If you’ve ever adopted a child of a different race, or considered it, you’ve read about the questions and comments you’ll face from other people. Things have certainly improved in our country over time. I can’t imagine what adoptive parents went through in the ’60s, ’70s and even ’80s. But I’ve sensed a wider degree of acceptance over the past decade. I, for one, have never even thought twice about families made up of kids and parents of different races.
But the same doesn’t hold true of everyone.
As we loaded Dev onto the train at the zoo the other day, we sat behind three giggling girls. I’m guessing they were around 6 or 7. Two adults sat in front of them. I think they were part of a school outing. They were all very excited. And so was Devin. It was his very first ride — on a train!
He sat on Scott’s lap and I leaned over to talk to him and point out things as we chugged along. I also, as I tend to do, kissed his cheek a few times and ruffled his hair. One of the girls in front of us took great interest in us. I saw her staring intently at Devin. When she caught my eye, she grinned, so I thought it wasn’t a big deal.
Halfway into the ride, she turned around again, assessed Devin, then announced to me and Scott, “Brown kid. White people. Now that’s weird!” She grinned again and turned around.
Oh. My. God. He’s been living with us for 19 months and I’ve never ever heard one of those comments. I knew we would face these things, but I can’t tell you how much it hurt to hear it. I froze. Scott and I looked at each other. Scott kept talking with Dev about everything he was seeing. Because the fact is, Dev noticed nothing. It didn’t register with him. But my face was flaming and my eyes were tearing up. And I was struggling to even look at that girl. Girl. Child. Innocent. Argh. How could she know to say something like that? And how could she be raised in a family where she would even think it was odd to see parents and children who don’t “match.”
Well, now that it’s happened, I can move on, right? Nope. I think each time it’s going to hurt. Knowing me. I just have to figure out how to deal with it in the most positive way so that I can help Dev get through these things once he begins to understand how hurtful words can be.