Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Race and Generational Differences

I had a conversation today that shocked, enlightened and saddened me. I was caring for a patient who was in her 90's. She began telling me about her daughters - telling me about their adoptions. I hadn't told her about The Little One in our family, so I shared that I had a 6 month old daughter who was adopted and that adoption was a special gift in my heart. She proceeded to talk to me about adoption and asked me when we would tell her she was adopted. I kind of chuckled and said "well, she's African-American, so we will always be open about it, in fact I already talk to her about it." Imagine the look on my face when this woman who had just an hour before been visiting with her minister asked me "honey, why in the world did you choose an African-American baby?"  The only response I had (and I thank God for helping me keep my wits and supply my answer) was "I didn't choose her, she was chosen specially for us by God." "Well surely you look at her and feel differently about her because she's African-American?!"  "I look at her and see a beautiful child of God. I see my daughter."

At that point, I had thankfully finished my task at hand because I really needed some space. This was such a sweet lady and I didn't want to hear these things from her. But I walked out of the room reminding myself of the generation in which this woman was raised. And then I realized that she was the same age as my paternal grandmother would have been, was born just a month before my grandmother, and ironically used to live in Iowa just as my grandmother did. My grandmother was the most color-blind woman I have ever known. She raised foster children of different races, worked at a children's home as a relief house parent with children of different races, became a "grandma" to children in her neighborhood of different races. So how can 2 women born within a month of each other, raised in the same state with similar education backgrounds have such drastically different views? It is a question for the ages I guess. I don't have any angry thoughts for the woman I took care of today and I know I may never see her again. But I do have sadness.

I don't have any really grand thoughts on this (I did work for 12 hours today after all!) but this stuck in my heart and mind and I needed to write about it. It reminded me how much I have to learn and how big my job is with TLO in letting her know that she is a beautiful child of God and that no once can take that from her or belittle her or in any way change her wonderful potential. There is a book I have been planning to order and just haven't done it but tonight I will. Brown Babies Pink Parents is described as a "practical guide to transracial parenting." 'Practical,' that's me! 'Pink Parent,' that's me too! 'Brown baby,' that's my beautiful Little One.

Please don't leave negative comments regarding this incident or this woman, only kind words and prayers that some day our world won't care how what color of skin a person has. "Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world."

Thank You dear Lord for giving me the words I needed to say, for the calm you gave me in my soul to continue to do my job today. Thank You for our sweet child, my sweet brown child. I ask that You help me to strengthen me and help me grow, help me to be able to take on the job You've given me and to be able to help my child grow in Your spirit and Your word. Amen.


  1. I love reading your blog! I think TLO will know the difference in skin color, but you are Mark are her parents and it won't matter to her. She was a gift that you have prayed and longed for for such a long time and God gave her to you for a reason. As someone who has dealt with adoption, it takes someone VERY special to take it all in and deal with all of the good and bad.

  2. Lana,

    I'm so sorry that you had this experience. We were so scared that my husband's 94 (almost 95) year old grandfather would feel the same way. He's very hard of hearing and refuses to get a hearing aid so its always hard to know what is going on in his heart. We arrived at his house just before Christmas not really knowing what to expect. Surprisingly, he accepted our LO right away. He had seen pictures of course so it wasn't a surprise. So you never know how people are going to react. That you are so intentional and aware of the issue is going to help so much. My husband and I naively adopted a transracial child. Children of the '80s it just didn't dawn on us that everyone would be as excited about our adopting transracially as we are. Again surprisingly, we have noticed more resistance among some (definitely not all) African Americans we meet. I'm glad that a dear friend warned me about that ahead of time. We stepped right into American race relations didn't we?

  3. My grandma is in her 70's and was raised in a relatively large Midwestern town. She will admit to being racist in the past. In fact, when we told her about our plans to adopt and our openness to any child God would bless us with, she replied, "I thank God for all of the experiences I have had so that I can now know that this is a wonderful thing. Back in my day this wouldn't have been acceptable. I'm happy that we live in a different day." I pray that God is able to change people's hearts at any age. I know that He can.

  4. I'm a pastor of a small church in Louisana. When we were in the process of waiting for a match, we considered adopting any race. All we wanted was to adopt whatever child God put in our paths and in our hearts. Well a call came about a half african American child in which we did consider and out of the excitement of the possibility, we shared that with others. Christmas Day, which was on a Sunday this year, a man came up to me right before I was to preach and told me, "If you adopt a black baby I won't be coming to this church any longer!" I asked him, and why not. He told me "this church wasn't built for no black person and we may have to have a black President but we don't have to have no blacks in this church." I was shocked, stunned, deeply hurt and didn't know what to say. So I just told him I'm so sorry you feel that way but I couldn't disagree with you more. I told him I still love him and would pray for him. Needless to say, that comment rocked my world for the Christmas Holiday. I just prayed that God would change his heart and or remove him from my church so there would be no more confrontation.. To make a longer story short, we ended up getting matched with a caucasion baby boy and the child we were considering was matched with someone else. But I have only seen this man 1 other time since Christmas. As a pastor, I desire to look out into the congregation and see diversity. I love that you have adopted a child of another race. Your child will grow up being cared for and loved and that ALL that matters!

  5. Sorry u have to go through that.I love the hand pic.