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.
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.