October 13, 2008

We Went to Church

That was fun! A big thanks to everyone who delurked. My favorite part was seeing how familiar most of you already were to me. Of all the bloggers who commented, I think I already read all but a few of their blogs. And now I have some extras to add to my reading list.

Comments will remain open on that post indefinitely, so feel free to delurk there any time you please.

***

Yesterday we made our first visit to one of the African-American churches in town. We had been invited more than once since we moved here a couple of years ago. It took us this long to stop talking about visiting and actually go visit one Sunday. Inertia is a powerful force in our home.

Based only on my observation, there were a couple of interracial families in attendance and what might have been one other transracial family. Mostly there were lots and lots of African-American families, which is not the norm in our corner of the country. For only the second time in her life it was T, Puppy and I who stood out, and not Firefly.

I once saw an adoptive parent ask on a forum which was more important for transracially adopted children: being around other transracial adoptees or being around adults and families of their own race/ethnicity. I was surprised to see the overwhelming majority of parents choose being with transracial families as more important. Not because I'm certain they're wrong, but because it wasn't my own gut response.

Like many white people who grew up in this area--not all, but many--I have a specific memory of the first time when I was one of the only white people in a room. I was a teenager at the time and I remember suddenly being very aware of my context and a little uncomfortable. It wasn't until after living in northeast Los Angeles, where such situations were part of my daily life, that my hyperawareness got dialed back.

Firefly will likely grow up in the minority of the room every single day--not only in her larger community, but in her own home. While T and I are seeking out other transracial adoptive families (because there is a uniqueness in that experience), we're also hoping it becomes a familiar thing for her to surrounded by African-Americans of all ages. If for no other reason than to give her space in which to rest from being the outwardly different one (although obviously her white parents make her more visible). She'll spend more of her life grown and on her own than she will living with us, and during that time she'll be faced with all sorts of choices about how to identify herself and in which communities to plant roots. We're hoping to at least give her varied enough experiences in her childhood that she doesn't feel like she's going into those choices completely blind.

And perhaps there will be some significance for Puppy and Firefly to see their parents deliberately stepping outside of comfort zones for the sake of building bridges. Being around other transracial adoptive parents is easy for me. Walking into a black church with an adopted baby in my arms for the first time? That took a little more nerve.

But everyone was wonderfully friendly and all in all, it went well. I did realize how weak my church muscles have become when I grew fidgety around the two-hour mark. Poor Puppy couldn't make it through, so one of us ended up playing cars with him for most of the time. There were lots of other kids of all ages milling around in the back, though, so I think it was okay. We're thinking through how to balance involvement there with our other church, but I do hope we'll be back soon. Participating in that church community won't magically balance out the rest of Firefly's world, but it felt right to be there and to have Firefly there. One small step of many.

6 comments:

a Tonggu Momma said...

Heather ~ We attend a local Chinese-American church. It's amazing how that feeling - the sticking out like a sore thumb feeling - goes away the more often you attend. We've been attending about twice a month for several months now. I'm glad we are doing it. Everyone has been very friendly and supportive. We're starting to bridge into friendships with others as well.

Dawn said...

I'll be interested to here more about your experiences there. There's a couple here who have found a wonderful church experience for their transracially adoptive family. They're Catholic and there's a terrific Catholic church that's mostly African American that has been very welcoming for them and their kids. It makes me wish I felt more comfortable in Christian communities!!

GLouise said...

Good for you! Sounds like a great experience.

luna said...

interesting the response to your question. thanks as always for sharing this aspect of your journey.

love the quote about building bridges.

Lavonne said...

What a great opportunity! I truly believe that it is important for transracial adoptees to have same race adult mentors in their lives. Us white folk don’t understand what it means to grow up as a child of color in a white dominant/race conscious society, so by surrounding your family with African American adults Firefly will likely thank you for those opportunities later!

Lavonne said...

What a great opportunity! I truly believe that it is important for transracial adoptees to have same race adult mentors in their lives. Us white folk don’t understand what it means to grow up as a child of color in a white dominant/race conscious society, so by surrounding your family with African American adults Firefly will likely thank you for those opportunities later!

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