So we've traded our anonymity in for our opportunity to parent Miss I. - anonymity I never even realized I liked so much, but would still give several times over for this little girl.
Yes, we were prepared for attention, both positive and negative (and the negative-positive attention I've read called the "I'm down wit dat" attitude), as we'd read just about every good book or article (and on-line class) pertaining to transracial parenting and conspicuousness. What I hadn't prepared for was the mismatch in sociability: Where I am inclined to shyness and homebodiness, and my husband and son are more social than I but still reserved, my daughter (while clinging to me, and only while clinging to me - otherwise, she's very shy and anxious right now) is inclined to catch and keep the eye of every stranger we would otherwise pass but are now forced to meet. Some of this is cultural and some of it constitutional. (A friend tells me, wisely, that I and I. both needed the other's influence for balance.)
But all of those strangers we meet have opinions about us - expressed and unexpressed - that they wouldn't have about a single-race family. Because the world is full of same race families - and who has time to judge them all?
And those opinions will affect how they view every other multiracial (particularly transracial adoptive) family they come into contact with. A tantrum in front of an aa family can make me feel like I am showing aa families that white parents are incompetent at parenting black children. A tantrum in front of an old white woman confirms for that old white woman every negative thought she's ever had about unruly black children.
This feeling is not entirely unfamiliar - we were relatively poor by American standards when ds was born, and I always felt like I had to keep him cleaner, calmer, quieter than if we'd had money (ridiculous now) - but the stakes are higher now. A snotty nose, a tear-stained cheek, her (temporarily) dry scalp - all these things call into question my competence or her value --
-- but this I was prepared for.
In truth, it's the positive interactions with strangers that are getting to me. Even these positive interactions,where I. holds onto me tightly and just beams at a stranger who beams back, seems to mean something more than a smiling child in her mother's arms ought to. And a couple of days ago that was enough to make me cry.
But then, it's only been a week and a half, and I'm a little more than a little tired.