Sitting here holding my boy while he rests on top of me I soak in his smell, stare at his fingers and toes, feel his breath press into my chest, and observe the details of his beautiful skin.
My children were adopted as newborns. I’ve been their mommy since they were three weeks old – longer than that in my heart. As I live my life raising my babies, I forget our contrasting skin tone. I forget because I’m too busy keeping two toddlers from hurting each other with simple household objects. I forget because a poopy diaper is a poopy diaper, no matter who it came from. All poopy diapers must be changed.
I forget because I’m just a mom doing her best to raise two kind, respectful, loving people.
I forget because I’m “Mommy” and they’re my babies.
I forget because love knows no color.
But I’m reminded every time I turn on the news. I’m reminded when I see racist family members who have shamed us for adopting children from a different race and who look at my children as inferior. I’m reminded by the grief I carry for my kids because of it. I’m reminded when a stranger asks my daughter if I’m her mommy while I’m carrying her to a calmer place while she’s screaming and having a tantrum in public because, you know, she’s two. I’m reminded every time my son wears a hooded jacket and my heart breaks in two wondering at what age does he become a threat to someone simply by being a person of color in a hoodie. I wonder how long do we have? At what age will he be forced to grow up faster simply because he’s black?
I don’t want to have to remember our differences because there should be NO difference. He’s my son. She’s my daughter. That’s it. End of story.
But I remember for their sake because I’m their parent. And it’s a parent’s responsibility to help our children navigate the issues they will have to face someday. Issues that exist because of hateful people and this broken world.
Sitting, holding him in this moment of stillness while he’s still little, tears start streaming down my face thinking of what he may face some day as a male person of color. I’ll never be able to understand those hard places because I’m a white female. As a white woman, how can I guide my children to navigate life as a person of color? It’s a question I ask myself every day. I understand there will be hard places and those hard places make me have to remember that we aren’t the same color. Those hard places infuriate me.
It infuriates me that those hard places force me to have to remember our differences in order to be a better parent to him. To prepare him as best as I can for what he may face in this broken world. These conversations are had between my husband and I nearly every day. They’re issues we want to bring to light to the people who love our kids. We hope that our sharing will affect the awareness of racial issues in the small community around us. Instead of turning a blind eye, we want to be advocates – for our children and for all races and cultures.
Because no matter how hard we wish for it, simply loving our kids within our four walls won’t solve their problems. It’s an element, but it’s not the answer. It won’t protect them. Remembering skin color IS loving them and protecting them. And how insane and sad is it that skin color is necessary to remember when we’re a normal family just like every one else?
There should be no racism. We are all the same, no matter our physical or cultural differences. The fact that anyone could look at my son or anyone else and see something less because of the color of his skin, is pure evil.
My husband and I want to walk with our kids throughout their lives to know that no matter what they may face, they are deeply and passionately loved by their family and friends, but more importantly, their Creator. Their father and I pray for wisdom to teach them and walk with them through whatever they may face, even when we can’t understand because we haven’t been there. And we want to do the same with others as well – to teach our kids by example to listen to others’ experiences and to validate them, not negate them based on our own experiences. We want to remind them that they were divinely created for a plan and purpose. And that others’ opinion about the color of their skin doesn’t define who they are. Their identity is in their Creator.
And in raising our kids with these values and principles, I hope it in turn helps to make even a small difference in our world so that maybe, someday, no mother of any color or culture would have to feel this fear for her child.