Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Your child can't be your only black friend

(this blog title started out as a half-joke and as I was discussing it with a friend, I decided to leave it....for better or worse)

I wrote a post a while back about Living as a multicultural family and documented our experiences thus far. I still feel the same way as I did when I wrote that post and we continue to find opportunities to immerse ourselves into all our children's world. But as I have thought about issues of multiracial families and spoken with other (more experienced) adoptive parents, my black friends, my adoptee friends, I came to this conclusion:

Your child cannot be your only black (or Asian or biracial or....) friend.

From very young, children begin to notice skin color and race. It may begin the same way the notice blue eyes and brown eyes, but soon it turns into something else. The book I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla is an interesting read for anyone who wants to understand how children form racial identities. No child should feel like they are always the only one with their skin color, the only one with white parents, the only one who is adopted. It's a lonely place to be even in the most loving families.

As adoptive parents, we make the choice to adopt and we need to immerse ourselves into our children's culture. Anything less is not acceptable, IMHO. We can't say that we live in a white town or we don't know any minorities or we attend a white church. We chose the neighborhoods, we chose the schools, we chose the churches. That is not a valid excuse. Children long to belong, they don't want to be the odd one out, they need mentors. I say this because I struggle with these issues too, not because I have it all figured out.

If you are thinking about adoption or you are still in the process, this is a perfect time to make sure your life is multicultural and multiracial. Consider your daily activities and how would your adopted child feel living in your world. How many people would they see that are people of color? Are there any adult or teen adoptees in your life that can give you a glimpse into your child's future? Can you plug into a community of people that would provide mentoring or a situation where you are the minority? This could be cultural or racial. This is the time to make connections.

Also consider any barriers you have personally to having friends of different races. Sometimes we have to confront our own feelings of racism (yes, even parent who adopt minority children can be racist...) or superiority. This link contains an explanation of white privilege and how that can impact our parenting or prevent us from acknowledging racism. (I haven't investigated that website for any other content, but the description is good) 

While our family has found mentors for our children and frequently visit with adoptive families, I know I can always do more. So I give this challenge to others as much as myself: how can we as adoptive parents immerse ourselves into our children's world and not expect our children just to join in ours?

Your child can't be your only black friend.


  1. Love this post...there should be a class on this for parents who are thinking about adoption....Thanks friend for bringing up the "hard" stuff!!

  2. I totally agree. When my son was a baby I moved us from a mostly white community to a much more culturally diverse community and he went to a mostly black school. The summer camp has gone to only takes 13 kids, Its a skate board camp. Its not always the same kids, but we found out that 3 of the other kids who go on a regular basis are also adopted - 2 of them black boys adopted by single white moms, just like my son. I have found my life so much the richer by moving to this neighborhood. We have made lifelong friends and learned things I never would have - all because of my son. Its a learning experience for both of us.