Monday, July 15, 2013

White Mama, Black Son

Recently, a dear friend of mine asked me whether or not adopting a child of a different race has changed my worldview and if so, how?  I’d never really thought about it before, but then answer is: Yes. It has, but not in the way you’d imagine. The question was asked, I believe, regarding a black/white standpoint: White Mama, Black Son. Adopting a black child hasn’t changed our racial worldviews, per se, because we were just as concerned for equality in all races BEFORE our adoption as we are AFTER our adoption. Rather, it has made us more aware as to how far the world still has to go in acceptance. Our family firmly believes that, regardless of skin color, regardless of race, regardless of any differences, the Lord created us all in His image. We are equals and it has always bothered us that not everyone thinks like we do.

When we followed in obedience in adopting our son, we knew there would be stares, questions, and “concerns” born out of ignorance, but we were comfortable enough in our FAITH to bring home a child that doesn’t look like us. Our bio son and daughter both have fair skin, blonde hair, & blue eyes. Basically, they’re little American Swedes. I hate when people say things like, “we don’t SEE color.” Obviously, we “see” color, but diversity is beautiful and our black son is just as handsome and adorable as our white son. We recognize the differences in skin color because it’s THERE, but we APPRECIATE those differences. My white son will never have dark skin. My black son will never have light skin- BUT BOTH SONS ARE IN THE SKIN GOD GAVE THEM AND IT’S BEAUTIFUL, NO MATTER THE COLOR. We encourage them to be proud of their differences.

For us, the change in our worldviews stems not from adopting a “black” child, but rather from adopting a Ugandan child. I see things differently now from a socio-economic standpoint rather than a racial one. Let me explain: Prior to my visiting an actual orphanage, I was clueless about poverty. My knowledge of third world countries came from Sally Struthers and UNICEF commercials and I wasn’t prepared for the reality-check I would receive. Our family lives what we consider to be a “typical, upper-middle class lifestyle” only I have realized since spending time in Africa, that THERE IS NOTHING TYPICAL ABOUT OUR LIFE.  You guys, regardless of what your income is, you’re STILL wealthier than most people in the world. Side note: We live in a country where people spend more on their pets than they do in helping others. That’s messed up, y’all.  

Before I visited Uganda, I wasn’t so concerned with things like government assistance programs or education bills, or Community /Charter Schools. I now see the importance of every one of those government run programs and how crucial it is that they operate legitimately and effectively. Believe it or not, free public education is not available in other countries. And education was the ONE thing that EVERY kid we met in Uganda asked for. School isn’t free there. In fact, school is so expensive there that most families cannot afford to send their kids at all. Seeing that, made me realize the disadvantage that Community or Charter Schools would put lower income neighborhoods in. Evidently, our city has coin-tossed this idea for a while now and I’ve really never thought twice about it until now. For me, my kids would be in a great school with plenty of private funding available to buy resources such as iPads for classrooms, SMART boards, etc. But what about the lower income housing? Those kids would be disadvantaged over higher income neighborhoods. The teachers may be just as great & the kids are just as smart, but when the funds aren’t there to provide the same tools that “rich” schools get, it could create lower test scores, lower GPA’s, less chances of scholarships simply because the tools aren’t there.

I realize this post got a little scattered, but in my head it all totally makes sense.
One last note: Someone at a nail salon once tried to discourage me from adopting a darker skinned child because she warned, “He won’t fit in with blacks or whites”. Nonsense.  As Christ following parents, we aren’t here to make sure our kids “fit in” with peers. We’re here to make certain our kids STAND OUT IN FAITH. Our goal is to lead our kids to Christ in faith and by example and then sit back while they form Jesus-loving, God-fearing relationships with people of all color. I don’t want my kids “fitting in” with whites or blacks or Hispanics or Asians: I want my kids fitting in with Christ followers. True that.