In the to years between starting classes and being matched with Russ, I’ve done a lot of preparing. The odds were good that I was going to be parenting transracially, so I made sure I did a lot of reading on transracializing families. (We sort of have a head start since we’re already an interracial couple, but I think the impact on kids is different than it is on us adults.) I put myself out there by being active in our very black church because I thought it was important for me to practice being a minority.
I don’t regret any of that work. I’ve made some good friends through church, challenged the church community and myself by participating as an atheist, and I don’t think any of my research and reading was a waste. However, now here we are facing the prospect of Lee being the one who parents transracially while Russ is part of the majority racial group in our home and our community, and I think those issues are quite different.
We’ve also learned from reading his file that his mom was a proud atheist and raised him without any religion. It’s possible that he’s picked some up through his time in foster care or just generally due to evangelical outreach or whatever, but there’s a fair chance that he’ll be on my side in that mix too. I think this bothered Lee more than the racial side of things, though we’ve been talking about the potential complexity of being a non-white parent of a white child. Lee really wants her child to know about her God and hadn’t realized how important that was to her until this point, I guess, or had just taken it for granted the way she sometimes doesn’t think about my beliefs and seems surprised that I don’t pray.
Anyway, we don’t know what Russ believes, but we’ll probably go along with our plan of making sure he’s educated about world religions as much as possible, something I think is good for all kids. I can explain why I’m polite about what people believe even when I think it’s nonsense. We’d have had these conversations with Rowan, who’s a Christian, but with him we also had conversations about specific Bible quotes that he finds useful and also a bit about religious abuse.
I’m just thinking out loud here. I think everything I’ve done to prepare is going to pay off in some way, even if I don’t end up using all the advice directly. I know the reason I was able to handle Rowan’s running away as well as I did was that so many times I’ve read blog posts about other teens running away and I saw how others had behaved and what had worked and what hadn’t. I was able to look past the behavior to see the fears and disordered thinking driving it and so I wasn’t hurt by it the way Lee was in part because I had already prepared myself but also in part because I’d just read about that sort of thing so many times that it seemed unsurprising. And now that we’re months and months past it, he’s starting to talk about it more with us and work things out, and I appreciate that too.
Anyway, we got to read Russ’s psychological profile and the professional writing it gave a list of books (mostly attachment-related) he’d recommend Russ’s adoptive family read pre-placement. Most of them were titles other than the ones I’ve read by the same author. So I did sort of sigh that as in so much of the rest of this prep I’d done my homework and had it turn out not to be the right homework, but the reason I’ve been reading and blogging and so on is that I want to be as prepared as I can because I don’t think there’s ever enough readiness. So I’ll add more books to the list and work my way through them along with the rereading I’ve been doing even though I have no idea what I’ll need next.