and for a purpose that is as unique to them as they are in the universe.
There identity must be in Christ I think in order to survive whatever this life may come at them with.

Everyone no matter who, has something they do not want to be juded by; skin color, weight, height, physical limitation, health, physical appearance.....the list can go on. Parents play a very important role in modeling Christs' love to others. We have many encounters with others everyday and the little ones who are in our care are watching.

I think asking God for wisdom in what to say and when to speak will be key in all our dealings with our children when they encounter people who will judge them based on the color of their skin.

Thanks for opening up the discussion!
Love you and your family,
Julie

Anonymous said...

Growing up in Edmond, I can recount many times people were mean to me. After each incident my Dad made me sit down & pray for them. Once the offender was a jr high teacher! I was ready to call the school board, & have him fired! Again, my Dad calmed me down & we prayed for that mean man. Some people are going to be hateful & say hurtful things. We just have to not let it get us down. My daddy used to always say "Don't let them steal your joy". It was hard for me to understand sometimes, I just wanted to be consoled, & not think about the other person, but now I can see how that helped me to become a better christian. Maybe by the time our kids are older, race really won't play a role. Just give them a strong foundation, and they will be able to stand. (By the way, that teacher got fired years later for doing something stupid,(not race related)but another bad choice.)
On a lighter note, Keely has slept in a scarf every night. If you are afraid of it, buy a silky pillow case & lay Sadie on that. Love you all so very much!
Jamila

Molly said...

Ursula, even though you haven't been through this just yet...you have so much wisdom to share and I love what you wrote!

Julie, thanks for sharing so much of what I was feeling that there is no way we can protect them from everything and we need to walk them to Christ in everything!

Jamila, I loved everything you said. I love your daddy and what he taught you...what an incredible man! Owen and Cooper already ditched the scarf so I am going to need to find pillow cases somewhere and was going to look for Sadie one too! Good to know Keely did fine with it! Love you to pieces!

fivemjs said...

I wish I had some amazing words of wisdom. Since I am not in your shoes....I can't. All I know when I look at your blog is that I see an absolute beautiful family with fun smiling faces. What other people think, (even family and friends) doesn't matter. I know it is easy for me to say that since I don't have any children who are not adopted....AND YET....I do have a VERY special little girl who is different from the rest of our family. She is 4 and can not walk or talk or do anything that society would say is "normal" or "acceptable". But Molly....I don't live with society. I live with my family....Matt (well...soon at least), Micah, Makenna, and Marlee. Even though OTHER people may see her as "retarded" or some other horrible names she has been called....it doesn't change the fact that she is my daughter and I love her with all of my heart. It is hard to hear the criticism, it is hard to see people stare, it is hard to answer the millions of questions......

But I have something that those other people don't. I have Makenna Eden Johnson.

You have something other people don't. You have the family that GOD purposed and intended for YOU.

I guess we are pretty blessed huh?

Hey listen....after reading your blog I would really like to make you a piece of art with what you were talking about (perhaps even the Jesus loves the little children song and some pictures of your AMAZING kids). Visit my site and let me know if that would be something you are interested in. I only charge for materials. I am not in it to make money.
www.beautifullyframed.blogspot.com

Oh...this is Micah's mom! (www.themicahproject911.blogspot.com)
I hope you have a blessed day!

Marianne

Hendrick Family said...

Oh man, Molly...

I pulled this post up the other day, looked at the pictures, but didn't have time to read it. I left the window open, ready for me to come back to and read.

I wish I had any answers.

I think you are so right. I want my children to know the Lord, and who they are in Christ MORE than I want to focus on their skin color.

Is making too big of a deal about skin color teaching them that we think it's a big deal too? I don't know! I want them to be content, and thankful for the way God made them. I want that for all of my boys. I'm still sorting through how important skin color needs to be. I'm wondering if things like...the fact that God is sovereign, put Hudson in this home, and made us in his image is more important to focus on than trying to teach Hudson about his "culture." Isn't this his culture now? Didn't God declare that to be true for Him? These are all questions. I have no answers!!

I know that racism is there. It kills me.

But I'm still praying God walks us through this, step by step.

I don't even know what obstacles to prepare myself for, so I know this is going to have to be a walk of faith.

I do know that when we were getting ready for our adoption, Aaron and I were talking about how once you've adopted, you join into the "ministry of adoption."

You become a life long advocate for adoption.

AND

You have to teach your children that God has also called them to be advocates for adoption...the children who are biological and the children in your home who are adopted.

I want all of our sons ready to share in the ministry of adoption...to be a voice for adoption and a voice AGAINST racism.

These are things, that apart from God calling us to adoption, we would not have normally thought to teach our boys.

I want to do things like celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day NOT because my son is black, but because what Martin Luther King did was valuable and something the Lord encourages us ALL to do.

I think more than anything, having a black child just makes me think through why we teach our kids what we teach them and why we weren't teaching our white kids these things BEFORE Hudson came home. We needed to be anyway as believers!!

I love you, and I'm thankful you are further along in this journey.

I pray we each find families who love the Lord who have also adopted transracially to shepherd us through these things!

Heather

Courtney Connelly said...

Molly,
THANKS for your post! Although I am not a mommy to a transracial child, I do teach ESL at Jenks HIgh School and have experienced racism through my student's eyes. I also wish there were answers. I try to instill self confidence in my students and I work very hard at celebrating their differences/culture. I have had more students than I wish to count come to my class in tears because someone has made fun of them because of their skin color or accent. Thanks for reminding us that unfortunately racism still exists because in that we can teach others to look at people through Christ's eyes, truly color blind.

Kristy said...

Took your advice got some new products today to try on Aarons hair. What does the wraps do for them? I want to try to grow his curls out again we will see.. Love the pictures especially with the satin wraps on!

Liz said...

I have found your blog through another's and when I read your post about trans-racial adoption and racism I had to post. I have a bi-racial daughter. She is a mixture of Caucsian, African American and a dash of Indian. Right now she doesn't want to be known as anything but white and that is ok for today. She just turned 6 and she has already seen her far share of racism. It makes me sad. But we as American's have a form of racism we may not even know wwe have. Id dint' know I had it until I had my daughter. When I enrolled her in school is when it rared it's ugly head. I was filling out the forms and there it was : What is your race?
Caucsian
African American
Indian
Pacific Islander
American Eskimo
Asian
Chose one and only one
I can't chose one. My daughter is not but one but three. Guess what? They don't let you chose all three, they make you chose one. This is the one that she will be known as her whole school life. If I chose Caucasian she can not get scholarships for AA's. If I chose AA then the reverse is true. If I chose only one I let her done because I am picking a race that has nothing to do with me and everything to do with her future. I don't not want to label my child except a Child of God. If I don't choose for her then the school will chose for her. This is not right. We are American's and we shouldn't be limited to a race. Wither we start allowing us to chose more than one race or we leave race off of it. I know this seems like a small little thing but it isn't to her. I have had people stop me in the street and in the stores and ask me what is she. I usually answer with she is a little girl but then they pry deeper "No what is she mixed with?" I don't understand. Do they not see her standing there? Do they not see the look on her face? She is a child of God, she is American, She is my Daughter and she is loved! Can't they see this? Why do we have to check this box at all?
I would love to change the way the schools catagorize our children but I don't even know where to begin!! Just my thoughts on raising a beautiful child, my child!

Liz

Ursula said...

This topic is churning around in my brain a huge percentage of the time (as we are in the process of adopting and it will very likely be a transracial adoption), and here's the thing I keep coming back to about why I do think it is really important that those who adopt transracially be very intentional about making sure their children are exposed to a lot of adults that look like them.

First, I wish this wasn't such a big issue, wish we lived in a world that was integrated enough that this didn't matter, but we don't.

Second, racism is a real deal. My husband was in the gym this morning and heard some people saying insane things. Whether you like Obama or not politically, some of the rhetoric about him revealed some very nasty stuff about some people's views of race in this country. So we know that kids are going to be exposed to some negative messages about their ethnicity. That truth breaks my heart, and no matter how much I wish that wasn't true, that stuff is all around us.

Third, there is so much that is awesome and worth celebrating about the African American culture (as there is w/every culture), but I don't know that those messages are communicated in most white communities without being intentional about it. Even where there is the absence of racism, is there celebration??? I think it is easy if you are white to view yourself as not having a racial/ethnic identity and not seeing this as a very important thing, but I don't think that's really the case, I think if you're in the dominant culture you just don't have to think about it as much. Adopting transracially changes that.

Finally, if we adopt transracially there are so many things we're going to learn and be ready to teach our kids, but we will have some limits in terms of teaching them, for example, what it means to be a black man. I think of Jamilla's post earlier about what her dad taught her about forgiving racists. I'm not sure I could do that as effectively as a white parent, when I haven't had to live through the same kind of stuff. I don't think that means we shouldn't adopt transracially, I do think it means being really thoughtful about getting the right adults in our kids lives to help them with this, even if that means making significant changes to our own lives. I don't know what all of that will look like, but I want to keep my eyes and heart open to making whatever changes God would ask of us and our kids would need to make sure that they grow up in an environment where they are really proud of who God made them to be. Sorry if that was rambling, I hope what I said makes sense.

Molly, I'm so glad you're my friend. I love your kids. My son loves your kids. You all are the best.

Molly said...

Ursula, thanks for sharing. It's consuming my mind too.

What's incredible is what God is telling me through scripture over these last few days.

This is so good to be able to discuss and I think it's so very healthy to share our insight. I am not sure how many are following...but I am really enjoying how eye opening this is!

Anonymous said...

Oh Molly! Great post! Where to begin on this. Well, let me start with the hair wraps since it’s the light part of it all. Did you know that Holden sleeps on a satin crib sheet? Isn’t he a fancy boy! I posted about it, but it may have been before you and I “met”. I read that cotton pillow cases/sheets absorb the oils from our hair. And my niece sleeps in a wrap regularly. Anyways, I searched on etsy and of course there were none posted. But then I found that you can post a request for someone to make them for you. And then people bid on your request. I had 3 bids of people willing to make them for us. So I found a lady who happened to be in Yukon (so strange since that is where we are) and she made me 2 satin crib sheets for $15 I think. Which was crazy cheap! Anyways, if you think Sadie needs some fancy sheets until she can wear a wrap – that’s an idea.



So onto the other not so fun stuff. I can already tell you that I am going to ramble. So I hope you follow me. Good luck! I truly agree with everything that you said. I do think we should make every effort for our children to truly know their identity can only be found in Christ. But I also think it’s important for Holden to not grow up in a white world. And right now, I feel like that is what he is living in. His first birthday is coming up and there will be no one in the room that looks like him. Jeremy and I agreed that we would work hard to branch out of our white world . . . just like the beads in the cup on Saturday. But we haven’t done our part. And so I really hope that birthday #2 will look differently for him. Jeremy and I have talked a lot about how to do that, but don’t see many great options. The easiest solution seems to be to leave our church. One that we love. And one that is becoming more and more diverse. But we look at our bible fellowship class and our small group and still every face is white. And I don’t even know if that is something God is asking us to do right now. Currently, I don’t feel like it is a big deal. But one day, I think it will be . . . when he is one of few. As people, we look for others to identify with in different ways. I think that is why there are support groups for just about everything. I have often thought: what if we were the minority among African-Americans. If that were the case and I was involved in a mom’s group and I was the only white girl, and another white girl joined us one day, I think that I might seek her out. We just have no clue what it’s like to be a minority. And I feel like our kids are even MORE of a minority because of their white parents. I know it will be an issue at times (maybe sometimes more than others). But along with you, I don’t want to make something bigger than it is. I don’t want to talk about it so much, that it means more to our children than what is normal and healthy. (Whatever that is!) But I do want to expose Holden to the diversity of this world. And right now, I have not been doing that. And really have no clue on how to get started. (Though, I think the adoption playgroups will help!)



My sister and her family live in a small town in Colorado. There is not much diversity. A little girl told my niece this year (in Pre-K) that she didn’t like her because she didn’t look like her. When I tell this story, I still can’t get through it without tears. Hope, my niece, had been telling this girl for an entire semester how pretty she looked each day and how much she loved her long hair. And Hope just wanted her to return the kindness and tell her that she was pretty also. But instead, she had ignored her most of the time until the one day she decided to be hateful. And they are only 4!! Hope knows she’s gorgeous because we tell her so all of the time. But I know there is a longing in her to see those that look like her. She clings to Holden when we see them. She just longs to not be the only one. And luckily she should have a brown brother or sister in the next year or so. But when my sister told me all of this, I just never realized that it would start so young. And it really scared me!



So there is my rambling. I probably answered none of your questions or gave any great wisdom. I really don’t have any. We have been having so much fun with Holden and enjoying him at this age that we really haven’t dug into the future and what we need to be doing to prepare for the tough stuff. I just know with everything that is in me that we will need God’s grace. I think I mentioned this in my previous email: I think if we are prayerful and really seeking God in this parenting process, he is going to lead us through these decisions. He may ask us to sale our house and go somewhere else. Or he may ask us to find a church that might look more close to what we will see in heaven. Or he may just ask us to look with HIS eyes and quit giving so much power to color. Pray pray pray! That’s the only solid advice I have. And I have a hunch you are already doing that. I feel like God hand picked these kiddos for us because he found us up for this great task. I don’t even know you guys very well, but I think you and Blake are doing an amazing job. And God is going to continue that good work through you guys. I just know it!

Much love!

Melodie

Anonymous said...

Molly,
I think you are already doing what you need to do to prepare this children.... for "race" situations. You are teaching them that the love of Christ sees no color... or anything else. Not only are teaching them but you are showing them.. by loving them. God has/had a plan for you and he has destined these children for something great. He has sets up things to work in your childrens favor. No weapon formed against them shall prosper. I know as parents we want to shield them from every hurt or "boo boo" in the world...well we can't. We can just give them foundations to handle these situations the way that God wants us to handle them. Those children are so loved and they know they are loved... nobody, no stare, no question, no insult or whatever will be able to take that away from them. God has a plan for those children and you are apart of that plan!! How great is that! You are teaching them to embrace all sides of life... you amaze me with that fact that you want them to know about thier African American culture. You are doing an awesome job with these children. You will be amazed... when these "race" situations occur with your children.. you will sit back and smile at how they handle it. They are going to be the adults that we wish everybody was... pat yourself on the back. Your children are going to change or impact the world in some sort of special way. Don't worry about what others thin.. heck, they hated Jesus! Don't sweat the small stuff girl! Keep loving, hugging, holding, teaching, and embracing your children. I think that children handle things in the way that we show them. You are teaching them all the tools in life that they will need... God picked these children for you!! You should know that he right there with you to carry out his plan for thier life... How great is that!

Take care! I would love the number to the lady who did the workshop. I have been looking for someone to give me "hair" advice in South Carolina but can't find anyone I trust. Your lady seems like she knows hair. : ) Coffee would be nice but I would love to visit that shop where you get Sadie's bows from. :) I love them! Madisyn (my daughter) wears bows everyday!

Take care!
Maya
South Carolina

Anonymous said...

Molly-
Sorry about the grammatical errors... I typed so fast. : ) And forget to proofread!

Anonymous said...

Molly,
I hope you know that you are already on the right track with the sensitivity to race with three of my precious grandchildren. No parent can ever shield their child from all the hurts that the world has to offer. I totally agree with what you said about focusing your parenting on accepting others because we are all different and we are all the same since we're made in God's image. You've already started that with Owen, Cooper and Sadie. You have also already started letting them know that they were prayed for by the entire family and that we all were anxiously awaiting God's plan to be revealed. Build on this foundation and it will have more significance when they are older. I've thought so many times about what I, as a grandparent, am going to say when these issues come up or my angels have questions. I keep going back to a particular story in one of my adoption books. A grown adoptee shared what his parents always told him: "He was loved by choice. His parents prayed to God for him. God knew him and loved him before he was born and his parents loved him the minute they first saw him. God brought him into their lives as a loving gift and his birh mother loved him enough to bring him into the world and to listen to God's voice." I want Owen, Cooper and Sadie to know that they could be purple and I wouldn't care because they are my grandchildren that God gave me. However, I do know that I can't walk in their shoes and I always want to be sensitive to that so I can't stick my head in the sand!

I think you are so wise when you said that you didn't want to make life about race and I totally agree that there is a fine line where we can possibly make it a bigger deal than it needs to be in trying to prove that it's not an issue. I am reminded about "D". "D" is a precious and beautiful transracial child that I had in class one year. She was the also the first adopted transracial child that I had the privilege to know. God put this family in front of me for a specific purpose. Her Caucasian mom, in her silence, and the confident answers that came out of "D's" mouth at the age of seven taught me volumes. I just didn't know it at the time. "D's" mom never once mentioned race the entire year. "D" talked openly about her birth mom when asked by other kids why she didn't look like her parents. She seemed to be confident with who she was because she felt loved. I saw so many expressions of that and I remember thinking what a classy mom she had. She had prepared "D" well to answer questions by other children. "D" was very proud of her heritage and celebrated the fact that she got curly hair from her birth dad and high cheekbones from her birth mom (who was Native American). So, I guess it boils down to what other have mentioned in their comments: We all need to pray for God's guidance in this area and be reminded not to make a big deal out of the race issue but at the same time, prepare Owen, Cooper, Sadie and ourselves with loving answers when we encounter people with a "lack of knowledge". Coming from an education background, I really like that term! Also, I agree with the comment about "getting the right adults in their life". It could be very important one day for O, C and S to have someone that walks in their shoes to talk with if necessary. I read Melodie's comments about looking for a more diverse community for her child. I totally agree with that and you have been on that track for a while when you considered Mother's Day Out options: your convenience vs. a diverse population. I think it will be very important for all of my granchildren to be involved in a diverse community. I TRY to imagine myself growing up in a family from a different culture. WOW! Come to think of it, maybe that's why "D" was at our school. Her parents didn't live in our school attendance area. They drove her across town to attend our school. They both had full time jobs and had to juggle schedules to make this happen. Our school population was diverse with as many shades of brown as there were shades of peach. Duh! Took me a while to figure that one out! Like I said, her mom never felt the need to explain things, she just loved her child. Being in her shoes, I probably would have tried to "explain" things and in doing so created an issue where there wasn't one. I am reminded that overreactions can be just as detrimental as sticking my head in the sand! So here's my advice to myself:
1. Always let all my granchildren know that I am honored that God chose me to be a part of His plan for their lives.
2. Always seed God's guidance in knowing how to prepare them for any issues that might arise in their lives.
3. Always be sensitive to their uniqueness and teach them to celebrate all that God has given them.
4. Always be a good listener so that they know they can share with me about anything.

This applies to ALL my granchildren.

I really would just like to fight all their battles for them, but then they wouldn't learn to lean on God and trust Him! That's the hard part about parenting.
Love you guys,
Gigi

Ann said...

Molly -

What a thought provoking post. I love what your mom had to say ... aren't moms so wise about life! I know you are doing a fabulous job raising those sweet kiddos and I look forward to parties, soccer games and play dates with all of the Shockleys as our kids grow! You are a dear friend and a true example to me!

Ann

Molly said...

Guys, I love this "conversation"! I think it is honoring God as we discuss how to honor each other and respect differences while at the same time focus on our likeness in Him.

Maya, you made me cry. Your words were so encouraging and I thank you for reaching out to this "stranger" to encourage us. Could you email me and I can give you that contact info you wanted? Mine is mollykshockley@hotmail.com

The sweet post from Gigi is my mother-in-law. How blessed are we to have her in our lives???

lisasmith said...

We are all different but all the same...created in God's image.

What a profound statement.

Becki Francy said...

Okay - this is probably totally out of line and my sissy (molly) can totally delete it. But THANK YOU...thank you to those who are entering into this conversation, to those who have seen racism, to those who have admitted to saying hateful things to others. You are so appreciated. I can honestly tell you that my sister has such a pure heart and is earnestly seeking God's will for her children and is seeking Gods guidance to give her children the best possible in this world. Molly is so real, what you see is what you get. Please continue to comment and advise Molly if you feel moved, because she truely is listening and processing all of it! My heart has been so touched by Gigi's comments and by Melody....my heart broke for Hope. Anyway - I did a double post, but I so appreciate the words of wisdom as does Molly. Oh - and Jamila, your Dad reminds me of our Daddy.....

Whitney Freeman said...

Molly--

Wow...everything you said is what I have been thinking about for the past 6 years. I never saw Hue as a black man. I saw him as someone that I fell in love with and wanted to spend my life with. I know we do not have children yet but being an interratial marriage has opened my eyes to the hatred that exists in this world. I was completely oblivious to it before because I was raised like you. People are people and God loves us all the same. I am sad to say that there are so many people in this world that do not feel the same. Now that we are trying to start our family, we have had so many discussions about how our children will grow up. I know I will want to protect them from hurt but this is part of life and I will just have to cry and hurt with them. I can only tell them everyday how much we love them and how they are so special in this world and have an amazing purpose. I know I am rambling but I to am so torn and have a heavy heart on this subject but I know that God is our strength and stronghold and as long as we teach our babies this, we are going to help them grow to be amazing people. You know that I will be calling you (hopefully soon!) to get advice. I love you and your sweet family. Continue to trust in God and know that He is above all and with Him on our side we can make it through.
Whit

Anonymous said...

I work with black ladies who have the nerve to complain about white families who adopt black children and "don't know how to fix their hair" after seeing photos of Zahara Jolie Pitt with her hair in natural curls. I would rather have a child live in a happy and loving home such as yours and not worry so much about what a child's hair looks like. And why is having the "natural" look so bad?!

I don't even like to fix my own hair for that matter.

Sweet Patience said...

Molly,
I came across your blog through Chassidy's blog. You have a beautiful family and I applaud you for your openness with your birth parents.

Great discussion. I am AA and have several younger biracial cousins, caucasian aunt..so on so forth. The most important thing is to make sure that your children are comfortable with who they are and understand their heritage. When they are aware of who they are and their make up, the silly and ignorant comments that people make will not break them down. The problem occurs when children have an identity crisis and others call them on it because they are confused as to who they are and their make up. They should be proud of both of their heritages and understand that if they are considered AA on paper, then that is how the world is going to see them, outside of their home. It is just life and everyone else may not be as considerate with their comments.

We were very straight forward with my uncles children. They can easily pass for caucasian if they wanted to. They have an exotic look. However, they clearly know that they are considered AA because they are biracial. Their mother is caucasian and their father (my uncle ) is AA. They believe that they are unique because of their makeup. They are beautiful and intelligent girls and are proud of their AA heritage and caucasian heritage.

There was a bit of confusion when they were younger and some rude comments said at school when other caucasian children found out that they were biracial told them that they could not play with them anymore. They are very strong children know and will put anyone in check that questions their heritage. They are aware of both of their backgrounds. No one can break them down because they have been built up by their parents and family. That is where it begins.

As far as the previous comment from the person commenting about hair and adoption. That is very cultural--period. Hair is a big issue with most AA's. Taking care of a child's hair and your hair is significant in our culture. It can be a deep issue. So, maybe that is where the AA ladies that anonymous was speaking of. I am not sure. However, once a child is adopted it is important for parents and families to preserve the child's heritage. Meaning that it is an effort on the child's parent part to know as much as they can about the child's other culture. Whether they decide to let the child go natural is their own decision. The key is taking care of the child's hair with products. When the child is old enough they will determine how they will want to take care of their hair. The important factor is not ruining the hair they have. Otherwise, many of these children end up with serious identity issues and may be hurt by racial comments that can easily confuse a child that has not been taught to love who they are and understand their heritage if they only see and know one side of their heritage if they are different from the adoptive families heritage.

The adoption doesn't stop when the adoption is finalized. The child will not live in a glass bubble with people that are going to walk on egg shells and not say anything. Everyone will not be Christians as we are and censor what they say and how they say it.

We are adopting as well and if we have a biracial child we will have issues to address. It may be a little different since we are considered AA. My husband is multiracial and born in the West Indies (Trinidad), but he clearly has to put AA on all documents. Although he was not born here in the US and has a multiracial background from his father (caucasian, West Indian and some black) and mother (black West Indian). This is not anything new for people of color.

Remain in prayer for guidance and keep a good, diversed support network. Children need to see faces that will look like them besides on television or on the streets. This makes a big difference!

Kristy

Anonymous said...

When kids are young, they don't see color. I mean, they don't notice it until around the time of fourth grade. I would be open with your kids and explain things to them. I think everyone has hear negative comments and all kids have said rude things, me included. I don't believe people should discriminate others but it still happens, I think talking openly about racism and that they are or aren't a certain way because of their race. I hope this helps!

stephanie garcia said...

I've enjoyed reading the many comments on your post. We are a very transracial family representing Hispanic, Caucasian, biracial, Sudanese, and Haitian heritages. We also happen to be missionaries in Chile, which has resulted in a very unique experience for a family like ours!

I recently wrote a post on "Reverse Racism" because at this point in our son's life in particular, I feel that is what we are dealing with here. However, I struggle with the knowledge that we will eventually return to the USA for furloughs and visits, and I fear that the abrupt change in reality could be very traumatic for him. I wrestle with wanting my children to be prepared for the reality of "lack of knowledge" versus bursting the innocence they somewhat enjoy at this point.

It's not to say that we don't deal with some comments (such as a little girl who passed us on the street today and asked why our son hadn't taken a bath!), but so far our Owen seems to take them in stride or perhaps does not truly understand the differences.

The workshop sounds like such a wonderful tool and I look reading more of the lessons you learn along the way. God bless!

Jennifer said...

One of my favorite childhood stories was about my brother. When he was in kindergarten, he made a new friend named Michael Newhouse. My parents knew of the Newhouse family as one of the Uncles played for the Dallas Cowboys. My mom asked him, "is Michael a black boy?" and my brother replied "I don't know, I will check tomorrow at school". He didn't see Michael as black or white, he saw him as "friend".

Keith, Judy, David, Jeremiah, and Hannah said...

Molly,

We love your family! I, too, struggle with what to do about comments, not just about Hannah's race, but even about questions pertaining to what is an obvious adoption. Most of our friends and family don't even see her as "different", because she is not. She couldn't be any more my daughter if she did share my genes. Sometimes, we get the question, "Is she your real daughter?" and although she is too young to understand and although I *know* what they are asking, I simply reply, "Yes, of course she is my real daughter." My shock sometimes wants to to add, "I left my fake one in the car." or something equally sublime just to point out that their question was ridiculous to start with, but I don't.

Mostly, I just remind her all the time that she is beautiful, loved by us, more importantly - loved by Jesus, chosen to be part of our family, my daughter, and we do our best to explain to her that not everyone is the same. We tell her about how we first saw her picture, then got on a big plane and flew very far, and how we all got to be a family forever! Her uniqueness in our family is as much a part of her as our unique story.

We too, shop for brown dolls, try to find Asian-themed music, attempt to celebrate Chinese holidays, rejoice when we see families like ours, and spend a lot of time on our knees praying for guidance, love for others, and acceptance, even for those that seem unlovable.

Hannah knows she is different from me in some ways, yet the same. We have hair - we're the same, we both have eyes, we both have hearts, we both love Daddy, we talk a lot about being the same, and some differences, too. Hannah's hair is black and straight. Mommy's hair is brown and a little curly. We talk about how being different can be beautiful too. I know that there are challenges ahead as she understands more, or even after that when she is old enough to venture out on her own and may have to face a comment without Mommy's loving smile to help her. I just have to remind myself that Jesus said "I will never leave you nor forsake you." and trust that He will be faithful to restore her heart.

Yet, Hannah, for now, notices people that look like her. She saw a "white" family with an Asian daughter at the pool, and said, "Look, Mommy, my friend!" Somehow, she just knows. But that is OK, we just smile and say "Yep, there's your friend." and share a knowing smile with the other mom.

Molly, you are more than a loving Mommy. You are a courageous, funny, caring, God-filled, wonderful woman with a great husband and 3 BEAUTIFUL children who will make you laugh, cry, scream, and love even more!

Sometimes it is hard to find peace among the chaos. Sometimes it is quiet and sitting alone in the corner, and sometimes it is dancing right there in the middle!

Much love and many prayers!
Judy Ross

Tasha said...

I really love what you have to say, I wanted to invite you and everyone else to check out my page The Color of Family on Facebook. We are a group of transracial families, dedicated to educating and supporting each other. You'll find a link on my blogspot. :)Thanks

shiron bullock said...

OMG.. I just stumbled across your blog and I was so surprised. Im so happy that you were able to take something away from the class. I'm truely glad to have been able to answer all of you guys questions. Keep up the good work.