Families are created in many ways, yet some folks don’t understand blended families, trans-racial families, bi-cultural, multi-ethnic families or families that happen because of circumstances. My siblings all had children in the traditional way – with marriage then children. Understanding my own need and desire to be a parent, I embarked on a different journey. As a single mom, a 5-year “pregnancy” filled with a myriad of paperwork, classes, and home studies led me on an adventure. My family was created through adoption.
My very tiny 8-month old bundle of joy weighed 8 lbs. 12 oz. when she arrived. She had a premature esophagus and under-developed lungs and spent the first six months of her life in neonatal intensive care. Needless to say, this beautiful brown-skinned baby with luminous, sparkling eyes had some unique issues.
Creating a family through adoption also meant
becoming a bi-cultural, multi-ethnic family – a transition that does not come with instructions. My beautiful baby girl would also experience developmental delays. She was born 2- 3 months early at 2 lbs. 12 oz. She had dental problems with her first teeth which didn’t arrive until she was 16 months old. Crawling and walking came later than anticipated and she continues to see an ophthalmologist for weak eye muscles in one eye.
I also had to establish and introduce a cultural identity that was unfamiliar to me. Surrounding this beautiful child with books, art, food, clothes and multi-cultural friends has been important to our family since she was very young. As she has grown and matured, she has made her own choices about who she is and her identity. It’s important to provide the tools for children to explore their cultural and ethnic heritage, realizing they need to develop this identity on their own.
And everyone lived happily ever after? The reality is that not everyone will accept a non-traditional family, a multi-ethnic family or a family with adopted children. My daughter faced prejudice for the first time at the age of three. It is important to communicate positive values and tolerance for other’s differences. This has been an important part of helping my teenage daughter to be a well adjusted, compassionate youth.