Black, White Or Shades of Grey?
I’ve been avoiding writing this post because I’m not sure how to write it. I’m not sure how to be politically correct and part of me feels like I shouldn’t need to address this. Yet, the world we live in means that this is a topic that I simply cannot hide from, no matter how much I may want to. So, here I am, once again trying to work through my thoughts. So, I guess I’ll just start writing and see where this goes….
Baby MPB may or may not be a mixed-race baby. Since I know you are thinking it, how is it that he may or may not be, isn’t it one or the other? Well, it’s just not that black and white. Literally. We know his birth mother and therefore know her race – she is Caucasian. And I’m not going to go into details on what we know/don’t know about his birth father, but I will say that it’s a lot more complicated and we aren’t completely sure about his race (among other things). We do know that Baby MPB may actually just be 100% Caucasian, but he may be 50% Caucasian and 50% “a”, but he may also be 50% Caucasian and 50% “b”. Clearly not simple. And, looking at Baby MPB doesn’t necessarily help solve this mystery. When you look at him, depending on the day, the lighting, the colour of his onesie, his skin tone can appear completely different. (As an aside, I think he might be part chameleon).
Since I will not share his picture, I will point out that there is a real possibility that Baby MPB is only Caucasian and simply isn’t as ghostly pale as I am, rather he has darker skin tones just like Mr. MPB does. Oh, and honestly, if Mr. MPB and I were to have a biological child they probably would be darker then me because 98.8% of the world’s population is darker then me. Honestly, both Mr. MPB and I are Caucasian yet our skin tones are completely different. It’s normal that we are not all carbon copies of one another.
I hate that these conversations seem to imply a preference for Caucasian. And when I say hate, I mean literally despise it with my entire being. While I realize this is part of the world we live in today, that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
And, we’ve discovered that people like to talk about Baby MPB’s race – for context I will point our that we have a predominantly Caucasian circle of friends and family in a predominantly Caucasian part of the world.
When we first considered adoption we had to choose races and race combinations that we were open to. As we feel this decision is incredibly personal we have NEVER discussed our selections with anyone in our real lives, and I’ve only ever touched on it once on my blog. The local adoption community warned us that if our child is of another race strangers would randomly approach us and our child to ask questions. We were also told that strangers would almost exclusively only approach me, the mom, or baby MPB directly when we would be out without Mr. MPB. Evidently people don’t randomly approach Dad’s and don’t ask questions when Dad’s are around (which has some interesting gender connotations but that’s a discussion for another day). But, anyways, this has not occurred for us. In fact, strangers often comment on how much Baby MPB and Mr. MPB look alike and the odd time they even say that Baby MPB looks like me.
Instead, much to our surprise, almost all the race conversations have been with friends and family who know he’s adopted. We get comments on how he looks “a” or has “a” hair or has “a” eyes. It seems like it’s always “a” this or “a” that with certain people in our lives. And, it’s constant.
It is driving me insane because I simply don’t understand why this is even a topic of conversation. It’s not like when I see a friend’s baby my first comment is about the colour of their skin, so why is that the case with our son? Heck, even with our friends who are in a mixed-race relationship and have produced mixed-race children, it’s not a conversation we have. We simply just talk about how adorable their kids are – there are no comments about how their daughters look “b”. So, why are these conversations occurring for us? Why do we have to talk about it every.single.time certain friends visit? Is it because these comments are all coming from white people who don’t understand that polite people don’t singling out someone for being a different race? Is it because they are racist? Is it because they really are just trying to figure out more about his biological family, which we have made it clear that we will not discuss?
I am trying to appreciate these conversations now because I’ll get more practice for when he’s older and will be part of these conversations. But, here’s the thing about these conversations, its hard to talk about because of the number of uncertainties and the lack of a concrete answer one way or another. And, more importantly, this isn’t our story to share. So, I’m always stuck in a world of vague answers. And when I get frustrated and am blunt in my response, people don’t seem to appreciate that either (probably because they realize they are asking inappropriate questions).
And, what does it matter what colour his skin is? And why should we even care if he’s 100% Caucasian, or 50% Caucasian and 50% “a” or 50% Caucasian and 50% “b”. Does it matter? Yes, I know in our society race does matter. But, for me, when it comes to my son, it sure as hell doesn’t matter to me. And, if it matters to others enough that they obsess over it, then how freaking sad is it that for them? And, if our friends keep talking about it obsessively now in the safety of our own home, how are we going to help him through his teenager years when other kids can be down right cruel to each other? I know that as two white parents we don’t get what he might face, and this scares me because I may not be the best at supporting him in the way he needs.
And, another part of me feels that this conversation is really all about his birth father. The situation with Baby MPB’s birth father is not nearly as simple, straight forward or positive as the relationship with his birth mother. I’m defensive of this because it’s not my story to share and it’s not fair to Baby MPB for me to share it. And so, we are firm in our decision that the details of this relationship are no-one’s business, and it is not something we feel comfortable discussing. We feel that this is part of his story that he can share one day, when and if he wants to. And, every time someone brings it up, I feel like I’m stating this again, a bit like a broken record. I’m wondering if people keep asking because they think eventually I’ll just cave and tell them?
I guess, as you can probably tell, this topic touches a nerve for me. I truly could careless what race my child is (or what race anyone in the world is for that matter). I don’t understand why this is a conversation in our lives, let alone a conversation that seems to be on repeat. I fear that these conversations will lead my son to believe that he is not as valued as a human being because he’s not white enough, and that thought alone breaks my heart.
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