If you are going into Foster Care you have to answer many questions regarding the types of children you are willing to take. Everything from their age and gender to their race and amount of needs. A child's race or ethecity seemed like an easy question to answer. However, looking back I realize how naive I was. My heart and reality were not the same age. I'm not saying we made the wrong decision when we said yes to four bi-racial children, we didn't. I do, however, wish I had been a little more aware of my world.
What will that child's world of color be like when the enter your home?
If they are going to school will it be mainly white children? Are their children of other races at the school, if so which ones? What will their Sunday School class or dance class or play group look like? Will they be the only hispanic or black child in that setting?
Can you handle their hair needs?
If you bring a child of another ethnicity into your home, can you provide them with the proper hair care? When Little Man came into our home we were not allowed to cut his hair (rights the parents hold on to). We had a little boy with long eye lashes and big brown eyes and hair three times as long as his twin sisters. I watched a few hours of you-tube videos to figure out how to corn row his hair. Are you going to be able to afford the products that go in their hair? Do you have access to them? I've discovered how skimpy our local stores are with hair care products are for our children.
What will the neighbors think?
I knew the town we were bringing the kids into was not very racially diverse but did have some diversity. However, I was completely caught off guard when someone called to tell me that an associate of theirs had driven by our house and wanted to know what certain children where in our yard. The question included a word that started with "n" and made me sick to my stomach. We have a certain neighbor that talked to us at least once weekly for the first year we lived here and has talked to us twice in the two years since. (We have been in Foster Care for a bit over two years).
How will people of their own race feel?
Some of the harshest looks we've received have been from the black community. Some will be incredibly supportive, others will feel like their children are being snatched away.
What does your extended family think?
Will these children boot you out of family holidays? While people want to know about the ______ (insert some politically incorrect way of referring to you child) you are caring for and ask you right in front of you? Being a foster child tends to exclude these kids in the first place, they don't need their race stacked against them also.
Can you provide them with racial similar role models?
This is an area we lack in. I see it affecting Baby Girl the most, but I think it will have an impact on Big Brother also. Baby Girl has a lot of identity questions and problems. I will never forget the day we walked by a woman in a restaurant and she loudly pointed out that they also had brown skin.
These questions are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to the decision about whether to bring a child of a different race into your home. Many other families are doing it, some with much success others with none, seek one out and chat with them. If you don't know of a family find a blog online about a trans-racial family.
Bottom Line: These children are precious and wonderful. I love discovering more about their race. I love trying to figure out how to keep true to their ethnic history (such as letting Baby Girls hair go nautrual instead of braided). However, it is WAY more difficult then I ever imagined it could be.