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Her mother did many smart things to foster her only daughter’s

The Realities of Raising a Kid of a Different Race

Canada Goose Outlet She and her husband, who are white, have two adopted daughters, one Ethiopian and one African American. Canada Goose Outlet

Robyn Wells believed she went into the adoption of her Ethiopian son with eyes wide open. She and her husband Timothy, a police officer and Army veteran, who served two tours in Canada Goose sale Iraq and one in Afghanistan, brought Ben home when he was four years old. The Wells are white and live in Champaign, Illinois, a multi cultural Big Ten university town and have gone to some effort to create a diverse environment for their son and three biological daughters. Wells knew that raising a black son wouldn’t always be easy. “I figured I’d have to explain some name calling, have hard talks about language, navigate the waters when somebody’s parent won’t let my son take their daughter to prom,” she says. “But what I have been surprised by is this: At no point in the process of considering transracial adoption did I think I would have to teach my son how to stay alive.”

canadian goose jacket Ryan Lowry for TIMEBen Wells at his home in Champagne, Ill. canadian goose jacket

canada goose clearance First, she says of her awakening, there was the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012. At the time Ben was a 6 year old boy who had just learned to ride his bike after only two trips up and down the driveway with his father running alongside him. “It was awful,” says Wells, “but I thought as every white privileged parent wants to think maybe this is an isolated incident.” As events quickly proved, it was not. canada goose clearance

Many families struggle with the question Wells is facing: how do white adoptive parents help their children of color thrive? Today, more than 40% of adoptions are transracial in nature according to a recent survey from the Department of Health and Human Services. This is up from 28% in 2004. Transracial adoption has become a common enough sight in celebrity tabloids that since my husband and I adopted our two daughters (a 1 year old Ethiopian in 2009 and a newborn African American last October), we have endured many unfunny jokes about being on trend.

canada goose deals In our own adoption training I mostly remember sitting in canada goose uk outlet our agency’s room with other prospective white parents nibbling on fruit and cheese, listening to white people talk about race. The main takeaways were either aesthetic in nature, about the practicalities of black hair and skin care, or hopelessly broad. canada goose deals

On the advice of an African American friend Wells has chosen to start having some hard conversations with her now 8 year old son Ben, even though she does it in the car so that he doesn’t have to see her tears. Her insistence on these talks has created friction with her police officer husband, Timothy who explained by email that his job as Ben’s father is “to raise Ben to be a good man The other part of my job is to balance my wife’s education. I don’t want Ben to ever be afraid of police or to ask for their help.”

Ryan Lowry for TIMEBen Wells with his father and sister at their home in Champagne, Ill. “If you imagine my parents, they were the ones who got the box of Ikea furniture with no directions in Swedish or English. Today you can uk canada goose get the box and have the Canada Goose Online video and step by step instructions in different languages.”

There tends to be a dispiriting response to stories of transracial adoption particularly when adoptees dare cheap canada goose uk share feelings of ambivalence canada goose black friday sale or pain that adoptees should be grateful, considering the alternatives. But to suggest that they should pipe down because they didn languish in foster care or an orphanage is to deny the idea that every child deserves the best possible home with a family who is willing and prepared to meet their needs.

In the spirit of searching for better instructions, I interviewed adoptees ranging in age from their 20s to canada goose their 50s. From my many conversations, it became clear that we adoptive parents too often choose to delude ourselves with four comforting but dangerous myths.

“Parents who believe they can raise their child color blind are making a terrible mistake,” says Korean adoptee Mark Hagland, a 54 year old journalist and adoption literacy advocate. “And it’s shocking how many people I meet still think this way. If there’s a single thing I can share with white adoptive parents [it’s to] look at the adult adoptees who have committed suicide, or who have substance abuse problems. Love was not enough for them.”

Part of loving your child is seeing and loving the color of her skin and accepting the reality that she will likely be painfully pigeonholed sometime in her life because of it. Abigail Scott, 21, is a Chinese adoptee who grew up with her single mother in what she calls cheap Canada Goose the bubble of Berkeley, California. Her mother did many smart things to foster her only daughter’s connection to the land of her birth. She was active in the organization Families of Children from China. She and her daughter returned to China for a two week trip when Scott was 12. She encouraged her daughter to apply for Chinese mentorship programs at UCal, though Scott resisted because growing up she found herself increasingly disinterested in exploring her Chinese culture.

Canada Goose Parka Scott says she never told herself that she wanted to be white, but always felt atypically Chinese. She was a muscular lacrosse player who Canada Goose online loved being tan. She told her mother never to buy her anything Hello Kitty. She’s only attracted to white boys and the majority of her friends were white. When she and her mother went to large family functions, Scott remembers noticing that everyone else in the room was white except her. uk canada goose outlet “But they were all family so I didn’t feel ostracized or different,” she says. Canada Goose Parka

When she announced that she’d chosen Boulder, Colorado, for college some friends expressed concern. “People told me ‘Boulder? Whoa, that’s really white,'” she says. “But I just thought ‘Oh, you see who I’ve grown up with, it’s not going to matter.”

canada goose clearance sale At one of her first fraternity parties, a drunk white boy sidled up to her and asked her about her foreign exchange program. People assumed she wasn’t American, that she was a nerd, that her only concern was math homework and Scott tumbled into a depression. “Maybe it was my insecurities,” she says. “I’m not positive everyone thought I was weird for being Asian, or wasn’t cool for canadian goose jacket not being blonde, but I couldn’t have been imagining all of it. I’d never felt so Chinese. It was the first time it became apparent to me that I’m a certain race and people have expectations around that.” canada goose clearance sale

Canada Goose Jackets After a year of making tearful phone calls home to her heartbroken mother Scott transferred and landed more happily at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles where she buy canada goose jacket cheap is majoring in sociology. She accepts for now that canada goose clearance sale she is confusingly adrift between her American and Chinese identities. Canada Goose Jackets

canada goose store “I think every adoptee inevitably is going to go through a period where the shock of race is real,” she says. “It can happen when you’re 8 or 13 or 28. And when you’re really depressed and feel really different you don’t want to hear love is enough. That’s b because I wouldn’t be feeling like this if that were true.” The best thing Scott’s mother did, she says, was to canada goose store listen to her pain, rather than dismiss her with excuses or denials, and love her through it unconditionally. canada goose store

Canada Goose sale Myth 2: If I talk to my kids about race, I’m just creating an issue Canada Goose sale

canada goose When I tell Hagland, who is a co moderator on the closed Facebook group TRA (a Transracial Adoption community comprised of adoptive parents, adult adoptees and birth parents) that many adoptive parents, including canada goose uk black friday me, feel tremendous anxiety around introducing concepts of racism to their children he is kind but emphatic. “May I please nuclear bomb that for you?” he says. “It’s inevitable that your black children will be called the N word. It’s inevitable that they will be othered for being canada goose factory sale black. So if you prepare them for that you are helping them.” He’s well used to adoptive parents’ hand wringing, which canada goose coats on sale often masks a great fear of inadequacy and powerlessness, on the subject. “Are you not going to teach your child how to cross the street?” he asks. ” could never talk about being hit by a car because then my child would fear it. Well guess what? Part of your role as a parent is teaching your child how to safely cross the street.” canada goose

cheap Canada Goose Alex Landau, a 25 year old from Denver, remembers his first racial encounter. He was four years old, an African American boy scuffling with a white boy on a Denver playground. “And he said ‘Not all white kids like to play with black kids,'” remembers Landau. “I didn’t know the gravity of what he was saying, and I don’t think he even fully knew what he was saying. But I just knew that my skin was different and I had no control over that.” As Landau struggled to make sense of his hurt he remembers his white adoptive mother Patsy Hathaway careening into the Canada Goose Parka picture. “My mom came out of left field, grabbed him by the arm, and said ‘You don’t talk to my son that way. You need to leave!’ and kicked him out of a public park.” cheap Canada Goose

buy canada goose jacket cheap But for the most part, race was never a conversation in their home. Patsy loved her son fiercely, and didn’t think much of the fact that he was the only black kid in his high school graduating class. Meanwhile Landau spent much of his adolescence gelling his hair straight and wearing long sleeves and pants in the summer to cover up his dark skin. “I think my parents were under the impression that we were living in this post racial era where police were not racially profiling,” says Landau. buy canada goose jacket cheap

In 2009 Landau, then 19, was driving in Denver with a white friend in the passenger seat. Cops pulled him over and the officer accused Landau of making an illegal left turn. Landau was hauled out of his car and patted down. “There were three officers there, I was comfortable putting my arms out to the side and asking to see a warrant before they continued searching my car,” he says. “I’m not in handcuffs, I’m not being detained, there’s nothing wrong. We should be able to talk as people. And then immediately I had my world changed.”

buy canada goose jacket The officers grabbed Landau and started hitting him in the face. When he came to, his blood was all over the grass and he couldn’t see out of his right eye. “‘Where’s your warrant now, you f n were the first words he says he heard upon regaining consciousness. When Hathaway arrived at the city jail and saw her son’s brutalized face her world changed forever too. buy canada goose jacket

canada goose black friday sale Although the policemen were cleared of misconduct in an internal review (they said they thought Landau was reaching for one of the officers guns), in 2011 Landau was awarded a $795,000 settlement from the City of Denver. Two of the police officers who attacked him were later fired for unrelated uses of excessive force. Today Landau is the Racial Justice Organizer at the Colorado Progressive Coalition and he and his mother are working on a book about transracial adoption and the patterns and practices of police abuse in Denver. “I know my mother wishes she could have had the insight herself to prepare me for the ugly realities that can occur,” he says. “She demonstrates her sorrow and her eagerness to learn through her activism and her connection to the work I’m doing. “The best thing you can do is prepare your child because the last thing you want to do is visit your child in jail with 45 stitches in his face and have your whole worldview blown apart,” says Landau, who recalls the most painful part of this experience as seeing his mother crumble when she saw him in jail. “It was the first time I cried. I was just devastated. So I would strongly advise that parents do not have this sheltered mindset and be open to the narrative of folks who actually live this canada goose coats experience day canada goose outlet to day.” canada goose black friday sale

Myth 3: No matter what, a school is the best thing for a child

canada goose coats on sale You can celebrate Kwanzaa. You can learn how to twist and box braid your daughter’s hair. You can make BlackLivesMatter your Facebook profile picture. But for many white adoptive parents, the act of raising kids in Canada Goose Outlet a diverse environment is too hard, or too inconvenient, or too easy to trade off for better schools or safer neighborhoods canada goose coats on sale.

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