I was adopted as a baby, and with my family’s encouragement I decided to look for my birth parents now that I am an adult, getting married, and planning on starting a family of my own. There are questions I need answered, and the only way to get them was to look for my birth family. Well, I found them, and they were overjoyed to meet me. There is just one problem – my parentage is of mixed race, and my adoptive family is terribly racist, so I have not told them that I have found and met with my birth parents.
My birth mother is very light-skinned, and probably at least half-white considering her features (which I have quite obviously inherited), but is still black just the same; my birth-father is quite obviously black. They were just teenagers when I was born and decided to put me up for adoption so I would have a better life than they could offer me. Meeting them – and knowing that I am black and not olive-skinned – has set me on ear. Although I do not consider myself to be racist (I do have black friends, and they don’t seem to think I am a racist) I have grown up my whole life hearing how black people are lazy, poor, and the kind who take no responsibility for their actions. After leaving my birth parents home, all I could hear was my adoptive father’s words ringing in my ears about how [black people] go and have kids without any ways to support them and expect the state to care for their “mistakes”. I felt sick to my stomach thinking that, in my adoptive father’s eyes, I am a “mistake”.
I want desperately for my birth family to be a part of my life and to introduce them to my adoptive family, but I can’t see how that would ever happen. I want to invite my birth parents – and my birth brothers and sister – to my wedding next year, but how do I do that? My adoptive family will find out that I am actually black and completely reject me, I just know it. I don’t want to deny my birth family or keep them a secret, but I can’t see my adoptive family welcoming them with open arms. Or me, once they know who I really am. How can I resolve this situation? My fiancé knows, and he is fine with everything; he has said he can’t wait to meet my birth family and is being very supportive of me. I feel like I am going to have to trade one family for the other.
Passing…Without Even Knowing It
Dear Passing…Without Even Knowing It:
Your letter is one of the most heart-wrenching letters I have ever received, and the most difficult I have ever had to answer. My heart goes out to you, and I will pray that your adoptive family members are able to overcome their prejudices and accept your birth family into your life and theirs.
Racism is an ugly, ugly trait that can be difficult to overcome – not only for the victims of it, but for those who hold such beliefs that they are somehow superior to others. While I cannot see your adoptive family rejecting you – and I am sure they will be full of excuses as to why you are an “exception” because you are their daughter – it is going to take a great deal of time and understanding on the part of both families before any sort of true acceptance can take place.
The sooner you tell your adoptive parents that you have found your birth parents the better. By keeping them a secret your adoptive parents may think that you are ashamed of your birth parents (considering the way your adoptive parents believe) and you will need to correct them of any such notion. Sit down with your adoptive parents and tell them the truth – that you have found your adoptive family, met with them, and that they are wonderful people who chose to place you for adoption because they were young and unable to give you the kind of life they wanted for you. Tell your adoptive parents that your birth parents are grateful that you were raised to be such a competent, caring adult and that you had a wonderful childhood with all the things that they hoped adoption would provide. Add any other sentiments you feel are appropriate or that you feel need to be said. Then, add that there is just one thing that you know will be of a bother to your adoptive parents, but that you would like them to work on getting past it for your sake, and explain to your adoptive parents that you are not olive skinned, but black. Your adoptive parents may already know this, but if they don’t it is a good way to reveal that, “quite obviously”, your birth parents are also black.
People with strongly held views tend to make exceptions for those they love; I hope that your adoptive parents will be willing to see past their racist views and look at the situation through the eyes of love. Explain to them that you want your birth parents – and your birth siblings – to be a part of your life, and that you will be working on developing a relationship with them, and that you plan on inviting them to your wedding. Be prepared for objections from your adoptive parents, but be firm in telling them that any rejection of your birth family is a rejection of you. Remind them that your birth parents are your blood, a phrase that tends to diffuse resentments and build loyalties.
I wish you all the luck in the world and hope that bridges can be built between both sets of your parents. Although I doubt they will change their racist views, perhaps your adoptive parents can learn to judge people on a case by case basis. This is all we can ever ask of anyone. Please write back and let me (and my readers) know how things go.
Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.