Sunday, October 3, 2010

Man, it's white here.

I live in a place that I never knew was SO white.  It makes me sound like an idiot, but when you are white, chances are you don't really notice it, because our society is geared toward making whitey feel comfortable.  Rob and I really started to take notice when we were mid-way through the adoption process, because at one point we were confronted with what "type" of baby we were willing to accept.

Sounds unsavory, no?  It made me feel as if we were placing an order for a sandwich, and not for a human life.  The sheet that the agency gave us covered race/ethnicity as well as things like HIV/AIDs, mental illness, Hep A/B/C, etc.  We were open on everything, except race.  There we checked off the boxes for Caucasian, Hispanic, and Asian.  What made us not check off the African American box was a discussion about where we live.  A little back-story on why that came about.

Our agency is fantastic, and requires parents to go through parenting classes.  My first instinct was to hem and haw, I was a nanny, "I know kids!!"  The class was less about parenting skill and more about parenting children that were of a different ethnicity or color than yourself.  It was an amazing class, one that should really be required of all parents.  At one point the instructor gave us each a cup and different color beads.  Each color stood for a different race:  white, obvious, black, obvious, brown for Hispanic or Indian; yellow for Asian; red for Native American.  We were then asked about 100 questions:  what color is your primary doctor?  color of accountant? lawyer? neighbors, teachers? etc.  We went through a LOT of people in our lives.  At the end we were told to look at our cups.  No one at the table had more than 6 beads TOTAL in their cups that were colored.  It was really eye opening and a little sickening.  I felt like such an asshole.

So, when we were checking off those boxes, Rob turned to me and said we cannot in good conscience raise an A.A baby in this town.  Now, where we live isn't just white.  We have a pretty good Hispanic and African American population.  It's just segregated.  Like from the 1950's.  How this escaped me until I was THIRTY EIGHT YEARS OLD is more than a little embarrassing.  Sadly, I am in pretty good company, because most of our whitey friends have no idea what we are talking about.  Sigh. 

If you have seen the pictures of Cam, you will notice her lovely brown skin.  What is it they say about the best laid plans?  Something about being fucked into oblivion, I think.  When the agency sent us an email last February about the possibility of a baby boy, we were really excited.  He was an already born situation, in Florida, and white.  We put our hats in the ring for the little fellow, and waited to hear back from the agency.  After a week and no word, I was practically delirious.  I HATE "bothering" people, so I felt like an asshole emailing our social worker about the baby, but there was no way I could live without knowing for another day.  When she emailed me back it was to apologize, but the mom had chosen someone else..BUT there was another mom and baby.

Would we like to be considered for another baby born situation?  Baby's mom is Caucasian/Hispanic, dad is Caucasian.  I practically levitated to the phone to scream at the poor social worker: "YES! YES! YES!"  Baby had a few issues, and would need to stay in the hospital for a little while, but was overall pretty darn healthy.  We found out within a few days that mom chose us, and we were OVER THE MOON.  I couldn't wait to get my hands on her, but there were some obstacles with dad.  It would be 17 days before I held my daughter in my arms.  The longest 2.5 weeks of my life.  And in those weeks were some revelations that dad may not be Caucasian, but Hispanic.  Then a few days later,  mom's husband is black, but were told at first that he was assuredly not the father.  At this point, Rob and I had already fallen in love with the idea of our baby, THIS kid, no matter what, was our daughter.  We agreed somewhere in the middle of those two weeks we would move out of town, we'd move ANYWHERE to bring THIS baby home.  Nurses kept saying the baby looked white.

When I pulled the blanket back on Cam at the hospital, it was clear, this baby was not white, but a beautiful brown color.  With lots of black hair and big dark eyes.  I sweet, sleeping, beautiful little baby.  I asked the social worker if she looked like her mom (we were supposed to meet mom that day, but didn't...a story for later), and she said "she looks like her brothers".  Mom and husband already had four boys, so our daughter had four brothers!  I took SW's comment to mean that she looks like mom AND husband.  And from everything I have heard about husband, I HOPE he is my daughter's father.

So, back to this very white town/existence we live.  Friday night we went to the symphony.  The very old and very white were in attendance.  I counted four brown faces, not including the orchestra (much more diverse).  Saturday night we went to our local Yacht Club, a place I had enjoyed for as long as I can remember.  Took sailing lessons as a kid, Pop taking us for dinner there a lot.  Was sitting enjoying the lovely view of the harbor, and what some might term "the early bird special" when I turned to Rob and said "Christ, again, look at the whiteness!"  I mean yeah, YACHT CLUB does not scream diversity.  These last two days have just driven home the fact:  we need to get the hell up out of here.  My brown baby deserves better than this.

No comments:

Post a Comment