The Reality of Raising a Mixed-Race Child


There have been some really terrific responses to the white, lesbian mom who is suing a sperm bank that mistakenly gave her the wrong sperm — a black man’s sperm instead of her chosen white DNA. (Including one by fellow Babble blogger Monica Bielanko.) People are outraged, smug, and disgusted that Jennifer Cramblett is saying it’s extra hard as a white mom to raise a black (or mixed race) child in an all-white community.

The strange thing is, no one is arguing with the fact that it IS harder (and more expensive) to raise a child that is of a different race than your own. In fact, I think the $50,000 they are asking for is diddly squat given the circumstances. Also, no one is arguing that it’s more difficult to raise a black child in the white-dominated U.S. of A. (The recent tragedy in Ferguson highlights this).

You know what could be worse? Like, a whole lot worse? These sheltered, white parents could pretend to be “colorblind” and ignore their daughter’s differences and needs as a black child. Instead, what I see is a mom who wants to get it right — and doing it right costs more money. In my foster parent classes, we were given a quiz once with a True/False question: “It’s more expensive to care for African-American hair.” I froze. I thought this was a trick question to somehow weed out the racist among us. But the answer was “True,” and the purpose of the question was to encourage us to discuss and acknowledge differences.

It costs real money to properly expose a child to their heritage if it isn’t already prominent in one’s own community. Cramblett is going to have to work that much harder to expose her half-black child to diversity and a life full of positive and empowering messages as a person in the minority. Since both she and her partner are white, they’re starting at a deficit in black identity knowledge. Beyond purchasing the right books, films, and traveling, Cramblett is even considering moving to a more diverse community — which is a length we should all be willing to go to for our children. As parents, we should make it a priority to raise our kids in diverse areas — regardless of skin color.

And here’s something I don’t usually talk about anymore. Contrary to this mom, I am white and I used to only want to adopt a black child. My desire stemmed from my own experience as an adoptee. I was an only child for years and I would beg my parents for a sibling. BEG. My parents desperately wanted another child as well, but they would proclaim to anyone who asked: “They only have black babies. It takes years and years to get a healthy white one.” 
Fast-forward to the backlash over celebrities adopting black children — which appears to some as though they’re using them as a trendy accessory — and I had a change of heart. What I really wanted to do was adopt any child needing a home. I became a foster parent and have both a black and a white (Hispanic/Jewish) daughter. The responsibility to do right by my transracial adoption weighs heavy on my heart every day. I believe that if a white mom isn’t willing to take on the extra effort necessary to raise a child of a different race, they shouldn’t have one. I respect Cramblett for acknowledging and embarking on the self-reflective journey of parenting her child with awareness and seeking the resources she needs. I wish more people agreed.

Image courtesy of ABC News

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