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Rachel Dolezal, “Transracial,” and Adoption

Posted by | June 18, 2015 | BAMBINOS | 2 Comments


So. Rachel Dolezal.

I’ve been getting email from all over the world asking me if/when I’m going to blog about this. It’s weighing on my mind. But honestly, I don’t think I’m going to be blogging in any extensive way about it. Mainly because I have too many deadlines (real work-related deadlines) looming in the next ten days. And also because this one is just a little too sensitive for me. I’m not sure I could write something on this right now without getting all mama-bear-with-the-hair-on-my-back-all-bristly.

I know, I know, it doesn’t make any sense– how could I write about things like Trayvon Martin and Ferguson, but not be able to write about Rachel Dolezal? I’d like to think I could rise above, but at the heart of it all — the ongoing commentary, insinuations, and outright arguments that white mothers can’t raise black children — well… truthfully… it puts me a little bit… maybe a lot… over the edge.

“Several years ago, she became the guardian of one of her adopted, black younger siblings, Izaiah, now 21. He sees her as his ‘real mom,’ she said, ‘and for that to be something that is plausible, I certainly can’t be seen as white and be Izaiah’s mom.'” (Quote taken from this source.)

To say that this makes me a little bit squeamish is certainly to underrepresent my squeamishness about this. For the past few days, as the word “transracial” has been increasingly thrown around surrounding the Rachel Dolezal story, those of us in the Transracial Adoption Community (all caps there folks, because, this is a real thing), have been getting more and more uncomfortable (to put it mildly) with this whole entire media-blitz-Twitter-Facebook-Rachel-Dolezal-frenzy. We aren’t used to our word (transracial), our phrase (transracial adoption), being acknowledged much — let alone getting any media attention. And now we’re not only seeing and hearing “transracial” peppered all over the mainstream media, the news outlets, the internet, everywhere — we are seeing and hearing “transracial” being used in what is — for us — a very peculiar, and very — how shall I say this? — ummm…. OFFENSIVE — way.

There is a long history of white women raising black children. It would be wrong to pretend that history isn’t totally, totally, totally messed up. But today — in this historic era — when we have so much history to learn from, and adult adoptees to teach us, and research on adoptive families to absorb, well, to be honest: there is just no excuse for not doing our absolute 100% best to live out transracial adoption as right as we can. And, TRUTH: there are lots of us out here — lots of us — who are trying hard, every day, trying very, very hard, as white mamas of precious black children, to do it right.

I am my sons’ real mom. That is plausible. And I am most certainly seen as white. And they are most certainly seen as black. I am white and they are black, and we are a good strong family who knows who we are. I am the white mom of Kyle and Owen — I am seen that way, and I am that.

Here’s a link to the best thing I’ve seen on the topic so far — please watch:

click here: Angela Tucker on Anderson Cooper
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  • Gail McCormick says:

    Good points, Heather. You are not only the white mother of black sons, you are the white mother of very tall black sons. Good heavens, they’re taller than you are! You are all so lucky to have each other.

  • Gloria says:

    Yes! You have captured my feelings so precisely that it took my breath away. Yes, I too am my daughter’s “real” mom and I am white and she is black. We are as connected as any two humans can be. Thank you for writing this!

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