When my husband and I went into the adoption process, we did so with rose colored glasses. I clung to stories that people shared about waiting just weeks after completing their home study before becoming parents. But, after two failed adoptions, learning first hand the reality that some people were equipped to be amazing parents but lacked finances causing them to consider placing a child with another person when it wasn’t in their heart, and learning more about the cracks in our child protective care system, I soon learned that this wasn’t as easy as the adoption fairy tales we were holding tight to. When I became a mom, it would be because someone else was going to have to place her child with us. In what might be the happiest moment of my life, someone else was going to possibly face her darkest.
And I would still have more to learn in order to parent the beautiful baby girl that I brought home three years ago.
Learning from Strangers
My daughter is black and my husband and I are white. The most powerful advice I ever got was from a stranger in the grocery store who came up to talk to me about my daughter. She was an older African American woman who cooed and congratulated me on my new baby. “Black babies grow up to be black men and women,” she said. “You have to prepare her for that.” Though this seems like this is something that should just make sense to all of us, it doesn’t click that one day our children will be on their own and will have different experiences than others of their same race. But, by immersing our children in their own culture through literature, theater, music, museums, travel, etc., we can equip them to better navigate the world when they leave our homes.
Taking Advice from Others
The first time a woman stopped and told me that I wasn’t twisting my daughter’s hair properly, I was embarrassed and I told her as much. She told me not to be, that I should be proud for trying, but since that moment, I’ve reached out to friends who have the same hair type as my daughter or kids or their own with styling questions, and help. If I hadn’t have listened to advice from a stranger in the store, and didn’t listen to friends moving forward, I might have missed out on what has become a bonding activity for my daughter and I: choosing new styles for her hair!
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Being a mom is hard no matter how you became a parent. We are all doing the best we can. When I found out something I was doing was wrong, I was always way too hard on myself. I just had to realize that I was learning and by being open to suggestions and learning from others, I would be ok and so would my kid.
Parenting is a hard road to navigate, but with the help of others, we can all do our best to raise happy and healthy kiddos!