Hello again sweet people of the internet.
What a week it has been. Having sick toddlers is no joke but having sick male toddlers faking the manflu is just awful. Shame that’s not entirely true, when he is not having an epic meltdown or a wobble about getting something that he asked me for but no longer wanting it, he is the sweetest little kid.
But enough about us and the germ infested cesspool that is our house right now. Today I’m going to be handing over to Brenda who is going to tell us what it’s like adopting a baby from a different race.
Tell us a little bit about yourself – what you do, what you like to spend your time on etc
I am an Attorney – trying to juggle the working mom scene. I am a foster mom to puppies and kittens in my spare time. I volunteer on the Board of a Home for Crisis Pregnancy.
• Tell us a little bit about your partner – what they do, what they like to spend time on etc
My husband is a CTO – Chief Technical Officer of a digital advertising firm.
• How and when did you meet your partner?
We met in Stellenbosch and got married in my final year of law school. We were married for 10 years before our son joined our family.
• Give us a bit of insight into your racial/cultural backgrounds.
We are both white – actually have very similar social and religious background. We are Catholic and we love our faith.
• Where do you live? Does how you are “accepted” change when you visit different places?
We live in Cape Town. We have not experienced being specifically unwelcome in any area.
• Tell us all about your kids – brag a bit – it’s OK
Our toddler is almost 2 – he is a total joy. He is open hearted and loving and compassionate to others. His language skills are great and he communicates well. He specially loves music. We have not noted any attachment or bonding issues with him and he has blossomed from an adorable baby to an inquisitive and active toddler almost in a flash – too fast for our liking!
• What kind of role does race play in your family dynamic?
None at all. He is the child of our heart as if born to us. He is young, so our journey has only begun, but we hope to face any challenges we have as a family regarding race together.
• Do you discuss race with your children?
He is still too young to talk to about it, but yes, we plan to be as open as possible and hopefully create a home environment where he can share his challenges.
• How have your families reacted to adopting cross-racially?
Our families have been supportive and there has not been any issue with race with family or friends.
• What kind of experiences have you had when you have been out with your kids (alone with them or together as a family)?
We get noticed in the shops, but most interactions are positive. My son is friendly and sunny and people of all ages and races respond to his smile and adorable face.
• What are some of the ignorant and hurtful things that have been said to you and your kids about this issue?
I very often get asked (especially by children) if he is mine and they even check several times. I was told by a little brown girl that I can’t be his mom because I am not brown. An African (from central Africa) man asked me in a restaurant (while my son was strapped in his sling on my chest) where the mother was.
• What do you think we can do to combat this ignorance/stupidity?
The only way to change the “stigma” of a mixed race family is to be the best parents we can to our child and raise him with love. Living out the example of how our wonderful child came to make our hearts.
• Did you have any fears about parenting children of a different race before you had them? Has this changed now that you are their Mom?
Yes –before my son joined our family I was worried about him being accepted by the people in my life. I am delighted that these fears have not materialised. With the benefit of a year and a half of parenting and living the journey of being a mixed race family my fear is now that my ingrained privilege will protect me and not my son. I am afraid that he will be discriminated against in ways I have never been exposed to, and this makes me determined to protect him from that.
• Do you have any advice for those new to cross-racial adoption?
If you react with anger and hurt you reinforce ingrained prejudices. My best advice is to face each situation with humility and humour. Remember a person can only hurt you with your consent. Do not be hyper-sensitive to issues of race. That does not mean do not be protective, but it does mean that you need to understand that you can actually manufacture hurt which will mostly impact your child.
If you would like to join in and be featured in this series or know of someone that would, please see what I need from you HERE!
Is this is the first time you’re joining us? If it is, a big fat WELCOME, it’s good to have you stop by. Fancy catching up on all these other interviews that you have missed? Here are the other features – make yourself a hot cup of the good stuff, and settle in for some reading.
Here’s a little bit of background as to why I want to do this series and why I want YOU to read it and share it with your friends. I am one half of a mixed race marriage (if you want to read my story, check it out here) and we have had our fair share of adjusting to this new life that is often not accepted by everyone.
Besides the odd intentional racist, I feel like a lot of the hurtful comments floating around are actually just brought about through ignorance about how their words will affect other people. Thinking only of our own personal situations with little regard for others, because that’s all that we know. So in an effort to broaden what we know, I thought I would interview a wide range of South Africans that have a variety of different situations – from mixed race couples to single race couples that adopt cross racially to couples that share the same “race” but differ vastly in terms of culture. A bit of a mumble jumble of everything really.