Friday the sixth topic for Grown In My Heart’s Adoption Carnival was announced…….racism. And I was stumped. I’m an adoptive mom to two kids who, well, look just like me and my husband. We didn’t plan it that way. We certainly didn’t request it. It just so happens that Jane and I are the same height. That Geoff and BgK have the same hair color. Our kids “blend” into our family so well based on appearance, it’s really by choice that we tell people they are adopted.
So racism doesn’t really come into play in our lives as a component of adoption. But of course, as a white family in midwestern Americana, I know racism does exist. Indiana has an awful history of racism and hatred. In my day-to-day life I don’t see it, but that’s because I’m white.
My daughter attends and I teach at a very nice suburban preschool. It is probably one of the most diverse private schools in the metro area, if not the state. My classroom is nearly 50% non-white. Many of my daughter’s friends are children of immigrants. Children who visit grandparents in Pakistan, Kenya, New Zealand, India and South Korea. There are children who’ve been adopted internationally (and bi-racially). In central Indiana, this as diverse as it gets.
My son attends the daycare where Mam did. It’s very different from our little preschool, but his class is still nearly 50% non-white. His friends speak Spanish at home and English at the center. His first three caregivers were African-American, as are many of his playmates. I feel like my children have been exposed to as much diversity as we can get in the middle of Indiana.
Given that my children do see faces of people who don’t look like them on a daily basis, I’ve always sort of approached race by not approaching it–my thought was always not to point it out, and my children wouldn’t see it. Or they would see it, but they wouldn’t think much of it.
Then I read Nurture Shock. And realized I was wrong. The authors of Nurture Shock illustrate how children naturally sort and classify the world. If a group of children is divided by say, the color of their t-shirt, they automatically assume allegiance to their color. It makes sense. They further go on to illustrate answers children gave in regards to race, and how they do segregate the world by race, only they don’t talk about it because they’ve learned from their parents not to talk about it. Oh boy. I’m not explaining it well, but suffice it to say, after reading it, I feel like I’ve been doing a disservice to my own children as well my students.
Oh. My. Word. I have some explaining to do to my kiddos. I haven’t quite figured out how to talk to them about this, but I will. I have to. I’m their mom. If I don’t, who will????
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