This week has started off pretty awful. First we get a call from DHR on Monday morning. I am expecting it to be Laila's social worker telling us to come pick Laila up and bring her to live with us permanently. Instead she is calling to tell me that because there is a bit more red tape we are NOT moving today and hopefully we can move her by the end of the week. I can't describe how disappointed I was. I was so excited about moving her in on Monday and now she is stuck in her current placement until who knows when. I don't know exactly what the problem is but I am ready for them to get it fixed and let Laila get on with her life.
I was already pretty bummed about that when I got a call from a close relative who has been less than enthusiastic about us adopting a black child. Of course he says it's because he worries that the child will be made fun of and things like that. Really it's because he is a racist and worries what people will think of him if he has a black relative. Anyway, he asked how things were going and I told him about the delay in moving Laila. He seems so happy that I want to vomit and starts saying very discouraging things like how maybe it just didn't work out and they have decided to move her elsewhere. Our social worker has already told us that isn't the case. It just really bothered me how happy he seemed that I was so completely miserable and disappointed.
The straw that broke the camel's back however came at Elizabeth's dance class tonight. I was sitting in the waiting area with my son when I hear one of the other mothers talking about how she is pulling her child out of their school because there are now too many black children enrolled. (Btw, too many is probably around 20%. This isn't where my children go to school. Thankfully, our school is much more diverse.) Of course she has no idea I'm in the process of adopting just such a child. When I speak up and ask for clarification she assures me that it's not the "race thing" that is an issue. She says it's that "their culture places emphasis on things that I don't want my child to be around." At this point I'm pretty steamed but because I am a christian I refrain from saying the things I am thinking. I can't be silent though because #1- This is a direct insult to my child. #2- My son is listening to me and I must model anti-racist behavior for him. #3- Racism is NOT ok. I simply told her that race has nothing to do with the behaviors she was afraid of. Most of them stem from socioeconomic factors that affect all races and that I'm glad my children go to a diverse school where they are exposed to many different cultures. My goal was to humiliate educate her. So much racism stems from fear and ignorance. She tried to act like I had misunderstood her and that she is definitely not a racist. Then somebody new walked in the room and she immediately engaged them in a conversation to change the subject, since it had become so very awkward.
Was that conversation uncomfortable? Absolutely. Calling people out is never fun but it has to be done if we want to be advocates for our children and allies to all people of color. When I mention these kinds of sitiuations to my white friends they always seemed shocked. Most of them believe that racism is a thing of the past because they don't ever experience it. They say things like,"This is 2010. Surely there aren't people like that anymore." They do exist. I don't have to convince my black friends that they exist. They deal with them all the time.
Clay and Elizabeth are only 5 and 7 but I figured now was the time to explain racism to them. Clay had heard those comments and I can only imagine how he must have hurt for his sister. Even though she hasn't moved in yet, we have spent alot of time with her and already consider her our family and he loves her very much. I told them that there are some people in this world who think having a different color skin is bad. I explained to them that these people are called racists and that they would not like Laila and would not like us for having her in our family. I told them that this was very wrong because God created all of us in His image and that all colors of skin are beautiful. What color a person is doesn't affect how good they are, how smart they are, or anything. I let them know that I loved Laila just like I love them. They let me know that they loved her too and that it was crazy for people to be racists. My kids are pretty smart.
My kids aren't colorblind. I won't pretend they are. I think it's important to talk to them about racism and explain how it is wrong. I wish my white friends who have white kids would do this more often. Sometimes when parents are silent on an issue kids get the information from a bad source. It's so important to be honest and open with our children and help them learn to be the people they were created to be.
I'm praying to get a call tomorrow to come pick up Laila and bring her home. I'll update as soon as I know anything. Be blessed.
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