Growing up in a home with military parents you learn pretty quickly that authority is to be obeyed, and questioning it is something to be done with great trepidation. As such I am an obsessive rule follower.
I am also a White, male, highly educated, straight, Protestant Christian. The only thing that could give me more privilege would be if I were also rich.
Nothing has brought this into focus more than adopting and raising our three Black sons.
It was a short leap for us to go from young couple to young couple adopting a foster kid. The route to becoming licensed was not easy, but once it was done we were ready — or at least we thought we were.
There’s this incredibly weird thing you do when you’re getting licensed to foster-adopt: you have to describe the child you want. It feels odd to say something like “I want a white baby girl with no health issues” (incidentally this is the most common request). Our requests were something like any race, boy, under 5, no severe health issues.
Black children are overrepresented in the foster system. That is to say that while Black people make up about 13 percent of the population of the US, they make up about 25 percent of the kids in the system. There is a discussion to be had here, but that’s for another day.
With so many people wanting their White baby girl, a Black boy entering the system has a lower possibility of being successfully placed than White children or Black girls. When we said we’d take — or even desired — a Black boy the die was cast that we would become a transracial family. And so it was the March after we were licensed as foster parents when Jamil came to visit us for the first time. We knew beyond the shadow of a doubt he was our boy. Our life as a family composed of races began. A few years later when Jahlil and Jaycee joined us our big, messy, lovely, transracial family was complete.