Mixed heritage, the start of a journey

Two Dads's picture

We went to the park today with our adoptive children and had a great time! We walked for ages (without a tantrum which is quite the achievement) and also managed to feed some ducks. It was all going without incident until some children went past us on their bikes yelling, "Hey, look, there's a couple of black babies!". Before we knew it they were out of sight but the effect of that comment would resonate until the next day.

The kids just exclaimed the boys were wrong because they weren't black, after all they thought were white and thought nothing more of it. Continuing the walk, I gave some more thought about how this subject should be tackled. 

We knew this day would come. It was something panel had asked us about and something we were aware of. But until it hits you it doesn't seem real. 

Our approach was simple. It's one of those subjects that are an intrinsic part of their identity and as such should be tackled openly, honestly and in terms the children can understand. It covers not only their immediate identity but how that came about. Potentially this can bring into focus their birth family and something once dealt with is now back into the fore which already seems like a recurring theme. In the "olden days", this would have been hushed up and hidden. Today's more enlightened perspective allows us to give confidence to our children by simply stating the facts in a supportive way, allowing them to know their past, their heritage and build their identity. This is crucial in my view.

I explained, using a chalk board and pie charts of all things, that their birth mum was half black and half white and that their father was white. This made them three quarters white and a quarter black. They loved it and laughed. The pie charts really helped them visualise things although I concede it is definitely not the full picture. I showed them pictures of their birth mum that they'd seen before and some other relatives so they had context.

That was enough information for now. Later, we'll be able to give them the opportunity to explore their two heritages if they want and provide more detail as there are some support groups locally that offer advice on these matters. We've pledged to give our children as much information as is reasonable when they ask for it and this approach seems good to drip feed the information at a pace that suits them. It's a fine line between delivering information and withholding it, granted, but it's an important one to achieve a steady balance. It's the beginning of a long journey, isn't it?

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