Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Racism and Adoption

I have struggled with whether or not to share this, but after much deliberation, I have decided to. I try not to get too personal on here, but today is going to be an exception.

My grandmother passed away early Sunday morning. She has been suffering from Alzheimer's for sometime now. She had a stroke and a heart attack sometime last week and is being laid to rest today.

My sister and I are the only family members unable to attend. Not because we can't, or won't, but because we are not allowed. We have been ostracized from the family for the "poor choices" we have made in our lives.

I'm sure you are wondering what kind of choices a person could make that would cause a family to completely disown them.

The fact that I have 3 children from China is considered a good enough reason. The fact that my sister has a daughter who is bi-racial (half black, half white) is good enough reason.

The obituary for my grandmother said that she is survived by her husband, three children, 6 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. That is all true except there are 11 great grandchildren. My sister's daughter and our Chinese children were left out.

We have not been welcome around them for quite awhile. As a matter of fact the last time my sister spoke to my grandmother was to tell her she had a daughter. At first she was excited, then my sister went on to tell her that her baby's father was black and my grandmother's response was "I will always love you, but I just can't handle that, please don't call again."

I won't go into any specific details, but I always knew growing up how they felt about other races. They were not shy by any means to share their opinions.

I have tried to not let it bother me over the years, but these past few of days have really made me see the reality of it all. I have told myself over and over it is their loss. They don't know what they are missing. I do believe that. But it saddens me knowing that they will not have any memories of their great grandparents. It saddens me to know that my grandparents have missed out on some pretty awesome kids.

When I was little I remember thinking how I wanted to be just like my grandmother when I grew up. She always looked perfect from head to toe. Her hair was done just so, her make-up was flawless. Her outfits were perfectly put together complete with matching shoes. And she always had jewelry on that was given to her by my grandfather. Perfection, or so I thought.

Although she is gone, she will not be forgotten. I will remember the good times I had with her. The times we went shopping together, or the times I would sit in awe at the amount of shoes she had in her closet. I won't forget the time she helped me pick out my first bra. It couldn't be just any bra, it had to have a flower or bow (her words). I won't forget the summers we spent swimming in their pool and hanging out with our cousins. I won't forget the time they came to see me in college for grandparents day which was also the first time she saw Matt for the first time. Or the the time she held my daughter, Emma for the first time. These are just a few of the memories I will remember.

What I won't do is base my life or my decisions on someone elses ignorance. I can't imagine our family without all of our children. The color of their skin does not define who they are.

Love should be unconditional. Love shouldn't come with strings attached. Love shouldn't be based on skin color or the shape of a persons eyes.

I pray that she is at peace and that is finally able to see people for who they are, and not by the color of skin they have. I pray that she is able to see our family, see the love we have for ALL of our kids, and see that what she has missed out on. I pray that she is finally able to see the beauty in ALL people and that someday we will all be able to walk hand in hand.


Anonymous said...

This is the same in my family. My cousin was adopted domestically and is Native American with a dark skin tone. My mother refuses to display pictures of him in her home, even on the fireplace (where she has a row of pictures of every child in the family.) She 100% DOES NOT support my plans to adopt from China and has already told me that the "child won't have a grandmother."

Am I going to let her threats dictate how I live my life? Nope. It's her loss and I know I can provide a wonderful life for my future daughter, with or without a grandmother. Life is too short to give my mother the satisfaction of having any control over my choices or to reward her racist and hateful attitude.

Deep down, obviously, I love my mother and this breaks my heart. But I cannot and will not let her sway me off the path I know I am being led to.

I understand the pain you feel, and the sense of being "torn." Of course you loved her and i'm sorry for your loss. But in the end I hope her eyes have been opened in heaven.

Anonymous said...

Also, I wanted to add it has taken me YEARS to come to the inner peace I finally have arrived at. I used to lay in bed sobbing about this.

Love for Lilly Yin said...

I don't usually comment, but I wanted to tell you how sorry I am that you are having to deal with this.

Shonni said...

I am so sorry also! How sad that your family has missed out on the beauty that the LORD has created in EVERY person!!!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry. I can relate because we have experienced some of the same issues. You can say it doesn't matter, but deep down in your heart it still hurts. Thank you for sharing a very difficult situation. Knowing someone else has experienced some of the same things we have experienced makes me realize we are not alone in this world.

Blessings from CT during this difficult time.
Caroline, John and Hannah

Hezra said...

I am sorry you have all that going during a time of loss. I do want to share that God has blessed us with "adopted" family, that has been able to fill in the gaps our own bio family leaves. He has given grandmas, aunts and uncles... and now we have some family finally getting back together. God is working on hearts but in the meantime, the kids arent missing out on the relationships they need.

Gina said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your grandmother. And I am completely blown away by your post. Thank you for writing it, though.

Jean said...

I am so glad you wrote this post- it is a topic that needs to be spoken about and families need to support one another.

We do not have any grandparents or parents alive- so we have not experienced this- I honestly cannot even imagine...

Your grandparents are a product of their times and it is a shame they could not move forward and accept how much things have changed for the better.

YOur children are precious gifts from God and should be celebrated! They have come from the most difficult of situations and yet they are survivors!

Long ago Grandma should have been told to knock it off! The family members that support her are out of touch with reality and with their faith- IF they are Christians.

God Bless you Mandy and the journey that GOD has put you on! I am sorry that you have had to put up with this. I am sorry for the sorrow it has caused you and your lovely family!

Renee said...

I am so sorry. I can't even imagine how hard that would be. Your children are all so gorgeous. I am sorry for your family missing out on the joy they bring.

connie said...

Oh, Mandi! I'm sorry for the loss of your grandma. Thank you for this post!!! It hurts like the dickens, but more families than we can imagine actually deal with this issue, and they need to know they are not alone. It took my dad 2 years to accept his first Chinese granddaughter. I honestly don't know what people think they are accomplishing by their racist convictions. It certainly is not related to God's love. I just don't get it - thank goodness! To throw ones life away for the color of skin - really??? To throw a family away for the color of skin - really??? I'm sure our Almighty will address this at Heaven's gates ;-) Love you, Sister!

Suzanne said...

You know, I believe the only way to see a shift in society and beliefs with regards to race is that there are one or two generations who have to go against the grain. Once that happens, to their children it is the norm. You are very brave- but know that you stopped the racism. Your children will never give raising a child of another race a 2nd thought because you paved the way for that and that is their normal. I suspect it was this way years ago when interracial marriage was so taboo. It still is in some cases, but I'd say we are one generation away from it being normal.
So sorry for your loss, I can't imagine how it must feel. My DD is from China and she will only know one grandparent and no great-grandparents because all have passed on before her arrival.

Tara Anderson said...

I'm so sorry you're dealing with this, Mandi. My grandfather was the same way, but he passed before our family became interracial. I know trying to find the balance of grief over the loss of your grandmother and hurt over her final actions toward your family must be very difficult. I will be praying for you in this. And thank you for sharing. Your transparency is a blessing.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading your's and other's blogs that have adopted (especially from China). I am at this point single but have the desire in my heart that God will bless me with my husband and he will also share what I KNOW is a calling to adopt from China....even if I have or don't have bio children. I am so sorry you are going thru this! I am afraid there are some in my family that may act like this...which is very sad but I thank you for posting this b/c it shows me that I can and SHOULD not let other's opinions dictate how I life my life and the choices I make. I had experienced this when I left my secular job to work for a church b/c of God's leading. They still have opinions about this. Again, I will pray for your beautiful children and husband and you and I bless you for what you are doing. Again, thank you so much again.

Gale said...

So sorry, but this is 2011, and for all of our enlightened ways, racism is alive still. My own mother who is the dearest person in the world sometimes says about my biracial grandbabies, "I don't love them any differently than the other ones." What???? Why would you??? She always calls them mixed, like cake batter or ice cream. Why call them anything?? Just acll them ridiculously simple. You do not expect this within the family!! So sorry!!

Kelli said...

Oh Mandi, how sad for you and your family. Great for both you and your sister growing up with those feelings around you that you could see they were poor choices on their part, and you have both expanded your families in the ways that fit your families best, not based on "matching skin." What a shame that she missed out on the pleasure and wonder that adoption brings to all of our lives. What a sad thing to realize your perfect picture of your grandmother as you had in Childhood is flawed when you come to understand her as an adult.