When I was seven a new girl joined my second-grade class. Her family had just moved to our town. I was shy, but she was friendly and kind and we soon became inseparable the way young children do. I told my parents about my new friend, and promised to point her out to them at the upcoming all-school open house.
At the open house, I searched the crowded cafeteria for my friend’s face, and found her standing with her family on the other side of the room. I grabbed my mom’s arm and told her that my new friend was standing over there. She searched. “Where?”
I pointed. “Over there, in the red dress.”
Mom didn’t tell me at the time, but she was secretly thrilled that I identified the girl by her dress, because she and her family were the only African-Americans in a room filled with Caucasian people, and it had simply not occurred to me to notice that.
I have my parents to thank for the fact that, when I was in high school and my friends were remarking that their parents would kill them if they ever brought a black guy home, I was appalled. I had never been taught to think of people in those terms. To me, people were people, the differences only skin-deep and therefore completely inconsequential.
I’m sorry that I have been forced to lose my seven-year-old naivete. I wish we lived in a world where people never assumed things about others because of the color of their skin. Unfortunately, we don’t.
Racism is very politically incorrect, and you will rarely find someone who admits to being racist. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I’m not racist, but I would never marry or date someone of another race.”
Um. Excuse me? What’s that? You’re not prejudiced against people of other races, you just wouldn’t consider them as life-partners? How is that not prejudice?
As I’ve grown older I’ve come to realize that prejudice against interracial families is something that most people consider acceptable. Perhaps they wouldn’t mind a family of another race living next door, but they want your spouse and your children to look just like you. That’s how God intended it, right?
When I was in high school I used to daydream that the person God had picked out for me would be of another race. What better way to start fighting the crazies than with an interracial family of my own? Six, eight, ten kids, all raised with the real knowledge that all persons are of equal value regardless of the color of their skin. Six, eight, ten kids, all living, breathing examples of how beautiful interracial families are. Raise those kids and fight those prejudices from the ground up, that’s what I wanted to do.
Michael, although his great-great-great grandfather was a full-blooded Sioux, is just as Caucasian as I am. Our baby pictures are eerily similar – blond hair, blue eyes, fair skin. I knew when I married him that my dream of a visibly interracial family was gone. Genetically, we don’t have a chance of a dark-eyed child, let alone a dark-skinned one.
As it turns out, having children who are genetically related to us is not as easy as we thought. In fact, it might never happen. We might have to build our family another way.
From the first time we discussed the possibility of adoption, Michael and I knew that we would never limit our search to Caucasian children only. Even if we decided to do domestic adoption, we’d be open to all races. Why insist upon a child of the race that is in highest demand in our country, when there are so many other children who need homes? Especially since we know (as people know instinctively if they are not taught to think otherwise) that there is no real difference among the children.
I’ve just finished reading The Family Nobody Wanted by Helen Doss. It’s the true story of an infertile couple in the mid-twentieth century who ended up adopting twelve mixed-race children. Reading about the Doss family inspired me and reminded me of my dream of an interracial family, a dream which suddenly seems within reach again.
A few months ago I asked Michael to pray about the possibility of adoption. He and I have been praying, together and separately, for guidance, and it seems we’ve gotten the same message. The other night I told him, “For some reason, the idea of testing and treatment makes my stomach drop. But when I think about adoption, I just feel happy and excited.”
He answered, “I feel exactly the same way.”
I had wanted to do testing before we looked into adoption, because I wanted to make sure that biological children were an impossibility before we started looking into adoption. A mixed family (some adopted and some biological children) was the one thing I didn’t want. Not because I thought such families at all unnatural, but because I was afraid I’d end up loving the children to whom I gave birth more than the children who came to me after they were born.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned many times, but will probably never learn fully in this life, it’s this: don’t say “no” to God. He’s been hammering slowly at my heart in recent months, showing me that I have nothing of which to be afraid, showing me that however our children come to us, I will love them with my whole heart.
It’s easy to be scared right now. But I know that years from now, whether our house is filled with children who look like us or with children who look completely different, it will not matter one whit, because they will be our children.
We’ve decided to start doing the preliminary research on adoption. I like the idea of international adoption, and I lean toward Latin American countries, but those are just very initial ideas. I know this is a long process and a hard one, so if we move forward I’m sure you’ll be hearing much more.
What if I get pregnant? It could still happen, any time, and we will always be open to it. I’d love to have the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. But Michael and I have talked about it, and we have decided that we can’t imagine that, if we adopt children and later have biological ones, we’ll wish we had waited. Impossible.
We’re still praying constantly, praying for guidance. But for the first time in a long time, we feel like that guidance is leading us toward something other than more waiting. We still have no idea what the future holds. But how exciting to know that it’s coming.