“So do y’all ever face any racist comments because you’ve adopted children of color?”
So thoughtfully, my friend asked me this while hanging out a couple of months back. Quickly I was able to say “no, not really”, but here’s what I really wish I’d said:
“It’s not the comments I receive that are hurtful. It’s the silence.”
Let me start by saying this is not directly aiming at any one person or a specific group of people. My community in general is precious, intentional, thoughtful, informed.
I hesitate to address this but just can’t NOT anymore.
The hurt doesn’t come from direct comments to me or my family about race, but it’s the absence of words. The absence of questions, the news stories NOT shared, the anniversaries and holidays NOT acknowledged, the history NOT discussed, the current issues NOT addressed. That’s what hurts. That’s when I look at myself in the mirror and think “I’m so much like them”.
For decades I didn’t care enough, only cursory and when forced to address the race issue. Now I’m being forced to unlearn the “truth” taught to me by my culture, my education and see how my privilege has given me the option to NOT think about it. But now as I look into these dark brown eyes every day, I don’t have that privilege anymore. I can’t. I have responsibility to them specifically but it’s so much more than just about the two children of color who God has entrusted to me.
I need to care about what God cares about. If in Revelation he shows every tribe and nation worshipping around the throne, if I pray “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, then my responsibility is to my God. It’s to HIM I’m accountable. I’m to love what he loves. And HE loves. HE sees. HE hears.
His love is for the nations and one of those is here y’all. It’s not just supporting my precious missionary friends to go to the ends of the earth. It’s that AND showing up in my own space, my own circles and acknowledging injustice, pain, hurt. It’s talking less and listening more. It’s learning about the culture I want to embrace. I wouldn’t show up in the Czech Republic having no clue how about the history of the Czech people and expect to just “get it” because after all, communism ended there in 1989. No because the past always influences the present and future.
I don’t really know exactly what it looks like for me to step into this space of seeking justice and racial reconciliation. I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that- it’s always changing based on my circumstance, gifts, hobbies, etc. I need to read. I need to pray. I need to confess where I’ve been apathetic, discriminant, prejudiced. I need the renewing of my mind through the Word.
And I’d love my people to join me.
Mary Kulp is an adoptive mother of two biracial children adopted from foster care as well as three biological children. She recently attended Adoption Support Alliance's Race, Culture & Adoption class and brought up her thoughts in our discussion. She was prepared for the conspicuousness of her family post-adoption and prepared for questions from strangers. But the silence from those around her about issues that mattered to her transracial family caught her off guard.