No Man’s Land

The World of White Parents with Black Children

At that moment, when nothing I’ve done or will do matters more than the fact I’m White, I stand completely unable to defend that which they can’t see beyond, my color and my privilege.

Those were my words  after a painful encounter where as the only white in a group of black women, I was given a firm admonition (I’m being tactful) regarding my perceived inability to understand my Black child.   A well-meaning Black sister told my daughter she wished she could take her in, as if MY child I’ve had since infancy needed to be taken from my whiteness.  As I recalled the previous day’s conversation and the raw emotions it produced,  the tears were as willing and hot as they had been the day before.

I am white.  I have children who share my skin color, and I have children who do not. Some were born of my womb, some of my heart.  If you were to line us up, we create a landscape  from the palest of creams to the richest of browns.  Eyes from bright sky blue to a dark chocolate so bottomless you can lose yourself.

A black woman recently asked me why we decided to adopt Black kids.  My answer is 21 years old now…because I didn’t specify my first babies outward appearances  and I’m not placing an order this time either.  We simply wanted to  grow our family by His divine intent and by His good will.

A white woman has poured praises over me for taking in children who were not our own and “giving them a good life”.  On the contrary, they were blessings we received not the other way around.  From the moment we first laid eyes on each of them, they were entirely ours for always and in all ways.


There is so much beauty in our story, so much of the Master’s redemptive plan for each and every human is revealed through adoption.  The ability to sit back and watch God  work out a vast array of details and seemingly insurmountable circumstances to place a specific child into a specific family is just one way He has of fulfilling His plan and purpose in our lives.  The ability of a man and woman to accept and fully embrace a child not conceived by them as their own is the same as God accepting and fully embracing us as His own despite our birth into sin.  I believe every Christ-follower has the capacity to love another in this way through the power of the Holy  Spirit living within us.  What would seem unnatural to the world is innate to believers; a no-brainer, so to speak.

Beautiful and ordained, yes…simple, no.  And so, I drift between the world I know of White privilege and the world my children know.  I’ll call their world Skin First.  I have the privilege of being known for many things before my descriptive race while they most often, are known first by the color of their skin.  What’s worse is when that is all they are known by.  I live in a zone between a White world unwilling to admit there is such a thing as privilege and a Black world unwilling to see their own racial prejudices.  I row my little boat between these two land masses on a sea of angst while bitter voices scream at each other from the shores.  I want my children to be a part of both worlds but neither land has a friendly port for our interracial crew.  We sail on, to No Man’s Land.

Back to my experience as the minority.  I sobbed on the way home.  My daughter, upon seeing and hearing how the encounter had made me feel,  grieved with me.  She was able to tell me that hearing me share how vulnerable I felt solely by the color of my skin made her think I was truly understanding her struggles as a black child in a white community and school for the first time. Over and over she assured me, I am HER mom, the only one she knows, the only one she wants.

This isn’t the first such encounter and it won’t be the last, so what’s the goal in this writing?   I guess I hope to reach my sisters and brothers from both races with this message:

  • Adopted children are God’s children first.  He defines them, not their race. Only when we teach them the value of who they are in Christ, will they be able to withstand the icy winds of racial divides.
  • Adoption happens once.  Do we call ourselves children of God or adopted children of God?  I AM a child of God, its a done deal.  Let us live that way.  We are aware our color differences point out that an adoption took place but we really like to forgo the intrusive questions.
  • Transracial families are both Black and White.  Do not make them choose.
  • Skin color does not a mother (or father) make.  We can all agree Southern White children who were raised by Black “help” were well, well loved and cared for.  Can we be tolerant when that scenario is flipped in our present times?
  • Society is bound by the chains of our History.  Racism as well as reverse racism is alive and well and both our our cultures feed it.  This is a burden each race owns and must first recognize; second, reveal; and third, revolt against.
  • Children do need healthy relationships with people of their own race, but those relationships must always honor the parents’ place in that child’s life.  If you are mentoring, never assume the white momma doesn’t get it.  She may not have personally lived it, but it is her beloved child….believe me, she gets it.
  • I find certain cultural trends in both races unhealthy and denigrating.  Rejecting some form of cultural expression from the Black culture does not equate with me rejecting a Black brother or sister.  Unwrap it.
  • There is a disproportionate number of Black foster and adoptive homes compared to White homes.  Step it up Black friends!
  • White friends, you ARE privileged.  Until you have spent quality time with a Black man or woman and listened to their experiences, do not even pretend to think you can speak to this.
  • We have to lay the fear down.  It is my belief that we have become so fearful of each other, we build fences instead of bridges.  Emotionally, physically, socially, etc.
  • I touched on it earlier but want to reiterate.  As White parents we oppose our Black children being viewed as mission projects or attention-getting tokens.  This devalues them as it suggests they were obtained for our psychological gain vs. them being truly desired by parents who were creating a family.

It is time for the church to take the lead on this.  These relationships need to be born and nurtured within the safety of a community of believers.  This is a call-out.  What can you do in your corner of the world?   Have a discussion with your church leaders about creating a safe place for Transracial families to connect with fellow believers of other races who would be willing to embrace them as a family.  Mentoring relationships will naturally spring from this.  If you’ve been part of such a community, please share with the rest of us what has made your experience successful!

This Sunday is Sanctity of Life Sunday.  A date  which is poignantly special since it would have been so “convenient” for three birth mothers to end our children’s lives.  I would like to end by honoring the bravery and sacrifice of these women and the countless others like them.  For them, I am so grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blunt thoughts on Supporting Foster/Adoptive Parenting

What foster/adoptive (FA) parent hasn’t heard the “Oh, it’s so good of you to do that”?  Or, may this one, “Oh,  she/he/they are so lucky to have been placed with you”?   It kind of makes me cringe and shiver just typing it.  Here’s the deal, if you are an FA parent and you don’t cringe or shiver at that, check your motives because it has nothing to do with you being a super hero but everything to do with us having a super God, right?!  It is only through the Lord’s  supernatural intervention that broken pots like you and me are able to be anything more than a hotel for these kids.

If you are a friend or support person for an adoptive parent, let me clear up a few things.

#1) Some of you are not called by God to raise children not born of your own flesh; BUT, you are absolutely called to support those who do. Please let the family you are helping dictate what is most helpful to them.  Ask for an honest answer to the question, “What would speak love and support to you as tackle FA parenting?”

#2)  Know that you may get a “good feeling” by helping out an FA family, but please know it may not be a “good time”.  We cannot predict our child’s behavior.  Please supervise them at all times.

#3) Know that the stories of the wild child with the downright demonic behavior we have described to you will probably never be seen by you.   Please NEVER question that it truly happens. The kids tend to save that for us.  We are the ones they want to attach to.  That means we are the ones in the relationship with them that must be sabotaged.  Don’t bond, don’t bond, don’t bond.  It won’t last, it won’t last, it won’t last.  But maybe, maybe maybe. No! NO! NO!    You get the picture.

#4) Know that no matter how early in life our children come to us, they are damaged.  Sound harsh?  Yes, it is.    I won’t bore you with the scientific details of the damage done to the amygdala at the loss of a birth mom, let alone early childhood separation, abuse and neglect.  Please, just trust us.  Please, don’t judge us.

#5)  Never, ever ask us which ones are “ours” when we have our whole crew together.  They all are for whatever time God gives them to us.

#6)  When we experience the loss of a tough kid, and we do, we may look horrible, be exhausted, cranky and battle weary.  Please don’t say, “you must be relieved” or “its probably for the best”.  No, it is never, ever a relief to have a failed placement or to return a child to a dangerous situation.  Even if it is in our best interest, it is a loss and we shoulder heavy guilt over the decision to call it quits.

If Foster/Adoptive Month makes you contemplate becoming an FA parent, know this:

#1)  Some of us were called by God to raise children not born of our own flesh.  It’s a calling, not a playdate.  There are days when there is absolutely not one “good” feeling you can scratch out of the crusty mud left from the deluge of raging emotions.  There are days when, despite your very best efforts, you can’t summon up the strength to find any “good” in your decision to heed the call.  You fail.  The child fails.  The system fails.  The school fails.  Callings aren’t easy.  They never are.

#2)  This is not for the questioning heart.  This must be a hard-core, extensively prayed-over, sold-out, WELL-EDUCATED decision.  Talk, talk, talk to FA families.  Sit in their homes.  Spend time listening to their hearts, not the process.

#3)  It will take a toll on your birth children.  Do not doubt for a minute that your “unexposed kids” will be unaffected by the “exposed children” you bring into your home.  Spending time with FA families will educate you on the challenges you may face in your home and with your children.

#3)   Outcomes for children in care are pretty poor, and you may feel as if you didn’t make a difference but  God still reigns.  We have known that one of ours aged out in a detention facility ravaged by the same mental illness her mother had.  Holding each other, crying, my husband and I walked down the long dark halls of the mental health facility we left her in, well knowing she would never come back to our home, but God was still on his throne.  Fostering, especially, leaves questions unanswered on this side of heaven.  Know that some can’t be saved by you.

#4)  Mommas, hear me….you will not be enough for this child.  Ouch!  You, as a mother with all your momma heart, momma love, and momma skills will not be “enough”.  I don’t care at what age this child enters your heart and home.  While you need to claim your place in this child’s life, you also need to be prepared to search out others to fill in the gaps left by trauma, separation, abuse, loss of birth parent, racial differences, etc.  You will need to find mentors, professionals, service providers, respite providers who can augment your momma love and devotion.  It is okay that you’re not enough because the truth is….only Christ is.

#5) You will age quickly.  You will look for hoarded food in bed sheets.  You will wipe poop from places poop shouldn’t be.  You will learn from the professionals how to take down and restrain a child.  You will shrug off the destruction to your property after a child’s rage.  You will lock children in their rooms at night for safety reasons.  You will gain weight because you hide the chocolate treats in your bedroom closet where only you can get to them.  You will loose weight because you are worried sick.  You will cry.  You will swear.  You will fall on your knees in submission to God who gives you the strength to get up and do it again tomorrow.  And then, one precious day, this will come:

“Thank you! And you had a hand in my up bringing, you were very good to us through it all. You were there when it all began to unfold. You loved and supported me and helped me heal, I’m so thankful that God lead you and dad to be foster parents, I can’t imagine not having you in my life! I love you so much!”

 And, you will hear God whispering,  “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ Matthew 25:40.

So, if you are considering FA parenting, is it worth it?  Absolutely it is.

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