Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ethiopian or African-American?


Along with its beauty and richness (doesn't this picture speak volumes), adopting transracially has its complexities, although probably not what the average outsider would assume. It doesn't seem strange having two children who visibly weren't born to me; in fact, I rarely think about that. I don't think our annual Christmas card picture looks funny or "different" from other families' photos; it's just our little (okay, maybe not so little) family. And I don't feel a strange distance from my sons on the basis of their skin color, or their cultural origin. They're just my sons.
Rita Radostitz, a fellow adoptive mom with girls from Layla House (and who now is employed by AAI), recently wrote a great article for Adoptive Families magazine that is worth reading, especially if you have little ones from Ethiopia. We're not there yet with Yosef and Biniam, so I'm grateful that parents with older kids are willing to share their experiences dealing with some of the more complicated aspects of having a multi-racial and multi-cultural family.


13 comments:

Becky said...

Great article! We are not what we look like! My Caribbean college friends looked African- American, but culturally they identified with Hispanic culture. They spoke Spanish, ate rice and beans and found discrimination funny. (Funny in the fact that culturally they didn't know they were suppose to feel offended!) Loving where you came from and embracing differences, helps kids build their own unique identity! I can't wait to see how the boys feel about all this 10 year from now!

Jeannett Gibson said...

Very interesting. I think that once you can really identify with one of the African countries, then really, that's probably where you would feel most "connectivity" to. Certainly I'm American, but in a lot of ways it's probably more accurate to say I'm Californian...there are such wide cultural differences even within our own country, I can only imagine the difference on a continent!

An african-american that was born, raised and had great grandparents all hailing from Chicago are wildly different than your boys...if that makes sense.

Lara said...

Thanks for sharing the article and the beautiful picture. The author had some great insights.
I was initially struck by her "struggle" to balance keeping their culture a part of their lives and yet not allowing them to be "Ethiopian Princesses." My only experience with Ethiopian culture is the book "There is no me without you", but from that I know there are parts of Ethopian culture that are so beautiful, that America is lacking. There is a lot for those girls (and your sons) to be proud of about their heritage. It would be so sad for them to lose any of those beautiful elements of their culture, yet it's wouldn't be good for them to feel they are better than everyone else either. Interesting...I'll be thinking about this for a while.

This might be weird to say, but I hope these struggles will be part of my daily life someday. What I wouldn't give to be able to provide a home for one of my Sri Lankan princesses.

P.S. I'm so glad that burt's bees is working so well for Kaitlyn!! We really like it too. We just found a new lotion by burt's bees, and Caedra actually likes putting lotion on now, instead of squirming to get away (we were using Aveeno Baby before and discovered it also has alcohol as an ingredient - even though the bottle says it's great for eczema! Lame).

I also really enjoyed your Christmas pictures. Looks like the kids had a blast. Have you recovered from lack of sleep yet? (do we ever as moms?)

PastorMac's Ann said...

Great article! Thanks for the link.

Laundry & Children said...

I know exactly what you are saying about not seeing color. When I look at my son and daughter, I just see my kids not "my black kids." I usually forget that we look different from other families.

shell said...

thanks, i enjoyed this.

shell said...

i am linking you b/c of this article!

Brianna Heldt said...

lara, which burts bees lotion did you find for caedra?? glad you found a good one. i found that each product says what percent natural it is; some are 100%, some are not (but are very close.)

honestly i think i'm still trying to recover from the holidays!

Kristen Borland said...

thanks for the link. sweet picture!

Joy said...

what an interesting article. i forwarded it to suzanne smith because i have heard her mention the same thing--that josh's history does not involve american slavery. the picture is way sweet.

Brianna Heldt said...

i'm glad you guys liked the article! and the pic i took of anna and yosef last year, it's one of my favorites.

The Hausams said...

I'm with you. I recently had a close friend tell me that it's a shame I'll always have "a distance" from my children by adoption... It blew me away that she thought like that. I feel like there isn't one bit of difference between my children by birth and those by adoption. It especially amazed me that she made a distinction between my son who is adopted (who is caucasian, born in the states), and my daughter (born in Ethiopia)!
I'm trying not to let that sour our friendship, but frankly it's been tough. Thanks for sharing the article.

Lara said...

Brianna - We are using "Thoroughly Therapeutic Honey & Shea Butter Body Butter" by Burt's Bees. She loves it. But it is only 99% all natural.
I also bought "Shea Butter Blissful Baby Balm" by ALAFFIA to put on the really bad spots. Her skin responds really well to it.
New Frontier's has a huge selection of all natural lotions and skin products, plus tons of Burts bees. You'll have to check it out sometime.

 

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