I used to think that racism didn’t exist any more.
Growing up in the Caribbean, in a cultural mishmash of a class, I learned about the slave trade and the underground railroad as part of history. Our teacher read to us about Harriet Tubman. We saw videos of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech. We learned about Rosa Parks.
Ever since I was a tiny girl and they’d ask me what I’d want to be when I grew up, I always wanted to be a mother.
“An artist! And a Mommy!”
“A teacher!! And a Mommy!
“An art teacher!!! And a Mommy!”
As I got older and realized I actually had no idea what I wanted to be, one constant remained unchanged—the wanting to be a Mother.
I gave myself a deadline of age 26 to have my first baby by. Beyond that, I didn’t put that much thought into what my dream family looked like. I have known plenty of people, almost always girls, who had all kinds of things planned out about their future children. They’d have a boy and a girl, the boy first, or all boys or all girls or a one-and-only. And they always knew what names they wanted to use.
I had no idea what I’d have (of course neither did they, really), nor was I hell-bent on any particular names. I guess I kind of figured I’d only have girls, but I think that’s because I only had sisters and so I visualized families that way. How many kids? What names? I had no idea.
So somehow we ended up with two girls and three boys. We had a girl, we had a boy, we had a vasectomy. We had a foster baby boy and adopted him, and then when his birth mother had another boy and then another girl, we fostered and adopted them as well. Our family gets noticed quite a bit, besides being on the large side, we are also racially mixed.
Women in particular seem very inclined to ask me a lot of questions about my children. Many of them indicate that they have always been interested in adoption themselves, and a large number tell me that their husbands didn’t want to pursue it.
Then, an acquaintance asked, “How did you and your husband decide to adopt?”, and I had to laugh when I realized how little thought we put into it; especially now that we know so many adoptive families who have told us about the many hours of research and soul-searching they put into making their adoption decision. Ours was nothing like that. A book about adoption caught my eye at the thrift shop so I bought it. My husband saw it on the counter and said, “Adopting would be nice.”
Upon further recollection, it occurred to me that most of our biggest life decisions were made with very little discussion. Getting married? We can’t even remember whose idea it was. Having kids? Well I definitely had to push for that first one since I was the one who had given myself an age deadline for but after that it was easy. As a matter of fact, when the caseworker called me about our second foster son, I said yes to her on the phone and then remembered I ought to call my husband and verify that with him.
Naturally, he agreed in a heartbeat, because apparently that’s how we make the big family decisions around here—with our hearts.
This is an original guest post to World Moms Blog by Gina Sampaio, a lifelong actress and activist who lives in rural New Jersey with her husband and five children. She likes to challenge the notion of what being a stay at home mom means by not only staying busy with her 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 at www.facebook.com/SisterSerendip.
Photo credit to the author.
A few weeks ago, standing on the sidelines at soccer practice, I was doing the mom-chat thing with a woman I’d only just met. She said she’d lived in Abu Dhabi for about seven years, but was thinking of moving back to the UK before her older daughter started high school.
“I know it’s too early to think about it,” the mother said, laughing, “but things happen, and I wouldn’t want her to end up marrying an Arab, after all.”
Our kids were playing indoors to beat the heat, and scattered along the sidelines with us were a smattering of dads in dishdashas and moms in abayas, and some other Western parents. No one heard this woman’s comment and she seemed unconcerned about what she’d just said. I looked at her, trying to figure out if she were joking (she wasn’t). (more…)
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” ~~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lately, I have been avoiding my Facebook feed and deleting people who I realize have views much different from mine. Yes, I am aware that we all have varying opinions on all issues, large and small. However, as the United States Presidential election moves closer, I am reminded of the enormity of the race factor in this country. Hence, I no longer wish to be bombarded on Facebook with hate based words and images.
Despite the fact that an overwhelming number of caucasians voted President Obama in to office, there are still large portions of the population that, without verbally admitting it, are uncomfortable that a black man is in charge of our country. And yes, he is considered black, not biracial, despite the current climate of political correctness. If he wasn’t considered a black man, I highly doubt that the legitimacy of his birth certificate would STILL be a topic of conversation.
Has he been a good President? I can’t say; history will make that distinction for me. Will he be re elected? I hope so, despite the fact that I do not vote. (Another topic, for another day) Has he proven that race should not be the defining characteristic of a person? Sadly, not yet but maybe when my children are grandparents, having a multicultural President will be the norm and not the exception. (more…)
Diversity in human appearance has been one of the most intriguing things that we have all come across. In my house I hate and do not use the term race with my children, because it is so obscured, and demeaning. Instead, I try as best as I can to always speak about people as individuals, rather than their group or nationality…it’s hard work.
Amira has very slanted eyes, Iman looks just like my aunt (but still resembles me) and Rainbow looks more like hubby.
Often random people come up to us and ask, “are those your children?” I say,”yes”, and hope that they will leave it at that, BUT 90 % of the time, they don’t.
The next question is, “are they all yours?” (more…)