I tried to prepare myself for our first adoption the best I could. I spent months researching, reading all the books I could find. We went to meetings with other families who were also adopting from China, met with those who had already BTDT and asked all the questions. I felt ready, I knew there would be challenges, but there was one thing I really wasn't prepared for. Being a conspicuous family. Oh I had read about it, heard people talk about it, but actually experiencing it was something altogether different. This has been a most interesting albeit annoying phenomena to me. Our family is now an interracial family, that makes us look different, translation: conspicuous, we kind of stick out in public.
For those of you who know me, you would know I hate being the center of attention. I have never been comfortable with it and would rather just blend in. Now we are smack dab in the middle with other people seeing us as a white family with a colored child of another race. Notice I said "other people" because I do not view my family this way. For clarification there is only ONE race and that would be the HUMAN race. I do not care what color she is. Is this important? It shouldn't be but it is. I have had to acknowledge that there is a white privilege at work here. I need to be aware that when she is with us she will probably experience the white privileges we have and when apart from us she could experience discrimination.
So how do you prepare your child for that?! I will try to make her color aware rather than color blind. We will celebrate her Chinese heritage and teach her about her culture so that she is proud of it. We will celebrate diversity and surround ourselves with our diverse friends. We will teach her to have compassion for all humans and to fight prejudices and racism. We will teach her that God made all people equal and we have to extend that same grace to everyone. Having a sense of humor won't hurt either.
So what is it like to be a conspicuous family? People stare at you. Sometimes I think they are just caught off guard and they do the ol' double take. Some people give you the "stare" this is where they give you a look to show disapproval. I'm Not sure why they feel the need to do this. I get this one a lot from little old ladies. Maybe they think I slept with a Chinese man or something (Heaven forbid!!!!) :-P. Sometimes people go out of their way to smile at us or tell us how good we are. This makes me extremely uncomfortable. We had some selfish reasons for adopting too. One of those being is this is how we chose to build our family, not just to rescue someone. Our children are our children no matter how they came to be in our family, and they don't have to feel grateful for that! We love them all unconditionally bio or adopted.
My all time favorite thing about being a conspicuous family is for some reason people think they can say anything to you! I have had to learn to have fun with this one. People will ask you questions that would be totally inappropriate to ask a "normal" (insert sarcasm here) family. So I decided to create my top 10 list of the most stupid questions and remarks we have received. The only problem is figuring out the order! These are real questions, some of the answers are wishful thinking others are true ;-).
- 10. Q."Are they sisters?" asked while playing with a Chinese friend
- 9. Q."Is she your real daughter?" A. No she's our fake one
- 8. Q."Do you know who her parents are?" * sigh *
- 7. Q."Will she speak English or Chinese when she grows up?" A. No habla englis.
- 6. Q."Her eyes are really round, she must be a half breed" A. WHAT???!!! Somebody has been watching too many old sterotype Hollywood movies haven't you???
- 5. Q." How much does it cost to adopt" A. A lot, how much did you pay for your car?
- 4. Q." Is she your granddaughter?" I just love this one X-)
- 3. Q." Is her father Chinese?" A. Yes
- 2. Q."Is there anything different about her because she's Chinese" does not deserve an answer
AND THE #1 QUESTION AND MY FAVORITE OF ALL TIME! (this really happened)
1. Q." Are you going to drive to China to get her?" A. Mark "No gas is too expensive to drive that far"(and he answered with a straight face, wow).
"I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in
invisible systems conferring dominance on my group" Peggy McIntosh