Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Reversal

An African American woman approached us at the water fountain. "Beautiful little girl," she said. "Thank you," I replied cautiously, hoping not to engage in a conversation about transracial adoption in that particular moment. "Is she yours?" she asked, too much emphasis on "yours" for complete innocence. "Yes," I said flatly.
"That's wonderful."
Here we go, I think. Either it's wonderful or horrible, it never just is what it is. But then she surprised me. "My daughter's white."
She went on to tell me the story of their beginnings as a family and some of the challenges they faced almost thirty years ago. She's now a grandmother (her daughter's family is beautiful!). She knew some of our challenges without my having to say it. But, she reminded me, if it's hard to be the white mother of a black child it was and is far harder to be the black mother of a white child: "Black people approached me to ask 'How dare you raise a white child when there are black children who need families?'" Yet her daughter never thinks of her as a "black mother of a white child," only her mother. She reassured me, too, that "every ounce of love [I] pour into that child will pour out of her someday." I hope so. Not for me, but for others in her life and in her world.
Best water fountain conversation ever.

6 comments:

justenjoyhim/judy said...

THAT is wonderful. :)

AMH said...

Ahh interesting story. I get the "is she yours" at least 3 times a week. Last week, a black woman at a bank approached me and asked that very question.

I was guarded, but then she surprised me by telling me that she too was adopted. Kind of a neat spin on the usual situation and it made me smile.

Erin said...

that is great!

I have a white friend who was raised by a black family after her mom died when she was three. Man oh man does she have some stories to share :-)

Swerl said...

I'm reading this really amazing book about the history of white/black relations (I'll review it soon), and it reminds us that generations of Southern whites were raised by black women -- they just couldn't call them "Moms". In fact, a father of a friend grew up in New Orleans, raised (and bonded primarily) with his nanny.

fully operational battle station said...

This is awesome! I think about this all the time actually, wondering what that would be like to see more families with black parents and white children.

Sounds like an awesome conversation.

Jamie

Shari said...

I got WAY TOO EXCITED when I read this post!! Thank you so much for sharing it! I have always wondered if there was even such a thing as black parents raising white children. As a white couple seeking to adopt children of any background, we eagerly look for these types of families - but we've never seen a white child climbing into the laps of non-white parents. I despaired to my friends and family that how can it be fair that it's accepted that only whites can raise children of other races?

I would have wanted to talk to that poor woman all afternoon. :D Does anyone know where I could find more stories like this one??