we want to look related

..but sometimes we don’t.  Or we do, but people can’t see it because of that skin color, hair color, eye color thing.  I don’t think looking alike means being the same shade.  Shapes are involved too.  That we toss all of our kindergarten training aside to rely solely on hue when it comes to this kind of thing is a symptom of this disease I’ll call colorism.  A descendant of our old friend racism.  Needless to say, I like this piece because it points all of that out.

Who does your baby look like?



I remember glancing into a bathroom vanity a few years back and doing a double take.

In the dim light, I could have sworn I saw my mother’s face staring back at me. It was her slightly curved nose, her oval face and heavy eyelids. What could have been an unwelcome reminder of aging instead took me back to my childhood. I remember watching intently, enamored by her face, as my mother applied her makeup for parties.

A homely sort of child, no one ever told me I looked like her when I was young.

Nonetheless, I was still stunned when the doctor handed me my newborn daughter. She looked nothing like me.

Perhaps we expect to replicate ourselves, at least to some degree. Her hair was much lighter than my black locks. Her skin was considerably paler. She looks so much like her paternal grandmother, Georgia Kelley, a Midwestern woman of European descent.

This baby girl looked just like her father, a product of a biracial marriage himself.

One visitor tried to tell me that all newborns resemble their fathers initially. It’s an evolutionary adaptation to reassure dad that he’s actually the daddy.

Dr. Alan Templeton, professor of genetics at Washington University School of Medicine, says he hasn’t ever seen any scientific research supporting that theory.

“I’m actually very skeptical of it,” he said. But, there is plenty of research on organisms, including humans, showing that they rely on resemblances as part of kin recognition. And, we treat those we recognize as kin differently than nonkin, he said.

“This is evolutionarily quite old, and not unique to humans,” he said.

It made me wonder if we subconsciously favor a child who looks more like us?

My sisters joke that I look like my daughter’s Mexican nanny when we are out in public.

Like any biased parent, I think she’s beautiful. But I was tickled when our second child arrived with the exact same almond-shaped eyes as my entire family. He looks like a miniature version of my younger brothers. It’s a public display of genetic prowess: We won round two.

There must be a biological imperative involved. We are hardwired to want to pass along our own very special DNA. The crooked smile and hazel eyes are genetic affirmation.

Almost immediately after a child is born, speculation begins on who the child looks like. It’s one of the most popular topics of discussion as babies’ faces change so rapidly in those early years. And when we tell someone their child looks like them, the typical response is usually a big smile.

But in this age of increasingly biracial and multiracial families, cross-cultural adoption and fertility treatments with donor eggs or sperm, there will be more children who look strikingly different from their parents.

I’ve known a few white women who have married Pakistani men and subtly changed their appearance once their children were born. Typically, blond hair gets dyed a shade or two darker. They get tired of answering the question: “Is she really yours?”
We want to look related. We want outsiders to know we are on the same team, a family.

Parents who adopt children from another ethnicity deal with intrusive (and sometimes obnoxious) questions fairly regularly. Questions such as “How much did they cost? and “Why didn’t you adopt a white baby?” make the old jokes about the milkman seem downright charming.

One mom delights in telling the story of taking her adopted son, who shares her blue eyes and blond hair, to restaurants. She’s been told by bystanders: “Oh, there’s no mistaking he’s your son.”

She smiles and says: “You’re right.”

I’ve heard my share of awkwardly phrased questions when people see pictures of my children. Sometimes, they’ll ask: What is their father? I’m always tempted to answer by species rather than race. But, I know the subtext. Skin color, hair color, eye color — those primitive markers signify if you’re one of us or one of them.

That shorthand just doesn’t work as well in today’s world.

When people tell me my daughter looks just like me, I am secretly delighted even though I don’t buy it. But, there is a reason she frequently makes me want to pull my hair out: her stubborn personality, her passionately held opinions, the smart remarks and proclivity to collect mounds of clutter. Looks notwithstanding, she is a 7-year-old reflection of myself.

what’s this world coming to!?

This is a great article chronicling the changing landscape of transracial adoption.  Best advice I’ve read on the matter: “those adopting must be educated to understand ‘the impact of race and racism on the country, their family and the child in particular.'”

Transracial adoptions: A ‘feel good’ act or no ‘big deal’?

By Jessica Ravitz


(CNN) — “White people adopt black kids to make themselves feel good… A black child needs black parents to raise it.” “Maybe she adopted one because the blacks in the community wouldn’t step forward and adopt?” “What’s the big deal? If no white person ever adopted a black child, they’d be saying why don’t white people adopt black children.” “Who cares what race they are? A woman got a child, a child got a mother…it’s BEAUTIFUL!!! And yes I am black…if it matters.”

These impassioned comments and thousands more poured in earlier this week when CNN published a story on the stirred-up debate surrounding Sandra Bullock’s recent adoption. A People magazine cover photo of the actress beaming at her newly adopted black infant son, and the discussions that have followed, clearly hit a nerve.

So when it comes to transracial adoptions in this country, where are we?

Stacey Bush is the white child of a black mother whose adoption sparked controversy and whose attitude forces people to think about the issue differently.

Stacey wouldn’t change a thing about her life, which is saying a lot for a young woman who spent her early childhood being neglected and bounced through the foster-care system. That was before a drawn-out legal case ended in 1998, allowing a single black woman, Regina Bush — the only mother Stacey had ever loved — to become her forever mom.

Regina Bush stands with her daughter, Stacey, whom she adopted after lengthy legal wrangling.

Regina Bush stands with her daughter, Stacey, whom she adopted after lengthy legal wrangling.

The Michigan lawsuit was filed when a county agency cited concerns about “cultural issues” in an attempt to keep the pair apart. Regina Bush’s adoption of Stacey’s biracial half-sister had already been completed, without challenge, and Bush says she wanted to keep the girls together. (As a matter of full disclosure, this CNN writer’s late father represented Regina Bush in the case.)

At 21, Stacey is thriving in college, well on her way to becoming an early-childhood educator and seamlessly moving between worlds. In one day, she might braid the hair of black friends, address faculty at Central Michigan University where she is on a partial multicultural scholarship, and then go salsa dancing with her Latina sorority sisters.

“People are sometimes startled. ‘She’s white, but she doesn’t seem white,'” she says with a laugh. “I can relate to everyone. I like being exposed to everything. … Seeing me, hearing me — it doesn’t matter what color you’re raised just as long as someone loves you.”

Forty percent of children adopted domestically and internationally by Americans are a different race or culture from their adoptive parents, according to a 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents, the most recent study of its kind conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Legislation passed by Congress in 1994 and 1996 prohibits agencies getting federal help from discriminating against would-be parents based on race or national origin.

How adoptive parents have approached transracial adoptions has changed with time, says Chuck Johnson, acting chief executive of the National Council for Adoption.

“In the old days, meaning the ’70s and ’80s, there was this notion that these parents need to be colorblind. This sounds wonderful, but by being colorblind you’re denying they’re of a different race and culture,” Johnson says. “Families that are successful are those that acknowledge race. … It’s not a curse. It’s not an impossible feat. They just need to work harder to give a child a sense of self-identity.”

It may be ideal and less complicated to match children available for adoption with same-race, same-culture families, says Johnson, who advocates that children be raised in their own countries whenever possible, too.

“But timeliness is of the utmost importance,” he says. “It’s better to find permanency and a loving home.”

The latest figures show that there are 463,000 American kids in the foster-care system, of which 123,000 are available for adoption, Johnson says. Of those, he says, 30 percent are black, 39 percent are white, 21 percent are Hispanic and the rest are of other origins.

Seventy-three percent of official adoptions — including those arranged through foster care, private domestic arrangements and internationally — are done by whites, according to the 2007 survey of adoptive parents. But that doesn’t account for informal arrangements, when relatives take in other family members’ children, which is much more common in the black community, says Toni Oliver, vice-president elect of the National Association of Black Social Workers.  She says the black community takes in “more children than the whole foster care system does,” although Johnson adds that often these arrangements don’t have the safeguards and protections legal adoptions provide.

When handled well, transracial adoption is “a very positive thing,” says Rita Simon, who has been studying these adoptions for 30 years and has written 65 books, including “Adoption, Race & Identity: From Infancy to Young Adulthood.”

“But love is not enough,” said Simon, a professor of justice and public policy at American University in Washington. “You really have to make some changes in your life if you adopt a child of another race.”

In the case of a white parent adopting a black child, that might mean living in an integrated neighborhood, having pictures in the home of black heroes, seeking out other families in similar situations, attending a black church and finding role models or godparents who are black. The same need to integrate a child’s culture applies across the board, whether parents are adopting from Asia, Central America or elsewhere.

“It helps make our society more integrated,” said Simon, who has five biracial grandchildren. “Race becomes less important and other kinds of identity issues become more important.”

Bill Barry and his wife, Joan Jacobson, adopted two boys as newborns. Willie, 17, is biracial and Alex, 15, is black. Race never mattered to the white couple when they set out to adopt, after it became clear they wouldn’t be able to bear children on their own.

Bill Barry and Joan Jacobson pose with their two sons, Willie, left, and Alex, whom they adopted as newborns.

Bill Barry and Joan Jacobson pose with their two sons, Willie, left, and Alex, whom they adopted as newborns.

“We simply wanted a healthy newborn,” Barry says. “We didn’t care about race, didn’t care about sex, and we knew we wanted them locally.”

Had the family uprooted to white suburbia, he suspects, the journey might have been more challenging. As it is, the kids go to public schools in Baltimore, Maryland, live in a multiracial and multicultural environment and grew up in a house where pictures of Paul Robeson and Rosa Parks hung on the walls. But Barry says he and his wife didn’t “go way overboard.” The white pair didn’t, for example, suddenly start celebrating Kwanzaa.

“My wife is Jewish, though not so practicing, and we did Christmas and Hanukkah. Double the presents — they quickly celebrated that,” he says. “Kids are always trying to figure out their identity and who they are, and race is just part of it.”

That may be true, but the National Association of Black Social Workers has long argued for keeping black children in black homes. About 40 years ago, the association released a four-page position paper on transracial adoption in which it went so far as to call such adoptions “genocide” — and that word choice has dogged the organization ever since.

But Oliver, the vice-president-elect, says when that position was written decades ago, blacks were being discounted as adoptive parents, not being given the same resources to help keep families together and thereby prevent the need for child placements, and that agencies weren’t recruiting families within the community. By speaking strongly, the organization helped jolt the system — although more still needs to be done, she says.

The preference, Oliver says, remains that kids be placed in same-race households whenever possible. And if it isn’t possible, or if a birth parent selects an adoptive family of a different race, then those adopting must be educated to understand “the impact of race and racism on the country, their family and the child in particular,” she says.

“There is a negative impact that children and families are going to experience based on race,” she says. “The idea that race doesn’t matter is not true. We would like it to be true, but it’s not.”

Regina and Stacey Bush have faced challenges along the way. They’ve received their share of stares and under-the-breath comments like, “What’s this world coming to.” When a young Stacey once started climbing into the van to join her family at an Arby’s restaurant, patrons came running to grab her, yelling that she was going into the wrong car. The girl was given detention at school, accused of lying because she called a young black boy her little brother, which he was. At a movie theater one time, someone called the police because they feared Stacey had been abducted.

Regina says she got attacks from both sides.

“White babies were a precious commodity. ‘Blacks can’t take care of white children,'” she remembers hearing. “And blacks were outraged” because there are so many black children in the system who need homes, and “they didn’t understand why a black woman wouldn’t adopt one of her own.”

But she says she simply wanted to keep Stacey and her half-sister in the same home and give them a loving family, together.

Stacey says that upbringing taught her to embrace all people.

“It gave me so much opportunity to talk to so many different people. There were no limitations. I stood up for a lot of things, and it made me break peoples’ mind-sets,” she says. “We’re accountable for each other as brothers and sisters. We need to look out for each other because at the end of the day we’re all human beings.”

even more on adoption

This one isn’t so much about the fact that Biracial and African American children are “hard to place”, but about what they need once they’ve been placed. They need help finding their place.  Relationships are key.  Artifacts, not so much.

New research on multiracial adoption questions current practices

While many people who are adopted by members of another race still identify as black or mixed race, many lack the community and cultural connections with others who share those same identities. New research in the journal Family Process suggests that adopted children of mixed race need early and ongoing experiences within the cultural communities of their origin, and with other multiracial adopted persons, to help them to build healthy cultural identities. The labels black, biracial, multiracial, imply that the transracial adopted child has a healthy sense of that identity and all that it encompasses. Dr. Gina Miranda Samuels, author of a study and a multiracial, transracial adoptee herself, remarks, “we must question the meaning and cultural experiences (or lack thereof) beneath these labels. Furthermore, the idea of ‘colorblindness’ is now challenged as an effective approach in transracial parenting.”

Prior research on transracial adoptees often focused on self-esteem and school achievement in comparison to their non-adopted peers, but not in terms of their cultural sense of belonging. This study explores how transracial adoptees with mixed black-white heritage develop a sense of belonging and connection to their black heritage. Samuels also pays heed to how different racial-ethnic communities, and white adoptive parents, can support the identity development of their child by developing relationships in their child’s racial-ethnic communities.

The author asserts that diverse experiences (not confined to events, books, or dolls) can cause a family to become a truly multicultural as well as multiracial, family, and not a family of white parents with children of color.

Most adoptees interviewed for the study told of their search for their biological black fathers and extended black family in order to feel more deeply connected to their black heritage. This finding emphasizes the importance of culturally grounded relationships over cultural artifacts in identity development. Samuels found that there is often a stigma associated with transracial adoption in communities of color which can in turn diminish the “acceptance” of transracially adopted persons in those communities.

Samuels recommends that social workers and child welfare practitioners raise awareness of the importance of these experiences for transracial adoptees and adoptive families, and recognize both the strengths and challenges embedded in transracial adoption and mixed race identities.


critical need

I know I’ve posted about this before, but I’m gonna do it again.  And again and again, probably.  The fact that biracial (and af/am) children are in the “critical need” category based solely on their race is unsettling to me.  So, let’s get out there and adopt them 🙂

Catholic Charities to hold information session on adoption

Wilmington, Del. –

Catholic Charities Inc. will host a free informational session for parents who want to learn more about building a family through adoption.

All are welcome to explore opportunities to adopt children in critical need, including African American children, biracial children and special needs children at the late February program.

“These children, ranging in age from infants to age 17, need parents now,” Catholic Charities’ Executive Director Richelle A. Vible said. “If you can, please consider opening your heart to the possibility of creating a family through adoption. It is a special blessing to become the most important person in a child’s life.”

Read more: www.sussexcountian.com

Adoption process is more involved than many realize

By Karamagi Rujumba, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Within the United States, a private adoption could cost that much($22,000-25,000), in both time and money, especially depending on the race of the child a family wants to adopt, experts say.

“We are always in need of families to adopt African-American and mixed-race babies,” said Connie Bach, director of adoption for Children’s Home of Pittsburgh and Lemieux Family Center, a full service agency in Friendship.

Full service means that her agency helps walk prospective adoptive parents through the process, which includes a security background check, a family analysis profile, matching and placement of the child before a court can put its stamp of approval on an adoption.

“Something people should know about adoption is that it often takes time, but if a family is truly committed to the process, it can be the most rewarding thing,” said Ms. Bach, whose agency mostly focusses on adoption of babies within the United States.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10022/1030194-53.stm#ixzz0eZyBSjYM

a reunion

Siblings cherish long-awaited reunion with birth mother on Thanksgiving

By Cheryll A. Borgaard

For Helen Ford, finding her birth mother four months ago was “exciting, but scary.”

“I was nervous, but I also had a feeling of happiness,” Ford, 54, said Monday. “If you’ve been the product of adoption, you have some questions, but it felt good. You think, ‘Maybe I’ll meet this person, see who I am, where I came from.’ ”

She learned she was born to a 17-year-old blond-haired white girl from a strict Mormon background and a young black man the teen had met in high school in Seattle.

Early Thanksgiving morning at her Longview home, Ford and her birth mother, Delores Burlew, 72, saw each other for the first time in more than five decades.

Their reunion wasn’t the only one to take place that day. Burlew also met Mark Robinson, 52, another child she had with the man two years after Ford was born.

Growing up in Longview

Ford and Robinson were adopted by a black couple, Melvin and Jeanette Robinson of Longview — she at age 2 1/2, he shortly after his birth. They grew up on Eighth Avenue in Longview in a predominantly black neighborhood.

“We were blessed, in a sense, that we got to grow up in the same household. As far as Mama was concerned, we were hers,” Ford said of her adoptive mother, who gave her children little or no information about their background. “Growing up, we did have issues (being biracial), but for the most part, it made us who we are today.”

…Burlew remembers the day she received the document from Children’s Home Society, asking if she would agree to let Ford contact her.

“I got the letter on Friday, and I was scheduled to go to heart surgery on Monday, Aug. 10,” she said Monday from her home in Ogden, Utah. “In the meantime, I had to send in a consent form, but because of my surgery, the caseworker circumvented it, and Helen and I spoke that weekend.”

One of the first things Burlew told Ford during that phone call was that she’d also given up for adoption a son born March 17, 1959.

“I told her yes, that’s my brother, Mark, and that we’d been adopted by the same couple,” Ford said. “Dee (which is what Ford calls Burlew) was just floored at that point.”

“It was great to find out they were together,” Burlew said.

‘It wasn’t something I wanted to do’

Burlew moved from Utah to Seattle with her mother and stepfather in August 1954, just before her senior year of high school.

“I thought my mother was taking me straight to hell; I hated it there,” Burlew said. “I had to leave all my friends in Utah.”

When Burlew discovered she was pregnant, “My mother told me I wouldn’t handle the stress and couldn’t keep the baby. It wasn’t something I wanted to do.”

Burlew went to a home for unwed mothers in Seattle. “My mother didn’t want anyone to know what happened. My mother was a very, very staunch (Mormon).”

The young man had gone into the service, and when he came back on furlough, “it was one time, and boom, there was Mark,” Burlew said.

This time, her mother kicked her out of the house. Burlew said she got a job baby-sitting until she was far enough along in her pregnancy to return to the home for unwed mothers.

“It was just really difficult for me to go through it again,” she said. “But I wanted them to be wherever they would be the best off. I thought I would try to find them, but I never had the means. That’s why I never changed my maiden name. I thought maybe they could find me.”

She returned to Utah in 1959 following her first marriage and gave birth to another son and daughter.

“When they were old enough to know, I told them I figured I needed to tell them (about Ford and Robinson),” she said. “I wanted to tell them of the possibility that ‘You might not like your brother or sister because they’re biracial.’ ”

Read more of the Ford/Robinson/Burlew story HERE

I really liked this story…until the part where the birth mother said she had to warn her white other children that they might not like their siblings because they are biracial.  Did it not occur to her to raise them in a way that would encourage acceptance of all people?  Please pardon my judgmental tone.  I’m just sayin’.

re: willing to accept

Here’s another article that references the perils of placing biracial babies in adoptive homes.  Is adoptive a word?  Anyway, this just reinforces my strong desire to adopt a brood of biracial kids.  I guess it’s not going to be that difficult once I’m ready.  Getting ready is the difficult part.

Adoption fulfills dream of blended family for Erie County couple


A chatty little social butterfly, 5-year-old Grace Ann May can be sassy and likes to show off a little.

That’s how Annette May describes the daughter who is most like May was as a child.

“Other than she’s brown and I’m white,” May said.

Grace is one of two girls and two boys who became part of the May family, of Greene Township, through adoption.

Gracie, as she’s called, and two of the others are biracial. The children, who range in age from 5 to 12, were joined by Annette and Scott May’s first biological child, a daughter born on Mother’s Day.

“White, black, purple with pink polka dots, it really doesn’t matter to us,” Annette May said. “Everybody deserves a family that loves them.”

…The Mays’ four adoptions were done through Catholic Charities, even though the family is Presbyterian. The agency works with families of all faiths. It had more adoption options and lower fees than other agencies, Annette May said.

Heather Hough, adoption counselor for the agency, said cute babies with blonde hair and blue eyes are the easiest to find families for.  “Everybody wants those,” she said.

Some children up for adoption have physical, mental or behavioral issues, said Ellen Miller, Catholic Charities’ special-needs adoption coordinator. She worked with the Mays on their adoptions.

The Web site for the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network, or S.W.A.N., states that “special needs” refers to “children waiting to be adopted who are older, of minority heritage, part of a sibling group or have a disability” or “for whom finding an adoptive family may be more challenging.”

“A lot of our kids, their need is they need a family more than (they) have special requirements,” Miller said.

Annette May said one of the most difficult parts of adopting was answering questions about what she and her husband would accept in a child.

“You can’t make those decisions when you have a child naturally, so I felt very awkward feeling like I could make those decisions in this circumstance…  We had fertility issues,” Annette May said. “We’re kind of traditional folk. We never really financially could afford in-vitro (fertilization) or things like that, and I’m just not that type of person, not interested in going through all that. It sounds very cliché, but as a kid, I always thought it would be very neat to have a blended family.”

That family started with Grace Ann. She was 10 days old when the Mays took her home. They were early in the adoption process and hadn’t expected results so soon, but no other family wanted a biracial baby at the time, Annette May said.
“We’ve always been open to pretty much any age and any race,” she said.

When Gracie was 6 months old, the couple heard from Miller at Catholic Charities again.

“She called and said, ‘We have a biracial little boy, born at Hamot yesterday, needs somebody to pick him up tomorrow. Are you willing?'” Annette May recalled.

“At the time, we just kind of thought, ‘This is so unusual.’ We had those thoughts of, ‘People say it takes forever. It’s a boy and a girl. Are we ever going to have the opportunity if we turn it down?  And so we said yes, and I thought, ‘Hey, people have twins all the time. What’s the big deal? We’ll just get it all out of the way at once — diapers, bottles, the whole thing.'”

Read the rest of the Mays’ story HERE

willing to accept

This isn’t the first I’ve heard of biracial children falling under the umbrella of “hard to place” in the adoption world,  but this little article still made me sad.  As if it would be a great sacrifice, or a kind of acquiescence, perhaps an inconvenience to bring one of “those” children into your family.  But hey, they’ll pay you to take one…

Adoption Resourcess, under the umbrella of Jewish Family and Childrens’ Services, is a licensed, nonprofit adoption agency in Massachusetts. They have been in business for 140 years…

“The agency is a conduit for contact”, states the director. They provide counseling, support and education to birthparents before and after the birth. These services are also provided to the adoptive parents, and to adoptees seeking information on their heritage.

For a flat fee, the prospective parent(s) can adopt a healthy, Caucasian infant within one to two years. For those willing to accept biracial or at risk children that wait time can be as little as one year. Betsy notes that the agency is particularly proud of its Lindelli Fund, which provides subsidies to any parent wishing to adopt hard-to-place children.- via


These children are not up for adoption.  They’re just cute and biracial.

biracial wedding

I thought this was a sweet story for Sunday blogging.  Yay, biracial couple!

Jodi Hilton for The New York Times

New York Times



SOMETIMES the one for whom you’ve been searching your entire life turns out to have been beside you all along or, in the case of Leah Elizabeth Squires and Eric Raymond Traub, in the next crib.

“The memories of her go as far back as I can remember,” Mr. Traub, now 32, said.

In the 1970s, their parents, Helen Gagel and Bob Squires and Linda and Ray Traub, were neighbors in Evanston, Ill., and became close friends, sharing a bond that ran deeper than their camaraderie and commitment to social justice. Ms. Squires’s parents are an interracial couple, while Mr. Traub, of mixed race himself, is an adopted son of white parents. Back then, Linda Traub said, “It wasn’t as accepted.”

Leah Squires and Eric Traub, the most bookish of the children, could always be found, said Catherine Squires, an older sister, “with their heads together” reading mystery and fantasy books. So independent and feisty was Ms. Squires that she even got Mr. Traub to play with her Barbies, her mother said.

After leaving for college they stayed in touch, if only sporadically, leading lives that were quite different yet oddly in sync.

In the winter of 2002, when the Varoom Group, a collective of dancers and choreographers of which Ms. Squires was a member, gave a performance, Mr. Traub and his girlfriend at the time came to New York to see it.

Their next reunion — the funeral of Ms. Squires’s father in October 2004 — was sad, but far more telling about their relationship. Mr. Traub was a pallbearer, which served to remind Ms. Squires of just how deep the bond between the two families remained.

“My dad was one of his first role models of being an African-American man,” she said.

more children’s books with biracial characters

I came across reviews of two books for kids ages 8-12 with biracial main characters at TheHappyNappyBookseller.com. Thanks so much Happy Nappy Bookseller!  I wish I’d had these books when I was a kid.

Prince of Fenway Park

Oscar’s parents adopted him when he was a baby and he worries they divorced after realizing he was half black. Being biracial Oscar has a hard time fitting in at school.

“What didn’t help was that just this year it seemed as if the white kids he’d been friends with in elementary school didn’t have much to say to him anymore, and there weren’t many black kids in Hingham Middle. Occasionally a Hispanic kid would ask him something in Spanish assuming he spoke it. He’d just shrug.” (from ARC)

I don’t run across too many biracial characters in middle grade fiction, so I was very happy to discover this about Oscar. While reading I couldn’t help thinking about all the biracial children who may discover this story and be able to relate to Oscar’s feelings.

“There was a code for race, and the tidy letters were all lined up: Black. He’d never seen it written before. There was a spot for it on the MCAS- standardized tests- and Oscar usually left it blank. The previous year he’d lightly marked both white and black and then smudged them on purpose, which seemed the most honest answer he could give.”


“Her parents were her parents, and she almost never thought about being adopted-except that sometimes, she did.  And they didn’t talk much about the fact that she was biracial and her parents- weren’t.  Her mother had blond hair, even.  Well, greyish blond, but still blond.  It totally didn’t matter, and it was mostly just funny, like when her father got all into celebrating Kwanzaa and everything, and she had to make him promise never to wear kente cloth in front of her friends again.”

transracial adoption

Here are some excerpts from a very insightful Newsweek article on transracial adoption…



…As a black father and adopted white daughter, Mark Riding and Katie O’Dea-Smith are a sight at best surprising, and at worst so perplexing that people feel compelled to respond. Like the time at a Pocono Mountains flea market when Riding scolded Katie, attracting so many sharp glares that he and his wife, Terri, 37, and also African-American, thought “we might be lynched.” And the time when well-intentioned shoppers followed Mark and Katie out of the mall to make sure she wasn’t being kidnapped. Or when would-be heroes come up to Katie in the cereal aisle and ask, “Are you OK?”—even though Terri is standing right there.

…the Ridings’ experience runs counter to these popular notions of harmony. And adoption between races is particularly fraught. So-called transracial adoptions have surged since 1994, when the Multiethnic Placement Act reversed decades of outright racial matching by banning discrimination against adoptive families on the basis of race. But the growth has been all one-sided. The number of white families adopting outside their race is growing and is now in the thousands, while cases like Katie’s—of a black family adopting a nonblack child—remain frozen at near zero.

Decades after the racial integration of offices, buses and water fountains, persistent double standards mean that African-American parents are still largely viewed with unease as caretakers of any children other than their own—or those they are paid to look after. As Yale historian Matthew Frye Jacobson has asked: “Why is it that in the United States, a white woman can have black children but a black woman cannot have white children?”

…”Let me just put it out there,” says Mark, a 38-year-old private-school admissions director with an appealing blend of megaphone voice and fearless opinion, especially when it comes to his family. “I’ve never felt more self-consciously black than while holding our little white girl’s hand in public.” He used to write off the negative attention as innocent curiosity. But after a half-decade of rude comments and revealing faux pas—like the time his school’s guidance counselor called Katie a “foster child” in her presence—he now fights the ignorance with a question of his own: why didn’t a white family step up to take Katie?