What’s the official definition for the nifty new term transracial?
(Muster up your best school teacher voice.) Transracial: across or crossing racial boundaries.
Sounds adventurous, doesn’t it? (Oh, and it’s an adjective if you’re in to that kinda thing.) Transracial is also the correct word to use when describing a family that consists of more than one ethnic heritage. While adoption created my transracial family, not all transracial families come to be through adoption. Just so we’re clear.
When asked to write on this topic, I’ll confess I suffered from writer’s block. What to say about being a transracial family???
Of course, we do garner quite a few glances, but I’m totally used to that now. I just pretend we’re famous. And yes, I’ve encountered a handful of inappropriate comments here and there. But for the most part, I forget she’s chocolate and we’re vanilla. We’re just family.
Our family has two white people and one black person . . . with another dark-skinned wee one hopefully entering the family soon. That’s us: black, white, and love all over.
While we absolutely function just like every other loving family out there, I am not naive enough to deny we do run into unique situations. For example, how many children’s books and/or movies do you know where the parents are white and the babies are black? Or Asian? Or all different colors? Or what about when you want to buy a doll house with the family included?
Or when the substitute teacher isn’t quite sure which child is yours . . . .
We also always travel with extra identification for little miss when we travel by plane. Sometimes TSA has questions, and the adoption papers go a long way in speeding up that process.
The most common question I’ve received from friends (and what I secretly think everyone is thinking) is this: How did you learn to fix her hair? I suppose some would say I’ve yet to learn. Ha!
Well, gals, I’m here to tell ya. She doesn’t have spaghetti, or silly string, or grass, or yarn, or wire on top of her head. She has hair. Yep, just hair. You wash it. Comb it. Style it. The end. Yes, her hair routine is different from mine. I have thick, curly/wavy dark hair. She has thick, curly dark hair. Hers is on the dry side. Mine is on the oily. If I had a daughter with stick straight hair or fine hair, I’d be more lost. I mean, what do you do with THAT? (Teehee.)
But The Same
For us, being a transracial family isn’t difficult. I’m so thankful our culture has moved and is moving towards the acceptance of varied ethnicities in couples and families. Certainly, living in a more metropolitan area helps. We do see families who look like us nearly every time we take a trip to Target or the mall or the park.
I pray the adoption stigmas and transracial stigmas that do still exist can be eradicated eventually. You know, sorta like the right to vote for women. I mean, who in today’s culture would be offended to see a woman cast a vote? Yet 100 years ago in THIS country, the thought of a woman voting or (gasp) holding a political office was scandalous at worst and controversial at best. Today, hallelujah, the right to vote is just assumed and enjoyed by all U. S. citizens. That type of acceptance and complete “normalcy” is what I pray adoption will enjoy in future years.
A great resource to share with your children as a way to discuss physical differences is Bein’ with You This Way by W. Nikola-Lisa.
This isn’t a book about adoption; it’s a book celebrating differences in skin, eye, and hair color; tall and short; curly and straight hair; big muscles and small; and on and on. If you’re a transracial family, it’s a great book to use to help express the difference you have while focusing on the sameness as well. The phrase repeated over and over is: We’re different but the same. And if you’re not a transracial family, it’s also an excellent read to help your child be okay with kids who look different from him or her (like skin color or wearing glasses or riding in a wheel chair or taller or shorter). Great Christmas gift idea, right?
How do you talk to your children about differences?