Transracial Parenting

Transracial Parenting: that time my boss used a racial slur

Did I ever tell you about that time I quit my job because my boss used a racial slur?

No? Probably because I was, in a way, trying to protect him. You see, I know ^he didn’t really mean it^. He was ^just joking^. He honestly thought he was being funny. Really. He was in a room full of white women, who knew that he was kidding, so no harm, right? Except….

Three years ago I wouldn’t have quit my job over it. It would have made me uncomfortable, but I would have ignored his behavior, as my co-workers did, because he was kidding. ^Obviously.^ And he was my boss. Three years ago, I probably wouldn’t haveTransracial parenting: that time my boss used a racial slur mentioned it to my husband that evening at home. Except….

Except….

Except the ^joke^ was that I should call my son this racial slur.

You know, to get him used to hearing it….

I couldn’t stop thinking about being at a company/family event and any of my boys hearing him say something like that. A co-worker assured me that he would never say anything like that in front of Squirm. As though that made it okay.

My white privilege (aided by my professional qualifications, tbh) allowed me to find a new job pretty quickly. And my white privilege allows me to tell people this story without being accused of Playing the Race Card.

Three years ago, I was one of those people who was offended by the concept of white privilege – how dare anyone suggest that I hadn’t worked hard and earned everything in my life?

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#AdoptionTalk: Lessons in Transracial Parenting

In the adoption community, we are what's known as a "conspicuous family" I'm still new to this Transracial Parenting thing. But I'm learning.

Thanks, once again, to Jamie Lee Creativity for our amazing Forever Day photos!

In the adoption community, we are what’s known as a “conspicuous family”. When you see us together, it’s pretty quickly obvious that we’re not all biologically related. 

We didn’t set out to become transracial adoptive parents. We got a call about a baby that needed a family, and we had one to give him. I’ve read a few essays about how if you don’t meet certain wickets, you have no business becoming a transracial parent. I won’t link any, because they actually kind of piss me off. They are a big part of the reason that I spent so much time and emotional energy doubting whether I deserved to be Squirm’s mommy.

And if I had listened to those people, I wouldn’t be his mommy. And that would be very, very sad.

Luckily, though, I didn’t listen. I’m still new to this Transracial Parenting business. But I’m learning. And I will be good enough – I have to, because I AM his mommy.

#AdoptionTalk Link Up

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Guest Post: “Brown Family”

It’s hard not to start bawling when your six year old stops getting ready for school to tell you, “I wish a brown family adopted me.”

It was one of those parenting moments in which I had to take a breath, hide my emotions and proceed with caution.

“How come?”

“Because I want my family to look like me.”

“Well your little brother and sister look like you.”

“Yeah but not the whole family.”

I hugged him and apologized for not being brown. What else could I do? I mean, there was a time when I was small when I operated under the notion that I was part African-American, but the fact is I’m not. I distinctly remember when I found out the truth. I was playing Barbies with my older sister; I was probably about 4, making her around 9. I chose a White Barbie for the Mom and a Black Ken for the Dad for our game.

“You can’t do that,” my sister informed me.

“Huh?”

“You can’t have a White one and a Black one be married!”

“Why not? Daddy’s Black.”

And with the whack my sister gave me for saying so, I thus learned my Portuguese-Italian father, while certainly the darkest man I saw in rural New Jersey where we lived, was not, in fact, Black. And therefore, neither was I.

That was the extent of my own childhood racial identity crisis. Of course there was no real crisis to be had. Even though my dad is dark and my Polish-German mother is fair, they are both Caucasian. There was no loss of birth parents or cultural heritage for me. There was no wondering about my ancestry or why all the other kids at school resembled their parents and each other.

I always knew a day would come when E would start to work through his own valid identity issues so I don’t know why I felt so blindsided by it. Maybe I thought he’d drop some hints first, or that he’d be a little older.

When I tucked him in that night, we talked some more. Or, more accurately, I talked while he mostly cried and nodded.

Was he still feeling sad?

Yes.

Did someone say something recently that made him start feeling like this?

No.

Does he know how much Mommy and Daddy love him?

Yes.

And even though everyone talks about how happy adoption is and we ARE so, so happy he’s part of our family, did he know there’s sadness to adoption too?

There is???

Yes, E, because we love you so very much but if the world was perfect and there were never any problems at all, you probably would just have stayed with your birth mother, don’t you think?

And my boy sobbed when I said this. My sweet, sweet first grade boy, with pain more suited for an older person to deal with.

Is there anything I can do to help you feel better?

No.

Well I want you to feel at least a little bit better. You might always have sad feelings about this, and that’s okay. But I want to help you…find peace about it. Do you understand what that means?

Yes.

Would you like to spend more time with your birth family? Great Grandma and Auntie you just met and your sister that was adopted by another family? Would that help?

Yes.

Then I will do my best to arrange it, my love. I promise to always do my best to keep you in touch with the brown family you long for.


Gina Sampaio likes to challenge the notion of what being a stay at home mom means by not only staying busy with her husband and five kids but also with acting, writing, social activism and rabble rousing in general. Gina blogs about her daily adventures with kids, crafts and cooking, navigating a post-foster care transracial open adoption and the ongoing journey of surviving a sexual assault under the name Sister Serendip (follow her on Facebook and Twitter).

#AdoptionTalk Link Up

Adoption Talk Linkup Hosts

This week’s topic: Anything Goes

Grab a button for your post and join ErinJenni, Jill, Madeleine, and me! New to linking up? We’d love to have you join us, here’s how.

Starfish Confidential #AdoptionTalk

And that’s it! We’re so excited that you are joining us!


Squirm’s Forever Day

After much drama and angst and consternation – and 800 days in foster care, Squirm is finally “forever”. On Friday, August 22nd, we made it official. I had terrible dreams leading up to finalization – from PFM demanding one last unsupervised visit, to her showing up at the ceremony and demanding to be present. But none of them came true. The day was completely drama-free (well, except for the ticket I got for not hanging my handicapped placard as we rushed into the courthouse) and SUCH a HUGE relief. We hit up Teddy Mountain for all the kids to pick out their Forever Day lovies (our family Forever Day tradition) and then had dinner with some of my best friends. We’re still kind of in that surreal-I-don’t-have-to-report-every-bruise phase, and I still need to return his redbook to his former case manager, but he’s really and truly ours. FINALLY.

In other news, Lil Bit finally figured out the mechanics of crawling. So we now have two 2-year-old boys and a mobile infant. We are well and truly screwed.

I love my life. 🙂

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Hint:
It has recently come to my attention that not all of my readers can easily tell when I’m being sarcastic. That is truly unfortunate, so finding a solution was imperative. ^Obviously, the easiest answer is to assume that if something can be read with sarcasm, it should be;^; but that’s not really workable, I guess. After reviewing several options for a “sarcasm font”, I’ve come up up with my own system. Whenever you see italics inside carrots (^snark^), that is my “sarcasm font”.

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Lessons in Transracial Parenting: Ferguson, MO

I don’t watch TV news much at all. I have a few go-to online new sources and SuperDad and I have pretty frequent discussions about national and international news. I’m actually more likely to be knowledgeable about something happening on the other side of the world, than I am about things happening on the other side of the county. Like many people, I’ve been paying less attention to the events in Ferguson, Missouri than I probably should be.One of the uncomfortable things about transracial parenting is that I’m frequently confronted with myself. I no longer have the luxury of looking at the events in Ferguson through the lens of a middle-class white woman with no connection to St. Louis. My lens now has to be that of the mother, whose son will one day be a young black man, who will someday have an interaction with a cop with racial bias.



I don’t know what happened the day Michael Brown died. I wasn’t there and I’ve never been a fan of believing that I know what happened based on news reports and internet rants. I know that most people don’t have the same hesitation, but this isn’t the place for that. And I know that since the shooting, almost everyone with an opinion has made some poor decisions.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking this week about the conversations that I would have with both Squish and Squirm if they were old enough to have a conversation about the events in Ferguson. Pardon the cliche, but I do actively seek out teachable moments for my kids. Unfortunately, I believe that Michael Brown’s death will not be the last opportunity to have this discussion. That’s why I’ve spent so much time praying – for all those involved and impacted, and about what I will say when my boys are old enough to have the conversation.

Another uncomfortable issue I’ve had to confront is the quality (or lack thereof) of the company I keep.

I’ve always been unwilling to tolerate overt racism. Any time I’ve heard any such comments, I’ve made it clear I’m not okay with it and that I won’t listen to it. But that was as far as I went. I felt I was doing my part by being clear that I wouldn’t be a party to such things.

And then I became a mother whose son will one day be a young black man, who will someday be directly impacted by racism. And I’ve realized that my sons deserve better.

So I’m drawing a line in the sand. 

It’s not enough to just not say those things around me.

If you believe that it’s okay to call someone an animal, or feral, or to assume that they must have been doing something illegal, or deserved to be shot – just because of the color of their skin – then you and I cannot be friends.

I don’t want to hear about statistics. I don’t want to hear the justifications for your generalizations – for your RACISM. I don’t want to hear about how you don’t think any of that applies to my son.

I don’t want to hear about “reverse-racism”, and I don’t want to hear about how no one would be rioting if it was a white girl who was shot. I do not want to hear it.

If you can’t understand everything that wrong’s with a white girl self-righteously whining that people wouldn’t riot over her being shot in the streets by a cop, AND you’re not willing to understand why that’s idiotic bullshit, I don’t want to hear it. And I don’t want to hear that you’re not racist, just honest. I WILL NOT hear it.

If you refuse to realize that the above ideas are RACIST and have no place in our world – even as a joke – then we are not friends.

We cannot be friends. I won’t allow it.

Because my sons deserve better.

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