We Are the Face of the American Family

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Yesterday I wrote about the “Room For Debate” piece in the New York Times that asked the question, In adoption, does race matter? But after walking away from it, something kept bothering me. Bothered me to the point that I’m here writing about it today. And it’s this:

How is a conversation about race and adoption happening WITHOUT even one transracial adoptive parent weighing in?

Now, I highly doubt that the organizer of this NYT roundtable intentionally excluded transracial adoptive parents from the debate. Let’s call it an oversight. However, it points to the broader issue of failure of representation. The same issue that bubbles up throughout the book I’m writing, Nope! Not the Nanny. Too many important conversations about race, parenthood, privilege, and rights are being held well outside of our — mothers of color, mothers of mixed heritage families — earshot. This underserved and often marginalized community of mothers (and fathers) need to be in the room, sitting at the table so that we may speak up about our real-world, real-time challenges, and be duly counted and considered.

Just yesterday evening I heard back from the same mom (of the cute-pie brown bear) who sent me the NYT debate link; she was sharing this ridiculous story: Her mother was at a Super Bowl party on the weekend and decided to do what Grandmas do. She was showing off pictures of her new grandson. A white woman at the party took a look a photo and dropped this line: “Cute. I just hope he doesn’t turn out like Obama!”

*blink … blink … mouth ajar*

What in the hot hell? Listen, lady. Don’t let us all collectively take off our earrings!

Fine. Let’s say this woman’s comment was about her political beef with President Obama. Why go the ignorant, meant route? Just leave it at “Cute.”

I know another mother whose close friend asked her “why don’t you go for a regular white baby” when she was told that this woman — dealing with years of fertility challenges — was planning to adopt a child from South Asia.

It’s galling. It’s rude. It’s hurtful, maddening and so unnecessary.  These women, mothers, parents, who are facing the comments and the judgement and the wrong-headed assumptions daily as they try to build confidence, culture, and a rooted identity in their children, they are the people I want to hear answer the question: Does race matter?

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Related: Longtime friend of MMM, Kristin, sent me a link to Barneys New York’s Spring 2014 campaign: Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters. The campaign features photographs of “17 extraordinary men and women, transgender individuals with diverse experiences and unique personal stories.”

Meet Ryley Pogensky (center) with his grandparents, Leonard and Gloria, as well as with fellow model Valentijn (left), whose story will be featured in the campaign next week. More proof of the glorious and beautifully updated face of the American Family.

Photo by Bruce Weber

Photo by Bruce Weber

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