Brown Babies Pink Parents- a girlfriend’s guide to transracial parenting
This article was originally written for and published in the November 2010 Adoption Knowledge Affiliates Newsletter.
I’ve known OF Amy Ford for over a year now primarily because of her involvement in Parenting Across Color, a local support group for transracial families. She’d pop up at the AKA conference, or at an AKA meeting, and was always an active part of the discussion. But I didn’t really have the opportunity to KNOW Amy Ford until the past several months. With the release of Brown Babies Pink Parents in August 2010, Amy has surged to the forefront as Austin’s advocate for transracial families. I attended the book release for Brown Babies Pink Parents where I was able to get my hands on an autographed copy. I easily plowed through the book in about a day. The conversational and humorous style of Amy’s writing makes it a quick- yet powerful- read. This past week, I had the opportunity to interview Amy about Brown Babies Pink Parents as well as her own experiences being a white woman raising three African American children.
Robyn: Tell me about your journey toward motherhood.
Amy: Absolutely! In 2002, my partner Kim and I became foster parents because we wanted to start a family. Kim’s family is comprised of adopted and foster children, as well as biological children. I wasn’t familiar with foster care when I first met Kim, but when we decided we wanted a family we decided to foster because this was what Kim was familiar with. We have now adopted three children. Our oldest daughter, Madison, was our second placement and most difficult adoption. It took a lot of patience and perseverance! Madison came to us at 13 days old and we consummated her adoption just before her second birthday. We then adopted McKenzie in 2007, who came to us at 18 months old, and Morgan in 2008, who came to us as a newborn.
Robyn: Why were you inspired to write Brown Babies Pink Parents?
Amy: This book is about everything I never learned on how to be a foster and adoptive parent. We went through PRIDE training, completed hours of additional training every year in order to keep our foster parent license…and nothing ever addressed race or culture. I had no idea how to comb black hair or care for black skin. I didn’t know how to find a place for our children in the black community. I needed a girlfriend to sit down with me and say “This is how you do it.” There are dozens of great books written on transracial adoptive parenting. But those books are written by professionals. I needed advice from a mom. How do you respond when someone uses the “N” word for the first time- how should I feel and how should I respond? I wanted to share that with other parents who are looking for exactly what I was looking for.
I have been working on Brown Babies Pink Parents since 2008. I started working on with another mother who has two African American children, but unfortunately about a year into it she had some life situations come up that prevented her from continuing with the process. I spent the next year talking about writing a book, which I’ve since discovered is very common for authors! Then I found a writing coach, met with her, and rewrote the entire book in five weeks.
Robyn: What is the most important piece of this book for parents to walk away with?
I really want people to get the hair stuff. Hair is so important to the African American community. When we encounter African American people who are not supportive of our transracial families it’s largely because we haven’t mastered the hair yet. To African American families, hair is an expression of cultural pride. And it shouldn’t be intimidating. I hope the book helps families understand the importance of caring for African American hair, and gives them the confidence to try.
Robyn: What is your favorite part of the book?
The parts about honoring our children’s spirits.
“If my daughter’s spirit could speak directly to me, I believe it would sound like this. See me. See me for who I am. I am not you. I am different from you. I am black. Celebrate our likenesses and acknowledge, no, embrace our differences…feel me….touch me…heal me.” (page 44).
To recognize that our children are separate, unique creations who are not just extensions of ourselves. Adoption, no matter if you adopt from birth or a school age children, there is still a tremendous amount of loss. In order for me to win, someone had to lose. There is a hole there- there is hurt. And the hurt has nothing to do with me- I didn’t cause it. But no parent ever wants their child to hurt. As a young mom, I tried to keep every form of pain from my children because I didn’t want them to hurt like I hurt growing up. But I soon realized that that was impossible- of course they were going hurt.
Robyn: What final message would you leave with my readers today?
Just because we are white doesn’t mean that we know everything. It is GOOD to reach out and ask for help. It really does take a village, especially when you are raising a transracial child. It is better to ask for help than to go without or mess it up. I have had received positive reactions from our local African American community who are so willing to step up and help out. I have been just overwhelmed with love.
Amy Ford lives in Austin with her partner, Kim, and their three beautiful daughters. Amy is an advocate for transracial families and believes strongly that parents need education about transracial parenting before they actually become a transracial family. Amy is available to do workshops or trainings for your group or event. You can find more information about Amy, as well as purchase Brown Babies Pink Parents from www.BrownBabiesPinkParents.com.
Like what you read here? To get more trauma momma support, click here to sign up for my monthly newsletter!
Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin and Bastrop Texas specializing in adoption and attachment.