April 2, 2009
“I have a dream today!”
“I have a dream… that one day; right down there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hand with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”
“I have a dream.”
I’m sure you remember this speech. Sitting in the front of the classroom, trying desperately to figure out a way to pass notes to your best friend who was incontinently sitting three seats over and two seats back while your second grade teacher droned on about the “meaning of freedom” and “the importance of equality in modern day America.”
You remember this speech, but you probably didn’t realize at that time what it meant. How amazingly revolutionary Martin Luther King Jr was when he delivered those lines in front of the Lincoln Memorial. I know it didn’t really hit home for me, in my second grade class room. But then again, if we weren’t raising butterflies or planning the next holiday party I probably wasn’t paying that much attention anyway. But I have a similar memory where this message did hit home.
I remember going to Vacation Bible School in the second grade with my little brother and sister.. I remember the black market for trading mini snack bars we held behind the counselor’s backs. I remember when boys had cooties and eating paste was cool. I remember walking through the halls two by two with my new best friend of the day and passing the preschool class. I remember spotting little girl in the back who was smiling and waving at me. I remember grabbing the arm of the girl next to me, pointing and saying. “That’s my sister.” She was a very pretty little girl, Jewel. Her name was fitting to, with her dark eyes and beautiful smile. I remember she was smiling then. But most of all, I remember what the girl said next.
“That one?” She said, pointing at my angel. “Yeah.”I told her. “But… She’s black.”
And that was how I found out that my multiracial family contained more shades then the average American household.
I am the oldest of seven children, of those children three are white, one is Middle Eastern and three are African-American. Growing up I never really thought much about it. Jewel was my pretty sister; she was the one who looked like she’d stepped out of a magazine for children’s appeal. She was the one who liked ladybugs; who liked extra milk in her cereal in the morning. I never saw her as black.
My siblings are blessings. The only downside ever being that other people refuse to acknowledge this. An adoptive parent by the name of Joan McNamara perhaps said it best; “…adoption is more like a marriage than a birth… You become family not because you share the same genes, but because you share love for each other. “ People seem to have this preconceived notion that my siblings are being deprived of some central part of their makeup. Like they have some innate need that can only be filled by a blood bond. The relationship between mother and child is not formed through relation, but through love. The biological bond shared between parent and child is horribly over emphasized. My siblings and I all hold the same place in my parent’s hearts; we’re all pains in the butt equally.
Crisis Pregnancy Outreach, the adoption agency we got all of my siblings through, sees many children placed in loving homes. “Are you open to children of color?” That’s one of the questions on the mountains of paperwork prospective adoptive families have to fill out when looking into adoption. It’s heartbreaking how often the ‘no’ square is marked. According to the 2000 U.S. census, only one out of every six children adopted is of a different race then their adopted parents. Sadly this is sometimes the fact that people don’t want children that don’t look like them. They don’t want the child to have to deal with endless questions about their ‘real parents’ or feel left out from their family because they look different. These potential parents mean well but they are largely misguided by the cultural impact. Society has told us that differences will be noticed and exploited. It says that if a child of color grows up in a family with white parents then the child will always feel different, never belong. I live in one of those families, and I can proudly contest that this is not the case. Children especially don’t draw the lines between black and white, not until it is pointed out to them. When I was younger I used to think other children were weird because they didn’t have a black sibling. I saw it as a special thing, a lucky thing. I used to brag to my friends that I had five little siblings and two of them were black. As soon as I knew I was different, I thought it was the coolest thing on the planet.
I don’t attribute all of this assurance to me and my siblings’ ignorance. One of the reasons I think my siblings settled in so well into our life was that we never kept anything from them. My brothers and sister always knew they were adopted. As soon as they were old enough to understand, my mom and dad explained it to them. Because they always knew, they took it in stride. They are adopted and I am biological. It’s no more relevant then the fact Isaac is a Gemini and I am a Leo. It’s simply a fact, not a life-altering crisis that changed their perspective from that of any other kid’s. Of course they had questions; there was no end to them! Where did I come from? Why did my mommy give me away? Will I ever get to meet her? But that is only to be expected. My siblings are curious, but they aren’t missing anything. They aren’t deprived of a mother’s love; they’re accepted into our family. It’s not even a question. We interact like normal siblings, driving each other up walls over and down them again. That’s just the way our family is.
I have two biological and four adopted siblings. People around me look at my family and see a mixed up jumble of unrelated faces. Some of my friends don’t understand how I can be close to these children with whom I have no bond. They just can’t seem to grasp how naively conceived these notions of acceptance are. These are my siblings, both biological and adoptive. I wouldn’t give anything up if it meant losing these blessings. The things I’ve learned and the ways I’ve changed are worth the world. Without these little angels, I wouldn’t be the same person I am today. Sometimes I like to think that when Reverend King stood up in front of a nation and gave his I Have a Dream speech, when he was looking ahead into the future of our nation, he caught a glimpse of my family. A family in which a little black girl and two little black boys and two little white girls and two little white boys had joined together as literally sisters and brothers, seeing the world in the multi-colored shades of love and acceptance rather than the colorblind filter of white and black.

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Dandelion said...
Feb. 8, 2010 at 2:28 pm
This was a very good article with a very good meaning, although I think it could use a bit of revision. The words you used were excellent, although there were several fragments and sentences that didn't quite make sense. The article tended to drone on after a while. I think that if you go over this article and switch a few things around, it will definitely be worthy of publication.
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