My 5 year old daughter seemed a little down yesterday and when I asked what was bothering her she said, "Mom I think there are kids at school that don't like me because I'm Chinese". This is the first time she has ever expressed something like this so I asked if anyone had said something mean to her about being Chinese and she replied, "No, I just know".
After all the websites, blogs and books I have read about trans racial adoption, being a multi-racial family, and the racism that still exists today in America, I was still shocked by her comment. Everything I had read about how to talk to your child about this topic fled my mind and I struggled with what to say. I didn't want to mouth platitudes about being "color blind" or lie to her and say that no one would ever think such a thing about her. I ended up saying something along the lines of "That must make you feel sad when people don't like you because you look different than them. That's not okay for them to do that". But I know as time goes on that this will not be enough.
Since we brought N home we have worked very hard to celebrate our differences as well as our similarities as a family. We have tried to help our daughter to feel proud of who she is and where she came from. We have several children's books about adoption and Chinese stories and poems. She has many Asian dolls and she loves her "Dance and Learn Chinese with Mei Mei" DVD. But I still wonder if there is more I should be doing? In Boise there are more opportunities for Chinese dance and language classes but our resources are limited and the commute is an issue. I have begun to wonder if we made a mistake moving to rural Idaho? There are three other Chinese adoptees in N's school as well as a few children of Hispanic heritage, however, the vast majority of kids there are Caucasian. At times like these I feel my own "whiteness" very acutely and wonder whether I, as a member of the ethnic and racial majority in this country, can truly understand what my daughter may go through in her life being a member of a racial minority.
What are your thoughts dear readers? I know that some of my "regulars" here are adoptive parents and members of transracial families. Have you faced the issue of racism with your children? How did you deal with it? What steps have you taken to help your child to embrace their racial and ethnic heritage?
Thanks for your help.