Adoption STAR Associate Director Michael Hill shares thoughts and a story regarding transracially adopted children.
“A white mother said she would feel too uncomfortable in a situation where she might be the only white person. Her child is the only person of color all the time, but being a minority for a few hours was too much for her?” – Beverly Daniel Tatum
I feel very fortunate to have been raised in a family that always saw inherent beauty and tremendous value in diversity. It’s obvious to me that I internalized what I was taught and took it quite seriously. I see the living embodiment of this “lesson” in the relationships I’ve developed with friends, family, members of my church community, neighbors, co-workers, members of my two children’s respective school communities, etc.
In spite of the fact that my boys will have daily opportunities to connect with adults, children, and families of color, there is no denying that as transracial adoptees they will also experience what it’s like to be the only person of color at an event, in a group, or the like. Given this reality, I also want my boys to regularly have the opposite experience – situations where they are surrounded by people of color and feel a part of an overwhelming majority, NOT the minority.
“Seek out regular situations in which you will share your child’s experience of being ‘the only one.’ You will learn great respect for her ability to cope.” That’s what authors Gail Steinberg and Beth Hall advise in their book, Inside Transracial Adoption. I appreciate this bit of advice, and it’s something that is on my mind. I guess that’s the reason why my son’s recent interest in taking dance lessons represented an incredible opportunity.
Dance studios that offer classes for little ones can be found seemingly everywhere these days. When my 5-year old son had settled on dance as being his yearlong activity this year, my first thought went to the dance studio that was a mere mile and a half (two miles tops) from our house. But then, a few short seconds later, I thought this: “We need to talk to our black friends about where they send their little ones for dance lessons!”
And so that’s just what we did….and now our son loves his new dance studio (and it’s amazing teachers and instructors). Most importantly, he’s getting an opportunity to be a part of racial majority, and as Steinberg and Hall also say, “Our children have so many opportunities to feel different that it’s refreshing and supporting when they are given the chance to be in the true majority.”