tiny addendum

February 15, 2013

I do know there will be times when Mara doesn’t want a white mom or lesbian parents and we’re as ready for that as we can be. Lee and I have both kind of shrugged when she’s been hitting us with the “I don’t want two moms!” thing, sometimes pointing out that actually she has THREE moms, so two isn’t even the problem. But I do know that’s a normal part of the development of most kids with queer parents or who are transracially adopted, and I’m not making light of that or implying we won’t deal with it. Just for now, neither girl seems to be dissatisfied with our family because she’s comparing it to that of her peers, just sometimes when she’s comparing it to the family she’d prefer to have if she were queen of the world. 

I am reminded of a friend of ours in our old town who asked what we’d do when our child asked why he or she didn’t have a dad and my immediate response was, “Who in our town has a dad???” Really, we’re so lucky that Mara and Nia do have parents who love them and have been involved in their lives. There are plenty of kids who don’t even have that, and while we’re the only lesbian foster parents at Nia’s school, those of us who are variants from the mom-dad-kids nuclear family seem to be the majority. 

I love that Nia’s fellow first graders were drawing superheroes and in addition to the capes and cowls you’d expect, there’s a Wonder Woman with a massive afro and another with a bright blue hijab. I love that our being out has been one factor in some of Mara’s young teachers being a little more open about their own sexual identities, though I don’t know that the kids are aware of much of that. I think it’s great that the girls are seeing lots of different kinds of families and that they have a huge number of people who count as the families who love them. As far as I know, Mara’s teen relative everyone assumes is gay hasn’t come out officially, but I’m glad our very presence was enough to to show that Grandma Joyce accepted our kind of family as being just as good as the others. There are many ways in which what we have to offer is a plus.

But I’m also realistic about how much we’re going to come up short. As I tell Mara now, I have white skin because I was born from the bodies of people with white skin whose ancestors mostly came from Europe. I can’t have brown skin and curly hair and the personal history that growing up black would have brought me. I can do all I can to foster their cultural health, but I can’t do it as an insider and that’s just reality. Going into foster care and being adopted out of it is not the ideal for any child, and adding an interracial lesbian couple as parents just makes it more fraught. I’m not saying all of this is easy on the kids. It wasn’t their fault they needed us and it wasn’t their choice that they got us. But they’ve chosen to love and trust us, and I’m grateful for that. And it was our choice to take on the hard job of dealing with the rest, too.


  1. Liam goes through the “no 2 moms” thing. MOstly he thinks a Dad would be way cooler, play more Halo and let him get away with anything. Ummm… not likely!

    • I guess the benefit to both girls knowing their dads already is that they don’t easily get to make assumptions like that, though I’m sure they still have some of that thinking going on!

  2. Thorn, I just love how honest you are about sharing all of this with us. Our foster daughter is still too young for us to be dealing with the issues of being raised transracially, but if it works out that she gets to stay with us, you bet I’ll be emailing you for advice in a few years!

  3. Sounds like you are doing a great job! We have a complicated family too, and my 6 year old has asked about parts of it, but other parts she doesn’t care about at all. It’s interesting how they process it all. My daughter is concerned about time with her sibling who live in other homes that she has met, doesn’t seem to ask about the ones she hasn’t met though she’s been told about them. For the multiple parents she mostly needs to talk about the deceased one, which makes a lot of sense of course. I think the grieving an integration of differences is so important, but some people just handle it so differently than others. Brava on your little ones though, I think you are doing a great job!

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